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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Sinister Right Wing Mind At Work

How do we do it, some of you wonder, finding flaws and fallacies in the strangest of places? As a little illustration of the right winger at work, let me show you my thought process while it's, uhh, in process.

Bob Herbert has a column in today's Times, which Jason Rylander also noticed. I have been following Herbert, because he has been following Tulia - five straight columns, in fact. My most recent post has some links and suggests that Mr. Herbert and I came to a fork in the road, but I salute his work in bringing attention to the Tulia story.

Today, Mr. Herbert takes up a new, puzzling story of injustice. A woman, her sister, and her ex-husband have pleaded guilty to manslaughter for ostensibly killing the woman's newborn child. Mysteriously, the woman is unable to conceive; no doctor gave her a full examination and concluded she was pregnant; no one but the three accused claim to have seen the baby; and no body has been discovered. Since the three are poor, black, and mentally retarded, and this is all happening in Alabama, Bob Herbert senses racial injustice. Well, who wouldn't?

Like I said, right winger at work. In Tulia, Bob Herbert saw racial injustice where I saw a drug war gone crazy. Could there be a backstory here as well?

Google around looking for Alabama newspapers. Have fun. However, a google on "Victoria Medell Banks", two of the three accused, produces results. (Mind the "Tyra Banks" hits). Hey, the Salt Lake Tribune, my new go-to source for Alabama news! The Trib picks up an AP story. Well now: Bob Herbert described Victoria Medell as "serving 15 years, concurrent with a sentence in a separate case." Evidently, the separate case is that she was convicted as an accessory in the rape of a twelve year old by her then-boyfriend. I guess the local authorities haven't thrown away the key on her, but it looks as if they might want to.

Any more? Hey, how about the AP database! The AP ran a three part story titled "Justice in a Small Town" on July 6-8 of 2002, and how is this for a link. This falls into the "be careful what you wish for" file: my suspicion that there is a backstory would seem to be confirmed by the fact that the AP gave this three long stories. However, I am meant to be going away next week, and I had hoped this Herbert thing was going to be a quick hit, so my story stops rather than ends.

There it is, partial glimpse. Anyone with the inclination who wants to pick this up, I love you. Or, as another famous right-winger said, "I'll be back".

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