Friday, May 25, 2007

A1: "Sheriff’s office check turned up Aryan link"

The fascination with this sensational story is understandable, but I'm getting a little uneasy about it.

The meat here is in how old Buck didn't seem to care much about who he was hiring and is getting defensive about it; that Sheriff Waugh didn't know, but now he did know and it didn't matter, but now it matters. And John K's got a good angle on how this might throw some doubt on certain cases. None of this is really at the focus of the story, though.

It's getting irritating to repeatedly read, "a usable amount of cocaine and drove to a convenience store," as if a visit to the Circle K rates a few days in the clink. But that's just a minor aggravation.

My civil-libertarian alarm is going off about the Aryan Nation (no, not "Nations," guys) focus in general. Distasteful as it is, there's nothing illegal about involvement in any such group, and the story is pulling most of its horsepower from what may be nothing in terms of reality right now. There's going to be a jury on this, and how will this information affect them? Will he receive harsher treatment because of an ugly but not unlawful political affiliation in his past? How would we feel if, rather than speaking stupidly about race, he had spoken stupidly, for example, about the rights of animals when he was in college?

I'm not saying that I know he's not an evil bastard, but I sense this could easily turn out into a railroad job, perhaps in part to cover up slack practices inside the YCSO.

I'm asking the Courier to be very careful about this.

Update, 9:15: Today's editorial throws more fuel on the fire, demanding new procedures to screen out "extremists." What's important, guys, is not really what the guy did before, but how he feels about it now and what he's likely to do now. Maybe he's still an awful racist, but maybe he's not; in America we're allowed to learn, change our minds and do things differently without permanent stains from the past. Or we should be. A hiring system should be careful enough to sort that out, rather than respond reflexively to how a past mistake might look.

'Extremist' is in the eye of the beholder, and a certain editor has thrown that word at me as well.

6 comments:

Media Dude said...

I think the point is a deputy with arrest powers should not be subjective or racist. That would affect his judgment. I do not think it has anything to do with the drugs.

Anonymous said...

if that were the case, then we wouldn't have many cops out there. I think John Kamin makes the most pertinent point here: how many drug arrests did this guy make? This casts a wide shadow of doubt on the entire YCSO. Waugh should be held accountable for this, as he is the sheriff now. When he found out about Dwyer's past in 2005, that should have relegated Dwyer to another role within the department, not out manning the streets. His argument that 'his department isn't big enough' is utter bollocks. It's called responsibility. I come from a part of the world where the KKK and Aryan Nation are sadly still a part of the demographic. And from experience growing up in Mississippi, people who affiliated with those groups had more than one screw loose and are not the types I would want making my streets 'safer.'

Consider this: Right now, the Justice Department is trying a case against the largest behind bars gang in the U.S., on several murder charges, raketerring, etc. The group? The Aryan Brotherhood.
jared

Steven Ayres said...

I understand those sentiments and share them to a large extent. I'll take it further and say that the authoritarian mindset that's most easily attracted to the job isn't what I would choose either. But none of this changes the need to recognize that minds can and do change, and it's very hard to know anything about a person now from his past. Rushing to judgment can't make things better.

catalyst said...

I lived in Guadalajara, Mexico, where there are scads of "roundabouts" . . . called "glorietas" there. Some of them have half a dozen lanes. They work beautifully. Rarely is there an accident. Traffic moves smoothly. And, Reverend Tim, folks drive on the same sime of the street as they do in Prescott.

catalyst said...

Sorry. Meant to type "same SIDE of the street."

Granny J said...

The point should be that regardless of his personal point-of-view he either does or does not follow the law. Behavior should always be #1 on the list! Apparently this deputy acted above the law. Bad Deputy. (And, in this case, conceivably, Bad Law.)