- - Sunday, July 19, 2015

Arrogance is ugly wherever found, and it’s particularly ugly in a judge with the power to deprive a man of his freedom. Dinesh D’Souza is an author, filmmaker and onetime college president who was convicted of violating campaign finance law.

He pleaded guilty to recruiting straw donors who gave $10,000 each to an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2012, running against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, of New York. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman sentenced him to eight months in a “work release center,” five years probation, a fine of $30,000 and to perform “community service.” He was required to submit to “psychological counseling.”

He returned to court this month for a follow-up hearing. The psychiatrists told Judge Berman they found Mr. D’Souza of sound mind. This disappointed the judge, who said he took a psychology course in college, and ordered additional psychiatrists to look deeper into the D’Souza head. “I have a background in social work with a psychology major,” Judge Berman said. “I’m sensitive to mental health issues in the criminal cases I hear … I only insisted on psychological counseling as part of Mr. D’Souza’s sentence because I wanted to be helpful.”

Mr. D’Souza’s flaws, the judge said, remain unfixed. “Mr. D’Souza tends to deny problems, he lacks insight into his own behavior, he is arrogant and intolerant of the feelings of others, while projecting an overly positive image of himself.” Just like a certain judge of unrestrained liberal political beliefs, an unbiased observer might say.

Mr. D’Souza is a provocative critic of the American left, having written widely of politics in America. He has written 16 books and he produced a documentary movie last year about Barack Obama, “2016: Obama’s America” that was one of the most commercially successful documentaries of the year. Like many immigrants, he wears his heart on his sleeve for his new country. The recurrent theme of his books and articles is that America is “the exceptional nation.” Worst of all, in the view of many of his critics, he is a committed Christian.

How this influenced Judge Berman’s consideration of the legal case against Mr. D’Souza is something only the judge knows. “The idea of charging him with a felony for this doesn’t sound like a proper exercise of prosecutorial discretion,” the eminent Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said of the case. “I can’t help but think that [D’Souza’s] politics have something to do with it. It smacks of selective prosecution.” His punishment continues. Mr. D’Souza must now convince a new therapist that his contrition is sincere. Prisoners of conscience need only confess once, but Mr. D’Souza has not confessed loudly enough for a judge who yearns to be a social worker.

Additionally, the judge ordered Mr. D’Souza to teach English to Hispanic immigrants near his home in San Diego eight hours a week for five years. His lawyers argued, unsuccessfully, that this requirement is unfair because it impedes his ability to seek a full-time job.

Mr. D’Souza’s literary eminence entitles him to no special treatment when he runs afoul of the law, whether the law is wise or not, but neither are his politics a legitimate reason to impose cruel and unusual punishment. Judge Berman insists he isn’t “singling out Mr. D’Souza to pick on him. A requirement for psychological counseling often comes up in my hearings in cases where I find it hard to understand why someone did what they did.” The judge apparently can’t understand why everybody can’t be a liberal just like normal people.

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