Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Quote of the day: Are you really not allowed to have "balls" in the Washington Post? (Plus: Don't count on having that legal record expunged)


"I have already said to people, if I ever did anything, she wouldn't just cut my [testicles] off. She'd write about it." ["[testicles]" reproduced from the source, sic]
--Ohio Rep. Sherrod Brown (the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate seat currently being disgraced by Mike DeWine), talking to the Washington Post's Peter Slevin ("The Columnist Who Shut Up to Speak Out"), about his wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz (well, former--and presumably future--columnist)

The sort of thing the congressman is talking about doing, or rather not doing, is, well, the hanky-panky sort. ("Schultz smilingly reports that a woman had advised her to keep an eye on her man, what with the availability in Washington of so many alluring women-not-his-wife. Brown sees many good reasons not to stray, not least Schultz's megaphone--and her proven willingness to use it.")

But what actually put Brown over the top for today's QOTD, against some stiff competition, is that editorial "[testicles]" of the Post's. This is interesting. While there must be some truly unprintable words for "testicles," I think we can all imagine the word that Brown actually used. Do you mean to say that you really can't say "balls" (or "nuts") in the Washington Post? Wow!

Anyway, writer Slevin paints a powerfully appealing portrait of Ms. Schultz (about whom Howie has also written for DWT), who gave up writing her Plain Dealer column in February, when it became impossible for her to continue sidestepping topics that might have been perceived as involving her in some sort of conflict, given her husband's Senate campaign, even though as a columnist rather than a reporter she is expressing opinion anyway. (She hopes to resume her column after the election.)

The feeling we get for her writing arouses curiosity about the collection that has already been published in book form, as Life Happens, and Other Unavoidable Truths. Slevin writes:

Schultz is a mother of two who graduated from Kent State and quit law school after two years. She writes about coat-check attendants whose tips are siphoned by management. She urges respect for valet parkers and better health care for the uninsured. She quotes her mother's admonition: "Don't marry him till you see how he treats the waitress."

She wrote in one column that on the Sunday after Ohio voters banned same-sex marriage, straight members of her congregation wept as more than 50 gay worshipers stood to show they had been affected by the legislation.

"They didn't look angry or defiant," she wrote. "They looked abandoned."

ALSO TALKING--There are no secrets anymore, and it doesn't seem to matter whether they're true or not

"How the hell do I expunge anything if I sell tapes and disks all over the country?"

--Thomas A. Wilder, Tarrant County (Fort Worth, TX) district clerk, who, says NYT reporter Adam Liptak ("Criminal Records Erased by Courts Live to Tell Tales"), "said he had received harsh criticism for refusing, on principle, to sell criminal history records in bulk"

Unlike most other county clerks in the country, it would appear.

In 41 states, writes Liptak, judges can under certain conditions expunge criminal records, which "in theory means that all traces of [the subjects'] encounters with the justice system will disappear." But of course with all those records already in circulation electronically, "real expungement is becoming significantly harder to accomplish in the electronic age." And people's lives are being messed up because of it.

Liptak quotes Miami lawyer Lida Rodriguez-Taseff as telling her clients that expungement is "a waste of time": "To tell someone their record is gone is essentially to lie to them. In an electronic age, people should understand that once they have been convicted or arrested, that will never go away."

Later in the article Ms. Rodriguez-Taseff is quoted explaining: "The problem often arises because so many agencies have access to criminal records--the department of corrections, the police, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the courts. Even though you have an expunged record, oftentimes a policing agency or a corrections facility allows private entities to gain access to it."


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