Author Archives: SHG

Readers Mailbag No. 9,236: To Forgive, Divine

The readers mailbag used to be a regular feature at SJ, which died out somewhat after most of the emails consisted of young public defenders writing, “fuck you, traitor. DIE!!!” But an interesting, unsolicited query arrived the other day that might provoke some useful answers from anyone but Barleycorn, so I thought it prudent to post here.


I’ve spent some time reflecting on Elizabeth Bruenig’s recent tweet about forgiveness and atonement; specifically, she said our current environment is unsustainable: we demand atonement but disdain forgiveness. Continue reading

Bail Reform Isn’t To Blame

If factless argument could be bottled and sold, somebody would be fabulously rich. And the effort to take rhetorical credit for outcomes, good or bad, becomes infinitely easier when the connections seem to make sense. Making sense is infinitely easier when it confirms people’s priors. This afflicts pretty much everybody, and every argument, but sometimes the logical fallacy that “correlation does not imply causation” can be so brutal that even the most virulent supporter of a tribe says “no.”

The New York Post, tabloid rag that loves it some cops, said “no.” Continue reading

The Meta Letter

What could possibly be controversial about a letter entitled “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate“? When I first read it and read through the many names of the famous and important signers, two things bothered me about it. First, it struck me as taking needless political potshots that were wholly irrelevant to its putative purpose, promoting free speech and thought. It seemed counterproductive to engage in political posturing when the point is that the concept of open debate isn’t a tit-for-tat political problem.

The second issue I had was that, while most of the signatories were people who had lived their support for open debate, some were leading voices in political correctness and silencing debate. It was like Richard Spencer signing onto a letter telling people to be nice to black people. It didn’t quite compute. Continue reading

Tuesday Talk*: Does Amy Cooper Need To Be Prosecuted?

One of the more notorious Karens, Amy Cooper, was fired, lost her dog and will be a social pariah for the foreseeable future. This was the punishment imposed by the mob for calling the police and claiming that her life was threatened by a “Black bird watcher.”

Wasn’t that enough? Nooooooo. No, says the social justice mob. No, says the Manhattan District Attorney, who might under other circumstances take responsibility for its actions but is now too vulnerable and subject to influence with Cy Vance being primaried for DA that appealing to the mob matters. And so, Amy Cooper, unemployed dogless pariah, will now be prosecuted for the misdemeanor of falsely reporting an incident. Continue reading

Cancel Culture Blames At-Will Employment

When it first came on my radar, it was via a twit by Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern.

It’s amazing that passionate foes of “cancel culture” who don’t want people to get fired for stupid or arbitrary reasons have managed to conceal their deep opposition to at-will employment for so long. Welcome to the fight for just cause employment protections, everybody!

It struck me as a non-sequitur, the usual snark intended to shift focus away from the vicious mob they adore to the cause they despise. I wouldn’t have used the word “amazing,” but “incredible,” as it’s not believable that anyone would so flagrantly conflate cause and effect for their own purposes and expect anyone outside of their echo chamber not to see the irrationality. Continue reading

Lowery’s Reckoning: Black News and Honest Brokers

Remember the sitcom Sanford and Son? There was a scene that I’ll never forget, where the son, Lamont, played by Demond Wilson, told a white guy, “I read Life Magazine. How come you don’t read Ebony?” I knew the answer, of course, but it nonetheless struck a chord. We, meaning ordinary white people of general good will, have neither an understanding nor much of a concern about what our fellow citizens, who happen to have black skin, are thinking and feeling. It’s not so much that we are antagonistic toward the idea of knowing, but that we just don’t care enough to do so.

Since then, the idea has morphed into the concept of whiteness being normalized, which it was and is because it represents the perspective of the majority. Black people constitute 13% of Americans, and like it or not, they are not the majority. But does that mean they aren’t of sufficient worth to be part of the whole, to have their world seen by the majority? Continue reading

Tyranny Of The Minority

There’s a concept embodied in the Equal Protection Clause, of particular importance at this time in our history, that limits democracy. We do not, we cannot, allow a tyranny of the majority. Even if enough people vote for it, the Constitution still does not allow us to impose a burden on a protected class. It’s undemocratic in the sense that the majority has spoken, but even majorities have limits.

But if the majority can’t do as it pleases when it comes to burdening, to harming a protected class, what if the tyrant is the minority? Continue reading

Short Take: The Karen Chronicles

As usual, Cathy Young makes the case that the viral “Karen” videos are often seized upon to prove something they don’t; that the entitled “Karens” are racist when because, in brief clips devoid of context, it’s a white woman against a person of color, and that’s quite enough to make Karen a racist.

A Twitter video clip that has been retweeted over 85,000 times shows a woman cowering, whimpering and shrieking in terror while a man taunts and berates her, apparently for cutting him off in traffic and flipping him the bird. And the man, who filmed the video and put it online, is meant to be the good guy.

Continue reading

Cops Lie; So Does Everyone Else

My witnesses were there, ready, sitting on a bench in the hallway. We had them. The police had gone to the wrong address, a different address than was called in by the 911 caller, and that’s where they found the drugs and guns. They were fully prepped and raring to go, which is far more difficult than most people realize. Witnesses don’t want to testify for the defense. It’s like begging to make enemies of the cops, and in Washington Heights, nobody wanted to bring more attention to themselves from the 34 precinct.

The case was before Justice Charles Tejada, who was wearing the same tie as I was. He made a joke about it when he took the bench that morning. It was cute, but neither of us was too happy about it. Nonetheless, the suppression hearing got underway and the prosecution called its first witness, the arresting officer. He took the stand and . . . admitted that they went to the wrong house, a house that was on a street by the same name but ended in “terrace” rather than “road.” And just like that, it was over. Continue reading