Ever wonder why there are no black incompetents on TV? Especially among police, judges, and prosecutors? If so, you will wonder even more if you read Nicholas Stix’s “Never Too Busy to Hate: Affirmative Action Criminal Justice in Atlanta”:
During the sixties, white civic leaders liked to call Atlanta “The city too busy to hate.” But it turns out that the real Atlanta always has time to hate.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, blacks flocked to Atlanta. The attendant violent crime drove out tens of thousands of whites, resulting in a black majority and the election of the city’s first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, in 1973. Atlanta has now been under black rule for almost 40 years.
This period has seen the racial corruption of every level of law enforcement and criminal justice—from 911 dispatchers who don’t know where major landmarks are, to cops who don’t understand police “10 codes” (e.g., a “10-13”), to jailers and prosecutors who identify with black felons, to judges who repeatedly grant a persistent felon “first-time offender status,” until he murders someone.
Bad scene: reality vs. television shows.
On the other hand, a Wikipedia article gives a rather upbeat version of crime in Atlanta. Which Stix concedes, noting improvement.
In July 2002, Mayor Shirley Franklin appointed as police Chief Richard Pennington, also black of course, who served through 2009. Pennington had supposedly turned around the country’s most corrupt police department in New Orleans.
Pennington shrewdly created a baseline that presented the department he inherited as possibly the country’s most incompetent, and Atlanta as the “most dangerous city in the country.” For example, his audit showed that, in 2002 alone, officials had lost and/or destroyed 22,000 reports from 911 calls.
Pennington changed Atlanta from America’s third-most violent city, to number 18. (It was never most violent—that honor goes to Flint, Michigan.) His methods included computerized statistical analysis and humiliating commanders at meetings, i.e., methods William Bratton made famous in “disappearing” crime in New York. [Ex-APD Chief Richard Pennington has a stroke by Rhonda Cook, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 17, 2010.]
Back on the first hand, TV gives a sharply skewed picture of crime in general.
Television’s portrayal of criminals also diverges markedly from real life. According to the latest FBI arrest reports, crimes are disproportionately committed by males, young people, nonwhites, the poor and the unemployed. They act out of a wide variety of motives, and more often than not their crimes go unpunished.
In the fantasy world of prime-time television most of these relationships are reversed. The bulk of prime-time criminals are male but they also tend to be white middle- or upper-class adults. Their transgressions usually stem directly from simple greed and they are usually thwarted before the closing credits. We shall consider each of these characteristics of TV criminals in turn.
Bigger issue: By what misguided calculation is it racist, as some will say, to point out that we are systematically misled?