The Two Americas

Maggie McNeill has a post up today about Judge Jack Camp.

One year ago today I reported the story of Jack T. Camp, a federal judge in Atlanta, Georgia who made a career of throwing the book at people for consensual crimes; he fell for a stripper whom the F.B.I. then bribed into betraying her client by promising to drop other consensual crime charges against her. So she led him into a fake drug deal and the FBI arrested him and charged him with an assortment of drug and weapon charges for which any normal person would’ve faced decades in prison. But since he is a member of the ruling class (albeit a disgraced one), what he actually got was far less time in jail than a Georgia woman who was accused of agreeing to have sex with someone for the “wrong” reasons (like, you know, to pay the bills and feed her kids) might have been sentenced to.

The story actually dates from March, when he was sentenced. The judge in the case — um, the one who didn’t deal drugs with a stripper — made huge pronouncements about Camp betraying his office, dissing the rules of law and then sentenced him to … 30 days in prison, a $1000 fine, 400 hours of community service and reimbursing the government for their costs. Needless to say, anyone in this situation who had not ““disgraced his office” or “denigrated the federal judiciary” or “encouraged disrespect for the law.” would have been with a far harsher punishment and likely be in prison for years.

So why do I bring up this 6-month old story? Because I was thinking today that a big part of the reason our government is so disconnected from reality is because almost all the people in it are. Our political class can not sympathize with our anger when we are groped and harassed by TSA because it doesn’t happen to them when they’re on chartered flights. They ramp up the War on Drugs because their kids aren’t going to prison if they’re busted, their friends aren’t being busted on New York streets. Hell, they can talk about their drug use in a book and be praised for their “candor”. While bodies are hitting the floor in warrantless no-knock drug raids, they’re screaming blue murder when a warrant is executed on William Jefferson’s Rayburn office. They support the Patriot Act but how often are they subject to sneak-and-peeks? How often do their phones get tapped? And when it comes to the War on Whores, was Elliot Spitzer prosecuted for anything? Would any of them be?

It’s not just that people in power are held to the different standards than we are; it’s that they live in a different country. They live in a country that treats them with utter deference. Even when they egregiously break the law — especially sin laws on drugs and sex — they are coddled and swaddled, punished less severely than we are for, say, biking the wrong way down a street. And I have seen zero evidence that they have earned such special treatment.

We need to push them on this. Any politician who defends TSA needs to be ignored until he submits to a groping. Drug Warriors should be laughed at until they agree to some no-knock raids and sneak-and-peeks. And just like politicians who thunder on about gays should be assumed to be closet cases until proven otherwise, politicians who scream about prostitution should be assumed to be Client 9’s.

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  1. Screamin

    Great post, Hal. Rules for thee but not for me seem to be the status quo these days.

    How do we as humble residents of the blogosphere affect any kind of meaningful change? I can write my Congresscritters all day…it’s not like they read or care about anything I have to say. I can protest, but aside from 15 seconds of fame as a footnote on a newscast and being put on someone’s terrorist watchlist somewhere, I accomplish nothing. Unlike business, I can’t vote with my wallet (I have as much as I can; my last car purchase was a Honda).

    For the first time in my life, I can (sadly) say I understand why people don’t vote.

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