My new-best-friend of 30 minutes asked me to go with him to attend last week’s rally commemorating the 30 years since the arrest of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.
I studied the placid, aging radical. We had met over a desultory and chance conversation. It was in a coffee shop frequented mostly by young medical and graduate school students. Undoubtedly they had little idea of who were the Black Panthers printed in bold white letters on his new navy sweat shirt.
Finally I declared firmly: “No. I don’t want to go. I am tired of Mumia. I am fed up with the whole matter. I don’t want my tax dollars to support him in jail any longer. He should have been fried years ago.”
Obviously our formerly sanguine conversation had taken a turn.
Milton, a gentle man, seemed totally perplexed. He wondered if I had changed from my days in Chicago when I had worked with and written about the Black Panthers before the Chicago cops and old Mayor Daly decided they were better dead than read.
“Everything changes,” I said. “The world has. Laws have become ludicrous. Lawyers are bad jokes. And nothing is a sin anymore. Everything is a disease.”
“But Mumia may be innocent,” started Milton
“Yeah…yeah….” I said. “And my mother still may be a virgin. Look, Milton, don’t you know that everyone on Death Row is innocent?”
“But many have been determined to be innocent with DNA testing… Don’t you think…”
“What I think is my problem. And it hasn’t been ‘many’ that have been determined to be innocent, it has been ‘some’. Not many. Just some.”
I tried explaining to my cordial buddy that studies by law centers have determined why ‘some’ innocent men end up wrongfully imprisoned. The three most egregious causes of wrongful criminal convictions are jailhouse snitches, lying cops and protected DAs with political agendas that don’t abide by legal ethics.
All these things can readily be fixed by returning common sense back to the law. But that ain’t gonna happen as long as everybody, particularly the lawyers, as well as the lawyers in robes — namely judges — keep making a wonderful living.
The local bar associations and ethics committees should be feared. They should be considered more dangerous than body fluid in a whorehouse. Instead, with all the lawyers in bed with one another what we’ve got is a gangbang at the old Plato’s Retreat.
People know when something is morally right or wrong. It’s practically innate. It’s lawyers who think that ‘morals’ are merely something you paint on a big wall. And to them, ‘scruples’ ain’t nothing more than Russian currency.
Milton shook his round, bearded face with dismay. He wasn’t naïve. But he was disappointed that what he viewed as a white amigo had abandoned the cause.
I am probably just worn out from all the causes.
I had written, after witnessing a few decades back, that the Black Panthers, when the press was mislabeling them as nothing but a bunch of renegade revolutionaries, were actually feeding 7,000 kids in Chicago every morning in a breakfast program. And educating 4,000. And doing a lot of other good things with good programs.
But in spite of all this, the reality still exists that sometimes good people do bad things.
And the fact remains that Officer Daniel Faulkner is still dead and Mumia, a Black Panther, is still alive, having just be moved off of Death Row, after having been tried and convicted twice.
Now Officer Faulkner could have been a real piece of donkey dung and said all sorts of stupid things that night that Mumia is convicted of killing him.
In other words, Officer Faulkner could have been a real ‘pig.’
But so what?
If all the stoopid idiots on this planet were killed for being stoopid morons there wouldn’t be enough bloody people left to dig our graves.
If you are packing a gun, and you use a gun – particularly to kill a cop – then when all is said and done you should end up deader than Osama bin Laden. That’s the price you pay. So if you don’t want pay the price, think once, twice…and even thrice.
I said to my eager friend, Milton, that I really don’t know if Mumia is guilty or not. I wasn’t at his trial. But the jury was. I don’t know if folks on either side of the bar lied during the trial. Probably. But I didn’t hear the testimony.
What I do know is that Pennsylvania still has execution on the law books for first degree murder. So why has Mumia enjoyed thirty years of sunrises and sunsets at the taxpayers’ expense?
If we have the law, then use it. If we don’t want it than take it off the damn books. So either we have it or we don’t have it. The law can’t please everyone. It’s not suppose to. The law is only expected to be clear, concise, understandable and comprehensible.
We go around moping about the metaphysical dilemma that imperfect people cannot administer perfect justice.
I don’t care! I don’t wanna be perfect! I just want to get back to justice.
What we’ve got is too darn much legality instituted by too many bureaucratic, pusillanimous lawyers making too damn much money for nothing more than what any counterfeiter does – passing bad paper.
Moses came down from the mount with 10 commandments. They weren’t suggestions, were they? Yet, most of us can’t recite the ten laws which form the foundation of our legal system.
Now we have 10 billion laws. So I always love it when some sanctimonious, supercilious flat-head judge — who ain’t nothing but a lawyer in a robe that won’t stay closed – peers over his or her faux spectacles from the bench and utters that ignominious solicitude that “ignorance of the law is no excuse…”
Be still my machete…
There is too much vagary. There are too many deleterious laws. They’re only utilized when the government wants to make some sort of cryptic, esoteric case — like against boxer Jack Johnson who took a white woman across state lines. Then, of course, there was all that legal harassment by Bush and his side-Dick to make a case for Guantanamo and the bloody anti-American Patriot Act.
Take a meat cleaver and just start hacking away at these piles of pond scum.
Trouble is, we’ve got too many lawyers and too many legislators enacting more unnecessary laws to give their cohorts and law firm buddies more business. And of course we got all those other legal poobahs that want to keep all those laws on the books for just in case.
Just in case is what we once had common sense for.
I gazed into the soft eyes of my opened hearted new friend, Milton. I said I have nothing good or bad to say about Mumia. I understand the DA not wanting to continue pursuing the death penalty with all the costs, manpower and time consuming efforts. So Mumia will die in prison instead of dying from a death sentence.
What we should be protesting is not Mumia. We should be defrocking the institutions that give us legality instead of justice. We are a society of democratic laws, supposedly, and not autocratic buffoonery, although you’d hardly know it.
The reason for the confusion is quite clear: The minute you read something you can’t understand you can almost be sure it was drawn up by a lawyer.
And dats yDrewIS on DIS penal colony.