Sen. Obenshain to introduce anti-noose legislation.

Sen. Mark Obenshain intends to introduce legislation making the display of a noose a felony, when it’s done to intimidate, which could bring up to five years in prison. I’m an opponent of these sorts of laws. I think they’re ridiculous. A judge is fully capable of determining whether an act is designed to intimidate, and how serious that it is. If the law does not permit judges to determine what does or does not constitute a threat, then that’s the legislation that’s needed. There’s no need to have laws that specify every thing that is or is not intimidating. (And, since we’re codifying this, does the law specify what a noose is? Must it be tied with a hangman’s knot? What if it’s just use a uni-knot? Or a square knot? What if it’s just a piece of rope looped back and held with duct tape, unsuitable for hangings? Or a picture of a noose?) These fluffy, feel-good laws are a waste of the legislature’s time, the sort of thing that one would expect from far-left Democrats (i.e., “truck nuts,” “droopy drawers”), not a far-right Republican like Obenshain.

Former senator George Allen long kept a noose in his downtown Charlottesville office, hanging from a small ficus tree. He said it was to show how tough he was on criminals, which is another way of saying that its purpose was to intimidate. I wonder if Allen could be charged under Obenshain’s proposed legislation. During his ill-fated 2006 reelection campaign, he started claiming that it was “more of a lasso.” Could a group of white supremacists say the same thing and avoid prosecution under this law?

Judges are big boys and girls. Let them decide what is and is not a noose, and when it’s intended to intimidate and when it’s not.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

38 replies on “Sen. Obenshain to introduce anti-noose legislation.”

  1. Has there been an epidemic of noose-related intimidation in the Commonwealth of which I’m unaware? I could get behind some kind of ban on wife-beaters or maybe making it a misdemeanor to wear white socks with dark shoes, but this is ridiculous/

  2. Agreed, though I suspect that this kind of legislation is a by-product of the kind of judicial activism rightly decried by Conservatives. However, as I get to the point in my career where I have a few more personal friends who are judges, I appreciate more and more the exercise of discretion in sentencing, and the way that the good ones agonize over such decisions.

  3. There has been an epidemic of noose hangings around the country, not aware of any in Virginia but happened to a professor at Columbia, happened at Jena, has happened more and more these past few years. This is probably in reaction or a pro-active measure because of the epidemic of noose hangings to intimidate African-Americans in other parts of the country. I don’t see how it is far-left to be pro-active in saying racial intimidation will not be tolerated in Virginia.

  4. I don’t see how it is far-left to be pro-active in saying racial intimidation will not be tolerated in Virginia.

    You should read the article, Alison: Sen. Obenshain specifically says that race has absolutely nothing to do with his legislation.

  5. That doesn’t make any sense. That’s like saying painting a swastika on a building is no different if you do it on a temple than if you do it on a church. If someone wanted to intimidate me, I sort of doubt a noose would be their first choice of a symbol. I have to wait and read the bill now. This Senator seems ambivalent or confused about what he is doing to me if the quotations in the news article are accurate.

  6. Agreed. However, in a remarkable # of cases where neither is a perpetrator identified and prosecuted, nor is it revealed to be a hoax in which the “victim” confesses, the cases remain unsolved despite the active involvement of the the FBI – arguably the best criminal investigatory agency in the history of the world. See Lundy, Daisy.

  7. I’ll just point out that a “partial” list (pun intended) from Michelle Malkin (who has made the supposed “racial grievance industry” her own little industry) does not constitute reliable data in any respectable sense.

  8. That doesn’t tell me very much, Alison. The radical left’s desire to hang onto this chestnut in which angry white males commit all manner of hate-inspired crimes is simply not supported by the evidence. That’s why the Duke rape hoax was such a devestating blow to people of that ilk – it received national attn in the NYT, the networks, etc and was built on nothing but the deranged, contradictory comments of a strung-out sex worker.

    Sorry. Folks who “bang the drums” on this (literally at Duke) have zippy credibility w/ me. Happy New Year!

  9. @ Cecil

    You might want to concentrate on facts rather than disparaging sources w/out a shred of evidence besides sniffing at their provenance.

  10. All you have is anecdotes will. And who said it was all males who commit hate crimes? It isn’t. That horrible case in West Virginia against a disabled woman included women as chief perpetrators/convictees. Women are implicated in the post-Katrina shootings now finally getting coverage against African Americans escaping flooded New Orleans. Watch this and tell me it’s all about angry white men: [youtube=]

  11. Will, you want to say that the noose-hangers are “usually” (your words) the alleged victims themselves, and you speak of a “remarkable number” of cases that go unsolved, yet you have no actual reliable data–just anecdotes (daisy lundy) and a reference to Michelle Malkin’s partial list. And you’re on a high horse about evidence?

  12. Is non-specific intimidation (that is, not targeted at a specific person) even a crime? Or would this only be when you’re using it against a specific person?

    I can imagine an whole spectrum of noose presentations from the completely harmless to the definitely specifically threatening — seems like a bad idea to tie judges’ hands on something so subjective.

  13. That’s a fair point, Cecil, but I suspect if I posted a link illustrating (for example) that “Dr. William Wilbanks, a criminologist at Florida International University, had to sift carefully through the data to find that in 1988 there were 9,406 cases of black-on-white rape and fewer than ten cases of white-on-black rape” you’d be angry I had the temerity to cite such hurtful data. You certainly won’t find it anywhere in the bold print on the FBI’s stats page.

  14. I would really like to see where you got that quotation from Will. It contradicts everything rape experts say about rape–that rape is almost always same race on same race just like every other crime.

  15. Will could be accurate, if not misleading, Alison. It could be accurate to say that there were 9406 cases of one and ten cases of another, and I imagine it probably is. But while that is noteworthy, leaving out the fact that there were also one hundred thousand (i don’t know, just a hyopthetical number) same race incidents would be being disingenuous. I imagine something like that is going on in Will’s last comment.

  16. Virginia has more important things to worry about than a noose law. We are going into a session where they are talkin about cutting spending for the disabled. But yet we let folks get on welfare with no problems. We let them get on unemployment by just calling a business and asking if they are hiring and not even knowing what they do and just write it down for a contact. Easy money these days for many and the legislators say we are short on funds. Yep we are because no one is governing the system. I wish I has a noose in my yard. I have been a victim of crime 3 times in the past year. Nothing has detered them yet so what is going to stop the next perp that comes to my yard to steal from me? Our society is getting worse instead of better. The more we give folks the more they want to take. In our area. Police budgets are being cut. Hiring freezes are on. If officers leave they are not replaced. Jails are over crowded now and what are those people getting 3 meals a day and a roof over their heads. While some are on the streets homeless or in homeless shelters, or others are struggling to make ends meet.

    Let your legislators know to put in legislation that is important to the people not the bull.

  17. You sort of have to wonder why someone sifts through the Internet looking for a quote about black-on-white rape in the first place, don’t you?

  18. It really wasn’t that hard to find, but thanks for confirming (once again) the usual knee-jerk reaction from certain quarters to question someone’s motivation rather than deal w/ the substance of the point they’re making.

    FYI, I became interested in all this watching the Left and their handmaidens in the MSM try to crucify those three kids at Duke. Seeing it all unravel and watching Nifong disbarred and having some knowledge of the huge settlements the kids got from Duke was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever witnessed – up there w/ Dan Rather’s undoing.

  19. Observer–I agree with you about more important things but this is the topic of the post, isn’t it? But since you mentioned people with disabilities losing funding, it’s important to point out that a majority of those on welfare are either children or people with disabilities and that there is a long backlog at Social Security for those applying for disability who are qualified for it which keeps people on welfare who should be getting higher Social Security checks from the feds. instead of the state and localities. Speeding up and simplifying the process of applying for SSI and SSDI would help get many off of welfare and would help some get off the streets as well.

  20. Is it just me, or did Will just say that he was more interested in reveling over the personal tragedies of others for his entertainment?

    Crucify? Really? MSM?

    I fail to see what any of that has to do with the subject at hand, or even as a reply to someone else.

    If you really want to get to the point, then tell us, Will, what source of information do you trust, what punditry? If it is Malkin, then say so. I would infer from your post that it is a top-shelf source for you. Do you have any others?

    Since you are clearly obsessed with the Duke case, any idea what Malkin said about it at the time?

    I also do not like how you insinuated that you ‘could’ bring something up; then proceeded to bring it up anyway, and then you omitted key facts. Was this to prove a point? I know, a lot of questions.

    Goddess, I am sick of trying to explain logic and rationality to those who have no interest.

  21. Crucify? Really? MSM?

    I’d say being accused of a racially motivated rape by the authorities, having your picture plastered all over the place courtesy of the NYT, the networks, (hell, even ESPN got in on it!) being dragged through hell for months on end even when your innocence was palpably clear to all is the equivalent of a modern-day crucifixion. You might even say they were lynched if that’s not too insensitive for your finely-tuned antennae. (Cue long-winded history lesson on the inappropriateness of using that word).

  22. The media didn’t accuse the Duke kids of a racially motivated rape; Mangum did. The media did put their pictures out there; that’s not an unusual move for a case like that. I’d say it was Mangum and Nifong who dragged them through hell for months, not primarily the media. The media didn’t invent the accusations or prolong the course of the case; it was Nifong who ignored the clear signs that the case was weak. It’s odd that in a case like that one, where the accuser and the DA (and some Duke faculty) were so strikingly at fault for the hideous miscarriage of justice, that you’re so hell-bent on making the media the primary agent behind it all.

    I think the media was too willing to follow along with the DA’s interpretation of events, but then again they were also too willing to follow along with Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld’s flimsy case for war on Iraq. Perhaps what we can say is that the media, which is interested above all else in making money, follows along with whatever version of a story seems to be selling them papers.

    That seems to me a far cry from what you’re claiming for them. You seem really committed to a certain view of what “liberals” think and do. You’d probably call me a liberal (I think you already did) but I was skeptical about the Duke case very early on. A lot of my friends were too. For me (and for a lot of my friends), I found myself identifying with the parents of those boys; I didn’t particularly like what I read about the boys in general, but I also thought about how my own kids could theoretically get caught up in a situation like that. It made me very skeptical about rushing to judgment, and it made me very disgusted when I saw the whole thing fall apart.

    You should really try viewing people as operating from multiple, complex, often competing commitments rather than as these capital-letterized cardboard cut-outs. On the one hand, it makes it harder to make the kind of arguments you want to make, but if you don’t mind thinking harder than you are here, it can be pretty rewarding.

  23. Sometimes it’s not gray, but just black or white (no pun or anything else intended there). I’m not a conspiracy theorist and tend to view things as they are. I believe Oswald acted alone. I don’t think FDR knew about Pearl Harbor in advance. I don’t believe Dick Cheney ginned up the Iraq War so his Halliburton stock options would be worth more. I don’t think this year’s colder than usual weather is actually evidence of global warming.

    It’s fine to be all nuanced and sophisticated and insist things are never as simple as they appear. And that plays great at faculty cocktail parties the sorts of which I would be an unwelcome guest. Nevertheless, oftentimes 2+2 is just 4.

  24. And you’re simplistic and black and white, too? If we ran down the laundry list of Stereotypical Right-Winger characteristics we’d find every one of them in you? Or are you the *only* one who’s nuanced and complicated and thoughtful and considers situations on their own merits rather than following an ideological playbook?

    It’s intellectually lazy to do what you proudly claim to do. You do seem smart, but I guess you’re right that you’d be out of place at a faculty cocktail party.

  25. They do at private colleges in New England. And those with catering gigs oftentimes reap the rewards.

  26. Not at any of the schools I’ve taught at, but the school I went to for my masters had a private garden for the faculty.

  27. there’s a faculty lounge at UVa in at least one department, and it’s a faculty *only* lounge, which seems pretty retro to me (grad students have their own lounge). and there are faculty parties on grounds that involve wine. at private homes, there are faculty cocktail parties. the culture hasn’t evolved that much since the 60s/70s, IMO.

  28. Interesting, I bet it varies a lot by department. In Anthropology, if you put out hard liquor, no one drank it after say the early to mid-90’s. At least in my experience/observation. Maybe cocktails are coming back and I missed it! :) (Since I don’t drink, that’s perfectly possible.)

  29. Just getting back to this, but aside from the relative rarity of inter-racial rape, isn’t it true that inter-sexual rape (i.e., a man raping a woman) is the less-frequently committed crime? That is, if one includes prison rape statistics.

  30. It could be but I don’t think anyone keeps statistics on prison rapes, do they? (Of course some prison rapes are male guard on female inmate) Even if statistics are kept, I suspect they would be very undercounted because most inmates are not going to report being raped. But you could be right about the number of rapes as opposed to the number of individuals who have experienced one rape. In percentages, I would think more women have been raped once than men, but in # of rapes per victim, rapes in prison man on man might outnumber # of rapes of women.

Comments are closed.