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Selective Outrage


To follow up on Matt and Atrios, Radley Balko asks his readers if they’ve heard of James Giles. Giles, like the three men in the Duke rape case, was falsely accused of rape. Unlike the Duke men, however, he didn’t have the money to hire top-flight legal counsel and didn’t benefit from attracting opportunistic attention from powerful conservative statists with a strong commitment to opposing “political correctness.” As a result, Giles “served 10 years in prison, as well as an additional 14 years on probation and as a registered sex offender” before being exonerated by DNA evidence. Despite having faced much more dire consequences, Giles’ case has attracted a fraction of the attention.

The point is not that the Duke case was not an injustice, or that it didn’t merit attention. Privileged white guys also deserve equal treatment under the law, and prosecutorial abuse is always bad. But despite the attempts of people like Walter Olson to draw grossly inappropriate analogies between these defendants and the Scottsboro boys, it’s also worth noting that there are cases of prosecutorial abuse that, because they happen to people with fewer resources and less social status, have much worse consequences and yet somehow fail to interest many people screaming about the Duke case because there’s no chance to rail against left-wing academics. It would be nice if the people upset about the Duke case will start contributing to the ACLU, supporting increased funding for public defenders offices, loosening recent restrictions on habeas suits, looking carefully at the drug war, etc. But I’m not holding my breath.

[Also at TAPPED.]

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