Monday, January 16, 2006

The Times Gets Conned

I have to admit that I missed it at the time, but on Friday the New York Times got suckered. Yep, this supposedly sophisticated big-city newspaper fell victim to the oldest con of them all -- the inmate sob story.

The Times ran a story about a former judge who got nabbed with his hand in the till. The newspaper gave a forum for this contemptible criminal without a word from any of the people he victimized or ... well, I'll let a reader continue the thought.

A reader sent me a copy of the email that he sent the Times complaining about this story, and with his permission I'm reprinting it in full -- because this very eloquent letter sums up the depths of the Times's stupidity much better than I ever could:

"It is difficult to express my contempt for your story about the fallen judge.

"You do all the right things--quote the prosecutor, point out that "Rolly" took money from a helpless woman--but that strikes me as just window-dressing designed to give the appearance of balance. In reality, all you did was give real estate to a morally bankrupt guy to lecture the rest of us about the prison system. The article would have been far more fair and balanced had you:

"1) Asked this reptile point-blank whether he deserved his 69-month sentence, and if so, why did he fight against it? You could have asked him whether he deserves the 23 month reduction. Somehow, to me, a little less than 4 years is extremely unjust--what would the reptile say to people who argue that he got off lightly? You could have also asked this reptile whether he was justified in trying to get into the boot camp.

"2) Asked this reptile point-blank whether his partner had valid concerns about exposing the children to someone who committed such an evil act.

"3) Asked this reptile point-blank whether he was going to do anything in restitution for the woman.

"4) Asked this reptile point-blank how much the woman's care suffered because of his deeds. Her life may have no significance to this guy--but her happiness IS important, and it would have been interesting to know if he cared enough to learn about the woman's fate. My guess is that she has suffered significantly because of this reptile.

"5) Gotten the view of people who think that the prison system should be one of punishment over rehabilitation to rebut the views of this reptile.

"6) Asked this reptile whether he bears any responsibility for his inability to see his children and whether his partner should have been forced to tote the children to the place of his incarceration (that's the implication of his statement).

"By the way, many many many judges in this country order women (mostly) to transport their children to state prisons so that ex-spouse prisoners can see their children. Of course, that sounds compassionate, until you think about the fact that the woman could be forced to make a long trip (prisons are often in the middle of nowhere) on her own nickel and must be subjected to the indignity of visiting someone in prison.

"I don't know about you, but I myself quite enjoy my days off, and I would be livid if some judge told me that I had to ruin a day off so that I could tote my children to a prison on my own nickel, to say nothing of the humiliation. (Hey, maybe that would be a good story idea--women forced to take their kids to prison by arrogant judges.) This reptile apparently thinks that he has the right to make that imposition on someone else.

"It is simply amazing. A person commits a thoroughly wicked act, spends less than four years in prison and a halfway house, and then the New York Times gives him a forum to prattle on about the morality of the prison system, with nary a dissenting view on the validity of his preaching. Rolly, obviously, has no moral compass, since he blames his appalling crime on his desire to end it all and psychological issues.

"Perhaps, he was under stress. But the reality is that he made a conscious decision to commit a thoroughly evil act. And then he has the temerity to say "God help them", thereby impugning the morality of jurists who don't steal from invalids and who may take into consideration factors other than the rehabilitation of prisoners. But hey, this guy preaches the party line that we are too mean to prisoners and that it's our fault that so many re-offend, so let's give him real estate.

"Contemptible. Thoroughly contemptible."

There has been no response to this eloquent letter.


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