In December, reports from Fox News, the Los Angeles Times and other news outlets said a California judge, Superior Court Judge Peter Wilson, in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ordered Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes to release some 1,800 inmates because holding them in jail put them at risk of contracting COVID-19, thereby “violating their rights.” The sheriff refused to comply, saying the prisoners were serious offenders charged with such crimes as murder and child molestation.  The sheriff also pointed out that his jail contained no one who had tested positive for COVID-19.

This is, sad to say, a sign of the times and one of the causes of the serious alienation and division in our country today. These 1,800 inmates have been arrested, convicted and sentenced for various crimes. They are in an isolated facility with extremely limited outside contact, and no present prisoner had tested positive for the virus. They are in one of the safest places anyone can possibly be at this time. Yet the ACLU and this judge demand they be released.

If released, where would they go? Eighteen hundred is a sizable number of people. Do they have jobs? Do they have places to live? Will they have food? Do they have clothes or money? Likely as not, the answer to these questions is “no.” So what will they do? They will have no choice but to prey on others and make their lives more dangerous than they already are, and they will be out in a society where the virus is running rampant. Their lives would be far more at risk outside than they would be in jail.  

His Honor the judge in his order charged the sheriff with “deliberate indifference to the substantial risk of serious harm from COVID-19 infection” to the inmates, but it seems obvious it is he who is not only indifferent but oblivious to the dangers to the inmates as well as to society at large if the inmates are released. The inmates are far better off in jail right now than roaming the streets outside.

There are several words that come to mind to describe this situation but the best is “stupid.” One would think these people are intelligent and well-educated.  The ACLU staff who filed the lawsuit are, no doubt, attorneys, and the judge is likewise. There are many supposedly good colleges and universities in California which they likely have attended for their undergraduate and law degrees, and all have passed a supposedly rigorous bar exam. So, what is the problem here? What can account for their stupidity?

An old saying comes to mind: “Giving a college degree to someone who doesn’t know anything is like putting an embroidered saddle on a jackass.” The problem comes in two parts: (1) California schools are dominated by teachers’ unions who run them for their benefit; and (2) the schools are saturated with the malignant philosophy of progressivism, part of which is the obsessive preoccupation with and sympathy for incarcerated persons and callous disregard for law-abiding and tax-paying members of society (otherwise known as “deplorables”). This is what accounts for the judge’s silly ruling in this case.

The sheriff is fully correct to refuse to implement this ridiculous order. Perhaps he should declare his county a “sanctuary” county or an “independent autonomous zone.” He could also form a group known as Tax Payers Matter (TPM) and call for the dissolution of the California Education Association and the California Bar Association.  “What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,” as they say.

Another sign of the times is selective indignation. In 2020, leftist violence spread across the country, encouraged by Vice-President Harris and others, with millions of dollars’ worth of public and private property burned and destroyed. Senate majority leader Schumer threatened SCOTUS Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh with bodily harm on the Court’s front steps. Rep. Maxine Waters urged violence against Trump supporters when encountered in public places. Sen. Rand Paul and his wife were “attacked” by an angry, leftist mob when leaving the White House, according to the senator. Nary a word of condemnation did we hear from any leftist, local or national.

After Trump supporters, however, stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, the left has been in a state of perpetual apoplexy. The truth is that, in a civilized society, violence, encouraging and condoning violence, and remaining silent when it occurs, is wrong whenever or wherever it occurs, by whomever it is done and for whatever reason it is done. Period.

Winfield H. Rose taught political science at Murray State University for 39 years and is now retired. He is active in the Calloway County GOP, but speaks here as an individual and not as a representative of either of these organizations. He can be reached at

Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of the Murray Ledger & Times.