What IS this?

Again this morning we sped thru the State Journal editorial only to ask ourselves “What WAS that?” and “Really?”

Why go to all the trouble and EXPENSE of having an editorial page editor if this (“Goofy aircraft ticket doesn’t fly“) is what we get?

In case you missed it, here’s the original story from the Fond du Lac Reporter, a Gannet newspaper.  We were first alerted to it yesterday in Jim Rowan’s The Political Environment, an indispensable Wisconsin blog.  The story’s been picked up and re-reported all over, and today’s State Journal “editorial” is, in fact, mostly another drastically shortened rewrite.

Of necessity, in order to justify the news story’s retelling as an “editorial”, editor Scott Milfred needs to draw at least some small lesson in public policy or morality. His lesson? Wisconsin is too lenient in its DUI laws and needs harsher penalties.

Maybe, but that was actually NOT what the story was about!

The story, as most readers would quickly understand — at least from the original reporting if not the State Journal editorial — was about a very important person getting special treatment from our justice system.

Milfred’s conclusion would only follow from the story if the story had shown numerous drunks pleading guilty to flying airplanes when actually they’d been driving cars. (Ergo, we need to change the law.) Needless to say, that’s not been happening. This bizarre handling happened only once that we know of, and surprise, surprise, it involved a very rich and prominent business person.

The editorial missed the news story.

We’d love it if the State Journal editorial page became more interested in the fertile topic of two-tiered justice. Most reality-based readers know it’s a problem. It seems absent from the local editorials, however. We’ll even suggest an excellent book, With Liberty and Justice for Some, by the indispensable Glenn Greenwald, who blogs famously at Salon.com.

an excerpt from With Liberty and Justice for Some:

When ordinary Americans come in contact with the justice system, everything changes. The world we have been examining reverses. In the United States, the lack of accountability for elites goes hand-in-hand with a lack of mercy for everyone else. As our politicians increasingly claim the right to commit crimes with impunity, they simultaneously escalate the severity of punishments imposed on ordinary Americans who have broken even minor laws.

As a result, precisely what the founders most feared has come to exist: a two-tiered system of justice in which outcomes are determined not by the law itself but by the status, wealth, and power of the lawbreaker.