Equal Justice for All in Jena
Briefly, this latest civil rights uproar started last year when black students at a high school in Jena were given permission to take shade under a tree on school property that had previously been dominated by the white students on campus. A few white students retaliated by hanging nooses from the tree. Racial tensions at the school escalated to the point where a group of six black students beat up a white student who, it has been alleged, taunted them with racial slurs. The black students were arrested and charged with attempted murder. The outrage over these charges simmered all over the country for months until a massive protest was organized and executed last week.
The focal point of the protests was the disparity in punishment between the white students and the black students. The high school principal originally wanted to expel the white students, but he was overridden by the district superintendent who thought the hanging nooses were nothing more than a prank. The white students were given a suspension. The black students, on the other hand, faced criminal charges. Since that time, the attempted murder charges have been downgraded to aggravated assault. One of the Jena 6 was just released on bail yesterday, even though his conviction has been overturned.
The protests themselves went off without any violence and they did raise awareness of the judicial situation in the United States. Unfortunately, they may also have aggravated the racial tensions in Jena. There were reports of whites riding around the town with nooses after the protestors left.
This is just a bare summary of the events. However I think we can start handing out sentences to everyone involved.
THE STUDENTS WHO HUNG THE NOOSES
Reinstate their expulsion and charge them with a hate crime violation. Sensitivity training and hundreds of hours of community service should be considered as further punishment.
THE SUPERINTENDENT WHO RESCINDED THEIR EXPULSION
Dismissal and charge him with impersonation of a school officer.
THE WHITE STUDENT BEATEN BY THE JENA 6
If proven that he did taunt them with racial slurs, suspension with possible expulsion, charge with a hate crime violation, with sensitivity training and community service as further punishment.
LOCAL AND/OR STATE LAW OFFICIALS
For overzealously charging the black students with attempted murder, disbarment and charged with impersonation of intelligent human beings.
FINALLY, THE JENA 6
While it maybe true that their response to the racial slurs was just an impulse of human nature, we must remember that human nature is not always moral and not always right. That is why there are other laws in effect that protect everyone from the cruel events of life. The laws – when and where they are enforced properly — apply to everyone.
The charge has also been made that their actions were nothing more than a schoolyard fight that got blown out of proportion. Sorry, I don’t agree. Most of the schoolyard fights I’ve attended in my life were almost always one-on-one. Any more than one person to a side is not a schoolyard fight, it’s a small-scale riot.
We also can’t ignore the probability that if another black student had taunted the Jena 6 with slurs, nothing would have been done about him or her. Since the object of their aggression was another skin color, then we must consider the attack as a hate crime. Therefore, I rule that the original charges should be dropped, sentences reduced to time served, expulsions from school, charged with hate crime violations with sensitivity training and community service as punishment.
For those who believe that I am being unduly harsh on the Jena 6, then my response is: “What part of ‘equal justice for all’ didn’t you get?”