No don’t worry Libertarian reader, I’m not expressing sympathy for the Bureau of Land Manglement. I’m expressing (slight) sympathy for the misguided trustafarian morons of Black Lives Matter.

I understand even this may be a shock to my reader. Heck it’s kind of a shock for me too, but lemme explain.

In the ongoing internet/social media frenzy about Untied, the point has been made in a number of places that the passenger who was upgraded to billyclub class had a criminal record. This is presented as being a justification for him being beaten up when he protested his upgrade.

[Aside: It does, howevr, explain his reluctance to miss his Monday in Kentucky: this NY Post article says he is only allowed to work one day a week and that, presumably, was Monday ]

This is a profoundly worrying pseudo-justification. The point of the criminal justice system is to punish where appropriate and then to consider that the event is over. The criminal has paid his debt to society and is now to be treated the same as everyone else. Now we all know this isn’t perfectly true (and there may be good reasons why not) but it is as a general principle and certainly applies in this case. We shouldn’t be blocking former criminals from flying unless there’s a good reason to think they are going to disrupt the flight because blocking them from flying will impede the chance of their being rehabilitated.

This is the part of the BLM general complaint that I have sympathy for. A young black man who has been convicted of, say, drug dealing will have a big problem getting a job and you can absolutely guarantee than if he’s pulled over by the police for anything they’ll treat him as extra suspicious in a way that they probably won’t for a white fraudster, say. Now it is absolutely true that many black youths do themselves absolutely no favours here by deliberately being provocative but it is hard not to have some sympathy when analysis shows they are more likely to be shot in the back by the police. That sympathy grows when you look at the way the criminal justice system makes it really hard to get clean once a poor person is enmeshed in the system. Radley Balko did a long article about the criminal justice system near Ferguson and how the various municipalities there seem to make a living preying on each other’s residents for traffic violations and the like.

And then there’s the legal theft known as Civil Asset Forfeiture, which is a disgrace to the nation. As with the rest of the criminal justice system, it’s far worse for poor people that rich ones. Rich people can generally find the resources to fight back and get some of their assets back. Poor people generally don’t, which is why CAF amounts tend to be in the $1000-$10,000 range, and why the whole thing is such a scandal. Unless the individual affected can get help with the legal costs the chances are that the cost of getting the assets back will be more than the value of the assets in the first place.

To bring things back to United and the re-accomodation, Amie Gibbons has an excellent post at Sarah Hoyt’s blog about how we have gradually allowed ourselves to be threatened with force for things that shouldn’t require it. It seems to me that the African American community has borne the brunt of that gradual campaign and they deserve some sympathy and some concrete actions from the rest of us stating that this needs to stop.