Leave to Bill Maher to revive an amusing complaint on his HBO show during a discussion with his guests about crime and punishment.
It's been so long since I've heard this venerable liberal chestnut, I thought they'd gotten wise and stopped trotting it out, much as liberals seldom say any more how "frightened" they are, though it used to be one of their favorite words. (Recall, for example, how Reagan left them petrified) (Video after the jump)
My apologies to any neighbors who may have been awakened by my guffaws after hearing this from Maher --
MAHER: I think it's also interesting, we were talking a little bit with Pussy Riot (alluding to earlier guests from Russian rock band) there about prison and I didn't want to tell 'cause I didn't want to brag, that as far as the percentage of people thrown into prison, Russia is eighth and America is number one.
GUEST MATT TAIBBI: Oh yeah.
MAHER (pumping arm in mock cheer): USA, USA, USA. And there's something very perverse about that because not only is that a horrifying statistic in itself, but the fact is that crime in the last 20 years is down ...
TAIBBI: Yeah ...
MAHER: ... constantly plummeting and yet the prison population keeps going up.
Assume for a moment the situation was reversed -- instead of crime "constantly plummeting," it was the number of inmates in prisons that was in steep decline. Shortly thereafter, crime became far worse across the nation, to the point that it was unsafe to leave your home and Hollywood began cranking out new "Death Wish" sequels.
Do you think Maher might then connect the dots between empty prisons and criminals run amok?
Are crowded prisons anything to celebrate? Surely not. But government has no higher duty than to protect its citizens and it is beyond disingenuous for liberals to complain about the high rate of incarceration in the US when they've done so much to create the conditions for it.
It wasn't until the '60s that crime was a serious problem in this country and worsening lawlessness was fueled by several dynamics abetted by liberals -- Supreme Court rulings that put the rights of criminals before those of their victims, an ever-expanding welfare state that eroded the family and pushed fathers from their families, legalized abortion that cheapened human life and deemed unborn babies expendable when inconvenient, rampant drug use and licentiousness, deviance celebrated as the norm, all built on a foundation of moral relativism that can't distinguish between criminal and police.
Perhaps Maher wants to revisit the halcyon days when huge swaths of American cities were free-fire zones controlled by thugs while -- on the bright side! -- there were fewer prisons and criminals inhabiting them. I doubt anyone old enough to remember what it was like wants to live through that era again.