What is mob rule, anyway? Mob rule at minimum is a massive effort to circumvent the rule of law to achieve something, often involving violence. Mob rule can burn, destroy, loot, and kill to intimidate and sow fear to advance agendas. Accessories to mob rule are officials too timid to intervene or who actually co-conspire. Mob rule partners are press outlets propagating inaccurate narratives aiding mob rule success. It’s government bowing to mob intimidation or political pressure using courts for reasons other than justice by rule of law.
And American justice? Our Judeo-Christian-principled constitutional court systems, however flawed sometimes in execution. It’s fairness for accused; truth-seeking paramount; punishment of truly guilty; appropriate sentencing; no false testimony. It’s following the law rather than public outcries, riots, or political agendas. It’s not mob rule. A Supreme Court Justice reportedly has opined a jury stands between a defendant and the mob, and between a citizen and the government.
Let’s look at a recent 2020-21 mob rule: Murder trial of a teenager in Kenosha, Wisconsin. There were glaring developments of active mob rule from onset and beyond trial verdict. Immediately after the teenager shot three rioters trying to kill or gravely harm him, the winner presidential candidate publicly named the teenager a white supremacist, although huge efforts to support that claim produced no such evidence. No matter, the press and pundits overwhelmingly claimed it for over a year. That teenager is a racist, despite all principals involved in Kenosha being the same race. OK then, the cause for rioting was racism. Because a minority person resisting arrest on a three crimes warrant was shot by a non-minority police officer, and the arrested was unarmed exclaimed social media. But — he had a weapon and vigorously resisted arrest, state and federal investigations showed. Didn’t matter. Mob rule pressed on.
Those responsible for rule of law and justice? The Wisconsin governor accommodated rioting by taking no effective action to quell it for days, so rioters showed up everywhere. The now-discredited Kenosha prosecutors charged the teenager with murder almost immediately without credible evidence. Mob rule. Recently in court prosecutors violated historic constitutional protections, used extraordinary deceptions, were woefully unprepared, and displayed a desperation to win by any means necessary. Then following evidence-underscored not guilty verdicts, the governor supported neither the jury nor our historic justice system, rather supported families of rioters and the threatening arrest-resister shot by police. And Washington’s two top politicians weighed in with concern over the verdict. Not much for rule of law and justice.
Mob rule was executed successfully and repeatedly throughout America in 2020. And such was also attempted in Kenosha — but it failed there on all counts. Juries administering justice matter. Juries shield against the mob and against intimidated government. Protecting individuals and society from mob rule is a high moral and constitutional responsibility of authorities. Law and order matters. And electing tough, ethical leaders and prosecutors matters greatly. We’d better get to it and soon.
C R Torpy is a resident of Frederick County.