GETTING EXACTLY WHAT YOU ASK FOR | 1999-05-29
Some time ago I was watching a Discovery Channel program about a community that had been terrorized for months by a nut who lived there. He was always harassing and following women and children. He nearly ran people down. The police would do nothing. He threatened people with death. Finally, he was just about to follow through with his threat to kill a man's family. He came after the man, and the man finally snapped and shot him, again and again.
A jury gave the man who shot this dangerous nut life in prison. His whole community was terribly upset at the sentence. They all said the psychological pressure the kook he shot had been putting on everybody was bound to make this happen.
I do not believe anybody should be allowed to terrify a community this way, so, at first, my sympathies were with the guy who did the shooting. I said AT FIRST. Then it occurred to me that the shooter got the treatment he had advocated all his life.
What occurred to me was this: what if this same man, an upper-middle class by-the-rules California guy who did the shooting, had been on that jury? I'll bet that, if the same facts were presented to him, he would have said, "Well, we can't have people taking the law into their own hands." He, like every one of the twelve upstanding citizens on the jury, would have voted the way the System told him to.
This guy's neighbors considered him a hero. They had all lived through the terror the guy he shot had wreaked on the whole community for months.
Every one of them was furious at the jury verdict.
But every one of them, if he had not experienced that terror and had been on that jury, would have voted the way the lawyers told them to. All their lives, they have championed the System. They have always voted against anyone "taking the law into his own hands." These upper-income Californians are the type of people who went "OOH!" when they were in the audience and some right winger offended Phil Donahue."
In other words, the guy who was stupid enough to stand up for them got what he had always been devoted to promoting. He got what he asked for. His community got the terror they had voted for all their lives. They were like other Americans: The System is Truth for them. Their Only True Faith is that one fatal phrase: "We cannot have people taking the law into their own hands."
Keeping the people from taking the law into their own hands was the cause thousands of British soldiers and American Loyalists died for from 1776 to 1783. You can sum up the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States in these words: "WE, the People of the United States of America, Are Hereby Taking the Law Into Our Own Hands." In South Carolina in the 1950s, if someone had been distributing drugs to schoolchildren, a parent would have gone and shot him dead. No jury would have convicted a parent for it. More important, the process would not have gotten that far: Any District Attorney who would have tried to indict that parent could kiss his political career good-bye.
Today, the DA would get an indictment and the jury would convict. Then the DA would be reelected. The California DA who got the conviction we talked about will get reelected. He will be reelected by exactly the sort of person who shot the nut and got a life sentence for it. If it had been someone else who got indicted, the guy now spending life in prison would have supported that DA for reelection.
In other words, the guy spending his life in prison spent his whole political life asking for it. In the political world, you get what you ask for.
The crime rate in South Africa is out of sight and getting worse.
The late Alan Paton was the guy who wrote "Cry, the Beloved Country." He made a career out of being an anti-white South African. He got lots of awards and royalties for helping make South Africa what it is today.
Now Alan Paton's sister is leaving South Africa. She says crime has gotten out of control there. Oddly enough, just when things got to be exactly what she and her brother advocated, she has to get the hell out.
But what of South Africans who can't leave? Do I feel sorry for them?
Sorry, but no. They could have dumped the National Party when it started to sell them out, but, like Southern Democrats of the 1960s, they said that it was the "Party Of Their Fathers." When the National Party adopted respectable conservatism and told them to vote for black rule, they voted for black rule.
So they got what they asked for.
Democracy is a system of government where people get what they deserve.
Politics is a deadly serious business, where our entire destiny is at stake. If one treats politics as just another way to be fashionable and sound respectable, he loses everything.
And he deserves to.