Not their fault

In a speech to a black audience in Ohio, John Kerry said blacks in prison aren’t to blame.

Talking about education yesterday, Mr. Kerry also told the largely black crowd at the day care center that there are more blacks in prison than in college.

“That’s unacceptable,” he said. “But it’s not their fault.”

Rather than the inmates, the former Boston prosecutor blamed poverty, poor schools, a dearth of after-school programs and “all of us as adults not doing what we need to do.”

I think James Taranto is right on target with his analysis:

What do adults “need to do” to prevent youngsters from turning to crime? Surely, above all, instill in them a sense of personal responsibility. Kerry sends precisely the opposite message when he says of criminals — and, it would seem, only of those criminals who happen to be black — that “it’s not their fault.”

The Washington Times’ story also reports that local Republicans blasted a Kerry speech in Columbus, Ohio with the theme song from the ’60s-era TV show, Flipper. (Think Lassie only with a dolphin.)

Ê”They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning / No one, you see, is smarter than he,” screamed the music set to its happy jingle.

This could catch on.

Update: Actually, Kerry is wrong: There are many more blacks in college than in prison. My Aisling has the stats: In mid-year 2002, there were 818,900 black men and 65,600 black women (total 884,500) in prison versus 802,000 black men and 1,476,000 black women (total 2,278,000) in college. Best of the Web adds:

It’s true that among black men the number of prison inmates was slightly higher than the number of college students. But as the Statistical Assessment Service notes, this is a meaningless comparison, since “you can go to prison at any age, but are most likely to be in college between the ages of 18-24.” A college-age black man, it turns out, is 2.5 times as likely to be in college as in prison. Also worth noting: A career criminal can easily end up spending decades of his life behind bars, while only the laziest student stays in college that long.

If black women can succeed in school, black men should be able to make it too. But they’ll have to tune out people who tell them bad decisions are “not their fault.”

I helped a Mexican-American student write a college application essay about how he turned around his life. At the age when his friends were joining gangs, he joined a soccer team. They dropped out of school. He toughed it out at a college-prep charter school. Some of his old friends are heading for prison. He’s going to San Jose State in the fall.

About Joanne


  1. Of course it’s the criminals’ fault that they got into prison.

    But it’s also the fault of society, schools, parents, discrimination, poverty, unemployment, low self-esteem, stupidity, The Man, rap music, MTV, teachers’ unions, Democrats, Republicans, charter schools, the lack of good voucher programs, lowered expectations, low-rise pants, and thong underwear. It’s also the fault of college admission prices, midnight basketball unavailability, obesity, textbook publishers, school boards, television, pornography, loose women, the Detroit Pistons, the International Zionist Conspiracy, and men who don’t put the seat back down.

  2. slimedog says:

    …and don’t forget George W. Bush. Dang near everything’s HIS fault!

  3. It’s the fault of the people who always cover for them, and never let them accept personal responsibility for their actions.

    Blaming everyone from the pilgrims to the kitchen sink removes both responsibility and the power to change from the hands of the primary agents involved, and is a sign of feeblemindedness besides.

  4. Personal responsibility – whatta concept.

    I’ve always thought that Liberals looked at crime as a kind of non-governmental income redistribution program.

  5. Mark Odell says:

    “They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning / No one, you see, is smarter than he,” screamed the music set to its happy jingle.

    The horror…. the horror….

  6. Walter E. Wallis says:

    “The soft bigotry of lower expectations.”
    Back during Jim Crow, there was justification for Push Day. The only segregation now is self inflicted.

  7. Can anyone imagine the furor if a REPUBLICAN candidate said that it wasn’t the fault of blacks felons that they were criminals, they just couldn’t help it?

    When will folks, especially black folks, recognize the implicit paternalistic racism of liberalism?

  8. As a teacher in a very mixed student population and a middle class small city it saddens me to continually see a disproportianate number of black students fail academically and walk the wrong side of the law. Conferences are commonly held, yet rarely result in any meaningful modification of either academics or behavior. There is tremendous resistance to accepting responsibility for ones choices or behaviors. Indeed, the liberal and democratic welfare state spent decades implying that blacks could not do for themselves and this was easily learned. Now we are trying to instill self reliance and independence. Naturally this 180 degree turn will take some time to take root. Add to this all of the social and family dysfunction ruuning rampant in the black community and clearly the challenge is great. The question becomes how many more generations of kids will we lose and how much deeper will the new stealth prejudice become among all ethnic groups?

  9. Jack Tanner says:

    It must be a lot of consolation for the victims of the rapes and murders and burglaries and assaults and their families that it wasn’t the perpetrators fault. I’m sure it makes the survivors feel good inside that some other idiot politician is willing to make an excuse for some thug who stole their stuff or beat them or stabbed them.

  10. nobody important says:

    Jack, I’m sure your aware that most of the victims, upwards of 90%, are black themselves. A white politician is doing no favors for black Americans by absolving black criminals of their responsibility.

    This is just another example of political pandering.

  11. Eric Jablow says:

    Jack, are you running for President again? Haven’t heard much about you since 1988.

    Anyhow, we’ve seen this crud before: “Hey, I’m depraved on account I’m deprived.”

  12. WSJ Online has some interesting stats. As we all know, most college students are between the ages of 18 and 22, while an adult of any age can be in prison. In fact, a college-age black man is 2.5 times as likely to be in college as in prison. So maybe we can stop the hand-wringing.

  13. I think Mr. Kerry could really learn something from Mr. Cosby.

  14. The worst thing is that Kerry is right and wrong at the same time. For a group, whether it is Blacks, Cubans, Enron executives, or union circus clowns, there are many causes for crime. Fault is a concept that can be shared among many factors. But for individual Black (or whatever) criminals, there is their own personal responsibility. That’s entirely up to the individual.

    Someday, an honest politician might say “Society may be responsible, but the individual is culpable.” But the explanation would take up an entire newscast.

  15. Of course it’s not their fault. It is the fault of government. That is what the children are taught in school. If it is broke don’t try to fix it because there is a lot of government money just waiting to be “granted” to worthy causes.

  16. I’ve been trying like hell to find a transcript of this speech, but have had no luck. See, this quote is from the Washington Times – an arch conservative rag run by the lunatic Reverend Moon. Now, do I think that the WT lied about that quote? No. However, I would like to see exactly what Kerry said after that.

    Letting media outlets with agendas get away with selective quotation is dangerous. Let’s wait for a respectable news source to publish the entire transcript before we start jamming this down Kerry’s throat, shall we?