Elections are won and lost on swings of just 1% of the vote, so parties cynically woo every possible vote bank, including those headed by accused robbers and murderers.
Having wooed criminals, the logical next step is for political parties to woo terrorist outfits too. These may also command enough votes to swing some constituencies.
I was reminded of that old story as I read of a similar story tonight, from France. The two front-runners in this year's french presidential election are courting, of all people, the thugs in France's banlieus, since a vote is a vote, and the arsonists may be on the voter rolls for this spring's election:
French suburbs: no-go zones now election targets
VILLENEUVE-LA-GARENNE, France (Reuters) - Young people branded "scum" in 2005 this year offer an electoral prize, as an approaching presidential election draws politicians to France's riot-hit suburbs on the hunt for votes.
Even conservative presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy -- who dismissed angry youths as thugs -- has joined Socialist Segolene Royal in hiring rappers and actors to court young voters from France's poor neighborhoods, the 'banlieues'.
Analysts say Sarkozy and Royal have responded to a recent shift in voters' preferences in adjusting their stance on the suburbs, shifting from tough comments on law and order to an emphasis on the need to boost jobs in difficult neighborhoods.
Voters listed poverty and economic insecurity as key concerns ahead of the 2007 poll in a recent BVA poll, while security ranked only sixth.
Sarkozy, sharply criticized for calling rioting youths "scum" and for vowing in 2005 to "clean out" the suburbs, has adopted a markedly softer tone.
He invited a group of youngsters to his ministry last month, telling them they were "French like any others ... but as you have certain difficulties, we must help you more than others."
Royal too has been rebuked by suburban youths, angered over her tough law-and-order proposals that included a plan to send young troublemakers to military-style boot camps.
Since, she has promised more money for schools in tough neighborhoods and launched a campaign to get out the youth vote, securing the help of popular rapper Cali.
Why not go after the "lost-their-car-in-a-fiery inferno" voting block? Or the "related-to-someone-who-lost-their car" demographic, to gain an even bigger slice? Surely these constituencies, combined, must represent a sizeable share of the population of France by now? Hundreds of thousands of automobiles have been put to the torch, and yet according to the likely future french president, Sarkozy, it is to be the arsonists that are to be helped more than others... the injustice is enough to make you weep.
Trupeers writes often about the follies of the victimary culture that is strangling our present political discourse. Here, from the heart of Western Europe, comes a story that makes the amorality of this culture of victimhood all too apparent. Self-appointed arbiters decide who's pain is real and who's is not; they cry for the arsonists, yet shed no tears for those whose property was destroyed by these barbarians. No matter how individualized each experience and circumstance may be, citizens are lumped into groups, and one group's sufferings are deemed the greater, indeed in this case one group, the street thugs, are bestowed with a monopoly on suffering. The street thugs' acts of violence are neatly re-defined as acts of "social justice", cleansing them of any evil tint; ends justifing means, all sins are forgiven in the march for "equality".
What a depressing report, for the future it foretells for our brothers and sisters in France. Fortunately, all is not lost, because we can still write about our disgust for such cynical vote-buying, our words can be seen by others who share our values, and together we can engage in a search for principled alternatives to rewarding arson.
If we can read about it, we can still do something about it. When the day comes when we're no longer able to even read about the perfidy of the entrenched elites of France, more will be lost than just cars.
The vandals, hand in hand with their enablers in public office, will have burned down our liberty as well.