As we just finished saying: Constantly, you have a choice. You get to decide which it is:
Your major “journalists” are highly inept. Or they just aren’t super-honest.
On a case by case basis, we can’t tell you which it is. But this is the way Bill Keller begins his column in today's New York Times, a famous American newspaper:
KELLER (7/2/12): Show Me Your PapersIn his headline, Keller offers the Nazi allusion which makes these journalists think they’re good people, or which at least lets them pretend. From there, he turns to an obvious misstatement—and to an unanswered question.
The Arizona law requiring police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally—a statute tentatively blessed last week by the Supreme Court—is an invitation to abuse. It is all too likely to be used, as the court itself seemed to fear, to intimidate and demean people with the wrong accent or skin tone, thus delivering a get-out-the-humiliated-Hispanic-vote bonus to President Obama. The less likely alternative is that it will be applied more like the random T.S.A. searches at airports, thus infuriating Arizonans across the board.
While we wait for this to play out, let’s turn our attention to another aspect of the so-called “show me your papers” law: Show me WHAT papers? What documents are you supposed to have always on hand to convince police that you are legit?
Is it true? Is it true that SB 1070 “requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally?” In fact, SB 1070 forbids such conduct—though it, like any law, could be abused, of course. In fact, there are two major problems with Keller’s account. But for now, we’ll simply note that “reasonable suspicion,” which the law requires, is not the same thing as “suspecting,” a fact Keller surely knows.
(The New York Times has assiduously avoided use of the term “reasonable suspicion” in its discussions of this law. In the last two years, it has been remarkable to see the way our smartest newspaper has avoided use of that legal term, substituting an inaccurate but pleasing account of what the term is supposed to mean.)
Keller starts with a misstatement. He then turns to a very good question—a question he never quite answers. WHAT sort of “papers” must people show, Keller asks, briefly going all-caps.
That is a very good question. He largely skips the answer.
What sorts of “papers” must people show? Especially given the Nazi allusion, that is a very good question. Remember, before people can be asked for any “papers” at all, they have to be (legally) stopped by the police on some other matter—and the police must develop “reasonable suspicion” that they’re in the country illegally. (Under terms of the law, it isn’t enough to “suspect” such a thing, a fact Keller surely knows.)
Since we’re throwing our Nazi allusions around, thereby asserting that we’re the good people, shouldn’t we answer that basic question? What sorts of “papers” must people produce under terms of this Nazi-like law?
In fact, the “papers” required aren’t really “papers” at all:
A citizen must show a driver’s license or a state ID, the same thing any citizen shows when stopped on a traffic issue. Under explicit terms of the law, such “papers” are dispositive. A foreign citizen must show his green card (or similar ID), which he is already required to carry under federal law.
All parts of this law can be abused, of course, and other laws routinely are. As one example, various laws are being abused right there in New York City under Mayor Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk program. Keller has never written a word about this home-grown conduct, which is occurring right under his nose as he gazes with growing concern off toward the southwest. (Using Nexis, we searched on “Keller AND frisk.” Yes, that search term works.)
According to Nexis, Keller has never said boo in the Times about stop-and-frisk. But he drags out Nazi allusions for things that might happen in vile Arizona, and he never quite explains what “papers” the jack-booted thugs will demand.
Is SB 1070 a good idea? That is a matter of judgment. Frankly, it’s hard to evaluate the provision of this law the Supreme Court upheld, so determined is the “press corps” to avoid basic reporting.
We’re speaking here about something different. We’re discussing the failure to report and explain the simplest facts about the law, and the (highly selective) use of highly inflammatory slogans.
Sorry, dumb-asp! SB 1070 does not “require police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally.” It doesn’t even permit such conduct.
Surely, Keller knows this fact. But how good it feels to aim Nazi allusions at very bad people from a different region, even as the jack-booted thugs conduct their sweeps up here!
This is the way your “press corps” works. By the way:
Because Keller is aiming his jibes at the other tribe, your lizard brain will constantly tell you that you should cheer his conduct. We think your lizard is wrong.