Views: 17319|Replies: 10

Could public figures avoid legal consequences? [Copy link] 中文

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2017-11-23 15:47:42 |Display all floors
By Josef Gregory Mahoney When the UCLA basketball team visited China recently for an exhibition game, the team lodged in a luxury hotel adjacent to an upscale shopping mall. During their stay, three players went on a shoplifting spree, were detained, and found themselves front-page news globally. US President Donald Trump personally requested leniency for them while visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping, and as a common diplomatic courtesy, the players were released and allowed to return to Los Angeles. In a press conference hosted by the University, the players apologized for their “lapses of judgment” and thanked Trump for his support. One of the players, LiAngelo Ball, stated, “I’d like to start off by saying sorry for stealing from the stores in China…I didn’t exercise my best judgment and I was wrong for that. … I’m a young man, however, it’s not an excuse for making such a stupid decision.” In fact, Trump, looking to score additional political points from this imbroglio, had tweeted earlier that he wondered whether “the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump?”

UCLA head coach Steve Alford gives his statement during a news conference at UCLA Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, in Los Angeles.[Photo: AP/Jae C. Hong]

It is easy for most people to sympathize with a “lapse of judgment” because most can admit to having suffered from them. However, few netizens seem to have sympathy for these players who, representing their country, their school, and inevitably—their race, as all three are African American men—forsook their responsibilities and committed crimes that in all likelihood would have resulted in much worse consequences if they had committed them in the US itself. Nevertheless, the US president, their school officials, and influential sportswriters have been far more lenient in terms of the punishments they have faced to-date.

There are at least three reasons the consequences would have been worse in the US. First, because there is little public toleration for athletes, who are perceived as already occupying privileged positions, who commit crimes, which in turn goads public prosecutors to set strong examples by prosecuting them fully. Second, because the crimes by these men including, according to reports, stealing expensive, luxury items, including a pair of sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton boutique, in other words, these were crimes that were committed without any mitigating purpose, like stealing necessities in the face of poverty, or to feed hungry children, and so on. And third, as most studies indicate, black men in America are most likely to bear the full weight of the law and then some in situations like these.

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2017-11-23 15:49:08 |Display all floors
Los Angeles, like many legal jurisdictions in the US, elects its district attorney (DA), and these candidates inevitably compete with each other in their local elections with promises to be tough on crime. In fact, high profile cases involving celebrities or other prominent figures likes athletes often requires a get-tough approach in order to promote equity or at least its appearance, in other words, to avoid offending voters who worry that people with privilege can escape legal consequences despite breaking the law. Therefore, there would be a public outcry for stiff prosecution and punishment if these players had committed similar crimes in LA, and the DA would need to have responded to that pressure without appearing soft on crime or showing leniency to those with privilege.

After being released from detention in China and being allowed to return to the US, and despite acknowledging their guilt and their gratitude for Trump’s intervention, the players were not expelled from UCLA. Rather, the University chose to suspend the players from the team ‘indefinitely. But it was also made clear that there was a possibility of returning to the team, as indicated by the coach, Steve Alford, who said, “These are good young men who have exercised an inexcusable lapse of judgment” and will now have “have to live with that.” Furthermore, the coach said, they will have “prove through their words and actions that this is not who they are and they will not let their identity be defined by this incident.” Alford said that “knew them well,” and that he was “confident they have already begun to use this experience as a life lesson.” He concluded, “They’re going to have to regain the trust of this athletic department, this university and because this was such a high-profile international matter, the trust of the general public.”

On the one hand, the coach seems to acknowledge the gravity of the situation in some respects, but on the other hand, was justice served? In fact, there are many foreigners and more than a few Americans who face criminal proceedings in China without the benefit of a media news storm, a US presidential visit, or a president like Trump who likes to play to the media. While releasing the men was a clear diplomatic win for China, and in the scope of national interest, an incredibly small concession to make, we should consider what would have happened if these athletes were Chinese, and what if they had committed a similar offense in Los Angeles? Would the DA there have been so forgiving? Would Xi have requested such leniency? While the latter is less likely than the former, one thing is certain: the athletes would have faced greater consequences upon returning China. For one, they would no doubt be expelled from their teams and universities, and second, like other Chinese who embarrass their country by behaving even less poorly overseas, they would have had their passports cancelled and their travel rights restricted. And we can be certain that so-called ‘lapses in judgment’ or the excuse of youth would never be affirmed by officials who saw themselves as being accountable for such men or their society.

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2017-11-23 15:50:07 |Display all floors

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

Post time 2017-11-23 15:51:58 |Display all floors

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 4

Post time 2017-11-23 16:16:25 |Display all floors
This shows the ugly side of a liberal society. The guilty can sometimes get away from being punished. The "rights" of the guilty sometimes supercedes that of the victim. "Laps of judgement" is used frequently as an excuse.

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

2016 Most Valuable Member Medal Gold Medal

Post time 2017-11-23 19:22:04 |Display all floors
I do not think the three UCLA players were let off lightly. They are people with a certain public name recognition. now that they have had a brush with the Chinese law they will face a stiff cold wind to their visages back home for quite some time.

The published penalty for their infraction seems a little on the Draconian side too. So many years?

China should be grateful it does not have to look after three UCLA players held in one of their notorious jails. If the world were to learn under what conditions inmates live there it would be extra bad for China's reputation.

Thus the release from judicial prosecution of these men has brought a genuine "win win" outcome...

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 8Rank: 8

2015 Most Valuable Member Medal of honor Medal of honor Medal of honor

Post time 2017-11-24 16:53:23 |Display all floors
seneca Post time: 2017-11-23 19:22
I do not think the three UCLA players were let off lightly. They are people with a certain public na ...

"The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons." {Dostoevsky}

Use magic tools Report

You can't reply post until you log in Log in | register

BACK TO THE TOP
Contact us:Tel: (86)010-84883548, Email: blog@chinadaily.com.cn
Blog announcement:| We reserve the right, and you authorize us, to use content, including words, photos and videos, which you provide to our blog
platform, for non-profit purposes on China Daily media, comprising newspaper, website, iPad and other social media accounts.