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Monday, December 8, 2008

An Alabama Newspaper's Curious Take on Criminal Law

The Birmingham News might have written the most inane editorial in its history the other day--and that's saying something.

The screed was titled "Corruption Fatigue" and dealt primarily with the recent indictment of Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford and former Democratic Party officials William Blount and Al LaPierre.

The News reveals an "interesting" take on criminal law:

Even if Langford is cleared of criminal wrongdoing, he still was wrong to take gifts and money from people doing business with the county.

Let that sentence sink in for a moment. The News is saying that the key point in a criminal prosecution has nothing to do with whether a crime was committed; it's whether folks like the News' editorial writers perceive certain actions as "wrong."

In other words, the News isn't concerned about the law; it's concerned about appearances, particularly when the public official has dark skin and/or a "D" beside his name on the ballot.

Just in case we didn't get the point, the News repeats it:

When citizens see public officials benefiting from arrangements like this--and rewarding their benefactors with our tax dollars--they are justly suspicious. They see it as corrupt, whether the law says it is or not.

You almost have to give the News credit for honesty. They seem to be flat-out saying, "We know Langford probably didn't violate the law, but we like the fact he got arrested anyway."

And what does the News mean by "arrangements like this?" Is it talking about a public official taking money from supporters and then rewarding those supporters? Kind of like what Governor Bob Riley did when he took piles of cash from Huntsville boosters and then rewarded them with millions of taxpayer dollars for a biotech center?

Oh wait, Riley's a white Republican. What were we thinking?

Those "arrangements" are perfectly fine.

1 comment:

writechic said...

I read that idiotic bit, too, unfortunately. It's no wonder their losing money.