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Pardon For Boxing Champ's Race-Based Conviction?

Pardon For Boxing Champ's Race-Based Conviction?

The US House of Representatives is asking President Bush to issue a posthumous pardon of professional boxer, and one of the first celebrity athletes, Jack Johnson. When Jack Johnson became the first-ever black heavyweight boxing champion in 1908, many in the country went looking for "The Great White Hope" — a white boxer who could defeat Johnson.

In 1910, undefeated champion James J. Jeffries came out of retirement to fight Johnson, saying: "I am going into this fight for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a Negro." Johnson won the fight, garnering the $225,000 prize, and race riots broke out across the country.

After trying to convict him for relations with a white woman who went on to become his wife, in 1920 a federal court convicted Johnson of violating the Mann Act, which prohibited transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes. He spent a year in a federal penitentiary.

The House resolution states: "He was a victim of the times and we need to set the record straight — clear his name — and recognize him for his groundbreaking contribution to the sport of boxing." If it passes the House, the Senate will vote on a similar resolution sponsored by John McCain.

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justanerd1975 justanerd1975 8 years
Lainetm, your right the law is very black and white and does not take into account peoples circumstances. I have long said also that people in desperate situations resort to desperate behavior. Luckily, our good Lord see's the heart and knows our circumstances and motives...
justanerd1975 justanerd1975 8 years
actually, McCain did say that he is going to rewrite those old laws...
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
I think it's definitely more important to spend time examining the historical case of a professional athlete, who is long gone, than to spend that time reviewing cases of people still stuck in prison due to discriminatory laws.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 8 years
snowbunny, I was thinking of other African Americans who might have been convicted of "lesser" crimes who are not being pardoned. What about someone who stole to feed his family and was disproportionately punished? And what you did was not passing judgment, it was observing and resolving to do better (which implies disagreement and not excusing the behavior). Judging would be a failure to take the standards of the times into account, saying something like like "They were obviously all stupid misogynists". You gave in your example "...gee, even though that was a common thing back then, it was definitely wrong...." That's exactly what I mean by "doing better".
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 8 years
snowbunny, I was thinking of other African Americans who might have been convicted of "lesser" crimes who are not being pardoned. What about someone who stole to feed his family and was disproportionately punished? And what you did was not passing judgment, it was observing and resolving to do better (which implies disagreement and not excusing the behavior). Judging would be a failure to take the standards of the times into account, saying something like like "They were obviously all stupid misogynists". You gave in your example "...gee, even though that was a common thing back then, it was definitely wrong...." That's <i> exactly</i> what I mean by "doing better".
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
But he got unfair treatment due to his celebrity status in the first place? So it's okay that on the basis of his status as a champion, people were angry enough to pursue these charges, but it's not okay that we pardon him because he was a celebrity? That makes no sense. And isn't a pardon looking at something and resolving to do better? I can see thinking this is a pointless symbolic gesture, but I absolutely do not understand why people would actively oppose a pardon. And we can certainly pass modern judgment on the past. Why would we be forbidden to look at the past and go, "gee, even though that was a common thing back then, it was definitely wrong to not allow women to sue their husbands for beating the shit out of them." Just because it happened doesn't mean we have to agree with it, or excuse the behavior.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
But he got unfair treatment due to his celebrity status in the first place? So it's okay that on the basis of his status as a champion, people were angry enough to pursue these charges, but it's not okay that we pardon him because he was a celebrity? That makes no sense. And isn't a pardon looking at something and resolving to do better? I can see thinking this is a pointless symbolic gesture, but I absolutely do not understand why people would actively oppose a pardon. And we can certainly pass modern judgment on the past. Why would we be forbidden to look at the past and go, "gee, even though that was a common thing back then, it was definitely wrong to not allow women to sue their husbands for beating the shit out of them." Just because it happened doesn't mean we have to agree with it, or excuse the behavior.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 8 years
While a pardon might be a good symbolic act, this is still unfair because he's getting special treatment due to his celebrity status. You can't really change the past. You can't fairly impose modern judgment on people who lived nearly a century ago. You can only look at it, and resolve to do better.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 8 years
While a pardon might be a good symbolic act, this is still unfair because he's getting special treatment due to his celebrity status. You can't really change the past. You can't fairly impose modern judgment on people who lived nearly a century ago. You can only look at it, and resolve to do better.
liliblu liliblu 8 years
What's wrong with clearing a man's name, even if he's dead?
janneth janneth 8 years
Just do it.
janneth janneth 8 years
Just do it.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
Undave- that was kind of my point. There are also groups of people who believe that using laws to discriminate against minorities is okay right now too. This is just a further message that it's not. And, like I said, the Mann Act is still on the books, and is still being used today. So I think it's important to say, we have this law, but it can't be used to discriminate. I'm sorry but the "problems of dead people," as organic put it, could still exist today. Mostly I just agree with RabidMoon. This took some aide like 2 hours to draft, and it will move through both houses quickly and Bush will sign it in five minutes. No one's billing this act over more important economic legislation, or foreign policy law.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
Undave- that was kind of my point. There are also groups of people who believe that using laws to discriminate against minorities is okay right now too. This is just a further message that it's not. And, like I said, the Mann Act is still on the books, and is still being used today. So I think it's important to say, we have this law, but it can't be used to discriminate. I'm sorry but the "problems of dead people," as organic put it, could still exist today. Mostly I just agree with RabidMoon. This took some aide like 2 hours to draft, and it will move through both houses quickly and Bush will sign it in five minutes. No one's billing this act over more important economic legislation, or foreign policy law.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
People don't usually see me taking this angle, but I do, with some force. And that is that congress should spend at least half its session solving the problems of dead people. They were here first, so their problems are paramount. I think that's pretty logical and straightforward.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
People don't usually see me taking this angle, but I do, with some force. And that is that congress should spend at least half its session solving the problems of dead people.They were here first, so their problems are paramount. I think that's pretty logical and straightforward.
rabidmoon rabidmoon 8 years
A pardon would be short, sweet legislation and it is NOT useless. Even bringing the story up, the awareness of where the USA was at the time brings history AND historical context into a modern light which can prompt intelligent discussion.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
I think there's a pretty obvious difference between saying a posthumous pardon is useless and saying the man was never wronged. You're grasping.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
It's funny you say that snow, because there is already a group of people who believe it didn't occur. :oy:
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
Yes, and in 20 more years we can pretend the Holocaust didn't happen...okay.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
even a little bit.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
even <b>a</b> little bit.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
No, the ridiculous thing is that he's dead. So it doesn't matter even little bit.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
It's an executive's job to grant or deny pardons. The only ridiculous thing here is that it took THIS LONG to do so.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
Yes, our tax dollars should go to making laws that are just value judgments about history. I think that's something we can all get behind.
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