Is No Noose Good Noose?


To anyone who may take offense at the display of a hangman’s noose

in the essay “Crime, Realignment and the Will Rogers Republican”:

Please rest assured that as used here the image refers to the restoration of law and order through increased enforcement of the death penalty (as Rogers urged), not to the era of lynching suffered by black Americans through the first half of the 20th century. The distinction is important, for whereas lynch law claimed several thousand victims, the Great Crime Wave that arose in the absence of capital punishment has claimed several hundred thousand victims — and those losses are ongoing.

      The distinction wasn’t lost on Theodore Roosevelt. In a 1903 letter commending the governor of Indiana for taking a stand against lynch mobs, TR wrote: “All thoughtful men must feel the gravest alarm over the growth of lynching in this country, and especially over the peculiarly hideous forms so often taken by mob violence when colored men are the victims — on which occasions the mob seems to lay most weight, not on the crime, but on the color of the criminal.” Roosevelt urged that Americans “unite to denounce such [lynchings] and to support those engaged in putting them down. As a people we claim the right to speak with peculiar emphasis for freedom and for fair treatment of all men without regard to differences of race, fortune, creed, or color. We forfeit the right so to speak when we commit or condone such crimes as these of which I speak.”

But Roosevelt coupled this exhortation with some words to which few liberals today would assent: “It certainly ought to be possible by the proper administration of the laws to secure swift vengeance upon the criminal; and the best and immediate efforts of all legislators, judges, and citizens should be addressed to securing such reforms in our legal procedure as to leave no vestige of excuse for those misguided men who undertake to reap vengeance through violent methods. Men who have been guilty of a crime like rape or murder should be visited with swift and certain punishment, and the just effort made by the courts to protect them in their rights should under no circumstances be perverted into permitting any mere technicality to avert or delay their punishment.”    — Roosevelt, Presidential Addresses and State Papers (New York, 1904), v. 2, pp. 523-528.

The purpose of the Will Rogers pamphlet, and of the Fair Construction Amendment it advocates, is to give effect to Roosevelt’s words, and thereby help bring the Great Crime Wave, which has been claiming so many lives both black and white, to an end.

Let’s Get One Thing Straight

Crime doesn’t pit black against white

Law and order’ are code words for racism.” … Of all the shibboleths that prevent our dealing with violent predators as they deserve, the one confusing crime with race is perhaps the most powerful. But it rests on several false assumptions.

Are most criminals black? No. Are most blacks criminal? No. Do most black people not want law and order? Wrong again. Would most white people not want law and order, if only all criminals were white? Not only wrong, but stupid. Would robbery, rape and murder be any more tolerable if the answer to any or all of these questions were yes? Folks, what do you think?

Crime bothers me more than it does most of the people I know. But the strongest statements I ever heard against crime were made by blacks.

Many years ago, I worked in oil and gas exploration. I was laying a seismic survey line through a shanty town outside of Dallas when an old man came out of his home to see what I was up to. Before long, he was telling me his problems.

He couldn’t own anything, he said, because boys in the neighborhood helped themselves to everything he had. He caught one in the act once, he said, and the judge made the thief pay $40.

“Forty dollars! And he had stolen 400 dollars of my stuff!” the man complained.

I agreed that the law was crazy, but said maybe it would get right again soon.

“I’ll tell you what they should do,” he said. “They should do like they did in the cowboy days, and that’s look for the nearest tree.”

Here was a black man in the South, old enough to have felt the weight of segregation, old enough perhaps even to have seen a Klan terrorist in action — and he wanted to lynch burglars! He wanted to do that because his life was being made miserable by the absence of law and order in his community.

Suppose we view this person with the contempt that progressive people like to show toward those who are angry about crime. Let’s say he was just a mean old man who cared more for his chickens and tools and transistor radios than for the lives of his young neighbors. The same cannot be said about my friend Tracy Beard.

Tracy was a co-worker of mine in those days, a fellow surveyor who had been recruited under our company’s affirmative action program. I knew him well enough to know there was nothing mean about him.

On Aug. 18, 1979, The Dallas Morning News carried a front-page story about how a murderer invaded a Houston family’s home, killed four children and set fire to the house. The story was illustrated with a picture of one of the survivors, who watched as emergency workers removed his dead grandchildren from the ruins.

The grandfather’s name was Wiley Beard, and he was black, so I asked Tracy if he had any relatives in Houston. When he said no, I showed him the paper.

Tracy sat for several minutes, reading about the murderer’s evil deeds. Then he looked at me and said, “That guy should be stood against a wall and shot.”

Tracy’s not alone in saying such things. When Bill Simpson (a black man who had drawn media attention when he was harassed by white racists in Vidor, Texas) was murdered by black street thugs in nearby Beaumont, the local neighborhood weekly asked people if there was any way to stop gang violence. Five replies appeared in the Sept. 8, 1993, Orange County News.

One respondent, a white man, said, “I wish there were, but I don’t know how.”

A white woman recommended “stronger family values and mandatory parenting classes in our schools.” Another white woman called for “stiffer penalties,” and a black woman requested “more cops.”

Toughest of all was a black man.

“Yes,” he said. “When they commit a serious crime, like the Simpson murder, put them in front of a firing squad and kill them. It works in other countries.”

The reporter was agog at this and asked him again if that’s what he meant to say. She was another liberal getting mugged by reality.

 The foregoing is an excerpt from Yo! Liberals! You Call This Progress?, by Karl Spence. Yo! Liberals! is available at Amazon.com or directly from Fielding Press.


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Copyright © 2007 by Karl Spence. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10/25/11 20:43:38 -0500.