The State Bar of Michigan has discontinued its annual short story writing contest for legal professionals after being hit hard with criticism for honoring a story by a white supremacist that was nothing less than a racist revenge fantasy about murdering a black prisoner.
According to the Associated Press, the Bar has issued an apology and withdrawn an award for the story, “Post-Conviction Relief” by Kyle Bristow, an attorney listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as being a notorious racist and former member of a hate group.
Bristow, author of “White Apocalypse,” submitted the story to the contest run by the state bar for budding Scott Turows or John Grishams’ to show off the their literary chops. While State Bar Chairwoman Francine Cullari said that the judges considered Bristow’s writings to be an “imaginative work of fiction, rather than a potential ideological manifesto,” the bar later admitted they failed “to recognize the underlying symbolism in this story.”
“Underlying symbolism” aside, the story is quite flagrant in using stereotypes, including an “18-year-old, tattoo-covered, drug-abusing gangbanger named Tyrone Washington” who murders a 16-year-old girl named Caroline. The girl’s mother then dies from a heart attack as the result of her grief and the father — a formerly liberal attorney — (spoiler alert) murders Washington in a prison conference room after delivering an extended soliloquy on justice, Kant, and “retributivism” that would make Ayn Rand laugh.
While it is notable that the Michigan Bar apologized for honoring the story, they have yet to explain why such a laughable and poorly written story was lauded at all.
Here is a sampling of “Post-Conviction Relief” passages so that you can judge for yourself:
Before attending law school, he had graduated with a degree in philosophy from the University of Michigan, and he had spent much time during his legal career safeguarding the rights of people who had been charged with crimes. As an attorney and a self-styled “armchair philosopher” who read classical texts of Western civilization as a hobby, Jack knew better than most why due process and ordered liberty are sacrosanct to the human experience, and he was well aware of his oath as an officer of the court.
But now Jack Schoenherr could not care less of his ethical obligations, the law, or his former philosophical musings about the purpose of justice being about the rehabilitation of his clients, because his only child — 16-year-old Caroline – was murdered by an 18-year-old, tattoo-covered, drug-abusing gangbanger named Tyrone Washington a year and a half ago to the day, and since then, Jack’s wife, Claire, had passed away due to heart failure. The doctors at the hospital had told him that his daughter’s murder had caused his wife to lose weight and suffer stress to such an extent that it simply broke her heart.
It was a cold, wintry day, which is typical for Michigan in February. The sky was white and hazy and overcast, the wind was blowing calmly from the west, and the snow cracked under Jack’s black shoes as he walked toward the main entrance. He looked no different than the other lawyers, sheriff’s deputies, and civilians milling about — except for the look of fury contained within his blue eyes, which were now focused forward like laser beams.
Upon entering the elevator, Jack silently congratulated himself on the plan he had formulated. He wanted the thug who murdered his daughter to die, and he was here to do the deed himself. Although he was once relatively politically progressive and boasted to his prosecutor friends at bar association functions that he took immense pride in the fact that Michigan was the first English-speaking government in the world to abolish the death penalty for crimes — excluding treason — and never executed a person since becoming a state in 1837, his purpose on Earth now was consumed with meting out the death penalty to one person —nay, man-animal — who called the Macomb County Jail his home
Jack, sitting straight up in the chair with an aura of intent about him, pondered his situation as he stared at Tyrone Washington: Could there not be a more stark contrast between him and me? I worked hard my whole life to go through undergraduate and law school, I worked hard to pay back my student loan debt and to provide for my family, I played by the rules in everything I did, and I never hurt anyone. He, on the other hand, never worked a day in his life, he stopped going to school after the sixth grade, he is a leech on law-abiding people of whom he committed crimes, and he offends everything with which he has dealings. Even the tattoos on his body — especially the “THUG” one on his forehead — constitute a manifestation of his repugnant nature.
Tyrone drooled and snorted as he slouched further in his chair as Jack continued his lecture. “Philosophically, a lot of people are under the impression that the purpose of criminal justice is to rehabilitate offenders, but this is a misconception because if rehabilitation was the goal, then a person who does no actual wrong but who is philosophically deviant from the Spirit of the Age could be penalized — which would be offensive to natural law — while at the same time, if a person does something absolutely monstrous but wakes up the next day after finding Jesus or Mohamad or appearing to appreciate right and wrong and being able to act accordingly, then they could not be subjected to punitive measures, which would be offensive to society and the victims and this would prevent people from guiding their actions by positive law after they recognize the lack of real ramifications for their actions.”
Tyrone stared at the ceiling of the conference room, utter boredom palpably afflicting him.
“Retributivism is the only legitimate basis for justice, because through retributivism, good is rewarded with good and bad is punished with bad. This is the purpose of justice, after all — so says Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics.”
“What’s this gotsa do with mah appeal, bro?” Tyrone asked. “I don’t wanna to be in dah slammer fo’ life, man.”
“An appeal?” Jack laughed as he walked around the table at which Tyrone — handcuffed — sat.
My learned thoughts are lost on him. Gripping his metal pen with the strategically sharpened tip that the deputies did not notice in his fist, Jack quipped, “I’m not here for an appeal. I’m here for my post-conviction relief following your trial.”
After Jack acquired the relief the Michigan justice system could not deliver and has not delivered since its statehood, he sat down in the chair across from the slumped-over and bloodied body of the convicted murderer who had crudely taken his daughter’s life for the thrill of it.
“I rest my case,” Jack decreed.
The entire story, if haven’t had enough, can be read here.