This was a hard one.
It wasn’t that Law & Order Season 22 Episode 16 was overly contrived or unrealistic.
It was too damn realistic, and as a Jew who is well aware of how often anti-Semitism rears its ugly head, this story was disturbing.
Shows like Law & Order need to address anti-Semitism. Sometimes people overlook or shrug their shoulders at it, but it is as virulent and dangerous as any other prejudice.
This episode was a reminder of how horrible it can be. Ackerman technically didn’t die because he was Jewish, but going out to confront an anti-Semitic graffiti artist didn’t help anything.
His death also could have easily been at the hands of anti-Semites. Cordell’s podcast gave people permission to post all sorts of hateful things about him and Jews in general.
Sickeningly, Cordell didn’t believe half of what he said and didn’t care what violence he might be inciting as long as he got ratings.
One interesting question that wasn’t addressed was whether his right to free speech protected him from lawsuits or criminal charges for any acts of violence his listeners engaged in after his podcasts.
Say what you want about sticks and stones, but words today can definitely get you killed.
It turned out that the story behind Ackerman’s death wasn’t about his religion but about silencing anyone who could expose the Site Shield conspiracy. Law & Order could have told the same story without including anti-Semitism, but that wouldn’t have been as powerful.
The anti-Semitic violence that Hobbs engaged in was as horrible as what happened to Ackerman. Thank goodness it was off-screen, and we only heard about it second-hand; I don’t think I could have tolerated sitting through it.
That off-screen act of violence led to an ethical dilemma for Price that, sadly, didn’t get as much airtime as needed: should he give Hobbs a get-out-o-jail-free card so that he could put David Costa away?
There was no easy answer to that question, but I didn’t like McCoy’s attitude. In his opinion, since the girl Hobbs attacked was only brutally beaten and not killed, the murder trial was more important.
Human lives can’t be valued that way. No mathematical equation tells a prosecutor who is more deserving of justice.
It was a miscarriage of justice to let Hobbs walk free.
Often, lawyers can convince a client who wants a ridiculous deal like that to accept a lighter sentence instead — why didn’t Price try that?
And while McCoy can say all he wants that Ackerman’s son deserved to see his father’s killer punished, that will not mollify the girl who was attacked or her family. And it certainly isn’t going to make Jewish people feel safer on the streets of New York.
I’m not a snitch… for free.
McCoy was right that Costa had caused eight deaths, possibly more, but Price was also right about the message it sends: attack Jews as brutally as you want as long as you don’t kill them, and we’ll consider ignoring the crime.
This story would have been stronger if Price had had more time to deliberate about what to do. He went from saying NO in McCoy’s office to putting Hobbs on the stand in one scene. His change of heart was off-screen, which made it both surprising and confusing.
If Price was going to change his mind, it should have been after trying the case without Hobbs. If Hobbs’ offer had come earlier in the hour, Price could have initially refused, only to realize he had no choice if he didn’t want to lose the case against Costa.
That would have made his decision sympathetic and understandable. Instead, he paid lip service to wanting to punish Hobbs’ brutal anti-Semitic attack, only to turn around and dismiss the case.
The judge and defense attorney were also annoying me. Lately, Law & Order is full of judges who make such egregiously bad rulings that I wonder if the defense paid them off!
The judge’s ruling that the cops overreached by pulling Costa over was iffy.
They engaged in standard police procedures, and the fact that they pulled Costa over for a traffic violation when they wanted him for something else was irrelevant.
Costa was already a person of interest; they didn’t first decide he was a suspect after seeing scratches on his face. They were working on getting enough info for a search warrant, and they got it.
Costa’s argument boiled down to cops investigating and getting evidence is unfair, and the judge agreed. It was a nonsensical argument that should have been laughed out of court.
The source protection issue also could have been handled differently. The judge could have issued a court order or, at least, spoken with McAllister directly to determine whether the source was valid even without getting a name.
It felt like the judge’s rulings were plot points; they were necessary obstacles so that Price would have to make a deal with Hobbs, but they weren’t necessarily legally sound.
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Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.