We all know that criminal laws have a disparate impact on cities. The famous bank robber Willie Sutton, once asked why he robbed banks, replied with disarming honesty “because that’s where the money is.” Likewise, asked why drug prosecutions are more prevalent in Hartford than they are in, say, tony Greenwich, an honest prosecutor, if there is such an animal, might reply “because that’s where the drug dealers are." The answer to the question why are there more drug runners in Hartford than Greenwich is a little more complex.
The expression “disparate impact” is a sociological and legal term. Life in cities is more Hobbesian – nastier, more brutal and shorter -- than in Wall Street watering holes such as Greenwich. Although the few laws in Connecticut regarding abortion are the same in Greenwich and Hartford – and therefore equitable -- there are many more abortion facilities in the nation’s cities and, consequently, more abortions in Hartford than Greenwich. Why does Planned Parenthood site more of its abortion facilities in urban rather than suburban areas? Because, as very late term abortion provider Hermit Gosnell, now cooling his heels in prison for having aborted African American near-children, might say “that’s where the business is.” Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Center on the corner of Bleecker and Mott in New York is the largest abortion provider in the United States. In 2013, 37% of all viable pregnancies in New York City ended in abortion. And the disparate impact of abortions on white and black women is earth shatteringly dramatic: For every 1,000 births, there are 138 abortions among white women and 501 among black women.
Noting the disparity, Alveda C. King, daughter of slain civil-rights leader A.D. King and niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. often quotes her uncle when speaking against abortion: “The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for comfort and safety.” How can the “Dream” survive, Ms. King asks, if we murder the children? Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother; the mother decides his or her fate. Although African Americans make up only 12.6% of the U.S. population, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that black women accounted for 35.4% of all abortions in 2009.
So then, does the disparate impact of abortion in cities populated by African Americans and Hispanics amount to a kind of racial genocide? In the mind of a flame throwing politician – one who refuses to let a politically profitable crisis go to waste -- it may seem so.
Last week, flame throwing Governor Dannel Malloy accused Republicans in Connecticut’s General Assembly of harboring racist tendencies.
It seems some Connecticut Republicans were pushing back against a measure to repeal rather than adjust a law earlier passed by a largely Democratic General Assembly that imposed drug free areas near schools; that law stipulated that anyone caught selling drugs within a 1,500 feet radius of a school or other public facilities could expect additional time appended to his sentence. The radius was an overreach, Mr. Malloy said, because the distribution of schools and other public facilities in cities is such that the 1,500 foot radius would target much of the entire city.
And then he overreached and hit the racist button: “To treat those folks differently because they live in those communities is patently unfair and if not racist in intent, is racist in its outcome.”
Mr. Malloy might have sought agreement on the more important matter: Judicial outcomes mandated by governors and legislators curtail the discretionary power of judges and run afoul of a constitutionally principled effort – pushed by BOTH Republicans and moderate Democrats – to restore judicial authority and to treat minor drug use differently than serious drug running activity, most of which is linked to cities.
If the proper adjustment is made in the case of minor drug offenses, how does one sustain an argument abolishing a law that prohibits the serious sale of hard drugs near schools? This was the question being debated in the General Assembly when Mr. Malloy tossed his racist bomb at Republicans. It appeared to Republican leaders and some Democrats in the legislature that Mr. Malloy’s charge against Republican was counterproductive, however politically useful it might have been to the future Chairman of the National Democratic Governors Association. The tongues of many Democratic progressives serve as rhetorical flamethrowers; but scorching, which has its place in partisan politics, and rational discourse are very distant cousins.
“Being called racist goes so far below what any governor should do because we don’t agree with his ideas. That’s what this is about. He’s trying to divert attention from what’s really going on in this building, from the $3 billion deficit we have. He’s trying to make like, because we don’t agree with him, we’re bad people. It’s shameful. It’s vile. And I would hope that he would understand that there’s no place for that in this building. Because people of this state do not deserve that. And I don’t think the people at the Democratic Governor’s Association deserve that either, because if he wants to continue running a national campaign for whatever he’s running for, I don’t think that’s the way to do it. Enough is enough. Sick and tired of his name-calling, of his bullying, and of his . . . not getting his own way so he pouts and walks away. It’s your classic bully mentality. He called us, two months ago - Republicans hate women. They want everyone to live in poverty. Nobody should have health care. And now we’re racist. I mean, there’s lines to be drawn and sometimes we don’t know where they are but there’s certain ones that are black and white and this screams black and white.”
Some Democrats who do not fear being called racist by Mr. Malloy offered moral support to Republicans unjustly vilified by Mr. Malloy. “This is a difficult policy issue,” said Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, “where there can be legitimate disagreement, but ascribing motives to people on opposite sides of the issue is not productive or helpful toward the ultimate goal of passing legislation that is important to hard working families.”
Mr. Malloy, a former prosecutor himself, has yet to propose prosecution free zones for Connecticut cities, a measure as simple and cost free as it would be simpleminded and socially destructive.