The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

Hannity Has the Answers He Needs… That He’s Not Willing to Share with You!

One day after Sean Hannity gave Roy Moore 24 hours to provide clearer answers about his history and any interaction with the women accusing him of sexual misconduct, the television and radio host more or less backed down.

All it took was an open letter and some sort of private communication, apparently: “Without giving away details, I have gotten an answer from the Roy Moore campaign on the questions that I had.”

But those details apparently aren’t worth sharing with listeners or viewers!

Sean Hannity, back on April 17: “We do our own digging, we get our own sources, we get our own information, and frankly, I think we disseminate more real news than a lot of other people out there, and we’re proud of what we do, and I think we play a vital role in this news media landscape.”

The Story of This One Gun Is the Story of a Straw Purchaser

The Washington Post offers a well-reported, detailed odyssey of how one 9mm Glock 17 pistol changed hands several times and was used in multiple shootings and crimes within just a few nights in 2014.

What it reveals is that the gun was purchased in Manassas by Jamal Fletcher Baker, a young man with no criminal record or record of mental illness. But Baker lied on the required paperwork, Federal Form 4473, and declared he was buying the gun for himself when in fact he was purchasing it for an unemployed aspiring rapper nicknamed “Stunna.”

If we want to stop gun crimes, we probably need to stop letting straw purchasers off the hook. As my colleague Kevin Williamson points out, prosecutors may have understandable reasons to be less than fully enthusiastic about pressing charges in some of these cases: “the nature of the people making straw purchases — young relatives, girlfriends who may or may not have been facing the threat of physical violence, grandmothers, etc. — made prosecuting those cases unattractive.” Kevin points out that if you put some gang member’s grandmother in jail for a long time, you may actually deter future use of grandmothers as straw purchasers.

The gun was then used in a shootout at a party; as the Post notes, “suspects, victims and partygoers refused to cooperate with detectives.”

Which factor actually endangers residents of the inner city more, legal gun purchases or the “snitches get stiches” mentality?

After the party shooting, someone gave the gun to a Romeo Hayes, who ends up in a dispute and another series of shootings the following night. The first is with Shaquinta Gaines, an off-duty D.C. police officer, who attempts to pursue Hayes’s vehicle in her car. Then Hayes encounters Thurman Stallings, a D.C. police detective, who attempted to intervene. Hayes shot the detective several times. (Thankfully, Stallings lived to tell the tale, including in court.) The gun disappears for a time, and is then is recovered months later, found “tossed under a car after a police chase by a man whose relatives lived in Poppa’s housing complex.”

The Post story may not have intended this point, but the article illuminates the futility of most of the arguments for gun control we see after mass shootings. The gun was not purchased at a gun show, so there was no “gun show loophole” to exploit and the initial purchaser passed the background check, so the tired cry of “universal background checks!” is meaningless here. The existing “universal background checks” are why these young men with criminal records use straw purchasers. And the straw purchasers either do not know or do not care that they are enabling those who will commit shootings in city streets.

The good news is that Baker was indeed prosecuted for lying on the federal background check form, and sentenced to more than a year in prison. Hayes was sentenced to ten years in prison.

Is ‘The Pence Rule’ Really the Problem Here?

Katelyn Beaty, the editor of Christianity Today, takes to the New York Times op-ed page, examining the stunning revelations of powerful men sexually preying on subordinate women and concluding that one unacceptable response is . . .  Vice President Mike Pence’s rule that he never dines alone or meets alone with a woman that isn’t his wife.

Yes, she can find some examples of men taking the rule to ridiculous lengths:

The Pence rule can manifest in ways that are strangely un-Christian. A former colleague at a Christian nonprofit threw her back out while on a business trip. Lying in pain in her hotel room, she asked her co-worker to carry her suitcase from her room. He refused to enter the room. One wonders what he thought was going to happen. In this and other cases, personal purity seems to take precedence over the command to love your neighbor.

Dude. If Jesus Christ can lift all of us up, you can lift up the suitcase and put it on the little folding luggage rack in the corner.

And many would agree with Beaty’s conclusion that not all meetings of unmarried men and women are the same: “Reasonable people know the difference between a business meeting over breakfast and drinks at a hotel bar at night.”

But I’d argue her interpretation of what the rule aims to prevent is completely wrong:

The Pence rule arises from a broken view of the sexes: Men are lustful beasts that must be contained, while women are objects of desire that must be hidden away. Offering the Pence rule as a solution to male predation is like saying, “I can’t meet with you one on one, otherwise I might eventually assault you.” If that’s the case, we have far deeper problems around men and power than any personal conduct rule can solve.

Er, no. Yes, the rule keeps people away from the temptation to stray. But the rule also prevents either party from a false accusation and unfounded rumor-mongering. How many women get accused of sleeping their way to a promotion? If I had a nickel for every time I heard some version of, “well, you know, they left together and somebody saw her going into his hotel room” . . . I could afford one of those fancy Venti Frappuccino drinks at Starbucks. It’s not right and it’s not fair that innocent behavior can be interpreted as a sign of adultery or other bad behavior, but this is the world we live in.

She contends the Pence rule is a significant obstacle to women’s success in the workplace:

Imagine a male boss keeps some variation of the rule but is happy to meet with a male peer over lunch or travel with him for business. The informal and strategic conversations they can have is the stuff of workplace advancement. Unless there are women in senior leadership positions — and in many Christian organizations, there are not — women will never benefit from the kind of advancement available to men.

I’m really struck by how many people are convinced that one-on-one lunches, happy hours, business trips, discussions in hotel rooms, and dinners with alcohol are how promotions are earned. Maybe they are, and perhaps I’m wildly naïve.

 . . . But is that really how you get promoted within Christian organizations?

ADDENDA: I concur with Michael Graham: most of the recent horror stories of sexual harassment we’re hearing from women are not cases of “misunderstandings” or “excessive friendliness” or “mixed signals,” and we’re not doing anyone any favors by lumping, say, awkward flirting in with effectively extorting sex from women.

When U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) tells the story of a female staffer who was asked to bring paperwork to a (no pun intended) member’s home, and he greets her wearing nothing but a smile and a bath towel, I wonder: Do we really need House Speaker Paul Ryan’s new mandated sexual harassment training to figure out this is bad?

Forcing everyone who works at the Massachusetts State House to sign a document declaring they understand the consequences of sexual harassment is fine, but is there anyone signing it who didn’t already know that demanding sex from employees or underlings is wrong?

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