Nullification Isn’t Tantamount To Murder

There was method to the madness, whether you agree with it or not.

Maybe it’s time for black people to use the same tool white people have been using to defy a system they do not consent to: jury nullification. White juries regularly refuse to convict or indict cops for murder. White juries refuse to convict vigilantes who murder black children. White juries refuse to convict other white people for property crimes. White juries act like the law is just a guideline and their personal morality (or lack thereof) should be controlling.

Maybe it’s time minorities got in the game?

Sure, it’s overly simplistic. Not all white juries convict blacks and acquit whites. Not all white people shrug off harm to blacks or forgive whites for committing murder. But the hung jury in police officer Michael Slager’s killing of Walter Scott was raw. It wasn’t the sort of outcome that lent itself to being generous toward the legal system.

Black people ARE BEING MURDERED, and the system isn’t doing a damn thing to hold their killers accountable. Sorry I’m not sorry if this protest idea would put the shoe on the other foot for a change.

What Elie argues for is nullification. If a white juror can hang in a case where the evidence is as overwhelming as it was against Slager, then black people should do the same.  It’s not the solution that I would want, as the answer to one killer’s juror hanging isn’t for others to hang, or cut loose other killers. The solution is that nullification based on racial animus or amity shouldn’t happen either way.

But the idea was one of protest. And that’s where some people lost their minds.

A leading Harvard-Law-School-trained attorney and spokesperson for the Black Lives Matter [BLM] movement has OKed and apparently encouraged the murder of whites by calling upon blacks to refuse to convict anyone accused of murdering a white men, but the media has virtually ignored – and has so far largely refused to report on – this extreme and arguably unethical tactic, notes public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

Not that Black Lives Matter could do a whole lot worse than Elie as a spokesman, but I’m pretty sure he’s not on the payroll. But that bit of conflation is nothing compared with George Washington University Law School prof John Banzhaf’s assertion that Elie “encouraged the murder of whites.”

Elie Mystal, in a very recent Op-Ed in, proposes this far-reaching tactic as a way of fighting back against – and calling attention to – various injustices which he contends African Americans are systematically subjected to, says Banzhaf.

But refusing to convict when a crime has been committed is equivalent to legalizing the act the criminal law was enacted to prevent, argues Banzhaf.

Ah. So what Banzhaf is saying is that what he said up top of his press release, that “Black Lives Matter OKs Murdering Whites, But Media Ignores,” was false on every level. Not only are Elie’s thoughts not attributable to anyone but Elie, but he never called for murdering whites. Or cops. Or murdering anyone.

Banzhaf’s argument, that nullification is the “equivalent to legalizing the act,” will appeal to those whose grasp of nuance is insufferably shallow.  The refusal to convict isn’t the approval of the crime. No rational person has ever told cops to go kill blacks for fun, and Elie by no means suggests any black person murder anyone. The chasm between nullification and endorsing murder is too far for any rational person to leap.

And it’s not enough to claim something that was by no means accurate, or to attribute to a movement what a guy who writes at ATL has to say for himself, but to try to inflame the situation as much as possible.

This is happening although most major TV news outlets freely broadcasted video of protesters chanting “dead cops now” and “pigs in a blanket, fry like bacon”; often citing it as evidence that BLM condoned and encouraging murdering police, although those leading the chants could well have been outsiders or overzealous fringe supporters.

But when what was previously only implied by the chants is now expressly stated, in a lengthy article by a Harvard lawyer and a crystal clear plea and call for real action, it has largely been ignored, although it is not subject in any way to misinterpretation, or to a few words being taken out of context.

The rhetoric of protesters was foolish. While it may well reflect their anger, they give up the moral high ground and undermine the support of all people who agree that needless police killings of blacks must be stopped. But Banzhaf’s statement, that Elie’s call for nullification in protest “is not subject in any way to misinterpretation,” is just bizarre and ironic, given that flagrant and deliberate misinterpretation is precisely what he’s done.

As Gandhi supposedly said, “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” This applies to the call for nullification as a response to an outrageous hung jury in Michael Slager’s trial, though he will be retried and may well be convicted yet.

But more importantly, this applies to John Banzhaf’s attempt to further sensationalize Elie’s reaction, to inflame the situation even further by conflating nullification for a call for blacks to murder whites. It’s not that Banzhaf doesn’t tend to be a bomb thrower, at times with good aim, but he’s also a law professor and still presumed constrained by some modicum of intellectual honesty.  His claim that Elie is calling for murder is outrageously ridiculous, and as a prawf, unacceptable.

The reason the mainstream media didn’t lose its shit over Elie Mystal’s post isn’t some subversive social justice conspiracy, but that Elie never suggested what Banzhaf tries to attribute to him. And lest anyone forget, cops are needlessly killing black guys, and a jury just hung on a cop when the evidence couldn’t be more overwhelming. While I may not share Elie’s solution, there is no denying that the problem is real.

9 thoughts on “Nullification Isn’t Tantamount To Murder

  1. B. McLeod

    Murder courts originated in the Agora, as a substitute for blood feuds and private vendettas. Take them away, and every city will be Chicago (and it works so well in Chicago).

  2. John Barleycorn

    I do declare your back page shop keepers are becoming more and more skidish and damn near afraid to even put a toe on the boardwalk these days everytime a few scruffy looking riders roll into town with news from the canyons.

    What the heck is up with that?


    So you are a “left to our own devices” type and Elie is a “by any means necessary” type?

    I dunno!! Something tells me you two manicured city boys are both still holding back a little bit…

    Get over it. Everybody gets mud on their boots on a spring ride. That shouldn’t be holding you back from sharing those learn-‘ed “deep thoughts” of yours  that keep you up at night.

    I don’t think that’s it though. Right or wrong it just might be that you two, for whatever reason, still get all weak in the knees around babies, even if the ever present soap scum atop the bath water is getting pretty rancid due to it permeating the entire tub of justice water colum.

    Well, I hate to break it to you. But  i’ll tell ya! No mater how much more hot water you dump in that fucking tub, it ain’t gonna do the trick.

    Makes me wonder just what its gonna take for the two of you to participate in the court is in session “rides” that will be live streamed from a commandeered courthouse near you once this “nullification” thingy or something else entirely catches on?

    Elie would make a great “cowboy” even if he did go to Harvard, the name alone even without a dusty hat will do. And all you need, esteemed one, is a can of snuff  and a pair of spurs  to compliment the stitching on the heels of those boots you hid from yourself behind the dustpan that attaches to the broom handel that you keep in your closet.

    What’s it gonna be boys!? More BLAH-blah, or are y’all ready for some YEE-Haw!

    P.S. If you can give up the manicures, whatever you do definitely go with the black hats there are gonna be enough minds exploding as it is. White hats will only confuse ‘um.

  3. Agammamon

    John Banzhaf

    So . . . he’s off the obesity beat?

    And I kind of hate that he’s enough of a self-promoter that he’s famous enough that I recognize his name even after not reading anything about him for a couple of years.

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