May 14, 2006

Great White Defendants Galore! Why stop with Great White Defendant (a term coined by Tom Wolfe in Bonfire of the Vanities) when you can go all the way to a Great Albino Defendant, as in Paul Bettany's villain in the upcoming The Da Vinci Code? A reader points us to the the Wikipedia page on the "Evil Albino" in popular culture.


A reader points out Law & Order's conversion to Great White Defendants was prefigured in the 1890s:

A couple weeks back you wrote an article about how news stories and fiction about crime involving white and/or rich people gets a lot of attention and/or sells well, whereas crime that involves only poor blacks and Hispanics, i.e. most crime, doesn’t. You gave the example of the Law and Order series. Early on, the writers tried to be realistic, placing the crimes in the black and Latino parts of Manhattan where it most often occurs. However, the ratings of the early shows weren’t very good, and so they changed the show to focus on crimes in more prosperous neighborhoods and well-off defendants.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of a lecture an English professor gave on Conon Doyle in a class on 19th century literature that I took while at Columbia. He pointed out that the first two of Doyle’s novels, A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four, have their crimes taking place in the seedy parts of London. Like the early Law & Order episodes, these novels didn’t sell well. It’s commonly noted that when Doyle switched to the short story format in his subsequent Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Memoirs, his sales greatly improved. What’s not as often noted, that my professor observed, is that Doyle also changed where the crime occurs: from the seedy working class areas to the posh West End and lavish country estates.

Doyle also changed the profiles of his criminals. In the early novels, they weren’t respectable people. In A Study in Scarlet, they were a hit squad of Mormons whose job it was to hunt down and murder apostates. In The Sign of the Four, it they were convicts from India, only one of whom was white. In the later works, by contrast, they were mainly people of privilege.

It appears that there’s nothing new under the sun. Crime that happens where you wouldn’t expect it, and committed by people who don’t fit the common criminal profile, is out of the ordinary and therefore interesting. Crime among the poor committed by ruffians is a commonplace, and therefore boring.


Mark Holmberg of the Richmond Times-Dispatch writes:

Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts suggested the Duke case would've blown up even worse if the racial tables were turned.

"Imagine if the woman were white and reported being raped by three black members of the basketball team. You'd have to call out the National Guard."


"That hyperbole isn't born out by the facts," said Richmond-area attorney Jeff Everhart.

He's representing one of the four Virginia Union University students indicted last week for allegedly raping a University of Richmond coed on Jan. 21.

All four of the accused are black, two who had ties to the football team. One was a star quarterback as a freshman. All four were considered good kids, attending a historic black university.

The victim is white, an out-of-state student attending the posh University of Richmond, which has Duke-size tuition.

She reportedly left a party at a UR campus apartment with the four. Police say she was assaulted in some woods in western Henrico. Police found her and two of the suspects after neighbors heard a woman's screams.

Alcohol is a factor, as it is in the Duke case. Similarly, DNA tests will play a starring role.

But not a peep about the VUU case in the national media. The indictments played on Page B3 of this paper, while the Duke case started in our Sports pages and eventually made our front page.


On the blog, James Fulford takes issue with my suggestion that the #1 Hot White Defendantte on the LAPD's 220 Most Wanted list is "felon Vanessa Lanza Etourneau, a French girl with serious cheekbones." Instead, he nominates Corinna Kowalsky, a strawberry blonde ingĂ©nue, who turns out to be an illegal alien call girl from Germany, who “befriended the victim and then later burglarized his residence taking various items of art, silver and porcelain."

You be the judge!


Occam's Razor is not so popular in England these days: An excess of Boring Black Defendants captured by colorblind remote control monitoring systems is posing a spin problem for the PC PC of the London Bobbies:

Cameras set racial poser on car crime
Dipesh Gadher, Transport Correspondent

BRITAIN’S most senior policeman Sir Ian Blair is facing a race relations dilemma after the release of figures that reveal almost half the number of people arrested in relation to car crime in London are black.

Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner, has signed off a report by his force’s traffic unit which shows that black people account for 46% of all arrests generated by new automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR) cameras.

The technology allows car registration plates to be scanned and automatically run through databases to determine whether a vehicle is stolen, uninsured or has not had its road tax paid.

Each number plate is also checked with the police national computer, where vehicles suspected of links to crimes such as robberies are flagged up.

The Met has deployed six mobile ANPR camera units in the capital, primarily in areas with high levels of street crime. When a suspect vehicle is identified, police officers are sent to intercept the driver.

Although ANPR technology is impartial, the disproportionate number of blacks being arrested has prompted the Met to investigate.

The arrests have been broken down by ethnicity in a report sent last month to the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), to which the force is accountable.

It reveals that between April 2005 and January this year the units generated 2,023 arrests. Of these 923 were black suspects, while 738 (36%) came from white backgrounds. Asians accounted for just over 9% of arrests.

The report tacitly appears to address concerns among ethnic minority communities who believe they are unfairly targeted by the police through stop and search powers. Black people are up to six times more likely to be stopped than whites.

The report says: “It is worth stating that out of all our activities, this is the one area where the officer has minimal discretion as they respond to an electronic matching process.”

Last week the Met attempted to explain the high number of arrests among blacks by the fact that they make up a higher proportion of the population in areas such as Southwark and Lewisham in south London, where the ANPR units operate.

However, statistics from the 2001 census show that the highest black population in any borough is no greater than about 25%. The proportion of black people across the capital as a whole is about 11%.

Peter Herbert, an independent member of the MPA and spokesman for the Society of Black Lawyers, said: “The Met really wants to avoid any allegation of disproportionality so they will seek to explain these figures by whatever nuance they can. The targeting of certain boroughs might be justified in terms of some crime, but it’s certainly not justified in terms of all crime.”

Captain Gatso, of Motorists Against Detection, the anti-speed-camera group that uncovered the Met figures, said: “All this does is create a new problem for Sir Ian Blair, the politically correct PC, as ANPR cameras and the databases they are linked to are colour blind.”

It is more than a decade ago that Lord Condon, the former Met commissioner, caused controversy when he suggested that young black men were likely to be responsible for most muggings.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

No comments: