Let's revisit our comparison of the coverage accorded the problems of Hoover High School football coach Rush Propst vs. that of alleged wrongdoing by U.S. Federal Judge Mark Fuller.
On the field, Propst's Bucs still are quite stout, running their record to 6-1 with a 34-20 victory over Homewood last night. But off the field, it looks more and more (at least to this observer) like Propst is likely to lose his job at some point.
The ax already is beginning to fall on prominent figures in the investigation of alleged academic improprieties, with assistant principal Carol Martin reaching a deal with the school board to be reassigned. It's hard to see how Propst, the central figure in the Hoover mess, will come out of this unscathed.
I'm not here to defend Rush Propst. He evidently has a sizable ego and rubs more than a few people the wrong way. While his teams have played with machine-like efficiency on the field, he allowed messes to accumulate off the field.
But consider the price Propst is paying for his transgressions compared to the free pass that corrupt judges in Alabama seem to get. I'm not aware of a charge that Propst has violated any criminal law. He has not violated any oath to uphold the law. He has not caused people to be ruined financially and he has not alleged to have wrongfully deprived anyone of his freedom. He certainly has not made an effort to raid a prominent pension fund for state employees.
Evidence is overwhelming that Judge Fuller at the federal level--and state judges J. Michael Joiner, G. Dan Reeves, and Ron Jackson in Shelby County--have engaged in conduct that is criminal and/or grossly unethical. So have members of Alabama's state appellate courts.
But the public seems far more interested in thrashing Russ Propst, while corrupt judges merrily stay under the radar of many Alabamians.
Perhaps that will change when the House investigation of the Bush Justice Department picks up steam. Perhaps it will change if we get a Democratic president in 2008, and hopefully, some people of integrity and honor begin to run the Justice Department.
But I, for one, am not holding my breath.