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Cory Maye

I suppose I could just do an update, but here it is, the order from Judge Michael Eubanks that keeps Cory Maye in prison for the time being, most probably for the rest of his life. Here’s Balko’s thoughts on the matter.

Do you understand why a few of those who are wrongly convicted of serious crimes are later exonerated and released? It’s always due to factual material evidence, i.e., undeniable evidence, such as DNA and so forth. Even still, the state, via its prosecutors and district attorneys, never stands in accordance with the interpretation and obvious conclusion rendered from such evidence, recommending release. No, they do their best to keep the wrongly accused convicts behind bars and/or condemned to die in the state’s death-execution chamber. They do this by obfuscating facts, introducing out-of-context assertions, pleas to "hard work" on the part of the state to get the conviction in the first place, and a host of other things.

And they sometimes succeed. They sometimes succeed even when the evidence is clear and objective. If they can use a technicality within the law to keep an innocent man convicted, then they easily ignore the whisper from their consciences, assuming it whispers to them even still.

But sometimes, the evidence is so great, so convincing, so clear that even Genghis Khan would blush to keep someone locked up.

Cory Maye remains in prison and will likely remain in prison for life because there is no question as to the basic facts of the case. The question is whether you have the right to shoot at intruders breaking into your house in the middle of the night in self-defense. The law generally holds that you do have such right. But not if its the state and its agents breaking into your house. Even if you don’t know its the police — indeed even if you believe it is a life-threatening intrusion — you still have no right to fire on cops. There is no material fact that will ever exonerate you, save the cops themselves admitting to a wrongful break in; and that’s only so because the cop’s stories will always be given all possible weight, no matter any other fact. Of course, given what is known about cops generally, just from what’s posted here, they will never say anything but that they clearly announced their presence.

Cory Maye sat on death row for five years and will now sit for life because he is a morally innocent man and the state is morally guilty. Shooting and killing a cop, an agent of the state is everything to this case.

Granting Cory Maye a new trial is to indict the state and put it on trial. To free Cory Maye is to convict the state. Cory Maye’s life, according to Judge Michael Eubanks, the prosecutors, many residents of Prentiss, Mississippi, and others is a very small price to pay to keep Big Lies propped up and maintained.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

24 Comments

  1. Richard Nikoley on December 31, 2006 at 08:50

    That's a good point, John, and it slightly makes me regret my criticism of Balko in that last post on the subject.

    One cannot fault Balko for walking on eggshells, here.

  2. Kyle Bennett on December 31, 2006 at 10:25

    Kennedy,

    Lopez's comment was spot on, and the same argument can be made about the point you make. You say "less is at stake" in Balko's opportunity to get on TV, but is that really so? You have to walk on those same eggshells whenever you try to influence the public. It's a dangerous tightrope, not least to the walker's integrity, and also a serious danger to the integrity of the message itself, but to argue that less is at stake just because it is not one individual's life on the line is shortisghted.

    I don't envy anyone who takes that tack. It's a difficult, potentially self-sacrificing route. High risk, but also high reward if it can be pulled off – and there is some evidence that Balko is getting some traction. Those who go that way must accept the inevitability, but also the value, of discussions like this. Still, until there is evidence that he has finally slipped down the slippery slope, I prefer to keep the arrows aimed at his back shallow and symbolic.

  3. Kyle Bennett on December 31, 2006 at 14:26

    JL,

    It's 100% guaranteed that he won't be arguing for privatization but rather some sort of scheme to keep SS "viable". His chance of improving anyone's life would be negligible

    I don't know Balko well enough to know if that premise is true or not. If so, the conclusion would certainly be true, and I'd be sharpening those arrows.

    JK,

    Rush Limbaugh has plenty of traction. He has considerable public influence.

    Yup, and he isn't even trying to walk our tightrope, he never has. He explictly rejects our message. What's your point?

    And my mention of Balko's traction was meant specifically in the context of Cory Maye and the "no-knock" raid issue. Again, I don't know his writing well enough outside of that to judge.

    To both,

    I didn't say it was easy. It is indeed a tightrope, and has almost no room for error. But you can't deny that there is a tradeoff between influence and staying full-throttle on message when your message is as widely rejected out of hand as ours is. It's like any negotiation, you try not to give away too much to get what you want.

    I will say that you are right about irrational arguments, they will always be a loser from our side. But the tightrope I'm talking about is trying to argue rationally from the starting point you are given rather than trying to move the starting point, while still making the correct argument. That is incredibly difficult.

    In cases where it is not possible, and there are some (the broader war on drugs, for instance), it shouldn't even be tried. The no-knock raid issue does provide a starting point of common values (don't kill innocent people and their pets, or wreck their houses) that is worth trying to steer the argument from.

    Of course it would be better if we never had to make such bargains. And I'm not suggesting that every libertarian take this approach, only that those who do can be rooted for with a clear conscience until the point where they clearly fail and give away too much – or are inevitably headed that direction.

    For instance, I'm still a fan of Milton Friedman. Though he gave away a lot, he gained a lot too, and I think he struck a good bargain. We're better off for what he did, both short term and long, even though his ideas weren't entirely congruent with ours, and even his ideas have not been fully adopted.

    Q&O on the other hand…

  4. Kyle Bennett on December 31, 2006 at 15:15

    Ah, well, if Rand said so…

  5. John T. Kennedy on December 31, 2006 at 00:19

    Balko says of the judge: "A rather dishonorable way to go out, if you ask me."

    Why doesn't Officer Jones get the same judgment?

  6. John Lopez on December 31, 2006 at 08:34

    "Why doesn't Officer Jones get the same judgment?"

    Because Balko is trying to help Cory Maye, and a completely rational argument would alienate virtually everyone that Balko is trying to influence.

    Radley is attempting to tread a very fine line and not overtly criticize Jones (who, as a cop, is regarded as a saint by the general populance) or anyone who might still have influence over the case (wouldn't do to have someone acting against Maye out of a sense of outrage at Balko), but at the same time criticize the general situation enough that he induces sufficient public outrage that Cory Maye doesn't rot in jail for the rest of his life.

  7. John T. Kennedy on December 31, 2006 at 09:48

    That's possible, but I'm not at all persuaded that Balko sees Jones in the same light as Eubanks. He could have refrained from criticizing Jones without offering unsolicited praise.

    But lets say you're right. It's dishonest. Such dishonesty is quite defensible because Maye's life is at stake. But then you have to realize that Balko does the same thing when far less is at stake – like his opportunity to be on TV or advance his career as a think tank pundit. So we're constantly left to wonder how much is honest in his writing and how much is instrumental.

    If Balko was frankly honest in the rest of his work and just sucking up to a cop here to save an innocent man's life you wouldn't hear a peep out of me on this. But he isn't.

    This is a serious problem with the strategy of sugar-coating the message – the more you do it the less people are able to discern what the message actually is.

  8. John Lopez on December 31, 2006 at 11:13

    In the case at hand, my judgement is that an honest argument won't work for the reasons Rich pointed out in the last paragraph of his post. Therefore it's possible that some level of irrational/dishonest argument would serve better.

    In the broader case, I'm much less reluctant to hold back. Let's say Balko gets a TV gig where he gets to run his yap about privatizing Social Security. It's 100% guaranteed that he won't be arguing for privatization but rather some sort of scheme to keep SS "viable". His chance of improving anyone's life would be negligible and you could make a sound argument that he'd be actually making our lives worse the more persuasive he was.

    That's where I part company with Kyle: as written before, making bad arguments in favor of libertarian goals isn't a high-risk, high-reward strategy, it's a zero-reward strategy. You're guaranteed to lose as much as you put into it, because statists have better irrational arguments than libertarians do.

    The more focused your argument, the better the chance that a bad argument will get good results. It's possible that Balko can make a bad argument to help Cory Maye. It's impossible for Balko to make a bad argument to reform the legal system.

  9. John T. Kennedy on December 31, 2006 at 11:50

    …and there is some evidence that Balko is getting some traction.

    Okay, so Rush Limbaugh has plenty of traction. He has considerable public influence. He clearly trims his message to maximize his influence. But at the end of the day what is the real message and what is merely instrumental?

    Here's an example where Balko argues on one hand that the government is totally incompetent to deal with hurricanes but on the other hand that it would be perfectly acceptable for it to manage plagues.

    So is that cognitive dissonance or just throwing a bone to the general public? I wonder if even he knows anymore.

  10. John T. Kennedy on December 31, 2006 at 11:58

    "In the case at hand, my judgement is that an honest argument won't work"

    And I agree that one can give Balko a pass in the Cory Maye case.

    On the other hand, how does one know he didn't mean exactly what he said about Jones? There's plenty of support in his larger body of work for the conclusion that he did.

  11. John Lopez on December 31, 2006 at 12:17

    "On the other hand, how does one know he didn't mean exactly what he said about Jones?"

    You can't know on the face of it. Balko could be lying, engaging in self-deception, or be giving his honest opinion.

  12. John T. Kennedy on December 31, 2006 at 15:11

    "But you can't deny that there is a tradeoff between influence and staying full-throttle on message when your message is as widely rejected out of hand as ours is."

    Rand denied it; why can't I?

  13. John T. Kennedy on December 31, 2006 at 15:16

    And try telling Billy Beck about that tradeoff.

  14. John T. Kennedy on December 31, 2006 at 15:24

    "For instance, I'm still a fan of Milton Friedman."

    All I'm saying is to recognize people as what they are. Balko does some valuable things, but that's no reason for overlooking his shortcomings. In reading his blog over the years I find that his career is taking him away from principled libertarianism, not toward it.

  15. John T. Kennedy on December 31, 2006 at 16:17

    Kyle,

    Here's moderate Ann Althouse dying to be courted with a softer message:

    "You did nothing to reach out toward me, a moderate, who came to the conference interested in libertarians. You completely alienated me and lost me as a potential ally, which was surpassingly foolish politically."

    If you want your ideas to gain wider acceptance then she should be a prized target – a decent writer with a good sized audience.

    So how much of the message should you negotiate away for her?

  16. Richard Nikoley on January 1, 2007 at 09:44

    "Collective politics is a pointless waste of time. Fortunately there's no need for me to waste my life on it."

    Indeed. My own activities, including this blog, is an exercise in engaging the philosophy, politics, culture and religion of our time for my own understanding and edification. If that process delivers meaning, understanding, or clarity to a few others that's great, and I'm happy for it.

    But compromise can only mean that one is acting under the delusional belief that his actions will actually have some real, meaningful and lasting effect on society — or, dare I say it: civilization — as a whole.

    John and John are right. People are not going to be moved to new ways of thinking unless and until they see some real and tangible benefit to doing so, which, I might point out, can be negative as well as positive. That is to say, the day may come where the positive benefit to thinking rationally is outweigh by the negative consequences for thinking irrationally.

    If you boil it all down, one way to look at modern social democracy is as a massive and complex system for allowing people to escape the just consequences of their own ideas in practice. And, if not, then at least to make them think they can have their cake & eat it too.

    Until people can't escape natural justice, and no longer believe they can either, nothing much is going t change. Indeed, we are destined so continue sliding downward under the pure force of momentum until such time as some individual (a-la an Einstein or Copernicus) or event comes along that changes everything.

  17. Kyle Bennett on January 1, 2007 at 11:37

    JL,

    Milton Friedman's tax scheme was not a compromise. He did that fresh out of college, before his later beliefs were fully formed. I believe he had said later that he thought of it as a mistake from ignorance. Even if not, it was clearly not a compromise of any principle he believed in at the time.

    The "starting point you're given" by the average statist is that you and the fruits of your labors are subject to the whim of the collective.

    No, it's not. Most people wouldn't have any idea what that even meant, and would reject it if they did. The fact that they make arguments that imply that premise doesn't mean that they hold that premise explicitly. Arguing from the values they have that would lead them to reject that premise when stated explicitly, and showing them that their narrower context positions contradict those values is exactly what I'm talking about.

    In any case, JTK, Althouse is not the prize, she's the competition. Don't confuse the two.

    He won't be arguing against the War on Drugs or even arguing against no-knock raids in principle, so what's his argument?

    To make no-knock raids more difficult and so that they carry more consequences. Do you think that that would be a bad thing in and of itself? Or do you think that it would be a bad thing only in relation to what Balko supposedly could accomplish, like single handedly rolling back the drug war?

    If he argues that the raids are OK in the service of the drug war, so long as their under better control, he's blown it, you're right. If he leaves the legitimacy of no-knock raids in themselves unaddressed, he's on shaky ground, but might accomplish something. If he says that the drug war is wrong and that he opposes all no-knock raids on that principle, the discussion is moot.

    You know, if this argument is about what Balko should or shouldn't do, why are we bothering? The real question is what are you and I going to do, either in response to whatever Balko does, or without regard to it?

    I view his work so far as generally positive, with a potential for it to be a setback, for him to become corrupted. Either way, I'm not going to do anything about him, except maybe comment and hope he reads it and has an epiphany. And probably not even that. He's not the White Knight of the libertarian movement, he's one more guy fighting a so far losing battle. Rich is right, this is not where the battle is, these are skirmishes. I view them as experiments, or, to keep the analogy going, probing attacks. Our potential gain from them is an intelligence one far more than a tactical one.

  18. Kyle Bennett on January 1, 2007 at 11:42

    Rich,

    Until people can't escape natural justice,

    That's the real battle. It's always been about those who can see it vs those who won't see it. The Corey Maye case is about adding the force of authority to the official denial that it occured for officer Jones. They'll never let him out, because to do so would be admitting that that is what it was, and it would be fatal to their cause.

  19. Kyle Bennett on January 1, 2007 at 11:45

    They'll never let him out, because to do so would be admitting that that is what it was, and it would be fatal to their cause.

    Actually, the way to save Maye's life would be for Balko to find some technicality that would allow them to release him without admitting this.

    And that's the crux of the argument we're having over Balko, isn't it?

  20. Ironbear on December 31, 2006 at 23:15

    Hrrmmm.

    "I didn't say it was easy. It is indeed a tightrope, and has almost no room for error. But you can't deny that there is a tradeoff between influence and staying full-throttle on message when your message is as widely rejected out of hand as ours is. It's like any negotiation, you try not to give away too much to get what you want." – Kyle Bennett

    Last I checked, Kyle, John, we're losing no matter which tack we use: full throttle no-compromise or trading integrity for tiny scraps of influence.

    So what's the point of that tightrope, again?

    Are we going to get an Althouse with the softer, gentler message, John?

    Is winning an Althouse worth the tradeoff? Is it even a "win"?

    I just couldn't help recalling that in the case of Althouse, she's been exposed to the softer message: via Reynolds. Does it seem to have won her?

    Screw it. I'm discouraged, and it's probably not fair of me to growl at you guys. Feel free to ignore this post if you wish.

    Too tired to fight and not beaten enough to compromise. Hell of a place to be on New Years, ain't it? 😉

  21. John T. Kennedy on January 1, 2007 at 09:02

    "Last I checked, Kyle, John, we're losing no matter which tack we use: full throttle no-compromise or trading integrity for tiny scraps of influence."

    So don't waste your resources fighting losing battles.

    Rational evangelism won't work. You can't persuade the general population or even Althouse to become more epistemically rational about politics because there's really not much in it for them as individuals: Improving one's political thought does not improve one's political return.

    So yeah, the tightrope is pointless. The compromises Balko makes in the message (if that's what he's doing) are pointless. You can perhaps influence a lot of people by emotional appeals, like a Rush Limbaugh, but it won't accomplish anything lasting.

    Collective politics is a pointless waste of time. Fortunately there's no need for me to waste my life on it.

  22. John Lopez on January 1, 2007 at 09:50

    Kyle,

    "I don't know Balko well enough to know if that premise is true or not."

    He wouldn't be arguing for privatization because privatization (that is, abandon SS and let people use the money as they see fit) is such a fringe position that he'd be laughed off of the set and not invited back.

    The TV gig is just a foot in the door, and you've got to make compromises to get the message out. You can't go on TV and come across like some kind of anarchist or something…

    "But you can't deny that there is a tradeoff between influence and staying full-throttle on message when your message is as widely rejected out of hand as ours is."

    How much "influence" have libertarians had as a result of compromise? The answer is nothing good, Milton Friedman's income tax scheme is still going strong after 50 years while his arguments against the minimum wage have gained no traction whatsoever outside of fringe libertarian circles.

    "But the tightrope I'm talking about is trying to argue rationally from the starting point you are given…"

    The "starting point you're given" by the average statist is that you and the fruits of your labors are subject to the whim of the collective.

    So what's the "rational" argument you make without denying their premises? That the collective should allow you to keep a little more because that way you'll produce more for them?

    "The no-knock raid issue does provide a starting point of common values (don't kill innocent people and their pets, or wreck their houses) that is worth trying to steer the argument from."

    He won't be arguing against the War on Drugs or even arguing against no-knock raids in principle, so what's his argument? Better vetting of informants?

  23. John Lopez on January 1, 2007 at 12:44

    Kyle,

    "…Arguing from the values they have that would lead them to reject that premise when stated explicitly, and showing them that their narrower context positions contradict those values is exactly what I'm talking about."

    Your attempts at showing your audience their contradictions will almost always fail, because you overestimate the desire of the average person for philosophical consistency. The overwhelming majority would reject collectivism when it's put to them in plain terms but would endorse it when it's obfuscated slightly. I don't need to point you any farther than Bruce McQuain to prove that true.

    "To make no-knock raids more difficult and so that they carry more consequences. Do you think that that would be a bad thing in and of itself?"

    No, that's fine as far as it goes. However, that's assuming that whatever public policy that gets advocated does what you would intend it to do and no more. Experience shows that even well-meaning public policy often (always?) turns malignant.

    In this case, it wouldn't be much of a surprise to see a policy intended to reign in the police do nothing except expand the government.

    "Or do you think that it would be a bad thing only in relation to what Balko supposedly could accomplish, like single handedly rolling back the drug war?"

    Obviously I've never said or even implied such foolishness.

    "If he argues that the raids are OK in the service of the drug war, so long as their under better control, he's blown it, you're right. If he leaves the legitimacy of no-knock raids in themselves unaddressed, he's on shaky ground, but might accomplish something."

    The closer Balko gets to endorsing the drug war the better the chance he has of getting something done. It's a much more persuasive position to be an advocate for the legally innocent than the morally innocent. In fact, he could probably get the police agencies on his side in this by adopting such a stance. That'd help a legislative bid quite a bit.

    The question then is how much of his stipulated-for-argument principles he's willing to compromise to get something done. An endorsement by Balko of some drug raids wouldn't shock me.

    "You know, if this argument is about what Balko should or shouldn't do, why are we bothering?"

    I'm bothering because I care about ideas.

    "The real question is what are you and I going to do, either in response to whatever Balko does, or without regard to it?"

    I'm going to get on with my life and not waste time with rational evangelism. I suspect that that's what you'll do as well.

  24. Ironbear on January 1, 2007 at 13:34

    "The real question is what are you and I going to do, either in response to whatever Balko does, or without regard to it?" – Kyle

    Bingo.

    Now if I just had an answer for the Real Question. ;]

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