Situational Ethics And The Race Card
Here's today's question: When does Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Eugene Kane believe that a crime is not a crime?
The answer? When the crime is committed by a 15 year old African-American girl.
In a column that will probably not go down as one of his finest moments, Kane argues that former West Bend East High School student Darshane Morgan should NOT be charged with obstruction of justice even if authorities determine that she repeatedly lied to police. Morgan is, of course, the young woman who claimed to police and school authorities that she had been subjected to both verbal and physical abuse at West Bend East due to her race. She then made a round of highly publicized appearances on local television news broadcasts repeating the claims.
After a thorough investigation that involved extensive utilization of police and school resources, authorities concluded that Morgan was lying. The Washington County District Attorney's Office is now considering charges against her.
Kane argues that the girl should get a pass because a prosecution "could create a chilling effect" on others who might have have legitimate claims of racial harassment. Talk about a twisted world view.
If a 15-year-old white girl had come forward and made false allegations of sexual assault against three young African-American men, would Kane argue that the girl should get a pass because it could create a "chilling effect" that might make legitimate rape victims reluctant to come forward? I think not.
If the DA believes that he can prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt, it would be a travesty for him not to pursue it - either in juvenile court or adult court as he may deem appropriate.
If nothing else, a prosecution may serve as a deterrent, a "chilling effect" if you will. Not a deterrent to people bringing legitimate claims but rather a deterrent to people making false claims.
Since Darshane Morgan started giving television interviews, I've heard from several people who say they have children who have experienced real racial harassment. I'm sure that there's some truth to these claims. That's why everyone should be so upset with Morgan (if she did lie) because she's made it more difficult for people with legitimate claims to convince people that they're telling the truth.
Beyond this, if she did lie, Morgan has also unfairly impugned the school and the community. If she committed a crime, it's not a victimless one.
I understand that some people think that "playing the race card" should give you a get out of jail free card. I think the term for this is "situational ethics".
For Darshane Morgan, there is one thing only that should matter. Can the DA prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt? If he can, Morgan should be prosecuted.
A crime is a crime - even if it's committed by "a 15-year-old Aftrican-American girl".
UPDATE: A predictably thin-skined Kane is upset that I idenitifed Darshane Morgan by name in my blog. I'm inclined to cut Kane some slack on this one because I don't get the sense that he did too much research for either his column or his blog entry.
The facts are that last week, Morgan made multiple appearances on various local television stations during which she repeated her claims of racism. She was prominently identified on air. Her name has also appeared in various other media reports regarding the incident. In other words, she has not only made no effort to conceal her identity - but has aggressively sought publicity in connection with her claims.
If she was concerned about people learning her identity, my advice would be that she should have stayed off television. To not mention her name at this point strikes me as being, well, pointless.