by Kevin Carson
Sometimes I read books so you don’t have to. And in this case I really caught a bullet for you. That’s right: I read a wretched little turd of a book, “Objection,” by Nancy Grace. You’re welcome.
This book is a fascinating glimpse into the pathological mindset of the police state’s functionaries and its apologists.
Grace ridicules those who portrary defense attorneys as Davids, fighting an unequal battle against the immense power of the state. The awsome power of the state, she writes, usually amounts to just one lil’ ol’ person, like her. She recounts one anecdote in which, as she was driving to an important trial, black oil smoke began belching from her car and then a semi truck ran over her hood pulling in front of her. The alleged power of the state, she snarks, depended on her rattle-trap car.
Well, the power of the state might be just a little broader than that. Militarized SWAT teams that kick in doors at 3AM with no-knock warrants, for non-violent offenses, toss the house to inflict maximum damage for sheer intimidation, shoot the family dog for the same reason — if they even got the right house? I’d say that’s a pretty significant encounter with the power of the state for a lot of people. Being kicked, clubbed or tasered to the point of injury or death, when you’re writhing in agony and physically incapable of resisting, just because you didn’t show proper deference to an Alpha Male — or maybe just because you were in a diabetic coma or having an epileptic seizure? That’s also a pretty dramatic exposure to the power of the state. And how about having your property seized via civil forfeiture without ever being charged you with a crime?
No doubt Grace’s role as point woman for the awesome power of the state was enhanced by evidence obtained with the help of the Incredible Shrinking Fourth Amendment, plea bargain blackmail, testimony coerced from jailhouse snitches, and warrants obtained on perjured testimony by cops.
Grace also ridicules suggestions that suppression of evidence and other ethical lapses are common among prosecutors. The very idea that prosecutors are that obsessed with their conviction records, as to stoop to — gasp! — dishonesty, is utterly laughable.
Strangely, though, in every story I’ve ever read about a convict being cleared by DNA evidence, the prosecutor fought like a rabid wolverine on PCP to suppress the evidence and prevent the case being reopened.
The book is obviously written primarily for Grace fans. The section addressed to her critics isn’t really addressed to her critics. It’s for people who are already on her side, with some vague idea that some folks don’t like her, who need just a minimum of fairly non-specific talking points to immunize them against criticism.
All the “criticisms” to which she responds are quite oblique and mostly non-specific. For example, nowhere in her defense of prosecutorial virtue does she refer to a key set of data points: her repeated censures by the Georgia bar for withholding evidence from the defense and misleading juries. It’s odd, in a section addressed to her critics, that there’s no reference to what amounts to Exhibit A for those who allege her scruples are thin enough to read a newspaper through.
Her impassioned denial that she believes in “guilty until proven innocent” rings hollow in light of her behavior during the entire Duke Lacrosse fiasco — and immediately thereafter. After the verdict and the exposure of the — ahem — crooked prosecutor, she disappeared from public view without comment. Perhaps she was, as we say in the South, “indisposed for a while.”
There’s just nothing quite like seeing someone who’s made a career out of being a bully, attempting to turn herself into a victim in the face of criticism.
But Nancy Grace doesn’t have to be especially gifted with ethics or critical thinking ability. In fact, they’d just get in the way of doing her job — a job she’s very good at.
The police state, existing as it does in a country in which the officially encouraged self-perception is still heavily influenced by the mythos of the common law and the “freeborn American,” must engage in ideological legerdemain for its own survival. That’s not to say the propaganda has to be sophisticated enough to pass serious scrutiny or convince a skeptic. It just has to be good enough to fool most of the people most of the time. The police state depends on maintaining a “silent majority” of people who — out of either ignorance, laziness or intellectual cowardice — don’t know too much about the unpleasant details of how their sausage is made and don’t really want to know.
And that the job of people like Nancy Grace who tirelessly repeat: “Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.”