Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Willie Horton

Was George H.W. Bush a hero or villain?

George Bush's body is hardly cold and isn't even yet in the ground and the New York Times is already attacking him. Apparently, the leftists at the New York Times have had enough of people praising a Republican President and needed to do what they felt was a reality check.

So they bring up Willie Horton.  It's been a couple of decades since the Willie Horton campaign ad and a lot of people don't remember it.  You may not have even been born before then.  Back in the day, Massachusetts passed a law allowing for prisoners to have weekend furloughs to go home.  The idea was that prisoners reaching the end of their incarceration could go home on weekends and start to acclimatize to civilian life  A number of States have enacted this type of program and it's been shown to make it easier for prisoners to integrate back into society.

Of course, Massachusetts being Massachusetts, someone claimed that the system was unfair, as convicted murderers who are serving life terms without parole -  the Massachusetts equivalent of the death penalty - weren't allowed to participate in this program.  Of course, this is a ridiculous argument on its face.  Someone serving life sentence, without parole, isn't expected to be let out and reintegrate into society.  However, some people argued that in many instances, such prisoners are eventually released if the governor commutes their sentence and allows them to apply for parole  - and thus convicted murders should be allowed to have weekend passes.

Nevertheless, the Massachusetts Supreme Court decided that since the law didn't specifically say you couldn't do this, then it must be permissible.  This is a wake-up call to Jurists on the far-right who believe in "strict interpretation" of the law.  But perhaps, the Jurists figured that this error in the law would be quickly corrected by the legislature.

And indeed it wasHowever, then Governor Michael Dukakis refused to sign the bill into law, which would have eliminated weekend parole for people serving life sentences without the possibility parole.  This of course, is an outrage.   Life without parole doesn't mean "home on the weekends" or "free to offend again".   The whole point of locking up violent people is not only to punish them, but to protect the rest of us.   Whose needs and rights are more important?

But to hear the New York Times telling it, the real outrage is that Mr. Horton's name wasn't spelled right.  Mr. Horton claims he never went by the name "Willie" but rather "William" and that this is a racist injustice.  Willie Horton is now serving two consecutive life terms in Maryland after he was released on weekend furlough and then failed to return.  He went down to Maryland and beat a man senseless and stabbed him and then raped his wife - repeatedly.  Not surprisingly, Maryland is not letting him go back to Massachusetts where he may be let out again.

Dukakis eventually relented and signed the bill into law during a second non-consecutive term as Governor, when he started to have Presidential ambitions and he knew the weekend furlough thing would come back to haunt him.  It wasn't George Bush who first brought up this issue but rather Al Gore, during the primaries, when he was running against Dukakis.   So, to lay this at the foot of George Bush is rather disingenuous.  Granted, some of the Bush's former advisers, including Rodger Ailes, decided to make an issue out of the Willie Horton thing.  But it was a legitimate issue to raise.

Nothing in the "Willie Horton" ad shown above is factually incorrect.  People on the Left argue that it was racist, as it showed an unflattering picture of Mr. Horton, who is black, and thus was race-baiting.   Perhaps there is a nugget of truth in that - a tiny, tiny nugget.  But the overwhelming truths involved far outweigh that.   Do you want a President who cares more about the rights of criminals than the rights of citizens?   That was the question of the hour then, and particularly today.

Sadly, the Democratic party seems to be enamored of prisoners and criminals - and illegal aliens, who they call "undocumented" as if they left their passport on their dresser this morning.  All we hear about from the Democrats these days is the rights of prisoners, criminals, and those entering the country illegally.  Granted, these are important rights - and the rights of the accused should be respected, and prisoners should be treated properly.   On the other hand, American prisons are country clubs compared to most of the prisons in the world (except perhaps those in Europe).

And, yes, separating children from their parents at the border was wrong.  But on the other hand, can we continue to grant "asylum" to people whose main grievance seems to be economic more than social?

The Democrats want to restore the right to vote to felons - as if this was some huge demographic that they should be pandering to.  The rights of the victims of criminals - which is the rest of us - are never mentioned or discussed.  This seems to me to be an asinine strategy for getting elected in America.

You can't win elections by cobbling together a voting base of minorities - Hillary Clinton demonstrated that.  Blacks will only get out to vote when one of their own is on the ballot - and even then, only on the top of the ticket.   Barack Obama demonstrated that - twice.   In order to win elections, you have to get some white folks to vote for you as well - we still are about 70% of the population, despite dire predictions that we too, will become a minority in the near future.   This is not racism - this is election strategy.   You want to win, you have to appeal to a broad base, not narrow demographics.

And ex-cons constitute a very narrow demographic.

The New York Times goes on to bloviate that as a result of the Willie Horton commercial, Democrats were "forced" to move further to the right and enact stronger criminal justice laws, culminating in the passage of Violent Crime Control law, during the Clinton administration.

What they fail to acknowledge is the crime rate in the United States plummeted after the enactment of those laws.  And crime is starting to rise, in States where criminal laws are being "reformed." 

There is, of course, calls on both sides of the aisle to "reform" our criminal justice system, particularly with regard to mandatory minimum sentences - particularly for non-violent crimes.   And I suspect that such reform could take place - if both sides are willing to compromise.

But if we go back to the "feeling sorry for criminals" mode of thinking, I am not sure it will bode well for the rest of the country.   Giving violent offenders weekend passes was wrong back in the 1980's, and it is still wrong today.

Sometimes, the only thing you can do with a young man who is inclined to violent crime is to lock him up until he simply ages out of that phase in his life.   And sometimes, for some crimes that are so heinous, there is little else you can do but lock them up forever - or strap them on a gurney and send them on to the next world.

The Democrats are going to lose in 2020, if they continue down this road of wacky liberalism.  And that is the real shame.