Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Bigotry: A Felony?
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann's office sent out a bizarro, mistake-riddled press release this week that, ultimately, seemed to avoid taking a position on what to do about "felon voting." The release complained that of the "50,000 criminals which are incarcerated at our expense," "only 12,000 are prohibited from voting." It then added: "Meaning, 38,000 felons are allowed to vote on state officials as well as the judges and district attorney's (sic) who sent them to prison. The release said that the following are not allowed to vote currently: "criminals convicted of murder, rape, bribery, theft, arson, false pretense, purgery, forgery, embezzlement or bigotry." Bigotry? Purgery?
Dorothy Triplett, who used to work in the secretary of state's office—under the arguably more literate administrations of Dick Molpus and Eric Clark—and who just won the Jackson 2000 Friendship Award last Saturday, wrote Hosemann's PR woman, Pam Weaver, a saucy e-mail in response: "I wish bigots couldn't vote—but I never knew that bigotry was a felony. If so, that law is broken frequently. It's a great idea—however, we wouldn't have room in the jails. They'd all have to be under house arrest. Never heard of 'purgery'—I'm sure you meant perjury?" Weaver soon put out an edited release with "bigamy" and "perjury" spelled correctly—but the plural of "attorney" still ended up as "attorney's." And we're still not clear what the point was supposed to be.
Same Time, Next Year?
After being caught with their hands in the divisive cookie jar, the management of the SafeCity "crime watchdog" group vowed that they would be back next legislative session, once again pushing for a "safety zone" in parts of Jackson—mostly upscale parts of Jackson—that allow District Attorney Robert Smith and the Mississippi Highway Patrol to usurp the authority of Police Chief-Sheriff McMillin. After a copy of the bill—sponsored by Sen. Joey Fillangane from way down yonder in Sumrall and apparently authored by the "my city" SafeCity folks—started shocking Jacksonians with one of the most blatant calls for discrimination the city has seen since Jim Crow days, SafeCity director Mark McCreery did anything but apologize for a bill that would have made the punishment rougher for criminals in nicer parts of town, and did not seek the opinion of elected officials from Jackson (except maybe for Councilman Jeff Weill). Instead, McCreery vowed to try again next year—and seemed to indicate that he might actually try to talk to Jackson-area legislators next time around. "This strategy did not work this year due to the compacted schedule for the Legislature which puts at a disadvantage in properly coordinating ... with the Jackson delegation," he said in a press release.
If They Are to Be Believed
Holbrook Mohr of The Associated Press wrote a story last week about juvenile-detention abuses around the country, framing it with the story about the abuses of girls at Columbia Training School here in Mississippi, which is finally being closed as a juvenile facility. The coverage was great, except this is a very old story—decades old—and we question Mohr's sentence near the top that starts: "If some of those girls and their advocates are to be believed, it is also a cruel and frightening place." We call this the "bias of objectivity." Why? Because the U.S. Department of Justice documented the abuses in great detail, as reported by the Jackson Free Press three years ago. These girls and their advocates are, indeed, to be believed—and it doesn't help anything to give people such an easy way to believe some of our state's most needy residents.
As Gannett Turns
Editor & Publisher magazine, the trade bible of the newspaper industry, just reported that daily newspaper Web sites are losing readers, not gaining them. Outsell Research reported that Gannett Newspapers—the corporate sugar daddy of The Clarion-Ledger—dropped 2 percent in Web readership, even as it's giving readers greater ease in posting photos of their pets (while hoisting four-line URLs on readers and making the "information center" more confusing with each re-design). Gannett flagship USA Today's site dropped 9 percent in readership. Meantime, even worse, Gannett's Web revenue share is dropping as well. Ken Doctor of Outsell told E&P: "We see that many news Web sites actually lost ground year-over-year, welcoming fewer unique visitors." We coulda told them that.
Headline O' the Week ... or 'Did They Pay for That?'
"Come sample the South in Jackson, Mississippi: Jackson Convention and Vistors Bureau" (spelling theirs; emphasis ours)
—from The Clarion-Ledger's new d.b.a. "advertorial" business insert
After being caught with their hands in the divisive cookie jar, the management of the SafeCity “crime watchdog” group vowed that they would be back next legislative session, once again pushing for a “safety zone” in parts of Jackson—mostly upscale parts of Jackson— I will say that this bill did not protect all of the supposedly nicer areas of Jackson. In fact, common supporters of Jackson and SafeCity (i.e. Bite out of crime attendees) should be especially riled over this bill. Not just because of the racial implication of this bill. All of Northside past I-55 and Meadowbrook were not protected. Nor was Sheffield, JA, or anyone who lives off Old Canton north. In fact if you lived at the Barrington, and a crime occurred there the regular old rules would apply. Yet, if someone robbed those few houses across the street the criminal would get whatever stiffer penalties were going to be levied! What is apparent is that certain SafeCity houses fell in their proposed district; but, they were content with shutting out a good portion of it's white supporters too! Point being this bill was bad for all of Jackson - black and white.