Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shooting Fish in a Cell

This is too easy, but I haven't noticed it in all the discussion of how Sen Robert Portman decided to support gay marriage when he found out his son is gay.   I am finally reading the very important Washington Monthly  article "The Conservative War on Prison" by David Dagan and Steven M. Teles

Dayan and Teles write


Few people have done as much to subvert the conservative orthodoxy on crime as Pat Nolan, a former California state legislator who now works at the jailhouse ministry Prison Fellowship. Called “the most important person to make any of this happen” by Julie Stewart of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Nolan has been so effective as a revisionist precisely because he was weaned on the traditional politics of law and order.
... As a Republican California state assemblyman in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, Nolan helped push through some of the nation’s most draconian sentencing laws. While he did visit prisons to investigate conditions there, he recalls, “I was very much the ‘We need more prisons’ type.”
That changed after Nolan got to see prison from the other side of the bars. 

You don't say.  I wonder if the prison reform movement will succeed without DeLay or if it will have to wait for him to discover that at least one prisoner is a human being.

It is too easy to find examples of conservatives who discover that they had no empathy concerning one issue (and who don't re-examine any of their other beliefs).  Clearly the true challange is to find convservatives who changed their mind due to evidence without having a personal stake in their new position. 

1 comment:

malcolm said...

And there's the case of Chief Justice Rhenquist. Linda Greenhouse wrote:
"...he wrote the majority opinion in Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs on the question of whether Congress had the authority to make state governments give their employees the benefits of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

To the surprise of almost everyone, the chief justice’s answer was yes. Michael Kinsley, writing on Slate, called the 6-to-3 opinion “amazingly radical” for its account of how society’s stereotyped expectations of women as caretakers “create a self-fulfilling cycle of discrimination” that must be broken by enabling male as well as female employees to take time off to attend to family emergencies.

Earlier decisions in this series had found that Congress could not require state employers to abide by federal laws against discrimination on the basis of age and disability. So what happened with Hibbs, a case that effectively brought an end to the federalism revolution? Was the chief justice’s unaccustomed display of empathy based on his own experience, having nursed his wife through terminal cancer and occasionally helped his daughter, a single mother, with child-care duties? "

Greenhouse was unpersuaded but I am not What should the adage be? What is a conservative who has been mugged by reality? A liberal.