Subscribe to National Commentary RSS feed

National Commentary

Ferguson prosecutor subverts grand jury’s history

When was the last time you heard of a grand jury decision causing a riot? Well … never. That’s because grand juries are obscure relics of past practice, not designed to bear the full weight of a politically and symbolically important decision like the nonprosecution of police officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The decision by St. Louis County Chief Prosecutor Robert McCulloch to put the issue neutrally before the grand jury was intended to create a sense of public legitimacy for whatever result followed, and also no doubt to deflect blame from the prosecutor’s own exercise of discretion. It failed on both counts — and with good reason.

Campus justice lets serial predators rape again

I don’t think anyone can come away from Rolling Stone’s article on an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia without feeling sickened by it. If the events as narrated are true, a boy brought a freshman girl to a fraternity event as a date, then shepherded her upstairs to be gang raped by a number of his fraternity brothers. This is not some “he-said, she-said” about whether intoxicated sex constituted rape; it was a forcible violation by a gang of strangers who left her bloody and shattered. Her friends encouraged her not to report the rape, lest they be shut out of UVA’s powerful Greek scene. The dean she went to was carefully neutral on the topic of whether she should go to the police.

Ferguson decision and its aftermath more a media event than organic moment

Even as the president, live from the White House, said “there is inevitably going to some negative reaction and it will make for good TV,” the news channels split their screens to show police shooting tear gas canisters at protesters in Ferguson, Missouri — a presidential appeal for calm competing against frightening scenes of angry confrontation.

Ferguson’s grand jury delivers a mockery of justice

The shameful mockery of judicial process that has transpired in Ferguson, Missouri, is widely viewed as a matter of racial politics. Of course, in one sense, that’s right: Race underlies enormous and well-documented inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. But in another way, it’s a pity, because this system now borders on the tyrannical, and ought to scare all Americans, regardless of skin color.

Contests and Promotions

Let’s reinstate genuine, heartfelt applause

I was commenting to my freshman class on their just completed series of presentations, a harrowing process of public speaking while being observed, taped, and scored by professor and students alike. “You stepped out of your comfort zone,” I understated. “And that’s a good thing. I can guarantee you only one thing that will happen if you stay in your comfort zone. And that is: nothing.”

Texas short on docs and short on residency slots

Two of the state’s most powerful advocacy groups, the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Association of Business, are closely aligned on an issue they want the Legislature to address come January: Texas is short on doctors, both primary care physicians and specialists.