West Wing

I have been telling people for years they were endangering our basic rights with hate crime legislation; the last place I ever expected to see that parroted was on West Wing.
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By Ted Baldwin
written 12/24/99
8 PM Central
I find myself monitoring left-wing based shows such as this - and I got a surprise! Amusing, isn't it?

     I initially watched the show to see what Rob Lowe was up to - but he is not being well written, not interesting or quirky enough. He is like a big kid in this story, not a cut throat political. In fact, this show would better itself by adding some real tension abut political pressure, and by pulling the supposed "high-ground" out from under them more often. Growing everyone up as it were.

     Although the show has its limitations, and the writing is politically juvenile, it manages a surprise now and then, and it is very well produced. On a par with Law & Order, and E.R.

It is hard to take its political perkiness though. It is definitely not in the real world.

A democratic President (resoundingly goofed on by Martin Sheen, an all around talent), Nobel Prize Winner in Economics, genius, political heavyweight, and doofus, has stockpiled his staff with every possible cliched character imaginable.

     They are surprising at times, though, and the struggle to attempt a "balanced" look is apparent beneath the sheen of power politics. However, like the gay-oriented t-shirt that say "I can't even think straight", these writers just are not capable of seeing a conservative viewpoint.

     Big government is the solution to everything, The President always wins, The Congress is controlled by evil (REPUBLICAN) sex persecutors and (REPUBLICAN HYPOCRITE) whore mongerers. Their attempts to spin, wheedle and bully their way through politics are festooned with their righteousness, and smarmy know-what's-best attitude. They are the smartest people that ever lived, with all the correct attitudes, and the finest pedigrees. If it were not so accurate a portrayal, it would be hugely funny - a satire on a grand scale.

     Unfortunately for us, it is all too serious.

     There is a pervasive trend of thought in political in-circles, and also in The West Wing, that tries to accomplish several things at once.

     First, grab the moral high-ground.

     Second demean anyone not on-board with your position.

     Third, combine political aggressiveness and quest for power with "help" for minorities, disadvantaged and "others". This also involves discounting opposing viewpoints without seriously considering them.

     These are used in concert to generate a tidal wave of support for the people in power, for new and creative interpretations of law and a general mood that if they are not kept in power, there will be chaos, riots, and no guarantee of peace. (Read that as a blackmail threat, I do.)

     West Wing is a biased exposition on what they term "the good guys" versus the evil Republicans, and others that dare think differently.

     Comes the Dawn

     This last week, however, there was a glimmer of hope. A gay teenager was killed for being gay, and the lower echelon staffers immediately jumped on hate-crimes. It was a tremendously correct and moral thing to do, outlawing hate crime, making the world safe for poor gay teenagers. Well, the actual crime already existed. It is illegal to kill someone. What they wanted to do was make it MORE illegal, the punishment greater for the hate element of the crime.

     The end result is that you get more years in prison for killing someone you acted hatefully towards, than if you just respected them - for race, gender, sexuality, religion, whatever - while you were killing them. Ergo - keep your mouth shut, and don't let on that your act of primal murder is based on anything other than random chance. I suppose we will encounter people so afraid of the extra years on the sentence that they will shout "I Love You" while killing whoever. Then will we need "Love Crime" legislation?

     What it comes down to here is that hate crime legislation codifies thought as an element of crime.

     In this country, someone has the right to think what they want. Period. We fought a war with the British over the right to say what we want, when and where.

     But let's look beyond that, to the far future, when hate-crime is successfully integrated into laws. Who is to argue against pre-empting the crime itself, and simply prosecuting the hate? That way, innocent victims will be protected first.

     And let's look beyond that, to the day when various other thoughts are deemed too dangerous to permit - after all - enough of the wrong kind of thinking, and we could be led right back where we started, undoing all of our wonderful progress. God forbid conservatives should ever retake the White House, making people take care of themselves and all. Why not outlaw Republican thought ab-initio, and be done with it?

     And to see where that ends, look no further than Solzhenitsen's Gulag Archipelago. The Soviet Union made all kinds of thoughts illegal, and furnished their forced labor camps with all of the best and brightest. Wave after wave of compaliners, gripers,a dn"wreckers" made their way into the camps for ten, fifteen and twenty-five year terms - or their nine grams of lead.

Curiously enough, the ordinary murderers and thieves got much lighter sentences than those deemed "socially dangerous" by their thought. Is there any difference here? Minimize sentences for the unthinking killer, doubly punish the (loudmouthed) thinker?

     Which brings us back to The West Wing. After the Press Secretary hinted to all the press the White House was going to support more intensive hate crime legislation The Chief of Staff roped in the enthusiastic Hate-Crime Proponents, and told them that not everybody was, in fact, on board. That some people thought maybe, just maybe that making thought a crime was not a good thing, and they were giving that some resounding critical thought. And that they were to shut up about it. My jaw dropped.

Good work, guys.

Well, you can't blame them for wanting things to be better. Even an evil Republican like myself thinks things could be better. And any crime on the books should already be considered reprehensible.

I am happy they are at least aspiring to think things through.