One Cheer for Al Sharpton

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The professional agitator is barrelling pompadour-first into the Genarlow Wilson case.

Sharpton did not mention Attorney General Thurbert Baker by name, but called on "those that are in office because of us" to take action to get 21-year-old Genarlow Wilson freed.

"Don't walk over the bodies of martyrs and achieve a position of personal stature, and then forget how you got there and sit there in silence while your children are locked in jail for unjust sentences," said Sharpton, a radio talk-show host and former Democratic presidential candidate. "There's something ungrateful about those who would benefit off the blood of martyrs and not stand up for those that put you there in the first place."

Baker, one of two African-American officials elected statewide in Georgia, said in response, "I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the sacrifices made by Dr. King and the other leaders of the civil rights movement who changed America for the better.

"Those leaders also believed in a system governed by laws, because the alternative is a lawless society. I am doing no less than following the law that I have sworn to uphold."

Did you know the civil rights movement was all about following the law? Amazing. Someone owes Woolworth's a fat reparation check for all of those lost lunch counter profits.

Radley Balko has been all over the case.

NEXT: Mike Gravel: Dadaist Performance Guru

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  1. I am doing no less than following the law that I have sworn to uphold.

    Bullshit asshole. You’re doing far less in your capricious application of the law for personal gain. Anyone so despicable they make Al Sharpton the voice of reason, is a world class douche.

  2. “I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the sacrifices made by Dr. King and the other leaders of the civil rights movement who changed America for the better.

    “Those leaders also believed in a system governed by laws, because the alternative is a lawless society. I am doing no less than following the law that I have sworn to uphold.”

    You express a great deal of anxiety over the willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust laws. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

    Martin Luther King, “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

  3. “Following the law”…what a joke. This guy would be the first to scream “prosecutorial discretion” if Genarlow Wilson sued him. And he’d be right. He has total discretion on whether to pursue the appeal in the case. He’s not “following” anything.

  4. What am I missing here? Sure, this guy’s an asshole, but there’s no way he’s such an asshole that he actually wants this kid to rot in jail for this. Very few people in this world are THAT evil. So his hands must be tied in some way. What’s going on? I mean, the law has already been changed, though it wasn’t made retroactive; so it shouldn’t be too hard to get this kid pardoned by the governor or have his sentence commuted or SOMETHING.

  5. Anyone so despicable they make Al Sharpton the voice of reason, is a world class douche.

    Well said.

    Even though as you’ve said something against a black politician you’re now a racist, Al, but that’s another thread.

    So his hands must be tied in some way. What’s going on? I mean, the law has already been changed, though it wasn’t made retroactive; so it shouldn’t be too hard to get this kid pardoned by the governor or have his sentence commuted or SOMETHING.

    I know. Makes you grasp at something to make it make sense, but the court freed the kid but the state appealed. He could have just said “sorry, court freed him” and let it drop, but didn’t. Strange.

  6. There’s something ungrateful about those who would benefit off

  7. Pinette, Other Matt,

    Check out the wikipedia entry – Baker has offered a plea deal that would classify Wilson as a “First Offender” and put him through a program instead of jail.

    Which doesn’t make it right. Just answering your question.

  8. joe, a felony conviction sticks with you for your entire life.

    “Did you know the civil rights movement was all about following the law? Amazing. Someone owes Woolworth’s a fat reparation check for all of those lost lunch counter profits.”

    radley, that was the best fuck you I’ve read in a while

  9. radley, that was the best fuck you I’ve read in a while

    A-hem.

  10. My guess is it just slipped to second best…

  11. The test of law must be “is this just?”, not “is this what the words say?”

    If Mr Baker cannot explain his actions in terms of what is right rather than “Those leaders also believed in a system governed by laws, because the alternative is a lawless society. I am doing no less than following the law that I have sworn to uphold”, I must deem him evil, in the sense of being wilfully complicit in what he knows to be wrong.

  12. Jack,

    Read the last line of my comment.

  13. Very few people in this world are THAT evil.
    What the fuck world are you talking about?

  14. David,
    That was the best Bite Me I’ve read in a while

  15. The right to New Year’s Eve orgies with 15-year-old girls … can somebody point that out to me in the Constitution?

    People don’t know the full background of this situation. Some relevant facts:

    1. A few years ago, amid much public concern about child abuse, sex crimes, and teen pregnancy, the Georgia legislature passed some rather draconian laws on the subject of sex with minors.

    2. Douglas County’s district attorney is David McDade, who prides himself on being the toughest prosecutor on the planet. (I grew up in Douglas County and went to school with McDade’s sisters.)

    3. Wilson and his friends made two major mistakes, (a) they broke the law in Douglas County, and (b) they videotaped the crime.

    For future reference, if you ever break the law in Douglas County and decide to provide David McDade with irrefutable (and emotionally inflammatory) evidence of your crime, for God’s sake, take the plea bargain.

  16. Robert,

    People don’t know the full background of this situation.

    The full and entire background of the case have been discussed here a number of times.

  17. The full and entire background of the case have been discussed here a number of times..

    Why, then, is everyone acting so outraged that the Attorney General has appealed the court’s ruling?

    It seems to me that the appeals court usurped the ability of the legislature to make law, and/or decided that jury trial is no longer a valid means of applying the law.

    So Thurbert Baker is standing up for the rule of law and trial by jury, and this is an outrage? Why? Because the New York Times says so?

    Filter out the hype, and the best lesson of this case remains: If you break the law in Douglas County, Ga., don’t videotape the crime.

  18. Forget the law. Forget the vindictive man who’s in power in that county. A prosecutor’s job isn’t supposed to be about convicting people and getting them long sentences because he’s “tough on crime”. A prosecutor is supposed to seek justice — even if that justice doesn’t necessarily agree with him.

    Baker isn’t “standing up for the law” because he has to. Any first year law student who’s taken criminal law or criminal procedure knows what prosecutorial discretion is.

  19. Robert Stacy McCain,

    Why, then, is everyone acting so outraged that the Attorney General has appealed the court’s ruling?

    Presumably because some people view those facts differently.

  20. How come the girl wasn’t prosecuted for having sex with a minor? Or was she?

    I will not share a cheer for douche bag Al Sharpton. There must be an angle in this that perpetuates his career. Nothing more.

    And if you have douche bags like Thurbert (jeez dude could you have a more fucking lame name. God how I hope you were indefatigably mocked in school) who needs terrorists?

    I was comforted by these word in the Declaration of Independence that we were supposed to celebrate yesterday:

    “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

    Dudes, I think we have duty to revolt. Cocksuckers like Thurbert do not do anything close to protecting my life, liberty, or my pursuit of happiness. Mindlessly obeying and enforceing despotic laws makes you no different that any other tyrant.

    And if you dont think this is a tyranny, remember we have more concentration camps (read: prisons) than anyone in the world. We don’t have the balls yet to go to the next step and turn them into extermination camps. Of course Texas is sure as fuck trying.

  21. Forget the vindictive man who’s in power in that county.

    Also, forget those trying to make a circus of the case.

    The law under which Wilson was convicted of a felony has since been amended. You are now free to pursue oral sex with 15-year-olds in Georgia with the knowledge that it is only a misdemeanor.

    Whence, then, the overblown claims that the Wilson case represents the onset of sexual fascism in America? Oh, wait a minute, I know ….

  22. OK, to reassure myself that I had not overlooked some fact that rendered the Wilson case worthy of all this hyperventilation, I did some Googling, and found this column by a district attorney from Newton County, Ga.:

    Wilson’s five co-defendants entered guilty pleas for participating in the videotaped, profanity-laced, drunken orgy involving the 15-year-old girl. Despite being older than the girl, despite the law that protects kids from their own poor judgment, these men all played a role in having sex with a minor. Because these five accepted responsibility, they were allowed to enter guilty pleas to reduced charges, and the case was submitted to the trial judge for sentencing.

    After reviewing the videotape of the defendants’ acts and taking all the evidence into account, the judge sentenced them to five years in prison with the possibility of parole followed by 10 years on probation. Wilson was offered the same treatment from the very beginning, and he refused. Wilson refused to accept responsibility for his part in this crime.

    Knowing the high stakes if convicted of the offense charged (a minimum of 10 years in prison with no parole), Wilson decided to test the evidence in front of a jury of his peers. Wilson was convicted of aggravated child molestation. His conviction was affirmed by the Georgia Court of Appeals. The Georgia Supreme Court refused to review the case.

    Wilson rolled the dice and lost, and somehow, in the eyes of some, that’s the fault of the attorney general and the district attorney.

    Even now, with a conviction in hand, the district attorney has offered Wilson the opportunity to plead guilty to reduced charges and receive the same sentence all five of his co-defendants accepted – no more, no less. For some reason, Wilson has refused. Why? Only Wilson and his advisers know.

    What the hyperventilators seem to be saying is that what was justice for Wilson’s fellow orgy-goers is injustice for Wilson. What’s the difference, except that Wilson’s lawyers managed to get his name in the New York Times?

  23. Law != Justice

  24. Since when is calling “bullshit” on draconian laws considered not taking responsibility? Wilson’s never denied putting his unit in the girl’s mouth.

  25. RSM:

    So because he didn’t plead guilty to an asinine crime he deserves 10 years in jail?

    Riddle me this: If he had taken the plea, he would have had to register as a sex offender. If he had to register as a sex offender, he would no longer be able to live at home or near his mother due to the presence of his younger sister. Would that change your mind?

    If you really had to arrest people for this stuff, I would be in jail (I was doing such things with my 15 year old girlfriend when she was 16!), and at least 1/3rd of the teenage males in America would be going to jail. C’mon.

    Plus please explain to me why it made a remote amount of sense that he gets 10 years in jail for this, but if he had sexual intercourse with her instead of getting a damned blowjob, it wouldn’t even have been a felony.

  26. Correction: I was doing such things with my 15 year old girlfriend when *I* was 16. That’ll teach me to hit “submit” before “preview”.

  27. Hate to triple post, but…

    RSM, if you want to quote a DA from another county, I’ll do you one better and quote a somewhat better authority… the legislator who WROTE the law that Wilson was convicted under.

    ———-

    The former state lawmaker who wrote the law that sent Genarlow Wilson to prison is joining efforts to free the 21-year-old.

    Former state Rep. Matt Towery says he will file papers with the Georgia Supreme Court clarifying the intent of the 1995 Child Protection Act.

    Meanwhile, people working to free Wilson will hold rally at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at the Douglas County Courthouse.

    A bond hearing had been scheduled Thursday for Wilson, but a judge canceled the hearing after ruling June 27 that Wilson is ineligible for bond while he appeals his sentence for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17.

    The Legislature has changed the law to eliminate the mandatory 10-year sentence for aggravated child molestation in such cases, but lawmakers did not make the change retroactive.

    The Georgia Supreme Court is to hear the latest appeal in October. Wilson’s lawyers had sought to get him released on bond while the appeal moved forward.

  28. I was doing such things with my 15 year old girlfriend when I was 16!

    Ah, so the personal is political ….

    It is not, however, an argument. If I were to say, hypothetically, that I have driven 110 mph in a 55 mph zone, does that mean that the fines levied against those who commit such crimes constitute an injustice?

    Understand that I am not arguing that the Georgia law was wise and good. Nor does my argument depend on what your opinion of teenage orgies may be. What I’m saying is that the (apparently widespread) perception of the Wilson case as a grave injustice is largely a function of a media machine that is presenting a one-sided picture of the case.

    Notice what the Newton County D.A. says in his column:

    After reviewing the videotape of the defendants’ acts and taking all the evidence into account …

    Do you know what was on that videotape? Does David Weigel know what was on that videotape? No.

    But lawyers for Wilson’s five co-defendants knew what was on that videotape, and they knew they didn’t want their clients facing a Douglas County jury that had seen that videotape. So they copped a plea — the same deal that Wilson refused.

    Dumb move, Wilson. Next case.

    What we are dealing with here is a Hayekian knowledge gap. People who are remote from the circumstance are basing their judgment on a partial knowledge of the facts, filling in their knowledge gaps with a sort of moralistic gestalt.

    Thurbert Baker and David McDade have access to knowledge of this case that I don’t have, that you don’t have, and that the New York Times doesn’t have. Absent any evidence of perfidy or malice on the part of the knowledgeable actors, and given the uncontested fact that Wilson was a party to the same crime for which five other men are serving prison time, I am skeptical of those who claim that Wilson is a 21st-century Dreyfuss in need of a 21st-century Zola.

    If you don’t like the law, change the law. But it is rather absurd (and perhaps insulting) to suggest that Wilson and his friends were latter-day Thoreaus and Gandhis, engaged in a courageous act of civil disobedience on New Year’s Eve 2004.

  29. Robert Stacy McCain | July 5, 2007, 8:00pm | #

    The right to New Year’s Eve orgies with 15-year-old girls … can somebody point that out to me in the Constitution?

    Amendment IX

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

  30. If I were to say, hypothetically, that I have driven 110 mph in a 55 mph zone, does that mean that the fines levied against those who commit such crimes constitute an injustice?

    This case is much more analogous to a law that imposes a 10 year sentence on everyone who drives 60 mph in a 55 mph zone. As Andrew said in his post, 1/3 of teens in Georgia must be guilty of violating the same law as Wilson.

    Thurbert Baker and David McDade have access to knowledge of this case that I don’t have, that you don’t have, and that the New York Times doesn’t have.

    Doubtless true for you and me. As for the Times, are you saying that:

    a. the Times doesn’t have a transcript of the trial?
    or
    b. the Prosecutor failed to disclose relevant and material information to the defense or the court, thus committing Prosecutorial misconduct
    or
    c. are you talking about information that is not relevant or material? In which case it makes no different to the Times’ analysis?

    it is rather absurd (and perhaps insulting) to suggest that Wilson and his friends were latter-day Thoreaus and Gandhis, engaged in a courageous act of civil disobedience on New Year’s Eve 2004.

    I haven’t seen anyone say anything like this. Instead, I see people saying that Wilson’s punishment is so disproportionate to his crime that it is wildly unjust. Are you saying that disproportionate punishment is impossible? Or that if it happens, we should ignore it?

    Or do you disagree with the ACTUAL point of the Times article: you think the punishment is proportionate? If so, please tell us so and explain why 1/3 of 17 year-olds should go to jail for 10 years.

  31. A round of 15-year-old girls for everyone in the house…it’s on me

  32. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    And I’m pretty sure that a 6-on-2 teen orgy was not one of those rights George Mason had in mind. But maybe you know something I don’t.

    A round of 15-year-old girls for everyone in the house…it’s on me

    Thanks. I needed that.

  33. Robert,

    I believe that he didn’t take the plea because that would have forced him to move out of the house with his mother and much younger sister, who he was helping raise.

    But, yeah, you’re totally right. That does deserve a ten year prison sentence, the consensual sex and all. I don’t know why everyone is so out of shape.

    Castration! That’s what this case really calls for. Castration and a lifetime sentence.

  34. As Andrew said in his post, 1/3 of teens in Georgia must be guilty of violating the same law as Wilson.

    One third of teens in Georgia have engaged in 8-way video group sex involving girls so drunk that, the next day, one of them is incapable of saying whether or not the sex was consensual?

    Wow, things sure have changed since I left down home. Progress!

  35. Did little Al make mention of ‘Chinamen’ running Korean owned businesses?

    Just wonderin’

  36. That Nigger deserves 25 years in Jail.

    They all do

  37. That does deserve a ten year prison sentence, the consensual sex and all.

    See? About 50 years ago, the nomocratic regime came under assault by those bien pensants who argued that the only just standard for the regulation of sexual conduct was “consenting adults.” This standard triumphed completely, but now people are attempting to redefine “consent” and “adults” so as to encompass a 15-year-old and a dead-drunk 17-year-old.

    Remember about 20 years ago, all those feminist “Take Back the Night” rallies on campus, and how all the bien pensants urged us to take seriously the phenomenon of “date rape”? Remember when feminists denounced pornography as a form of violence against women?

    Now, however, the tide has shifted once again, and the bien pensants tell us that producing a porn tape with a couple of drunk teenager girls is a constitutional right.

    We have pulled up anchor to drift with the currents, and who knows on what rocky shore we’ll next find ourselves? The only constant in all this is that the bien pensants tell us that they are pursuing “social justice.”

    Social justice, of course, is a mirage. But you knew that, didn’t you?

  38. Now, however, the tide has shifted once again, and the bien pensants tell us that producing a porn tape with a couple of drunk teenager girls is a constitutional right.

    I’m not saying it’s a constitutional right. Also, I’m not quite sure what prompted your rambling jaunt down sex crime memory lane, though I do think date rape should be punished and I think pornography is bad for women (though it shouldn’t be illegal).

    I am saying giving a 17 year old kid a 10 year sentence because he had consensual oral sex (which is what this case boils down to) is a travesty of justice and repugnant to anyone concerned about equality before the law. Moreover, I don’t even see how anyone looking at the facts of this case can see otherwise. And I’m saying that seriously — explain to me how getting ten years for oral sex (while legal) conforms to any reasonable notion of justice.

  39. Do you know what was on that videotape? Does David Weigel know what was on that videotape? No.

    But lawyers for Wilson’s five co-defendants knew what was on that videotape, and they knew they didn’t want their clients facing a Douglas County jury that had seen that videotape. So they copped a plea — the same deal that Wilson refused.

    The problem with what I believe is your argument, is that the jury did see the videotape, and yet when given the opportunity, did not convict for rape. What they did convict for was a technical violation of the law, that as many posters here have noted, would place much of the juvenile male population of Georgia in jail if widely applied. It’s the application of that insane law, as exemplified by Mr. Wilson, that causing the controversy. 10 years for ‘consensual’ oral sex between minors is ludicrous. We already have laws against rape; the jury decided that Mr. Wilson was not guilty of them.

    I’m not defending what Mr. Wilson and his friends did. If your interpretation of the videotape is anywhere close to correct, he and his associates sound throughly loathsome. But to repeat, a jury looked at that tape and decide not to convict him of the crimes that he commited according to your interpretation.

  40. a travesty of justice and repugnant to anyone concerned about equality before the law

    And probably also repugnant to anyone planning to have oral sex with a 15-year-old.

    Look, Charles: Six guys were involved. Five copped a plea. One took his chances on a jury trial and was convicted.

    If Wilson goes free as a result of this kind of media-driven victimhood crusade, wouldn’t that deny “equality before the law” to the five guys who took the plea bargain?

    I am not — repeat not — arguing that every teenager who gets to third base with his girlfriend deserves to be in prison. But most teenagers are not so stupid as to provide prosecutors with the kind of evidence involved in this case.

    It seems to me, Charles, that you are arguing for a Nerf-world, where everything is foam-padded so that no one ever faces consequences for their actions, no matter how stupid those actions may be.

    The lawyers who counseled Wilson’s five co-defendants to take the plea bargain counseled wisely: “This is Douglas County. I’ve seen the video. You do not want to take this case to trial.” Suffice it to say, there are probably not a lot of lifestyle libertarians in the Douglas County jury pool, and I suspect none of the judges in Douglas County would be swayed by the kinds of arguments now being offered on Wilson’s behalf by the bien pensants.

    Douglas County Judge: “Six guys? Two girls? Drunk? In a motel room? Underage? On video? Bailiff, hand me that law book and let me see what the maximum penalty is ….”

    Any sane person would have told Wilson and his friends: If you want to get jiggy on video with some drunk teenage hotties on New Year’s Eve, don’t do it in Douglas County, Ga. Perhaps Wilson’s lawyers should consider an insanity plea …

  41. If your interpretation of the videotape is anywhere close to correct …

    Well, Douglas County, a suburb of Atlanta, has grown a lot in the past couple of decades, but it’s still a small enough place that word gets around.

    The word I get from friends back home is that the contents of the video were sufficiently outrageous (think of an amateur re-enactment of a 2 Live Crew song, complete with enthusiastic narration) that you wouldn’t want to have to explain it to a Douglas County judge who’s just watched you and your lawyer put the taxpayers through the expense of a jury trial.

    He should have taken the plea bargain.

  42. I’m sorry, from what I’ve read about this (elsewhere) I ain’t going to the mat for this guy even if the entire city of New York raised a million bucks for his bail.

    Oh, and so happy to learn that the Vice President of Black America is concerned.

  43. I am not — repeat not — arguing that every teenager who gets to third base with his girlfriend deserves to be in prison. But most teenagers are not so stupid as to provide prosecutors with the kind of evidence involved in this case.

    Wait a second. You’re acknowledging that the substantive act doesn’t merit this punishment, but you’re saying he should be locked away for a decade for being “stupid”?

  44. Ah yes, from your other comments I see that you also think he should be locked away because he had the audacity to refuse to cop a plea for consensual oral sex. That also seems to be the gist of the prosecutor’s statements, “defy me, and I’ll ruin your life!”

  45. RSM-

    The legislator who wrote the law under which Wilson was convicted has stated that the legislative intent of the law was that it NOT apply to situations where there is only a two year age difference, as we have here.

    Nobody is saying that Wilson is an angel. But the appeals court ruling reducing his sentence to the same sentence he would have received if he had sex with the girl seems fair.

  46. You’re right on Chris S. RSM thinks teenage oral sex should get you 10 years jail time when:

    I am not — repeat not — arguing that every teenager who gets to third base with his girlfriend deserves to be in prison. But most teenagers are not so stupid as to provide prosecutors with the kind of evidence involved in this case.

    Teenage oral sex is not a crime, unless it’s recorded on videotape for everyone to see. Then you should go to jail or plea bargain and be a sex offender the rest of your life. Sheesh RSM, you’re one cold-blooded SOB.

  47. It is true about Sharpton — a stopped clock is right twice a day.

  48. Sheesh RSM, you’re one cold-blooded SOB.

    Not cold blooded. Just a fucking moron.

  49. And btw, what kind of shithole state would even criminalize sex, oral or otherwise, between a 17 year old and a 15 year old in the first place?

    Oh, that’s right…Georgia. Why do so many of the most fucked-up legal issues come from Georgia and Florida? Is there something in the water down there?

  50. Look, Charles: Six guys were involved. Five copped a plea. One took his chances on a jury trial and was convicted.

    If Wilson goes free as a result of this kind of media-driven victimhood crusade, wouldn’t that deny “equality before the law” to the five guys who took the plea bargain?

    I am not — repeat not — arguing that every teenager who gets to third base with his girlfriend deserves to be in prison. But most teenagers are not so stupid as to provide prosecutors with the kind of evidence involved in this case.

    It seems to me, Charles, that you are arguing for a Nerf-world, where everything is foam-padded so that no one ever faces consequences for their actions, no matter how stupid those actions may be.

    Consequences are important. This kid should probably get some punishment: losing his football scholarship, community service, something like that would be reasonable (though I still would think that it’s because of a stupid law).

    Furthermore, we’re not talking about Mumia or someone like that, who shot a cop and deserves to be punished. We’re talking about a 17 year old, a good kid who went to a bad party and got oral sex from a girl two years younger than him, someone who didn’t want to plea in part because he’s helping his single mom raise his 8 year old sister, and taking the plea would have meant registering a sex offender (just read that! Consensual sex = sex offender).

    It’s difficult to even wrap your head around it. If one of your neighbors was on the sex offender list, required to tell everyone in the neighborhood, and told you that story, would you believe them?

    We’re not talking about whether or not the punishment is deserved (I don’t think it is, but I’m not bent out of shape over the fact of punishment). The question is whether this punishment is in any way commensurate to the action. And, of course, it’s not. The fact that he refused the plea, which apparently for you absolves the prosecution entirely, makes this even more offensive. It’s obvious the prosecution is punishing this kid just for the hell of it, to show what happens when you won’t deal.

    Again, this case boils down to a 17 year old getting a ten year prison sentence and having his life ruined for getting oral sex from someone two years younger than him. It’s scarcely believable. In fact, if Balko didn’t post this sort of prosecutorial misconduct all the time, I wouldn’t believe it.

  51. I think the important clause in Robert’s sentence was “not every teenager”. He naturally means that the prison sentences should apply to black teenagers who aren’t him. See? It’s easy to figure out.

  52. Robert Stacy McCain does not want all teenage boys to go to jail for sex, just black ones ( I’m sorry, maybe taking swipes at this racist douche is too easy. I apologize.). Maybe he should read some of Radley’s posts about the problems with plea bargains, or even think of how absurd it would be for an innocent kid to plead guilty to being a branded sex criminal for having consensual sex with another teenager.

    Go back to your League of the South and Amren meetings and come back out of hiding the next time reason posts something about an innocent black person so you can give us “the full background.”

  53. Consequences are important. This kid should probably get some punishment: losing his football scholarship, community service, something like that would be reasonable (though I still would think that it’s because of a stupid law).

    Why does he deserve even that — or any consequences?

    I guess I don’t see what he did wrong at all. A high school kid got a blowjob from another high school kid who wanted to give him one? That’s should have “consequences”? Why exactly?

  54. “Look, Charles: Six guys were involved. Five copped a plea. One took his chances on a jury trial and was convicted”

    RSM seems to be suggesting that “copping a plea” means everything turned out OK. Those guys got 5-year sentences, didn’t they? Why the hell should Wilson take a plea bargain that’s going to land him in prison for 5 years for getting a consensual bj?

  55. Look, nobody’s saying that a 17-year-old should go to jail for receiving consensual oral sex from a 15 year old. Well, okay, I’m saying that, but only in cases where it’s on videotape and the videotape is watched by law enforcement and the prosecutor wants to make a name for himself by throwing the book at the kid to ensure said prosecutor’s “tough on crime” legacy. That’s all I’m saying.

  56. Jack Jackson 3rd | July 6, 2007, 11:38am | #

    Sigh. Abuse is not an argument, Jack.

    People respond to incentives. A libertarian believes this, yes?

    The punishment of crime is a form of incentive — a disincentive.

    The Georgia legislature, evidently, believed that oral sex with a 15-year-old was a crime worthy of a very powerful disincentive, and thus proscribed this act by a law that carried a 10-year mandatory sentence with no eligibility for parole.

    Genarlow Wilson violated that law, and was therefore subject to the sentence. The prosecutor offered a plea bargain that would have imposed a lesser sentence — 5 years, with the possibility of parole. Five of Wilson’s co-defendants accepted that deal. Instead, Wilson went to trial, was convicted, and sentenced to 10 years with no parole.

    You may argue that 10 years is too long of a sentence for the crime that Wilson committed — and the Georgia legislature evidently agrees, since they have since altered the law.

    You may argue that, in rigorously applying the letter of the law, the court violated the spirit of the law — and Rep. Matt Towery agrees that the law he sponsored did not envision it being applied to the circumstances in the Wilson case.

    You may argue that the whole notion of mandatory minimum sentencing is an affront to the Anglo-American tradition of jurisprudence, which has customarily afforded tremendous leeway to judges and juries in sentencing. And this is where you will see me nodding in eager assent. (Even in capital murder cases, the death penalty is not mandatory.)

    Any of those arguments is supportable by evidence and logic, even if we concede that those who disagree with them might also employ evidence and logic on the other side.

    What is insupportable is the argument that Genarlow Wilson is a victim. Every day in America, men and women are convicted of crimes on the basis of evidence far less conclusive than the videotape that convicted Wilson. Every day, these convicted criminals are compelled to pay fines or serve jail time, despite whatever mitigating circumstances might be argued in their favor. They didn’t know what they were doing was illegal, or other people had committed similar acts without being apprehended and convicted.

    Drug cases, traffic cases, child custody disputes, domestic violence — routinely, the proceedings of our legal system produce outcomes which can be viewed as unjust. There are plenty of people sitting in prison today who might claim “injustice” as plausibly as Genarlow Wilson. But because the particulars of their cases don’t lend themselves so easily to the victimhood narrative, or because they don’t have media-savvy lawyers, you’ve never even heard of those other “victims.”

    No system of law enforcement can ever be perfect. Some criminals literally get away with murder, while others go to the death chamber. But this media-generated trend of anointing certain criminals with celebrity victimhood — the cold-blooded gangbanger Tookie Williams comes to mind — and then demonizing as morally inferior all who refuse to accept the myth of the sainted victim, is dangerous to the basic foundations of a free society.

    I fully realized, Jack, that in protesting against victim status for Genarlow Wilson, I was risking reiteration of the sort of ad hominem attack you have provided. If, however, Reason is dedicated to “free minds,” then it follows that opinions ought not be stigmatized because they are merely unpopular, nor should facts be disregarded simply because they do not reinforce current conventional wisdom.

    When I saw my friend David Weigel (who should know better) saying “one cheer” for Al Sharpton, with all the other commenters lining up to endorse the victimhood narrative spoonfed to the media by Wilson’s supporters — and given my direct knowledge of Douglas County, Ga. — I felt compelled to risk calumny by opposing this one-sided argument. I’d rather be unpopular than ride on a bandwagon of half-truth.

    If Genarlow Wilson walks free tomorrow, I wish him well, and would buy him a beer if he should happen to show up at Brookhiser’s on Fairburn Road in Douglasville next time I’m down home. (They got a rockin’ band there.)

  57. Sheesh RSM, you’re one cold-blooded SOB.

    No, actually I’m not. But I do know Douglas County, Ga. If you want to see cold-blooded, just get on the wrong side of The Law in Douglas County.

    Ever hear tell of Sheriff Earl Lee and a fellow named John Paul Knowles?

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