Roger Stone’s commutation? Is that like being sentenced to years of never-ending rush hour traffic through the Lincoln Tunnel? (Though truthfully, that might be the equivalent of 40 months in prison.)
No, a commutation wipes out the time to be served. That’s better than an express lane. You’re done, with the snap of Trump’s fingers.
Stone’s felony convictions remain, which is good, because they are not insignificant: Lying to Congress, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering, mostly to obscure any connection between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks.
You try lying to Congress and see what kind of treatment you get.
Stone? He gets the president/real estate baron’s real “Get Out of Jail Free” card.
And the optics of it all, especially through America’s new George Floyd lenses, make the Trump commutation of the Stone sentence especially outrageous.
Stone, a convicted liar and a white male of privilege has been saved by another white male of privilege, who happens to be the president and has earned his crown as the nation’s liar-in-chief.
Even in his first media responses about the commutation, Trump repeated his lies that the Mueller investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 election was a “Witch Hunt” and a “hoax.”
Mueller’s yield of 199 criminal charges, 37 indictments, and five prison sentences makes the Russia probe neither a “Witch Hunt” nor “hoax.”
And to think the week had started out so promising with a Supreme Court ruling that Trump–on the issue of his taxes–was not above the law.
But by week’s end, there was Trump soaring above it all, saving another lying white male, while raising a figurative middle-finger to the rule of law. Trump was rewarding a buddy who saved him directly. It’s a lot different from commuting the sentence of a man unfairly convicted or is someone not entangled in your own affairs. That’s where the ugly head of corruption pushes up.
Meanwhile, there’s a message to people of color everywhere, but especially to those who are incarcerated. Think of the ones who are non-violent first offenders, like Stone would have been. Those folks remain behind bars. Stone walks. That’s not the way justice is supposed to work in America.
But it’s money in the bank when you’re white and have a powerful white friend who can make your problems go away.
Besides, he owes you.
Over the weekend, the president has started wearing a mask.
It’s not out of shame, but it should be.
MY DIVE INTO CANCEL CULTURE
Last Friday, I was on the David Feldman podcast and got hooked into the cancel culture debate.
As a professional provocateur and opinion writer myself, I know the importance of coining a phrase that becomes handy shorthand for a major dis. In a previous generation, if I demanded Asian American representation in society from the media to the board rooms, or spoke out on social justice truths about diversity or equality, I was often dismissed by the Right as being “politically correct.”
Asian American ideas? Thoughts? Those are some undervalued concepts.
These days, young social justice truthers have come up with a way to retaliate against cries of P.C. with C.C. (cancel culture). Now if they see someone do or say something that runs counter to their beliefs, they simply cancel them out.
You know, like a newspaper. You remember those? Newsprint that had inked news stories and….
Last week, a number of artists, writers, and public intellectuals signed a letter published in Harper’s denouncing cancel culture as encouraging censorship and intolerance in society. It included people like Gloria Steinem, Wynton Marsalis, Margaret Atwood, and Salman Rushdie.
As the late great sports columnist Jimmy Cannon might have said, nobody asked me, but I would have signed. I believe in free speech as an absolute. More speech, not less. And when views are opposed, I believe in the necessity and responsibility to debate. Our polarized society assures opposition, but the incivility of our times most assuredly diminishes the likelihood of debate. That leaves us with parallel ideas that never clash, and resolve. And now we just end it all by dismissing people and their views with the push of a figurative cancel button.
As a journalist, I want to hear the other person’s view. But I have to admit there are some artists whose work I’m no longer interested in. I used to idolize Woody Allen when I was growing up. Now I care less about what he has to say about anything. But I’ll read all of Ronan Farrow.
Did I cancel Woody Allen? I guess. But is he going to be hurt by me cancelling him? His new book will still find a publisher. Woody Allen won’t be silenced.
But as a small fry, I easily could. And that’s my problem with cancel culture. There’s that bullying factor. When digital mobs come trolling, that can lead to shutdown censorship.
Still, I think it comes down to choice. For example, I’m not interested in Woody Allen’s work or what he has to say. But I confess to still being interested in Louis C.K. My choice.
So I guess it’s like the abortion debate. One has the right to express themselves. And you have the right to not listen. You have your right to cancel someone or something you disagree with like an unwanted fetus. If you feel we don’t have to have their unwanted thoughts come to full term, evolve, spread and wreak havoc in society, then just cancel them.
Of course, without debate, you haven’t convinced or persuaded anyone of your own views. You’ve just avoided an attempt at making things better through debate and discussion. All you’ve done is shut down the volume of the other person and closed your eyes.
Am I suggesting a partial cancel culture? No, just that there’s got to be something better in a society that reveres both free speech and tolerance, than hailing the closed mind.