Over at Hit and Run, Michael Moynihan has a post about Mumia Abu-Jamal that got me thinking. Why did Mumia Abu-Jamal become such a prominent cause, as opposed to any of the myriad other people imprisoned in this country, many under circumstances far more questionable? I wish more people so interested in the inequities of the legal system would take some interest in some of its less prestigious victims.
Where’s the uproar over, say, Cory Maye? It ought to push a lot of the Left’s buttons- Maye is an African-American currently serving a horrendously unjust life sentence for shooting what turned out to be a (white) police officer in self-defense during what turned out to be a an unannounced nighttime no-knock police drug raid meant for the resident of the other half of Maye’s duplex. He was on death row until 2006. He’s still in prison. The police, as often happens when this sort of raid goes awry, repeatedly changed their story about whether or not they found marijuana in Maye’s home. If a fraction of the time and energy devoted to Abu-Jamal were to be directed at the terrible injustice against Cory Maye, what might have been accomplished?
For that matter, he seems like he could be a cause much of the Right would have an interest in– he was a gun owner who fought to protect his home and his child, and ends up serving life in prison because the armed, unidentified man forcing his way into the bedroom of Maye’s daughter at 9 o’clock at night turned out to be a police officer. It’s not hard to see how that sort of thing could have a chilling effect on people’s ability to bear arms for home defense, even if no actual laws are passed.
Unlike the tangled web of the Munima Abdul-Jamal case, the injustice of what happened to Maye is less ambiguous. Standing up for Maye seems like it could be an ideal cause Left and Right could agree on. And to be fair, many have spoken out for him. But it’s certainly nothing even close to the degree of attention given to Abu-Jamal.
I suppose some the things that could potentially give him appeal also hurt him. I suspect that what Cory Maye is in prison for- using a gun to defend himself during a home invasion- probably doesn’t endear him to a lot of the Left, a few genuine anarchists (as distinguished from social democrats who want to sound rebellious) aside. After all, keeping a gun in the house to protect yourself is for right-wing Neanderthals, anti-government nuts, and rural white trash.
And most conservatives, as has become more and more evident, only disapprove of jackbooted thuggery when a
I really shouldn’t be surprised or disappointed by this; I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that most of the good (from a libertarian viewpoint) aspects of most modern statist ideologies are just poses, covers, or, at best, the vestigial remnants of better days, the leftover rubble of a shattered classical liberal ideal that hasn’t been entirely swept into the trash yet. Too bad.