Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sun Rises, Earth is Round, Jonah Is Stupid

Puddin'head Jonah* Goldberg pulls out his Mead Composition notebook, steals a pen from K-Lo's purse, and reluctantly writes an essay on the law. Since Puddin'head Jonah is stupid from laziness as well as lack of mental capacity he freely admits he knows nothing about the law. But he has a living to make and conservative ideas to flog, so after a bunch of nothing he gets to his point.

One answer—really the only answer—you hear about why we should treat criminals with more respect is that it’s the only way to make government respect the rights of the innocent. I’m all for respecting the rights of the innocent, and I think police should be required to follow strict rules, have warrants, and all the rest. But I don’t see why cops who break the rules intentionally or unintentionally should be “punished” by having objectively guilty criminals let loose on society. I don’t think zookeepers should abuse their animals, but nor do I think a zookeeper’s abused polar bear should be set free in Midtown Manhattan. If Special Forces troops break the rules while capturing Osama bin Laden, I don’t see why that should require letting bin Laden go and giving him a do-over.

Jonah doesn't understand that the police searched the car in good faith, and therefore their actions are legal. They didn't break the rules to get their evidence. He babbles on for god-knows-how-many words about irrelevancies just so he can stroke his metaphorical guns.

Bennie Dean Herring was “no stranger to law enforcement,” according to Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts. That’s Roberts’s understated way of saying that when Herring walks into a room, reasonable people could be forgiven for hearing the theme music to Cops in their heads....

Some might say that when a law enforcement officer’s first reaction upon laying eyes on you is to check for outstanding warrants, you’ve made some poor life choices....

I just don’t understand how Reynolds and so many others get from there to the idea that punishing cops requires rewarding people like Herring. According to the exclusionary rule, a cop who breaks the rules to arrest a serial child rapist should be “punished” by having the rapist released back into the general public....

If zookeepers, soldiers, or cops break the rules, punish them—criminally, civilly, or administratively. But don’t reward the scum of the earth with a get-out-of-jail-free card, particularly when that will result in truly innocent people being punished. Criminals didn’t do anything right just because the cops did something wrong.

So many words, so many ways to call someone a criminal. Yes, he was guilty, but Jonah seems to think only guilty people are arrested. That's a willful denial of reality, retreating into a comforting cocoon of self-regard and smug self-satisfaction. I am good; they are bad. Like a rat pushes a lever to get a pleasurable shock, the Jonahs of the world can't resist the thrill of saying anyone less fortunate than they are is scum.

UPDATE: Jonah prints an e-mail in which a commenter also point out that a person accused of a crime is sometimes innocent. The caveat does not penetrate the Puddin'head, of course, because Jonah is not in the habit of rethinking anything. Why go over old stuff when you're paid to put out new stuff? Jonah informs us, however, that people should be able to sue cops. Because people never have bad motives or make mistakes either, no doubt.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Puddin'head finally bows to the inevitable and accepts correction from a lawyer.

*In Mark Twain's excellent detective story and social commentary, Puddin'head Wilson, the hero is actually quite smart. His stupider neighbors couldn't follow his reasoning and so started calling him a pudding head. Jonah is not that sort of Puddin'head. Think suet in a muslin cloth, cornstarch-thickened milk, or, especially, floating island, which is meringue sitting on custard. That kind.

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