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Sarasota Thursday, May. 6, 2010 7 years ago

My View: White hoods put on law-abiders

by: Rod Thomson

So let’s get this straight.

When a black guy rapes a black girl in Newtown, or a black guy robs a black-owned store in Newtown, or a black guy deals crack to another black guy in Newtown, it’s my fault because I am a wealthy white guy who does not live in Newtown, and the black guys perceive me as perceiving them as criminals, so what’s the point of not being a criminal?

That is the tortured, amoral logic brought to you by a professor earning good smack in our public university system.

James Unnever, an associate professor of criminology at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus, was invited by Sarasota’s Police Advisory Panel to speak as an expert criminologist.

The panel should have known what it was getting.

Unnever has lived a life of studying the racism motivating people who believe in actual punishment for crimes — as opposed to the mollycoddling psychobabble that animates so many in the ivory tower, far from the consequences of their ill-conceived philosophies.

He believes that those of us who think dangerous criminals should be locked up, away from civilized society until they have served due time, are driven by racism. Let his own words do the talking.

In the abstract for a paper he wrote entitled, “The Social Sources of Americans’ Punitiveness: A Test of Three Competing Models,” Unnever concludes that the white-folks-are-racists model is the explainer for punitiveness, which he points out elsewhere is the desire for “harsh crime control policies, such as the death penalty.”

In professorial gobbledygook:

“Racial animus, however, seems to exert the most consistent effect on public sentiments. This finding suggests that racial resentments are inextricably entwined in public punitiveness … ”

(By the way, that people feel like the crime should fit the punishment and violent criminals probably should not roam free was not one of the three models considered.)

Further, the good professor writes for the left-wing American Constitution Society:

“ … A sizable proportion of the American public perceives the crime problem through a racial lens that results in an association of crime with African Americans, especially Black men. Consequently, some whites righteously support ‘get tough on crime’ policies because they believe that they will disproportionately affect people that they especially do not like; that is, African Americans who allegedly committed a crime.”

There is just so much racism in those two sentences, it’s hard to know where to start. First, he capitalizes the “B” in Black men, and lower cases the “w” in whites. Perhaps that was just an editing oversight.

Second, using the word “righteously” is pure opinionating, revealing that this is no detached scholarly work.
Third, and sweetest of all, he peers into the hearts of people he has never met and does not know and concludes that the real reason we want these tougher punishments is because they affect people we “especially do not like.” That is, black folk.

So my understanding opening this column is accurate. When a black man commits a crime in Newtown, it is my fault because, as my mug shot with this column shows, I am white — although, alas, not wealthy.
And it is your fault if you are white. If you are black or Hispanic and do not live in Newtown, I suppose you are off the hook. He is mum on what really motivates Asians or Indians or Arabs or Brazilians or others.

The person’s fault it most definitely is not is the actual criminal. This takes the never-blame-the-perp detritus of secluded university professors to a new low.

I took this time to point out what Unnever has posited in the past to suggest that his offensive nonsense to the police panel should not have been a surprise and to ask the obvious question: What in the world possessed the City Commision and the panel to bring in such a fringe, divisive adviser?

Hard to say? Maybe not. The commission-appointed panel has consistently sought to focus on minority communities that have high crime rates and then take comments from people who have a gripe against a cop.

You see, it is not the fault of the criminals who live in the area and prey on the law-abiding citizens — and sometimes other criminals. And it is not that more arrests are made in a neighborhood because more crime is committed there. It is that cops are doing something wrong and are probably racist.

So, in light of that, bringing in the radical Unnever makes perfect sense. His theory conveniently blames everyone except the actual criminals.

Is there any possible way I’m overstating it? Here are Unnever’s own words to the police panel, consistent with what he has written in the past:

“If the prevailing attitude is that (Newtown is crime-ridden), the solution to the situation doesn’t reside in Newtown. It resides in white people,” he said. My fault. My solution.

Frankly, the police panel would be better served talking to beat cops, the guys and gals who are out there every day dealing with the reality on the streets than some extremist university professor who merely studies what he actually lives.

The invitation of Unnever strikes a sharp delegitimizing note for the panel, which is in danger of becoming a joke in most of the community — at least the vast majority of the city is not swarming with crime.

But a few thugs and profs might like their final report.

Rod Thomson is executive editor of the Gulf Coast Business Review and can be reached at [email protected].

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