Looks like Seattle hasn’t had enough of crime and violence.
Seems the beleaguered city’s enlightened political class entertains a dream of (in effect) making crime legal—as long as the crimes are committed by the right people.
Councilmember Lisa Herbold, chair of the Seattle City Council’s perhaps ironically named Public Safety Committee, recently put forward a bill that would dismiss all misdemeanor crimes if committed by somebody who is chemically addicted, poor, or suffering from mental problems (depression might be sufficient to qualify).
Here are just a few of the offenses that would no longer be prosecuted under Herbold’s legislation: misdemeanor assault, theft, stalking, indecent exposure, and trespassing. Crime is already so bad in Seattle that Attorney General William Barr has called the city “an anarchist jurisdiction.”
When Herbold introduced the legislation, the progressive political class could not have been more supportive. As the Wall Street Journal noted in an editorial:
The idea has received a warm reception among Seattle’s progressives. Council President Lorena González said, “I do support the policy outcomes and goals” in Ms. Herbold’s plan, and “I continue to believe that it is time to stop the criminalization of poverty, mental illness and addiction.” Kshama Sawant of the Socialist Alternative party urged her fellow Councilmembers to pass the plan without delay. And in a letter to the City Council, Seattle’s city attorney Peter Holmes noted that “several of the provisions” Ms. Herbold has proposed would “codify what my office already practices.”
Of course, this would make a crime-ridden city more unsafe and contribute to the creation of a vast underclass that would never be asked to join mainstream society. Writing in City Journal, the invaluable Christopher Rufo explains the underlying ideology behind this move:
This is the latest and most brazen effort in the city’s campaign to establish what might be called a “reverse hierarchy of oppression.” The underlying theory is that society has condemned the lower class to a life of poverty and stigma, which leads to addiction, madness, and indigence. The poor, in the logic of Seattle’s progressive elites, are thus forced to commit crimes—including violent crimes—to secure their very existence. Therefore, as society is the perpetrator of this inequality, the crimes of the poor must be forgiven. The crimes are transformed into an expression of social justice.
This is insulting to law-abiding poor people, or people who are going through a mental crisis and yet don’t see theft or indecent exposure as a wholesome response. How despicably patronizing these progressive leaders are! But, as Rufo pointed out, this is about ideology.
Herbold quietly got the proposal before the Council with a backdoor maneuver and agreed to withdraw it after a public outcry.
Rufo urges Seattle residents to remain vigilant—this proposal was in line with a strain of ideology popular on the left and, while it has been withdrawn, Seattle hasn’t seen the last of the move to make crime legal.