Several weeks ago in this space, we expressed our dismay over a move in the Washington State legislature to reduce penalties for drive-by shootings in the interests of “promoting racial equality.” Additional iterations surfaced this past week, which underscored that we are not on our way to a good place, social sanity wise.

As we noted, in 1995, when Washington was experiencing a surge in gang-related drive-by shootings, a law was enacted in the state legislature adding drive-by shootings to the list of aggravating factors for murder charges that would draw substantially increased penalties. Other aggravating factors include the murder of law enforcement officers, murders committed by inmates while they are behind bars and murder for hire schemes.


The new legislation would remove drive-by shootings from the list, something justified by its proponents who argued that “it’s clear that [the law] was targeted at gangs that were predominantly young and Black.” Well, yes, but young Blacks happened to commit almost all of the drive-by shootings. And for the same reason, there was no claim, nor could there be, that enforcement was racially disproportionate.

The other day, the New York Times reported that in Seattle, Washington, which is home to one of the largest populations of bike commuters in the country, officials have overturned a decades-old board of health regulation requiring cyclists to wear helmets because of what they called discriminatory enforcement of the rule against homeless people and people of color. They cited anecdotal evidence and studies showing that Black cyclists were almost four times as likely to receive a citation for violating the helmet retirement as white cyclists. And Native-Americans were just over twice as likely to receive one as white cyclist.

All members of the board but one voted to repeal the regulation which even its critics acknowledged that has saved lives. Indeed, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, helmets reduce the likelihood of serious head injury by 60 percent. In cases where it was known whether cyclists were wearing helmets, 79 percent of those who were fatally injured in bike crashes between 2010 and 2017 were not wearing them.

One member, however, explained the vote to repeal this way: “The question before us… wasn’t the efficacy of helmets. The question before us was whether a helmet law that’s enforced by police on balance produces results that outweigh the harm that that law creates…. We have to have a broad view of public health: Yes, we have to think about brain injury, and we have to think about the impact on our criminal legal system.”

Astonishingly, though, according to The Times none of the studies looked at whether homeless people or people of color wore helmets less frequently than other groups!

And then there was that article in the Washington Free Beacon last week reporting that the Biden Administration is set to fund the distribution of crack pipes to drug addicts as part of its plan to advance “racial equity.” Apparently, the Biden Administration has established a $30 million grant program, to be administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, which will provide funds to non-profits and local governments to help make drug use safer for addicts. Included in the grant are funds for “smoking kits/supplies.” A spokesman for HHS told the Washington Free Beacon that these kits will provide pipes for users to smoke crack cocaine, crystal methamphetamine and “any illicit substance.”

HHS said the kits aim to reduce the risk of infection when smoking substances with glass pipes, which can lead to infections through cuts and sores. Applicants for the grants are prioritized if they treat a majority of “underserved communities,” including “African-Americans and LGBT persons” as established under Biden’s executive order on “advancing racial equity.” Crack cocaine, of course, is notoriously the drug of choice for minority addicts.

The Washington Free Beacon article was hurriedly followed by a “fact check” by left-leaning CNN news trying to debunk it. But the CNN effort fell far short of the mark. Although it said that the grant rules did not specify what would be in its “harm reduction” smoking kits, and that while there was no specific reference to pipes being included, there was a direct statement by HHS that “the kits were intended to help users of any illicit substance, including crack, reduce risk while smoking.”

After a congressional backlash, the White House denied that it was ever intended that federal funds would be used to pay for crack cocaine paraphernalia. But, pointedly, there was never a denial of the CNN reporting.

It’s time serious people started thinking long and hard about how to rein in our redistribution politics that has plainly run amok.


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