Commentary: Let’s Call This What It Is – Actual Insanity

Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

By David Greenwald

The innocence movement understood early on that the term innocent is thrown around the criminal legal system too often.  After all, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty.  They had to distinguish people who were merely presumed innocent and people who are found not guilty—which means not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt—from people who are, in fact, innocent and provably so.  They call this actual innocence.

I was thinking about this yesterday as I read through yet another wild conspiracy theory, and realized we use the term “crazy” too loosely in our society.  Likewise, insane is simply used as a stronger version of crazy.  But we need to distinguish the meaning of crazy outside of the norm or hair-brained from literal insanity.  Hence my term “actual insanity.”

There is too much of this going around.  If you listen to Sydney Powell and you are a reasonably normal human being, you come to the realization after a few minutes—that is actually insane.

That gets me to my response to a piece that someone in the LA area tweeted yesterday.  The response from someone in the LA area to the election of George Gascón and many of his proposals—which have actually for the most part been implemented in areas across the country—has in fact been actual insanity, and there is a strong nexus between that reaction and the Sydney Powell and QAnon-fueled wave of insanity.

I’m almost reluctant to do this because it tends to amplify the message.  But there is a guy named David Cole and Taki’s Magazine (his bio says: “David Cole, the ‘Jewish Holocaust Revisionist,’ spent the past eighteen years as David Stein the ‘Republican Party Animal,’ working with GOP higher-ups and blogging for major conservative sites”).  (Here’s the link just so you know I’m not making this stuff up).

At first he kind of appeared to be a voice of reason: “Yeah, voter fraud is real. Yeah, Democrats excel at it. But the current obsession on the right with voter fraud (genuine and imagined) carries with it the potential to do far more damage long-term than the fraud itself.”

He in fact argues: “The right can survive losing Trump, but it cannot survive such a dissociation from reality.”

But, quickly, he himself descends into a form of dissociation from reality, even as he attempts to argue against that in others.

His rant about George Soros—I still do not really understand the right’s fixation with Soros—is borderline scary.

“The worst of the worst on the left aren’t wizards, and if they’re to be effectively countered, it’s vital to understand how they do what they do. George Soros isn’t a warlock. He’s all too human,” this guy writes.

But then he goes on to call him “one of the most evil humans to ever draw breath.”  He unbelievably (look at this guy’s bio again) says, “The greatest tragedy of the Holocaust is that the one Jew who deserved to die survived. The number of innocent people who’ve been killed as a result of this vile man’s anarcho-tyranny agenda cannot be calculated.”

That gets us to George Gascón, the new DA of Los Angeles county.

He puts out a litany of things that supposedly George Gascón has implemented.  He argues, “Gascón didn’t run on any of that, mind you. Soros, who pumped millions into electing Gascón, knows better than to show his hand.”

I paid pretty close attention to the LA DA’s race, and George Gascón in fact ran on a highly progressive platform.  In fact, given his record in San Francisco, I was a bit skeptical.  It was, after all, Chesa Boudin who implanted this platform in San Francisco, not Gascón.  But Gascón has, in fact, laid out policies to follow through.

This author argues that no one tried to push back against Gascón.  But the reality is that’s not true.  The police officers pushed back.  The incumbent DA pushed back.  In the end, Gascón got more votes.

He then shifts back to an attack on Soros and Prop. 47.

He writes, “In 2014, Soros attacked California again with Proposition 47. 47 knocked a whole mess of crimes down from felony to misdemeanor, thus exempting them from Three Strikes and eliminating prison time for offenders. If you can’t end three strikes for three felonies,’ just stop making things felonies.

“Again, this is not wizardry. It’s just being clever.”

He even blames Newt Gingrich, who in 2014 wrote an op-ed in the LA Times pushing for Prop. 47.

Gingrich argued: “California has been overusing incarceration. Prisons are for people we are afraid of, but we have been filling them with many folks we are just mad at.  Reducing wasteful corrections spending and practices is long overdue in California.”

Cole completes his rant by arguing, “Soros won his victories in California not via vote-changing robots but by smarts, money, and will, coupled with an ‘opposition’ that varied between not helping and actively harming. Too many Republicans have no desire to counter Soros because they worry that opposing ‘progressive’ criminal justice policies will make them appear racist (a Trumpian take that I hope fades with him), or because they’re corrupted by Soros’ influence, or because they simply don’t care since keeping ‘the little people’ safe from crime isn’t on their big-business, immigrant-work-visa, Wall Street agenda.

“So yeah, voter fraud is real. Yeah, Democrats excel at it,” he writes.  “But if we lose our sanity over this, we’ll be handing the Democrats a victory far greater than any they could achieve by ballot-stuffing.”

Someone asked me yesterday if they did this to Gascón in San Francisco.  Heck no.  As far as I can tell, while people like Chesa Boudin and Larry Krasner in Philadelphia have created pushback and even outrage, what’s happening in Los Angeles is on a whole new level—paralleling the Sydney Powell wing of the right.

I would write this off as more actual insanity.  But after watching the world for the last six months, I can’t do that anymore.  There is something seriously wrong here, and we can see the boogeymen, whether it’s Soros or Chavez or Dominion.

This is unfortunately where a good segment of the voters are headed.  We don’t all have to agree on criminal justice reform, but there is no overarching conspiracy here.  In fact, the most cogent analysis of mass incarceration came in that quote from Gingrich himself.

We spend $85,000 a year to put a person in a cage in California for a year.  Imagine if we instead invested that money into education and job training for the same individual—we might not be able to save them all, but we could probably do better than put a lot of people in a cage who really aren’t dangerous.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice – https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9

Support our work – to become a sustaining at $5 – $10- $25 per month hit the link:

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Related posts

28 Comments

  1. Alan Miller

    They had to distinguish people who were merely presumed innocent and people who are found not guilty—which means not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt—from people who are, in fact, innocent and provably so.  They call this actual innocence.

    I read that sentence four times thinking I could figure out what ‘actual innocence’ is defined as.  I gave up.

    we use the term “crazy” too loosely in our society.  Likewise, insane is simply used as a stronger version of crazy.  But we need to distinguish the meaning of crazy outside of the norm or hair-brained from literal insanity.  Hence my term “actual insanity.”

    You failed me on that one too.

  2. Alan Miller

    The response from someone in the LA area to the election of George Gascón and many of his proposals—which have actually for the most part been implemented in areas across the country—has in fact been actual insanity

    OK, I get it.  Conservatives who don’t like your brand of criminal justice reform are actually insane.  Got it.  Right.  Or are they actually crazy . . . my brain hurts.

    1. Keith Olsen

      Voter fraud, QAnon, Sydney Powell, George Soros, Prop 47, Newt Gingrich, George Gascon, Taki’s Magazine, David Cole, the Holocaust, and who the “F” is Chavez?  Hugo?

      My head is spinning…

      1. David Greenwald

        That’s what the guy wrote about. I didn’t make this stuff up. This is the whole nine yards and he tried to package it as a voice of sanity, which really got me.

  3. Eric Gelber

    Words matter.

    They call this actual innocence.

    In California, the proper term would be factual innocence.

    … we use the term “crazy” too loosely in our society.

    Yes we do. So, let’s not. It’s not a word we should use to refer to mental disorders or behavior one is attributing to a mental disorder.  And its use in other contexts should be narrow. It should be considered in the same way as the word retarded is now. It is marginalizing and stigmatizing to people with mental illness. See, e.g., https://www.nami.org/personal-stories/don-t-call-me-crazy

    Let’s Call This What It Is – Actual Insanity

    No, let’s not. Insanity is a legal term for a defense asserting that, as a result of a mental disorder, the individual did not know what they were doing or did not know that what they were doing was wrong. Saying conspiracy theories are actually insane is like using “literally” instead of “figuratively.” It’s saying they are something they are not. It’s tantamount to defending those who concoct or promote them. 

    I still do not really understand the right’s fixation with Soros

    At its root is anti-Semitism. Even if Soros conspiracy promoters aren’t blatantly anti-Semitic, they are, knowingly or unknowingly, reinforcing anti-Semitic tropes.

     

     

    1. Alan Miller

      still do not really understand the right’s fixation with Soros

      At its root is anti-Semitism.

      EG, agree with most of what you said above, but not so much the last one.  I don’t understand the fixation with Soros either, but it’s not just the right, I know liberals who are Soros fixated, and some of them are Jews.  I don’t understand declaring that the fixation on Soros is ‘anti-Semitism’ any more than I understand the fixation with Soros.  How is ‘anti-Semitism’ an explanation?  That sounds like how ‘racism’ is thrown around as an explanation for so many things as if it’s obvious (when it’s not), but not explaining the connection.

      1. Eric Gelber

        I may have overstated the last point. Anti-semitism may not be at the root of all such Soros conspiracy theories (and I know the Israeli government is no fan) but it certainly is the basis for many.

        1. Alan Miller

          OK.  I’ve heard people speak about these theories such as the ‘evil’ Soros, and when I ask how they know this is true, I get this look of  “I know this is truth” with a self-actualized arrogance and a subtle looking down in judgement knowing they know the truth and I don’t – ha ha 😐 .  It’s the same look and attitude I get from entrenched evangelicals who declare to me that Christ is Lord (for a Christian example, but any religion will do), and I ask them what they mean by that 😐 😐 😐 😐 😐

        1. Keith Olsen

          It’s not a bizarre conspiracy, it’s the truth.  You find it more and more everyday and George Soros is a great example of this.  Obama was another example.  Many times people were accused of being racist simply because they didn’t agree with Obama’s policies.  I could go on forever with many examples.

    2. David Greenwald

      Also:

      “Actual innocence is a special standard of review in legal cases to prove that a charged defendant did not commit the crime(s) that he or she is accused of, which is often applied by appellate courts to prevent a miscarriage of justice.”

      Book by Jim Dwyer, Peter Neuteld and Barry Scheck is called: “Actual Innocence

      1. Eric Gelber

        The book cited is authored by New York-based attorneys. Terminology and procedures are not the same in every state. Not guilty means that the individual was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have committed a crime, not that the person is innocent. There are procedures in law for a judicial determination that either no crime was committed or that the person arrested or convicted did not, in fact, commit the crime. My point was only that the terminology used in California for this concept is factual innocence. E.g., Penal Code § 851 et seq.

        1. David Greenwald

          It’s also a federal concept.

          “A finding of actual innocence, as that term has come to be used in federal habeas corpus jurisprudence, is not the equivalent of a finding of not guilty by a jury or by a court in a bench trial.” Lambert v. Blackwell, 134 F.3d 506, 509 (3d Cir. 1997).

        2. Eric Gelber

          OK. Actual innocence may be sued in the federal court system. The vast majority of criminal cases are tried in state courts, however. Seemed to me that was the primary focus of the article. I made a simple clarifying assertion about California. Not sure why there’s a need to argue it.

  4. Ron Oertel

    I must not be paying much attention to this type of thing, as I really have no idea what the point of this article is (as there seems to be more than one).  Something about conspiracies, Soros, innocent people, and a general comment against incarceration.

    I suspect that most people (myself included) barely know who Soros is, or why he’s important. (Something about funding particular causes?)

    But, I guess it touches on a lot of David’s primary interests.

    I’d rather watch Chris Farley videos, regardless. Hell, I wouldn’t even see this stuff, if it wasn’t for the development advocacy articles.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Have you seen the one where he’s competing for a job at Chippendale’s, against Patrick Swayze?

        It’s amazing how many people from that show are dead. And, despite being privileged! 😉

        (Just being purposefully off-topic.)

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for