There’s been a lot of outrage lately over the fact that Larry Lawrence bought a burial spot at hallowed Arlington National Cemetery with ten million dollars worth of donations to the Democratic Party.

To be really correct, we would have to say that Mr. Lawrence first purchased the ambassadorship to Switzerland with his donations. The ambassadorship then allowed him, technically, to qualify to lie among true war heroes at the nation’s most revered burial spot.

But today’s Outrage is not about Mr. Lawrence. After all, buying political favors and positions is a time-honored Washington tradition. Long before Kennedy family patriarch Joseph Kennedy purchased the ambassadorship to Great Britain, politicians had been buying and selling such positions.

Both Democratic and Republican presidents sell ambassadorships, or reward them as political favors to out-of-work political cronies. Ambassadorships are excellent political plums. They offer the chance to live abroad at government expense while occupying a position of great prestige and a high social profile. Plus, there’s no real work to be done. John Kenneth Galbraith said that he could finish all his daily work as ambassador to France in less than an hour. Actually, in this age of instant communications, ambassadorships are really almost a complete sinecure.

Here at the DO we’re always on the lookout for innovation. Selling ambassadorships, access to the president — all of these are old hat. We have to admit that we were fascinated by the Lawrence case because we’ve never known politicians to profit by selling favors that only take affect once the buyer is dead. But Bill Clinton is a cunning man, and we’re not surprised that his administration has profited by this innovation.

Today’s Outrage truly breaks new ground in the purchase and sale of American politics and public policy. Previous cases, including Gravegate, work as follows: party A gives money, political backing or other favor to party in power (Party B). The latter than gives Party A an ambassadorship, government contract, Lincoln bedroom sleepover, ride on Air Force One, or whatever Party A has on its Christmas List.

Today’s outrageous innovation works as follows. Party A is able to maintain its desired policy, not by buying off the decision-maker (the usual tactic) but by enriching the sworn enemy.

Here is a brief recap of the case. In 1980, the Piscataway Public Schools of New Jersey hired (on the same day) Sharon Taxman, who is white, and Debra Williams, who is black, to teach business law at the high school level.

On May 22, 1989, the school board decided to eliminate one of the positions. Deciding that the two teachers are equally qualified the board fired the white teacher in order to increase “diversity.” (Ms. Taxman had three years teaching experience but no graduate degree. Ms. Williams had a graduate degree but less than one year’s teaching experience.)

In June 1989, the white teacher, Ms. Waxman, began the long journey through the legal system. After being processed through the usual intermediate steps the case is scheduled to be heard before the Supreme Court on January 14, 1998.

Recently those who favor affirmative action began to panic. The rulings of the high court aren’t looking good for their side. So, concerned that the court will decide against them and set a fatal precedent for affirmative action, Ms. Williams’ legal allies take the unprecedented step of buying off the opposition to prevent an unfavorable precedent being set.

It’s certainly not unusual for a defendant in a civil case to reach a settlement to prevent a possibly bigger award by a judge or jury. But two things make this case unusual. First of all, fear of a large monetary loss was not the motivating factor. Secondly, the party actually paying most of the settlement is not one of the parties being sued.

The settlement with Ms. Taxman calls for a payment of $433,500. But the settlement is not being paid for by the defendants. The Black Leadership Forum is donating 70% of the cost of settling the case. With the payment of the money, Ms. Taxman will drop the case, the Supreme Court will not issue a ruling, and affirmative action will not face a possibly critical blow.

Clint Bolick of the libertarian Institute for Justice says, “This settlement demonstrates the panic within the civil rights movement. This could have been a knock-out blow for racial preferences.”

The black teacher who did NOT lose her job, and who did NOT have to pay any money towards the settlement or legal fees, was very upset by the whole matter. “You don’t get nothing [sic] in this world for having an advanced degree. You don’t get nothing but a slap in the face.” We’re just hoping that Ms. Williams’ advanced degree was not in English.

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0 thoughts on “JUSTICE FOR SALE!

  1. If we are supposed to be a fair and equal country, then why is affirmative action allowed? Why should a person be accepted to a school when the deciding factor is the color of their skin, not how well they have done or what they have done for their community.

    Time: 2/12/98 (23:15:48)

    As a native who has been been repeatedly insulted, exploited, threatened and assaulted by members of so-called “minority” groups, I dreams of racists like Sprewell, Barkley or Simpson being driven right back into the sea. When will we hear about the black soldiers who willingly helped run ‘Indians’ off their land? The racial double standard makes it tough to keep my lunch down….

    Time: 12/3/97 (20:56:57)

    The thing that gets me about affirmative action is that Michael Jordan’s kids are just as qualified to benefit from it as black kids from the ghetto. Now does that seem right to you?????

    Time: 12/3/97 (20:51:19)

    Yea Russell. I love your idea about affirmative action. I’ve also always liked the idea of just offering minorities one-way tickets back to their country of origin if they don’t think life in America is fair. There’s still black slavery in Africa! I’m so happy Californian’s finally came to their senses and voted for Prop 209 so we can start putting an end to the affirmative action nonsense.

    Time: 11/28/97 (11:38:37)

    if both teachers were considered equal in ability then the earliest application date should have determined the choice. In other words, who was firstest?

    Time: 11/27/97 (8:16:19)

    “Nothing” irritates me more than the laziness of some vocal minorities who feel or choose to think that their position in their community is enhanced or assured by speaking ungrammatically. If you axe me, Ms Williams is uninformed about her role as a model as a high school teacher, and considering everything, should be thankful she have a job. It be people like her who ain’t never going to know how much damage non-standard English contributes to the deterioration of historical American values, not to mention the ability of the home-boys and girls to advance

    Time: 11/24/97 (17:38:33)


    Nobody is going to deny that there are numerous dialects in America.

    But we aren’t talking about some John Smith or Jane Jones here. We are talking about a high school teacher with a Master’s Degree. By using double negatives, she is violating the rules of grammar.

    Her statement was something I would personally be disheartened to hear, if I were a parent of one of her students.

    Furthermore, I don’t think she was speaking informally when she made that statement. She wasn’t exactly chillin’ with her homegirls. Thus, in my opinion, her choice of using those double negatives was an unwise one.

    Frankly, I don’t know nobody who’d disagree.

    Time: 11/24/97 (14:49:47)

    Regarding the comment below on the comment below, America is a big place, and more than one dialect is spoken here. If millions of people of the same culture or areas make the same “mistakes,” they become rules.

    The fact that it is possible to speak Black American English incorrectly proves that it is a true dialect.

    This will be my last post on the subject, as it is getting too far off topic.

    Time: 11/24/97 (13:57:0)

    Regarding the comment below, modern-day America is not one of those places.

    Time: 11/24/97 (13:44:54)

    I feel that the comment about grammar was not called for. Double negatives are a standardized, accepted part of her dialect. There are plenty of English dialects in which double negatives are considered legitimate. The works of William Shakespeare are full of them.

    Time: 11/24/97 (12:24:37)

    Speaking of advanced English degrees…..I believe that the grounds at Arlington National may be hallowed.

    As for affirmative action (anyone know what that term means?), let’s just change our argument, and agree with Jesse and Clinton, and say that blacks really do need AA because they’re obviously too stupid to make any progress on their own in these great times.

    Once we get everyone saying that, the AA-mongers will start getting defensive and tell us that they CAN succeed, and they don’t like the anti-AA crowd saying otherwise, and they don’t want our help any more.

    Time: 11/24/97 (12:17:14)

    Sounds like the law still needs to be interpreted. Why can’t the Supreme Court rule on the law not just the case anyway?

    Instead we will reinvent the wheel again, go through all the time, motions and money when this could be put to bed now.

    Time: 11/24/97 (10:41:36)

    If Blacks are so oppressed, how do they come up that much money to buy off justice?

    Time: 11/24/97 (2:18:53)

    Unfortunatly, the civil “rights” folks think that there has to be a pay-back for 400 years of oppression.

    Well, that pay-back was taken care of years age. But, the civil “rights” people NEED to keep this stuff alive to justify their

    What is convenietly forgotten is that the majority that came to these shores came in dire straits. NOT with silver spoons in their mouths…

    Time: 11/24/97 (0:12:45)

    re: the settlement or legal fees, was very upset by the whole matter. “You don’t get nothing [sic] in this world for having an advanced degree. You don’t get nothing but a slap in the face.” We’re just hoping that Ms. Williams’ advanced degree
    was not in English.

    That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever read. Keep it up folks

    Time: 11/23/97 (22:11:55)

    That’s the American way. Some like it; some don’t.

  2. It’s hard and sad for me to believe that blacks are still mad about the “oppression” they went through 400 years ago…they have nothing to complain they weren’t enslaved, and if they hadn’t been then they would have never made it to america, therefore never having all the opportunities they have today!

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