Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Criminal Sentencing and Other Hoaxes (Balloon/Attic Boy)


North Carolina’s Supreme Court handed down a decision last Thursday holding that life is no more than 80 years. As a result, 20 North Carolinian “lifers” are being released from prison. Among this stellar cohort are a bunch of killers, rapists, and at least one repeat child rape-r. See: http://www.thesunnews.com/564/story/1118300.html?storylink=mirelated

You gotta know there are some pretty unhappy politicians in North Carolina. These witless bastards are going to be pointing fingers at one another like crazy. Let’s watch how long it takes those hillbillies in the legislature to enact laws designed to give inmates Life + infinity (at least for Supreme Court Justices.) Last time I checked prison inmates have the political juice of about . . . , let’s see what number is less than zero?

And I’d be remiss in not remarking on Balloon Boy, or as I call him: Attic Boy. Last week I was waiting for one of my brats at the end of school when my pal Chris called to ask if I was hearing this “breaking” story. I had momentarily flipped across CNN where I heard the normally rational Rick Sanchez’s maudlin reporting of the presumed-child-in-the-balloon story. Sanchez said something like how as “a Dad” his heart was breaking and he just wanted to reach through the camera and put his hand out, God-like, to bring the balloon and baby boy safely to earth. I imagine Sanchez is squirming with embarrassment. Maybe not. After all Sanchez, Blitzer, Larry King, et al., are all media whores, and this Balloon story was a media whore orgy. All of them, the participants, the Sheriff, the reporters, well, not us, we the public, are just the Johns.

It seems to me that all of this began with OJ. Oh, sure there have been many precursors ,—little kids stuck in wells, but we didn’t go Wall-to-Wall insane until OJ—when the mainstream media realized it could get ratings showing a slow speed chase of a white Ford Explorer. The trivial was elevated to newsworthiness. The Kennedy and MLK assassinations received nothing like this sort of coverage. The difference in my opinion is related to two changes: cable news and the adoption of tabloid values by “journalists” who think they need to feed the beast. I know, Bad Lawyer thinks he's a big media critic; hardly an original insight, but true nonetheless.

Whatever the causes the net effect is that what is said on cable news, and in court is less honest, and less rigorous than when the original law givers came up with “life” sentences that only last 80 years and the news had real journalists who gave a shit about the accuracy and relevance of what came out of their mouths.

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