Look, it’s not like you can’t find a heaping load of unjust judicial decisions in any decade of American life you care to name, and like as not, it’s an African-American at the receiving end. Still, the conviction and sentencing of Kelley Williams-Bolar for lying so that her two daughters could attend school in the district where their father lives is something of a milestone. (Via 11d)
All professionals may have to face their own little moment of truth where they have to decide whether to follow orders or commit a greater crime against human beings. It doesn’t matter if the law says you have to sentence her. Don’t. Break the law, resign the bench, refuse. There’s no criminal here except the broken system. If you must sentence someone, sentence the legislature in Ohio. Sentence the superintendent in both districts. Sentence the idiot bureaucrats who use attendance or some similar metric to set the funding of schools, giving them an incentive to demand enforcement of these kinds of policies. If they’re not guilty, no one is.
If you must have a policy against such a thing, don’t ever enforce it. Just hope the policy is enough.
The whole story underscores a point I’ve made before. If you don’t understand why there is a level of populist disdain for the actions of government in the United States, this kind of story should help to explain it. It does no good to lay out the catechism of good government (roads built, services offered, libraries funded) against this memorable narrative of singular contempt for the desperate choices of one person. Any more than it would have helped Inspector Javert to lay out the resume of criminals he’d jailed in order to justify hounding a man over a loaf of bread. It may be an exceptional case, but it’s an exception that suggests a rule underneath it, that at present judges and officials and police regard breaking their rules as more important than living up to our obligations. The more of that there is, the more that some kind of rush to the barricades has an appeal.