Thursday, May 1

I'll Vote In Person, But I'm Seriously Considering Living Here Absentee.*

OUR story so far:

1) Friendless and issueless, Indianapolis Republican mayoral candidate "Lonesome Greg" Ballard attaches himself to the Racist Star's headline writers and makes the city's escalating murder rate his campaign theme. 2) The White People's Property Tax Revolt, LLC., accidentally puts him in the mayor's office. 3) Ballard launches a three-pronged attack on crime: he showily muscles out the Democratic, and democratically-elected, former sheriff who's heading the newly-merged Indianapolis Metro Police Dept.; he appoints a showy committee to demonstrate he's Doing Something, to be headed by former Marion County Prosecutor Scott Newman; and he starts turning up at showy crime-related press ops, jostling current Marion County Prosecutor and former Dan Burton henchman Carl "Facetime" Brizzi for angles.

Now, I have to admit that in the annals of political painting-the-hull-without-scraping-the-barnacles-first this one is remarkably successful, as the Racist Star almost immediately is moved to stop publishing year-to-date crime rate comparisons.

Jump to April 23, when a masked man robs a local bank branch, and in the process shoots Katherin Shuffield, a teller who is pregnant with twins. It's the sort of crime which shocks and outrages a community, unless its mayor and prosecutor turn up on local news to assure the voters they'll hunt the perpetrators down. And it's always nice when they can find the time to make it to dais a couple days later when the arrest of five people is announced with, oh, let's call it fanfare, despite the acknowledgement that none of them was the guy who'd actually robbed the bank and shot Mrs. Shuffield.

Now, first, I'm no criminology expert--I've never even been convicted--but it did seem to me that having five people in on a one-man bank heist would play hell with the overhead. And the whole story gets a mite fuzzy here, because, well, because that's the way the people responsible want it. Apparently acting on a tip, police arrested four men, and the next door neighbor for good measure. The next morning they stopped a guy driving a car matching the description of one that might've been the getaway car. He turns out to have a record and some cocaine. And he gives them the name of the shooter. And by the end of the weekend Metro Police are able to announce the end of a crime spree--two charges of false reporting, plus the coke bust, and the drug paraphernalia/child neglect charges on the neighbor. Neither the mayor nor the prosecutor was on hand for those announcements.

The weekend also brought news that the woman's twins, initially thought to have survived, died of extreme prematurity, while she remained in critical condition.

Which brought Carl Brizzi, who may or may not have once been Danny Burton's chief melon squeezer, back to the spotlight as he demanded that the World's Third-Worst State Legislature™ declare life begins at conception, on the grounds that the man who shot Mrs. Shuffield can only be charged with feticide in the death of her twins, and a Class C felony is barely worth a notch on a hotshot prosecutor's gun.

If convicted he could get as little as two years! scream several dutiful Indiana newspaper columns, as though a case infamous enough to get local politicians fighting for air time might result in a minimum sentence for the guy who gunned down twins. (The presumptive sentence for a Class C felony in Indiana--this is assuming it's all one is charged with--is four years.)

It's an odious crime, to be sure, and anyone with a heart has to feel the loss--meaning we expect our elected legal representatives to be immune--and to hope beyond hope that Mrs. Shuffield survives, whatever that does to Brizzi's conviction rate. But we might look first at what he does not propose to do: raise feticide to a higher class felony, re-formulate the notion of "viability", or call for a ban on, or increased penalties for the use of, semi-automatic handguns like the Tec-9 reportedly used in the shooting. And we might ask, "Why?" Except we know the answer. Rewriting the feticide law--it passed two Republican-controlled Houses in 1999 over the veto of the late Frank O'Bannon--would be messy, arduous, and exacting, and the Indiana State Legislature can only do the first of those. It would expose both the slippery rationale for the law and the serious weaknesses of its enforcement and potential for abuse.

Local teevee coverage was instructive. Brizzi gets his face time, introduced by a warning from the anchor team that his solution "may prove controversial". Why, yes, yes it may. And it may prove cynical and opportunistic, and it might pander to a political constituency the Prosecutor will depend on to fund his further career moves, not that I expect you people to mention those, or investigate anything. Really, we're just thankful you bothered to nod, however briefly.  Both the teleprompter readers and their non-telegenic cousins at the Racist Star saw fit to ask Planned Parenthood of Indiana for comment, just in case somebody in the audience might have missed where all this is supposed to fit in the script.

What we have instead is an episode of 24, where an easily roused rabble imagines recognizing the rights of Blastocyst Americans will put trigger-happy bank robbers in the hellholes where they belong, and leave everyone else alone (excepting the people who intend to move onto abortion providers next). What we don't have is something that'll add one day to the sentence of the perp in question.

That is, of course, assuming we stop holding press conferences and actually find the guy.

*False. I've never voted in an Indiana primary, and I never will so long as one has to declare oneself a member of a major political party.


D. Sidhe said...

Fair enough. Can I steal your hed? Fabulous quip.

Anonymous said...

I almost wish I lived in your neck of the woods, so I could savor the complete justice of your critiques, Doghouse. Goddess knows they're ripe enough as is, though, even for a NewJerseyan.

Out of curiosity, who are the World's Worst and Second-Worst State Legislatures? Or don't you want to commit yourself?

Li'l Innocent