Suspended Auburn softball players Haley Fagan, Makayla Martin and Brittany Maresette, who were arrested in the early morning hours on April 20 for pos…
Josh Vitale @ oanow.com
I’m sorry to hear it because, of course, despite the arrest, despite all the moralistic posturing of the Auburn athletics bureaucracy, and despite the completely pointless humiliation of these three young women, they did absolutely nothing wrong. They have nothing to apologize for. There’s nothing wrong with smoking marijuana. There’s nothing wrong with having drug paraphenalia to help you smoke marijuana. It’s a common hobby, it’s certainly not the most harmful vice on the market, a lot of people do it, and people who do it aren’t hurting anybody. Haley Fagan, Makayla Martin, and Brittany Maresette should never have been arrested. What they did should not be a crime. There’s no need to apologize, and those who posture about it are next to impossible to take seriously; the fact is, there is nothing wrong with it. The only people who ought to be ashamed here are the cops and the bureaucrats who intend on punishing them for blowing off a bit of steam in a way that does not do a lick of harm to any identifiable victim.
End the War on Drugs. Release all political prisoners.
The headline is more predictable than Dog Bites Man. If you programmed a Police Shooting Response robot that took police shooting reports as input and produced a claim of justification 100% of the time, only filling in the blanks with facts taken from the input and not adjusting the template in the slightest, you’d get the same headlines that you actually get from local police statements. Based on the extremely limited information that has been released so far, it’s possible that the police went overboard even by their own standards; it’s also perfectly possible that when the dash cam and body cam footage is released, it will turn out that the killing meets the police’s internal standards for justification — but if so, the police standards themselves are the problem. We don’t know how much police officers knew about how she was armed. The weapon that La Jura keeps talking about, always as a quote-unquote weapon without further clarification, was actually a small knife. Melissa’s parents and their lawyer say that they told the 911 dispatch that she had a knife; police claim that when she got out of the car they didn’t know what weapon she had in her hand. It may be that she brandished the knife in a way that would meet the police’s policies for using lethal force against her. But if so, then morally I think the problem with police procedures is that they take no real account of who initiated the confrontation, who escalated it, what other less-forceful options were available. We have here a case in which police pursued a woman who had committed no crime, followed her car for miles out of their own jurisdiction and into Macon County, cornered her when they were told she was upset and panicked and lightly armed, and then shot her to death when, they claim, she charged them. For ordinary people like you or me, a claim of self-defense requires that someone else is the aggressor; but police standards never take that into account.
Stories on the police shooting, what the police claim they knew, and what the family says they know about what happened, have appeared in the Huntsville Times (April 4), the Montgomery Advertiser (April 5), and The World According to Vladimir Putin (April 5). According to the Opelika-Auburn News (April 7), the family was desperately trying to reach Melissa’s car on the highway but the police cornered her and shot her before they could arrive; the OA News story also reports that there is both dash cam footage and body cam footage of the confrontation and the shooting. But the footage was given to the Alabama SBI, so that state police can investigate local police, and will not be released to the public until or unless the Macon County District Attorney decides that it should be. (The Macon County DA is putatively in charge of this decision because Auburn police followed her out of Auburn and pursued her on the highway into Macon County, where they shot her.)
Auburn police shot and killed a woman yesterday afternoon just off of I-85. Her name was Melissa Boarts; she was a 36 year old woman from Montgomery. They were chasing her because they got vague reports over the wire that she might be suicidal. So they chased her car for miles, followed her out into Macon County. Then when she stopped they got out and confonted her, and then they killed her.
Auburn police disclosed today that two cops shot at her; they claim that she had a gun and she charged the officers in a threatening manner when the cops came out to confront her.
And in local journalism, we turn to the Op-Ed page of the Opelika-Auburn News, where the editorial board has — with their characteristic courage and insight — taken a bold and controversial stand by saying that Auburn’s football team is pretty good this year.
I sent a letter to the editor of the Opelika-Auburn News the other day, after reading this little piece about recent efforts by Mike Hubbard to intimidate his critics with legal threats. As far as I know the letter hasn’t appeared in the paper, and my guess is that it’s not likely to, since the opinion page is currently flooded with letters for and against an upcoming city property tax referendum. So, I reprint it here. Of course, if the accusations being made against Hubbard are false, then I think it’s a bad thing for people to tell lies or spread misinformation. But his efforts to enforce his preferred version of events, by means of legal force, is a loathsome attempt at censorship. It is no less preposterous, and even more contemptible, than if he went around challenging his critics to duels.
To the Editor:
I was disappointed to read that Rep. Mike Hubbard has decided to respond to his critics with intimidation and legal threats ("Hubbard enlists attorney to investigate libelous claims," Sep. 11). Apparently, he is angry about bloggers who made "negative comments" about him on the Internet, so now "he has hired an attorney to stop" the authors, by tracking them down and threatening a libel lawsuit.
Hubbard says that he has done this because "certain individuals" are trying to damage his good name. But a good reputation is not the private property of Rep. Mike Hubbard. His reputation just is the sum total of other people's opinions about him; and other people's opinions of Mike Hubbard belong to the people who have them – not to Mr. Hubbard. If people change their mind about Hubbard after reading about him on blogs, then the comments they read may be true or false, justified or unfounded, honest or malicious. But whatever the negative comments are, they are not "destroying" anything that Hubbard has a right to exclusively control.
You might say, "But the comments were libelous; he has legal rights." That's what the law says, but the law is wrong: libel actions are shameful and chilling assaults on the freedom of speech and the press.
If the comments are true, Hubbard has no right to complain about them. If the comments are false, Hubbard – a well-connected politician, and a well-positioned local media owner – has plenty of outlets for responding to the accusations, and more than enough opportunities to peacefully persuade us he's in the right. Either way, sending a lawyer to intimidate and silence critics is an abuse of power, and the act of a bully – and a desperate one at that. Hubbard ought to be ashamed of himself.
Charles W. Johnson
A local media mogul, GOP honcho, currently Speaker of the Alabama state House of Representatives, and the man who preposterously claims to represent me in Alabama’s state government.↩
I’m agin’ it, because I’m against all tax laws, but I won’t be voting agin’ it next week, because I am not registered to vote.↩
Challenging them to duels would be less contemptible because he would at least be taking the risks of his violent outbursts on his own person, rather than throwing his wealth and power around in a court-room against bloggers much less able to defend themselves. It would also actually be much less dangerous and tyrannical — since his chosen victims would always be free to refuse him.↩