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Two Types of Poisoners: Blago and Dr. Laura

Don Rose 23 August 2010 One Comment

What a week! Blago poisons the jury pool and “Dr. Laura” poisons the airwaves. Couldn’t let either pass without comment, so here you get two (brief) columns for the price of one. First, there is already enough commentary on the Rod Blagojevich decision to fill an encyclopedia: guilty on only one count, lying to federal agents; and a hung jury on 23 more substantive counts, with a retrial promised by the U.S. attorney. Volumes have been written about the quality of the prosecution and the defense strategy of no defense. More has been said about the complexity of the case, which was made more complicated weeks before the trial began. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an anticorruption law making it a crime for a business or government official to deprive one of “honest services” was overly broad. That law was easily understood by juries and put a wide range of defendants in the slammer, including media mogul Conrad Black. Much of the original case against Blago was based on it, so the feds reindicted him on more circuitous charges. Nevertheless, on four of the most serious counts, including the attempted sale of Barack Obama’s former senate seat, 11 out of 12 jurors found him guilty as charged. The one holdout was a woman, still unidentified, who voted to acquit on 23 counts. She obviously had to go along with the clear-cut charge of lying to the feds: Blago said there was a “firewall” between himself and his fundraising, but his every taped discussion illuminated the lie. I was not in the jury room and know nothing about this woman. But I’m convinced her intractable stand was not based on failure to understand the law nor the prosecution’s failure to clarify. She may have been enthralled by the theatrics of defense attorney Sam Adams Jr., but I believe the issue is deeper. From the moment Blago was charged he embarked on what looked like a crazy media campaign to plead his innocence. He was laughed at and sneered at, but he got the last laugh by doing what he set out to do: poison the jury pool. That is, influence someone, somewhere who might get on that jury. Tens of millions were exposed to him, most had negative reactions, but not everyone did. All it took was one—one friend generated by his media appearances who would wind up in that jury room and stand by him. She will deny it and I certainly can’t prove it, but in my gut I believe it. Blago just launched his second wild media tour seeking a new friend for the retrial. If only he had been this industrious and less poisonous as governor. *** Laura Schlessinger, whose doctorate is physiology, not psychology, gives millions of women psychological advice on the third most popular talk show on radio. Last week she spoke the poisonous “N-word” 11 times in an on-air conversation with a black woman. By some double standard out there in radioland, she was not instantly fired, although some sponsors withdrew. Years ago a comment denigrating gays cost her a TV show. Remember sportscaster “Jimmy the Greek” who was canned for an offensive racial comment? Or Don Imus bizarrely calling a black women’s basketball team “nappy-headed ho’s”? They quickly lost their jobs, like many others in public positions who used the N-word or made racial slurs. Even Howard Cosell’s job ended when he used an ambiguous word, racially interpreted, when describing a football play. Schlessinger apologized the next day, then announced she would end her talk show at the end of the year. But where were the radio executives who put her syndicated show on the air? Why didn’t they remove her immediately as the networks did with Imus and Snyder? Where were their ethics? Was it all about greed? Worse yet, Schlessinger goes on Larry King’s show and plays the victim. Claims she was denied her First Amendment rights because organizations urged those sponsors to quit. Now she says she’s going to do something else, somewhere she can speak freely. Is this the new definition of chutzpah? Everyone on the air knows there are legally forbidden “swear” words. She accepted that speech abridgment for years. There is also something called “hate speech,” which is, yes, an informal abridgment. What is her idea of freedom? Ascending a rooftop and hollering “n- – – -r” or “f- – – -t” to the four winds forever? Dr. Laura needs a psychiatrist. ** Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer. image Coat of Arms (Blason) of Cesare Borgia

One Comment »

  • Mary Vondrak said:

    Oh my, the sky is falling: another white mouth dared to utter the “n” word! It’s a word, for God’s sake! Remember “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me”? You’re old enough. The black community has been using itself for target practice in Chicago for how long now and the media is getting its collective shorts in a knot because a white person said a word that’s constantly used in the black community. This “it’s okay for us to say it, but not you” crap has to stop and we all have to take a long hard look at why one community in particular is mostly responsible for 303 shootings in Chicago in one month. Where is the outrage? Are we all so desensitized to violence that we ignore it and concentrate on speech? Or maybe if we pretend it isn’t happening, nobody will notice? How politically correct of us! But BABIES and CHILDREN are being slaughtered! Bullets hurt more than words – we damned well better be more offended by that than a damned WORD!

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