Monday, December 26, 2011

When editors don't edit

The piece on the guy who was arrested in PV on an allegation of exposing himself while in his car has drawn the most uniform response I've ever seen in the comments, amounting to: WTF, you mean you can go to jail based on nothing but someone's word? (This is not news to anyone who's been keeping an eye on our budding police state, of course.)
    I'm sure it makes a difference to readers that the guy is older, white and distinguished-looking, even wearing a tie for his mug shot, but when I saw this story last night I thought the same thing. The usual paucity of information in the parroted PVPD press release really makes you wonder on what basis this man's life is being summarily destroyed. Even if he's completely exonerated, he and his family will probably have to move out of state to escape the stigma, there to pursue years of civil litigation.
   Our popular obsession with "sex crimes" is way out of hand.
   The editors could have held back a bit on this one and given the poor sap a chance to clear himself before they splashed it into the paper. But I have a feeling that obsession lives in the editorial suite as well.

Update, Tuesday evening: The editors have added a "correction" to the online version redacting the  man's name and photo, and saying that the charge was a misdemeanor. I'm not clear on whether the Courier reporter got that wrong, or PVPD did in the original report. What's clear is that PVPD is doubling down on the righteousness of the bust without any new basis for it. In any case the correction reinforces that the many critics were correct and the editors should have held back in the first place. Barndoor shut, horse gone now, boys.

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