Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

08/29/2009 (12:23 pm)

Excusing the Politically Correct

I have avoided the entire Edward Kennedy discussion, choosing instead to pray for the man’s soul. I detested his politics; I was incensed by his involvement in besmirching the reputation of Judge Robert Bork; I heard good things about his personal treatment of employees and constituents; his family has a big house a few miles from where I’ve been living for the past 2 years; he had a reputation as a philanderer and a drunkard; he was a well-liked power broker in the US Senate. That’s how much I know of the man, and I feel I’ve already said too much about a man whose funeral is proceeding even as I write this. He should rest in peace.

However, I’m incredulous after having read this misguided editorial by Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune, who wants us to consider what a shame it would have been if the accident at Chappaquiddick had been the subject of a 21st-century-style media feeding frenzy.

This disgusting piece implies that if it had taken place today, the media would have gone berserk over the accident, turning it into a circus and, in the process, ending Kennedy’s political career. It then simply assumes that nobody disagrees that the remainder of Kennedy’s life was such an unmitigated boon to the public good that we all would have been worse off for his career having ended.

250px-chappaquiddick_bridge1What astounds me is how clueless Zorn is about the protection of privilege in America, particularly Democrat privilege, and how this protection by the press makes a mockery of the central requirement of a free society that every citizen must be equal before the law. The unequal treatment before the law rides on an awful inversion of morality: the bizarre notion that if a man’s politics are Democratic enough, no moral malfeasance, no matter how horrific, is sufficient to offset his virtue. Virtue is defined as “supporting Democratic party initiatives.”

It’s the same blindness that was exhibited as it was becoming embarrassingly obvious that President Clinton was a pathological liar, a perjurer, a grafter, and possibly even a serial rapist. Democrats simply closed their ears and eyes. How could somebody who supported welfare, ecology, and women’s rights be considered morally bad? He is such a good man, simply by virtue of his politics!

This substitution of political correctness for moral character is evil, and undermines our republic.

There is no legitimate doubt that Kennedy avoided serious investigation into the accident by virtue of the fact that he was, in effect, royalty. Whether there ought to have been a conviction, or even an arrest, is completely beside the point; there ought to have been an investigation, and there would have been… except that in Massachusetts, Kennedys are not the subject of investigations, because they’re Kennedys.

There are valid reasons to object to the manner in which media turn a tragedy into a circus. However, the process serves to ensure that no party is exempt from public scrutiny, and eventually from the law. Kennedy did plead guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, arguably because there was no way to avoid the public knowing that he had done so. He was sentenced to 2 months in prison, but the sentence was immediately suspended by the judge. Appropriate press attention could have served to ensure that a proper investigation took place.

So public scrutiny, and particularly press scrutiny, is a necessary goad to produce appropriate legal action, and protects our liberties — when applied in a fair and impartial manner.

The fact is, however, that press attention has long since ceased to be applied fairly and impartially.

In fact, it has become disturbingly common, in modern America, for Democrats generally to believe they are above the law, with good reason. Republicans who get charged with a crime step down; Democrats never do, and the press protects them. Try to imagine what a Lexis-Nexis search of the mainstream media articles would reveal of the $90,000 in Representative Jefferson’s freezer (D, La), the bribery tapes capturing Representative Jack Murtha (D, Pa) making deals, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D, Ca) shuffling of more than $1 billion in defense contracts to her husband’s company, Senator Harry Reid’s (D, Nv) profiting from land scams, or dozens of the scandals instigated by President Bill Clinton (try to find a discussion of the possible graft in declaring the Grand Escalante Staircase a national park, for instance). Compare them to the unhinged attempts to tie Abu Graib to high public officials who had nothing to do with it (43 days on the front page of the New York Times), the number of mentions of the Abramoff scandals, the coverage of possible indictments of Tom Delay, who, so far as we can tell, is guilty of no crime, and the unspeakable savagery aimed at Sarah Palin, who has not even committed the public appearance of a crime. The truth is, we rely almost entirely on conservative blogs and talk radio for information regarding violations of the law by Democrats, whereas the least foible of any Republican becomes a front-page story and headlines the 6 o’clock news. The Chappaquiddick accident would never become a feeding frenzy unless the Senator were a Republican.

tk-diagram3This is not to say that there has never been an instance of Republicans currying favor so as to avoid prosecution; it happens. However, the imbalance between the way Democrats and Republicans treat felons within their ranks is stark, and makes it clear which party is currently a danger to the rule of law.

One wonders whether Mr. Zorn, or any other Democrat, would so blithely ignore possible disagreement over the value of a politician’s public service if that politician were not of their party. And then one realizes, there is no need to wonder; Ronald Reagan’s death did not benefit from this same assumption of positive feeling, and the deaths of such figures as Tony Snow and Jerry Falwell were used as excuses for rage-filled diatribes against the right. No, in the modern press, liberals are saints, and conservatives, devils. Consequently, the irresponsible killing of a young woman is treated as an unfortunate accident simply because the man who committed it has the right politics in the eyes of reporters. In such an environment, where correct politics are the only publicly-accepted measure of virtue, it is only a matter of time before a legislature passes laws to outlaw conservatism. Liberty is not safe where morality is measured by political correctness.

Zorn’s editorial is nonsense. If he has so little regard for equal protection and so little awareness of how he’s savaging it, he would serve the public better if he kept his mouth shut. However, it is because the law he treats as meaningless still has some power that he retains the right to publish his opinion. He may learn, soon enough, that if he continues to saw the limb of equal protection, it will not be conservatives alone who fall from the tree of liberty; it will be everybody, including himself.

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