Thursday, July 17, 2008

Are the O-A News Editors even shaving yet?

I actually expect the average ass that writes into the average paper to come across as reactionary, simplistic, misinformed, ... However, I do expect more from the actual editors. I fear the Opelika-Auburn News, owned by Media General, has an Editorial staff consisting of at least one person that might not make the cut for a middle school effort at producing a paper.

That a journalist preparing today's System fails Alabamians, helps DUI offenders might have read coverage of this ruling, like what appeared in their own paper from AP's Phillip Rawls, and come away with a belief that the Alabama Supreme Court decided to "soften penalties" for the truly serious matter of driving while intoxicated frankly worries me. They close with, "When the courts begin compromising these issues, then the courts lose their strength and those who violate the law are given breaks."

Did the author of this bomb bother reading Ex parte Arthur Felton Holbert? A PDF copy of the decision is available via Bradley Arant. O-A News, this case simply turns on the fact the legislature wrote the law without clearly including municipal convictions in what might enhance the penalties for a DUI conviction. They've amended the statute after realizing the error. I am no fan of Alabama's Supreme Court, as most every member is rather to the right, yet I applaud their following the law. That they caught the State being sloppy in their briefs and spanked them also gave me some pleasure.

I cannot stress how juvenile the O-A News comes across in their Editorial. They are seemingly without any, I mean nary a clue, understanding of how our judicial system works. I for one am much more interested in a system that shows its strength by following procedures and processes rather than just making it up as they go. Apparently the O-A News would be satisfied with much less. The suggestion that Alabama's Supreme Court is being "soft" or giving "breaks" is way off the mark. That "activist judge" didn't find its way into this screed is I suppose a blessing.

I would expect more of teenagers I once taught. I expect more of journalists. I expect more of a business. That a paper in one of Alabama's fastest growing municipalities, with a major University as its foundation, allows this to appear as their own Editorial is inexcusable. I've noticed a pattern (here, here, ... and let's not leave off Congressman Mike Rogers) of right wingers writing into this paper so maybe they are catering to their readers? They surely aren't engaging in what I thought represented the ultimate goal of an editorial board. They are supposed to be "well-informed" and thus be able to rationally sift through and then clearly explain public policy. They should educate their readers.

I've bragged on the Opelika-Auburn News when they did good work. I'll be hoping they get back on track but it looks like they've hired a middle schooler to write their Editorials when they put out work like System fails Alabamians, helps DUI offenders. John Gunn

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