Friday, July 14, 2006

No Muckraking to See Here

Those of you who don’t visit the SJ-R’s Web site might be interested in knowing that you can now post comments to their online stories*, similar to how you can here at BFS. The only difference is that they seem to screen to ensure civility, so you won’t be able to call anybody a d*psh*t.

I mention this because there is a rather lengthy thread attached to Wednesday’s front page story concerning the drug investigation involving several public figures in our community.

The first commenter took the paper to task for publishing the names of those involved despite the fact that no charges have been filed. He cited as the reason the paper shouldn’t have run with the story, the irreparable damage to their reputations that will result from the disclosure. I, along with many of the commenter who followed, disagree.

The SJ-R was well within their legal rights to publish this story with the names included. I also believe that they had a responsibility to the community to do so. One of the men named is running for election in the fall, although actually he could walk if he wanted to because he’ll be unopposed on the ballot. Some of the others were in positions where their work could have been easily compromised as a result of any involvement with the dealing of narcotics. It is our right to know what is transpiring in this investigation and the SJ-R’s responsibility to tell us.

I hate to drag the Illinois Times** into this, especially since I don’t screen comments to ensure civility, but I noticed that they didn’t run anything on this story. It could be that, since we already heard about the news on Wednesday and they publish on Thursday, they simply don’t have anything additional to report at this time. But I won’t speculate, except to say that I don’t believe that they shied away from the story as a result of their obvious communist sympathies. Several of those under investigation are known Republicans, after all.

The SJ-R’s report makes clear that no charges have been filed against those named. It’s possible that there won’t be. Whatever transpires in the investigation, it appears doubtful that any these gentlemen were attempting to rival Tony Montana for drug running brazenness. In fact, the lede paragraph of the story describes it as an apparent “investigation of cocaine use.Better a blower than a dealer be. Especially when the feds come nosing*** about.

From my own perspective, however, I’ve always been a “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” kind of guy.

There’s a reason my name has never surfaced on a court document involving a drug investigation. I’ve never sold cocaine, I’ve never snorted cocaine, and to the best of my knowledge, I don’t associate with people who do. I suppose the mysterious guy who pays me $500 to pick up his dry-cleaning in St. Louis every week could be harboring some secrets.. But I just can’t see how somebody who is so particular about the amount of starch in his shirts could be involved in anything as messy as drug trafficking.

So I don’t think that these guys had their names picked out of a hat to be the lucky winners of a full, all-inclusive federal probing. Maybe they just sniffle a lot, or maybe they drive Deloreans, but it’s likely that there was at least something a little shady going on in their lives.

The newspaper story does undoubtedly cause the subjects in question some discomfort. They’ll probably have to crouch down in the pew at church on Sunday lest they be burnt by the glare of their more sanctimonious brethren. But there may be others who can sit up a little taller.

When this story first surfaced in January, the city was awash in rumours. Names were recklessly bandied about. Anyone known to frequent the Office Tavern, or even to work in an office, was looked upon suspiciously. The city was gripped in paranoia, not unlike what happens when you go on an extended coke binge.

Well, perhaps I’m overstating the situation, but there were a lot of rumours. And the SJ-R’s story should help to quell some of the wilder accusations. Those people who were the subject of these rumour can feel publicly vindicated and perhaps rest a little easier. Unless, of course, they're still hopped up on the Bolivian marching powder.

*This not so recent development was news to one of the newspaper’s columnists who just learned about it this week, not long after learning that Cracker Barrel isn’t running a soup kitchen for weary travelers. Go and read Dave Bakke’s column from last Wednesday for an explanation of the latter. It’s a classic.

**Welcome to Springfield Roland.



No Spin said...

Dan, surely your not suggesting that the Illinois Times is a left-wing, liberal/Democratic newspaper? How would you have ever come to that deduction?

Anonymous said...

the gardening column is a dead giveaway.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

I don't really think that the IT folks are pinkos. That comment was made in jest, in light of the ruckus that was stirred up the last time I opined on their journalism. I read the IT every week and I'm the better for it.

Although I have noticed that their gardening columnist is totally biased towards perennials. WTF