Saturday, June 23, 2007

INNOCENT: H-S Not Wrong In This Case (Post 2)

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
______________________________________________

Recently the Durham Herald Sun published a letter you’ll find in this post: "INNOCENT:A Zany & Dangerous Letter."

The post fisks a good part of the letter. On its thread at least one commenter took issue with what I’d done, and there were a few who took issue with the H-S for publishing the letter in the first place. There was a lot more commentary, too. And all of the comments were civil and serious.

I responded on the thread and also in a separate post dealing with the issue of whether the H-S should have published the letter in the first place. You can read that post and comment thread here: "INNOCENT: H-S Not Wrong In This Case."

As with the first post, the comments were civil and informed.

I wanted to say more but was traveling. So now I’ll add a few thoughts and folks familiar with the two posts and threads can respond.

On the matter of whether a community should publish letters expressing dangerous and zany ideas, in most circumstances I’ve no problem with that so long as the newspaper provides counter letters and, with its editorials and solid news reporting, provides its own counter.

On the matter of whether a community newspaper should publish statements that are extreme and false (nothing wrong with being extreme and right. Once those who argued there were things called germs that caused disease were extreme), again I’d hold to let the extreme and false statements appear in community newspapers so long as there are the counters I mentioned about.

(Anticipating the troll who’ll show up saying, “In that case, why do you delete comments?” we must remember that blogs are private affairs and don’t seek extra protections and financial subsidies from the government in exchange for what they do. And BTW – I’ll delete that troll comment when it appears.)

Now two final points:

First, here are two sentences from the letter:

”I do think this case should have gone to trial so all the facts could come out.”

and

“Our legal system must protect those who are falsely accused, but not by quickly dismissing the claims of women.”
The first sentence is manifestly false. Actual evidence is often suppressed at trials while Nifong-type “manufactured evidence” often becomes part of the record.

The second sentence is zany because in the case the letter writer is talking about, we know the woman’s manifestly bogus claims were taken so seriously, they were used to indict three obviously innocent young men who only escaped long jail terms because they were able to mount a defense that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Those sentences and other like them in that letter should scare us; and not just because of their falseness and zaniness. They should scare us because so many people believe them!

I’d love to think only an extreme element of Durham’s population believes everything would have come out at the trial. But that’s not the case. Many thousands of people here believe that.

The letter writer was no more extreme than the professional journalists KC Johnson cites today in his post here.

We have a lot of work to do in our communities and in this country to help people learn that the justice system is not supposed to be about enforcing their prejudices but securing fair treatment for all, even when that means questioning what a woman says or standing up for white males.

My last point is a repeat: Those first two threads were terrific. I’m looking forward to reading this one.

Your turn

John

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

My feeling is that a trial would have made the case even more of slam dunk. The "something happened" crowd seems to believe that there is some secret evidence somewhere that confirms CGM's story. I believe that in a trial the gloves would have come off and the defense would have revealed all their facts. Up to this point they have exercised much mercy and only told the public enough to prove their case so as to go easy on CGM. A trial would have been too risky so all of Crystal's sordid history would have been fair game. We have only been given the tip of the iceberg. The suits against Nifong will start to show us how deep that iceberg is.

The "something happened" crowd needs to note the devolution of Nifong's argument about that night.
He started out saying he was sure there was a rape and coupled that allegation with kidnapping and sexual assault charges. Then he dropped the rape charge but maintained the kidnapping and sexual assault charges,i.e "something happened". Then at the disbarment hearing when asked if he still thought something happened that night he said maybe it was a non-sexual assault. Pretty soon he will be accusing the players of lusting in their hearts at what used to be a religious school. The something that happened is like an old fashioned TV screen that when turned off compresses to a dot before it finally disappears.

Brant Jones

Anonymous said...

Ignore and delete.

JWM said...

To Brant Jones,

I agree there is a lot more that is still to come out.

Also, your last paragraph is a "classic."

To Anon @ 1:09,

Done!

BTW - Do you think troll noticed that I linked to a KC Johnson post in which KC cites slimes of the lax players by journalists?

Thank you both.

John

humboldtblue said...

"We believe"

I hear it over and over again when arguing with commenters on other blogs. The arguments have shifted from "we haven't seen all the evidence yet," to "do you expect me to 'believe' that a DA would jeapordize his career blah blah blah."

One fellow even told me that there is no way for anyone to be declared innocent, he believed only God could do that.

What drew me to this case initially is what keeps me here today; this is what happens to innocent people when a DA decides he knows best.

Innocent men and women are thrown into a judicial system few even have the most basic understanding of (me) and are left to fend for themselves.

And it's funny how so many "believe" there are different shades innocence, almost as if you're just a little bit pregnant.

Except this time, as Mrs. Evans said, "you picked the wrong family," and it cost Nifong a career. The same people who scream for justice, for clarity in the judicial system, who rail about the injustices pepetrated on the innocent, have now decided that "innocence" never really means you're innocent.

It only means your money, power and connections were enough to bamboozle the courts (those secret payoffs to state officials, ostensibly, paid for with monies from the secret white guy slush fund).

wayne fontes said...

To Humboltdblue:

Eddie Murphy explored the "White Slush Fund" 20 years ago in his ground breaking documentary "White Like Me". It's as true today as it was when he did it.

humboldtblue said...

Wayne,

I wish someone would tell me what my account number is, I am in deperate need of a new computer.