Sunday, May 15, 2016
It’s only May, but I think I’ve found the euphemism of the year: According to Team Obama, criminals should now be declared “justice-involved individuals.” A Clockwork Orange or Orwellian?
It’s only May, but I think I’ve found the euphemism of the year: According to Team Obama, criminals should now be declared “justice-involved individuals.”
The neo-Orwellianism comes to us from the bizarre flurry of last-minute diktats, regulations and bone-chilling threats collectively known to fanboys as Obama’s Gorgeous Goodbye.
In another of those smiley-faced, but deeply sinister, “Dear Colleague” letters sent to universities and college this week, Obama’s Education Secretary John King discouraged colleges from asking applicants whether they were convicted criminals.
An accompanying pamphlet was called “Beyond the Box: Increasing Access to Higher Education for Justice-Involved Individuals.”
So rapists, burglars, armed robbers and drug dealers aren’t criminals anymore. These folks are simply “involved” with “justice,” according to Obamanoids.
Maybe they’re right: “Criminals” is an inherently disparaging term that leads to stigmatization and decreased access to Eugene O’Neill seminars. But don’t we need to retroactively reconfigure how we think of those unfortunate souls who found themselves pursued by harsh enforcers of restrictive behavioral norms?
When you think about it, Jack the Ripper was merely a “cutlery-involved individual” while Jeffrey Dahmer was simply a “unconventional dietary-options-involved individual.”
Colleges generally ask whether applicants have criminal records, and for excellent reason. Parents probably don’t want their eager young freshperson daughter Molly living across the hall from a rapist — I mean, sexual-justice-involved individual.
King notes that when you ask college applicants about whether they brutalized, mugged or otherwise committed outrages against their fellow human beings, the ugly specter of “disparate impact” arises. The black crime rate is higher than the white crime rate, so the “Are you a criminal?” question is bound to do injury to blacks, or so goes the reasoning.
Obama is fighting the war for criminals to get closer to you on several fronts. Last month, through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, he went after landlords, threatening them with penalties if they barred criminals from living in their buildings.
In November, Obama unilaterally ordered federal agencies to strike the box asking applicants whether they had committed crimes and referred to criminals as “folks.” This would be the same president who on Oct. 25, 2010, referred to Republicans as “enemies” and suggested voters should “punish” them. Convicted rapists? They’re just “folks.”
It’s fair to argue that the criminal justice system, and society as a whole, have a strong interest in rehabilitating criminals in addition to punishing them. And Team Obama argues innocently that (the people they refuse to call) criminals deserve to get their foot in the door before the step where they are asked about their criminal history.
But this is just a step in a long-term strategy pursued by progressives, who love criminals the way little girls love Disney princesses. The goal is to sneak criminals into your apartment building or workplace or campus.
Just glance at the Web site of one Ban the Box advocacy group, the South Dakota Peace & Justice Center. Its stated goal is to put off questions about criminal behavior until later in the game: “Only during the interview process will a criminal background check be completed if it is relevant or required for the position.”
In other words: Enforcers will tell you whether an applicant’s criminal background is relevant to a particular gig and order you not to ask about if they deem it irrelevant.
Yet there is no job on the planet in which your criminal background is automatically irrelevant. Employers can weigh how much importance to assign to which crimes and judge for themselves whether a criminal has reformed.
Bringing up “disparate impact” is a way to change the subject between who you are and what you did. One is about characteristics you were born with; the other is about bad choices you made. One is a terrible reason to discriminate you; the other isn’t.
King says that there is no evidence that questions about criminal backgrounds have any impact on campus safety. How hard did he look for such evidence? Because I’m pretty sure that one reliable predictor of crime is the presence of criminals.
Colleges find themselves at a point in time where debates about, say, whether rape is spiking on campus (it isn’t) are treated as so imperilling that they require the establishment of alternative “safe spaces” such as the rubber room established at Brown in 2014 and “equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies,” according to The New York Times.
Yet these colleges are now being nudged not to ask a potential student whether he’s a rapist, or an assailant or a heroin dealer, with the implicit threat of the administration’s power to launch civil rights investigations lurking not far behind.
University donors, and parents of matriculating students, should be eager to ask college admissions officers how far they are willing to go to comply with Team Obama’s wishes: Exactly how many convicts are going to be housed in Molly’s dorm?