Monday, June 25, 2007
It continues to astound me how The Clarion-Ledger tries to take credit for the James Ford Seale conviction, even The Clarion-Ledger had dropped the ball on the case (as had the authorities), reported that Seale was dead and Jerry Mitchell had declared that there would never be justice in the case. They deserve some credit for work years ago on it, but they really ought to be a bit more humble than this, considering that they couldn't figure out how to factcheck whether Seale was really dead before reporting it:
Their unsolved murders were but two of numerous cold cases - "Forgotten Killings" in the South, with many in Mississippi. In fact, the bill, passed 422-2, with pending legislation in the Senate co-sponsored by Mississippi's U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Trent Lott, is named in honor of Emmett Till, a black teenager from Chicago who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of whistling at a white woman. His killers were never convicted.
The unit could help in the prosecution of old cases still unsolved in Mississippi. As The Clarion-Ledger series "Forgotten Killings: The 1964 Slayings of Two Black Teens" showed, old wrongs can be righted and justice found even after decades.
In 2000, the FBI reopened the case after The Clarion-Ledger reported that federal charges were possible since the two were beaten in a national forest.
"Forgotten Killings" is certainly an apropos name for their "series" of stories that they wrote after other media (CBC and JFP) brought the case back up and didn't settle for their story. They screwed the pooch on this case, and they know it. They just ought to have the class not to try to write fiction like this in their editorials.
And by the way, the FBI was able to bring the case because *they crossed state lines* with live kidnapping victims—not because the crime occurred on federal property. For the record.
It's also galling to see these cold-case editorials, considering how many times they've declared which case is the "last" one.
old wrongs can be righted and justice found even after decades. Beyond the sheer bad writing of this passive, can an "old wrong" really "be righted"? Now that Seale is in prison for a few years for kidnapping, suddenly the murders of Dee and Moore, and the subsequent refusal by the state to do something about it, is "righted"? How is that possible? This is empty rhetoric. And for the record, the *state* has still done nothing about it. If people pay attention, as of right now, just as much has been done in this case as was done by 1967 in Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner: the feds brought a case. The (correct) hoopla in the Neshoba case (much pushed by the Ledger) was because the *state* had never brought the killers up on murder charges. Why aren't they complaining now about the same thing—or are we still on that same road that Rita Schwerner warned about—that the Neshoba case was treated differently because two of the victims were white? The state of Mississippi still hasn't done anything about the Dee-Moore murders. So how in holy hell could a "wrong" "have been righted"??? No murder charge, no state convictions, no real effort. The D.A. in Natchez knew Seale was alive, and hadn't done anything (including, it seems, correcting the faulty coverage by the AP, Clarion-Ledger, etc., that Seale was dead.) The Clarion-Ledger can't even follow its own logic it's spouted over the years. Of course, had it been up to them, we wouldn't have gotten this far. The "cold case" would have been relegated to a sentence or two in the history books. Folks, the Seale conviction is a step in the right direction and is wonderful for the families. But no one has "righted" a wrong. The federal government did a smidgen of what should have been done years ago—and that is no cause for a celebration in the streets about old "wrongs being righted." Mississippi and the feds don't suddenly deserve a trophy for doing a tiny bit of what should have been done long ago. Neither does the Ledger. The Clarion-Ledger needs to wake the hell up and stop trying to numb us with meaningless rhetoric.
Actually, I wasn't going to call it an "Old Wrong" just one that hadn't been fixed yet. It's still a "Wrong", even 40 odd years later.
Donna, I don't know what to say except @#$%!