Thomas Sowell

Even beyond this case, we are increasingly becoming a society in which some people are allowed to impose high costs on other people at little or no cost to themselves. This sets the stage for extortion, not only of money but also of legal plea-bargains extorted by ambitious prosecutors.

The stripper, for example, does not even pay the price of having her name known, while the names and pictures of the accused young men are all over the media. Even if they are acquitted, or the charges thrown out of court, this case will follow them and they will be under a cloud for the rest of their lives.

Mr. Nifong has said that he has a third person whom he may indict. If so, he has already demonstrated to that third person what he can do by disgracing the other two and putting a heavy financial burden on their families for bail and lawyers. If that third person cannot stand the disgrace or his family cannot afford the expense, that is leverage for getting him to say whatever the prosecutor wants him to say.

This case presents opportunities as well as pressures. Race hustlers are having a field day, including the inevitable Jesse Jackson.

A fellow stripper who was at the same party sees in this an opportunity -- in her own words -- to "spin this to my advantage."

The biggest opportunity that this case presents is for District Attorney Michael Nifong to win his election, even if the case falls apart later and the law is cheapened by all this.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate