By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader
America is nothing if not inconsistent. Standards of moral turpitude change more than Chicago weather. Catalysts that ignite mass indignation or praise are as unpredictable as the stock market. There is no clear demarcation between right and wrong in this country anymore and everybody knows it.
A white college student in California admits to drugging and raping a woman and receives a sentence of a few months in jail. Not prison. The sympathetic white judge – perhaps persuaded that the attacker too much resembles one of his grandchildren – releases him after a couple of weeks saying prison is no place for such a lad.
Then we hear about Black men spending five, 10, 15, 20 years in prison for rapes prosecuted on circumstantial evidence and false identifications before being vindicated well into their sentences by DNA results. Even worse, who can forget the lab doctor who purposely returned false positive results in the cases of Black and Latino suspects to assure their conviction. Though convicted, she too escaped a jail term.
Last year more than two dozen high-profile sexual assault cases of teachers, elected officials, clergy and law enforcement officers ended in convictions or plea bargains with little or no jail time. In virtually every instance, the accused was white.
In at least half of a dozen cases, judges decided perpetrators would NOT have to register as a sex offender or comply with restrictions attached. Several judges promised to drop charges of those convicted if they behaved during their short probation period; offering them a clear shot at a fresh start.
While many in the nation gloat with pleasure in the wake of the conviction of comedian and activist Bill Cosby, many of these so-called defenders of women’s rights look the other way at the two dozen or more women accusing the president of serious impropriety. This is high hypocrisy in what we purport to be a nation of laws.
For all those ‘dancing on the grave’ of Cosby the question becomes, what about the other men accused. There is something troubling about more than 70 celebrities being outed in #metoo scandals in 2017 – most of whom are white – and yet the only one targeted for prosecution was Cosby; one of the few African Americans scandalized. There are few known plans to pursue the wealthy, white celebrities.
Shifting gears – some Americans lost their minds over a comedian’s tawdry jokes during an event in the nation’s capital recently.
Frankly, I never heard of comedian Michelle Wolf before the White House Correspondents Dinner. And it really doesn’t matter that I didn’t find her routine particularly funny. All I know is somebody somewhere said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll will defend to the death your right to say it.”
That is Founding Fathers American as apple pie. If we are suddenly going to play moral police and force apologies for every highly offensive utterance, let’s start with the “s—hole countries” comment and take it from there.
By the way, the man who made that horrendous slur hosted the president of Nigeria this week and to reiterate Trump’s choice of words, “Everything starts from the top.” We have never witnessed such verbally irresponsible and purposely hurtful rhetoric from the White House. In that light, it is beyond hypocritical to feign outrage over the rants of a comedian.
So every day, Black America is reading, watching or hearing a news story of something ridiculous like brothers forced to leave Starbucks while waiting on friends because they would not immediately purchase coffee – or stories about five older African American women who faced police when country club management complained that they were golfing too slowly.
Another Black man filmed himself outside of another breakfast establishment where doors were locked and a restaurant of all-white patrons were dining while waiters and staff pointed to a closed sign on the locked doors as he tugged trying to get in for service.
This mess of treating citizens by different sets of standards has become so commonplace that when you hear or see it on the news, it does not even raise an eyebrow anymore. That is truly sad. Inconsistency and hypocrisy in America is no longer the exception. It is the rule.
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].