I owe John Cole of Balloon Juice an apology. I figured he’d just ignore the 96-page special issue of Reason featuring 23 articles devoted to the many problems with the criminal justice system. To my knowledge, it’s the most in-depth treatment of the criminal justice system any public policy or current events magazine has published to date (the Economist and The American Prospect have also addressed the topic in a series of articles, but not in an entire issue).
I figured Cole would ignore the “Criminal Injustice” issue because it doesn’t fit into the “libertarians are selfish assholes who only care about themselves” nonsense he’s always foaming at the mouth about. Sure enough, a couple weeks after the issue came out, he rolled out another libertarian bashing post, but made no mention of the issue. I suppose it’s possible he wasn’t aware of it. But if you’re going to say libertarians only devote time and energy to issues that benefit themselves, you should probably at least first look for some evidence that might contradict your thesis, no?
But as it turns out, I should have waited a bit longer. A week ago, Cole finally made Balloon Juice readers aware of the criminal justice issue. Okay, so the entire package only garnered one line in yet another silly Cole rant, populated with the usual straw men, about how libertarians are horrible, awful people because they favor policies that are different than the policies favored by John Cole. And he didn’t really acknowledge the issue so much as obliquely reference a single article from it—in this case, an article about prison rape. And he didn’t really acknowledge that article, or even link to it, so much as bring it up so he could quickly and blithely dismiss it as, in the grand scheme of things, one of those unimportant peripheral issues libertarians sometimes obsess about. (I’d imagine that actual victims of prison rape—very few of whom would likely describe themselves as libertarians—probably disagree with Cole on this point.) Oh, also, in the same post, Cole links to another article that criticized another article that mentioned the “Criminal Injustice” issue. So there’s that.
But hey, Cole did at least, sort of, in a roundabout way, in the course of writing another post attacking libertarians, hint at the fact that the criminal justice issue of Reason exists. In Balloon Juice world, this is about as close to intellectual honesty as you’re going to get. So let’s give some credit where credit is due!