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Defining Deviancy Down in New York

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Here's another think piece for you. From the Associated Press out of New York: "Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday proposed cutting the penalty for public possession of a small amount of marijuana, a change in state law that would defuse some criticism of the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy in minority communities. With three weeks remaining in the legislative session, Cuomo said his bill to reduce the criminal misdemeanor to a violation with a fine up to $100 would save thousands of New Yorkers, disproportionately black and Hispanic youths, from unnecessary arrests and criminal charges.

"'There's a blatant inconsistency. If you possess marijuana privately, it's a violation. If you show it in public, it's a crime,' Cuomo said. 'It's incongruous. It's inconsistent the way it's been enforced. There have been additional complications in relation to the stop-and-frisk policy where there's claims young people could have a small amount of marijuana in their pocket, where they're stopped and frisked. The police officer says, "Turn out your pockets." The marijuana is now in public view. It just went from a violation to a crime,'" and that's not good.

"New York City prosecutors and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, whose offices handled almost 50,000 such criminal cases last year, endorsed [Cuomo]'s plan. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the bill largely mirrors the city police directive issued last year for officers to issue violations, not misdemeanors, 'for small amounts of marijuana that come into open view during a search.'" Now, you heard about this, I'm sure, in the context: Here's Doomberg who wants to stop you from being able to buy anything over 16 ounces (if it's a Coke or a Pepsi or a 7-Up or whatever), but he wants to relax the penalties on small amounts of marijuana.

But that's not the point here. Reading you the details here, I wonder how many of you caught something. This law "disproportionately affects" blacks and Hispanic youths, and the Police Commissioner said that his office handles 50,000 such criminal cases last year, and it's just not worth it. It's not that big a violation. Let's take this from just a misdemeanor and get rid of that. Just call it a violation and move on.

Fine.

What did Moynihan say?

"Defining deviancy down."

It's too much trouble to enforce this law. Let's just say it's not a crime any more and be done with it. Okay, fine. Now, you know me. I care about the culture. I care about the roots of our society. And my question is: Does Governor Cuomo, does Mayor Doomberg -- does even the Police Commissioner -- ask themselves why this is an issue that disproportionately affects black and Hispanic youths? In other words, are they not interested in why black and Hispanic youths are the primary users here? And do they not care that that might be a problem?

Or are they saying, "You know what? It's so many cases, and it's so much trouble, and it's not really worth it being a crime, a misdemeanor. We just want to call it a 'violation.'" Okay. So let's just change the law so that these kids are not the targets anymore. Instead of trying to figure out why this is happening, let's just change the law and it's no longer a big deal. I don't know. It bothers me. I care about the culture, and the things that people do that might be impediments to their future that, if caught early and stopped, could be helpful. But that's just me.

So in New York, from the governor on down, it's just too big a hassle. And, you know, there's nothing in it to be targeting those two groups politically. There's really nothing to gain by targeting those groups, is there, Snerdley? I mean, there's really nothing to be gained. I mean, nobody wins when people see black youths and Hispanic youths being reprimanded or held to account for small amounts of marijuana. There's nothing to be gained politically by this. So let's just make it like it's not happening. (interruption)

What surprised you in the story?

(interruption)

Snerdley can't believe they're allowed to frisk black and Hispanic youths in New York like that. Well, it is called the stop-and-frisk policy where the officer says... (interruption) Well, no, but they can do it to anybody. But the officer says, "Turn out your pockets," and the marijuana is now in public view, it just went from a violation to a crime. And without the stop-and-frisk, they'd-a never found it. So it wouldn't have been a crime. It woulda stayed a violation, but nobody woulda known about it. So basically what they're saying is, "We don't want to know. We just don't want to know. We wash our hands. We don't want to know."

And they wonder...

Oh, never mind.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: By the way, we have learned, ladies and gentlemen, that the Reverend Sharpton, MSNBC anchorman and journalist, is gonna lead a "silent march" on Father's Day to bring attention to New York stop-and-frisk policies.  But I don't think he's gonna have to.  Well, no, I take it back.  He is gonna have to. They're not getting rid of that.  They're changing a law based on what they find with stop-and-frisk.  (interruption) I don't know, is Sharpton os the MSNBC payroll when he's doing the "silent march"?  Well, I don't know, Snerdley.  If he's on the payroll, he gets paid per year, paid for what he does on MSNBC.  Probably they wouldn't say at MSNBC they're paying him to do that, no.  But yeah, he's not being paid for that, I wouldn't think.  The real question is, would they let Tom Brokaw do it or would they let Brian Williams do it at NBC.  That's the question.  I don't know.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: We're all trying to figure out what a "silent march" is here. MSNBC anchorman and journalist, the Reverend Al Sharpton, is leading a silent march on Father's Day against the stop-and-frisk policy in New York City. And if you have a protest -- if you have a "silent march" -- and nobody makes any noise, does a protest occur? We might need Yogi Berra to figure this out for us. I've never heard of a "silent march." Is that where you make no noise when you march or walk? Is that where you don't say anything? Does that mean no megaphone? 

END TRANSCRIPT

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