Monday, June 08, 2015

Al Capone's Conviction

In the 1930s, the Federales sent Al Capone to prison for tax evasion because they couldn't prove his guilt for the other stuff. This eventually led to Tom Cruise's line in the film The Firm, "It's not sexy, but it has teeth!"

Some people see the convictions of Martha Stewart and Barry Bonds, and now the prosecution of Denny Hastert, as a continuation of the Al Capone approach. I do not. With Capone, tax evasion was a crime in its own right. In the modern instances, the "crime" has only been outlawed because it is assumed to coincide with another crime. This is how civil asset forfeiture is justified. If you have $10,000 in your car, you must be a criminal, so we don't need to figure out what, exactly, you did that was illegal.

Martha Stewart did not go to prison for insider trading, she was convicting of not aiding the investigation of her alleged insider trading. Barry Bonds was not convicted of using illegal substances, he was convicted of not aiding the investigation of his alleged use of illegal substances. And Denny Hastert is not being prosecuted for sexually assaulting a minor, he is being prosecuted for accessing his own money in a way that was designed to avoid notice.

We don't defend these people because they are public villains. The government is using their villainy to normalize the prosecution of those who do not kowtow to government bullying. We're all less free because we can't stomach defending Martha Stewart, Barry Bonds, or Denny Hastert.

1 comment:

Alanna said...

This comment has nothing to do with this post, but I doubt you'll see it if I post it with the blog post it actually goes with.

So I was teaching Sunday School this last week and the lesson we're on was "Woe Unto Ye Hypocrites!" and I found your definition on hypocrisy, which I really liked, and was all set to use it, but then before I could, Craig raised him hand and talked about how he really liked the definition you gave.

So your blog has become like scripture. Which is probably why they released me the very same Sunday...!

Also, Craig laughed uproariously when I read to him your post about teaching and some of the classroom rules you've had to create.