Thursday, April 4, 2013

Reserving Judgment Before Having the Facts Is NOT a Defense of the Guilty

I discovered tonight that two tweets of mine, made in the course of a more-than-2-hour discussion, were posted out of context in an article advancing the proposition that "Progressives are defending a convicted pedophile, because he's a progressive."
The notion that I have done anything of the sort -- support a convicted pedophile -- is patently false. That my tweets have now been used to make me the poster child for "Progressives in Denial about Child Predators In Our Midst" is a gross and outrageous misrepresentation of my opinion on the matter and of me. That the original misrepresentation is being linked to in other articles elaborating on the same false characterization only amplifies the offensiveness of this misrepresentation.

 The use of my tweets in the original article are out of context and entirely misleading. I specifically stated in that discussion that I was NOT defending William Glenn Talley, but that I did not know enough about the case in order to RESPONSIBLY form an opinion as to the facts of the case.

When I wrote those tweets, I had just learned of the existence of the case.  I had barely skimmed one of the appeal decisions on a 4th Amendment issue and was seeking additional information. At that point I was listing hypothetical possibilities that I wanted to either confirm or eliminate by consulting reliable materials -- such as published court decisions and news accounts -- about the case.

Other than the one case I had skimmed, all I knew about the case at that point was what I been told by strangers through tweets.

I had read nothing, other than such tweets, stating that Bill had been convicted.  The appeal case I had skimmed said nothing about any conviction because it was "interlocutory" in nature.  That is, the appeal had been heard and decided years *before* any conviction had happened.

Also in that thread, I was told that Bill had been found guilty by a jury of his peers, a claim that, despite the self righteousness with which it had been advanced, turned out to be FALSE.  As my review of the actual court materials demonstrated, there never was a trial on the merits of the case.  There was never any jury.  There was never any jury verdict.

This should underscore the fact that assertions made in tweets -- especially regarding the background facts on a case as serious as this one -- are unreliable and potentially inaccurate.  To rely on them alone is irresponsible.

I thought that we as progressives are supposed to be better than "Right Wing Nut Jobs" because we value basing our opinions upon sound, reliable information, not on hearsay -- what we heard from someone with only second hand or third hand knowledge of the facts -- especially when what we hear are tweets from someone we do not know.

To print my tweets out of context, and to characterize them in a manner that I had specifically stated in that tweet thread was incorrect and that did not reflect my opinion of the case or of Bill, is disingenuous and outrageous. To identify me as someone who defends or has defended Bill is false. To attempt to ridicule or shame me, based upon a position I have never taken is equally incorrect and outrageous.

The ONLY position that I took in that thread was that I was not prepared to form any opinion of the case or of Bill AT THAT TIME, and that I wanted to research the background on the charges and read any available cases and news accounts, so that I could find out what had happened, appraise the facts and decide for myself.

I have written to request that the author of the first article linked above print the entire thread, reflecting all of my tweets in that conversation, not just the two that, taken out of context, utterly misrepresent the position I was taking at the time and my position on the case as a whole.

Now that I have read all the court documents and materials on the case, that are available online, I will be happy to share my opinions on it once the record has been corrected, as requested. For now, I need to close and go to sleep. I will follow up, accordingly.

No comments: