Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Idiot O'Reilly (one of many entries I am sure)

When I originally conceived of this blog, I had Bill O'Reilly prominently in my mind. As much as anyone, Bill O'Reilly has done significant harm to public discourse in our society. Two hours a day on radio and one hour a day on the Faux News Channel, O'Reilly bullies guests, distorts issues, and makes up facts. And, there are times where he is outright dangerous.

In Ohio, Andrew Selva pled guilty to the sexual battery of two boys ages five and 12. Selva repeatedly abused these boys over three years. Now, sexual battery is a low level felony in Ohio, meaning that probation is an option. Judge John Connor gave Selva probation, stating "He's got a disease like I've got a disease. I don't know that prison would have helped, except for revenge and revenge is not in the sentencing guidelines." Although Connor said the appropriate sentence was eight years in prison, Selva had a clean record since his arrest and Connor found "no convincing proof" that Selva was a pedophile. Thus, Selva got five years probation, one year of home confinement with electronic monitoring, a mandate that he must report his residency every 90 days, a mandate that he must continue mandatory counseling and treatment, and an order than he must live more than 1,000 feet from any school.

Now, I think child abusers are scum. I believe that there is a circle of hell reserved for them. If Selva got the 25 years that Bill O'Reilly is advocating, I would shed no tears. But, there's more to the story.

First, the prosecutor agreed to the plea deal. No one forced him to do so. In January 2004, Selva was indicted on 20 counts of rape and two counts of gross sexual imposition. The indictment was dismissed in 2004 by a judge because the prosecutor made several errors, including mixing the names up of the victims and other inaccuracies in some of the dates and accusations. The prosecutor could have returned to a grand jury, but Selva’s attorneys asked him to consider a plea.

Assistant prosecutor Ronald Welch said the older victim, by then a high-school athlete, worried that members of the community might learn what happened to him. As a result, protecting one of the victim's identity was one of the factors that helped facilitate a plea deal. So, instead of rape, Selva pled guilty to sexual battery.

Second, prosecutors did not recommend a sentence, agreeing with defense attorneys to leave it up to the judge. Pushing for a prison term could have derailed plea negotiations, Welch said, and besides, "I felt confident that the acts themselves would result in prison." Welch was wrong.

So, the prosecutors screwed up in filing the case, agreed to a deal feeling it was in the best interests of at least one of the victims, and then failed to push for a sentence.

On the other hand, Judge Connor, who has a range of sentencing options, gave Selva an unpopular, but still legally permissible, sentence. And, Connor is correct -- revenge is not a criterion listed as a guideline for sentencing.

What O'Reilly fails to realize is that judges are not in the business to please Bill O'Reilly. They are there to mete out justice.

For example, Florida judge Andrew Owens upheld a jury's recommendation today that Joseph Smith be executed for the rape and murder of 11-year old Carlie Brucia. I am an ardent opponent of the death penalty because too many death row inmates have been released in the past 5 years because DNA evidence revealed them not to be the killer after all. Some day, if we haven't already, we're going to execute an innocent person. Still, the death penalty was an available option, so while I don't support the death penalty, the judge did mete out justice.

Of course, I am taking a rational route to analyzing the punishment given to Joseph Smith. The concept of "rational" never enters Bill O'Reilly's brain. He sees injustice (no matter that the method by which he comes to that conclusion is hopelessly flawed) and is going to use his broadcast to make sure that Judge Connor is forced out of office.

This scary (and unwarranted) use of media power makes O'Reilly the contemporary Senator Joseph McCarthy. Like McCarthy -- who claimed there were 205 -- no, 57 -- no 83 -- no, 217 -- no, 78 -- card-carrying Communists in the State Department -- O'Reilly makes wild and unsupported charges. Like McCarthy, O'Reilly uses the media to destroy people. Like McCarthy, O'Reilly is a flawed man (McCarthy was a serious alcoholic; O'Reilly has had an embarrassing incident with sexually harassing a subordinate, including making inappropriate phone calls). Like McCarthy, O'Reilly could easily implode under the right conditions. What is lacking are people with the intellect, courage and character of an Edward R. Murrow or a Joseph Welch to take him on.


Blogger Little Miss Chatterbox said...

Lets see. A man repeatedly rapes 2 little boys over 3 years and he's not a pedophile. What does someone have to do to be labeled a pedophile?

Bill O'Reilly is trying to protect innocent children and that makes him an idiot? There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of logic here. Others may have dropped the ball before this judge but it still doesn't excuse him not giving this sicko the maximum jail time.

Now this man will be free relatively soon to hurt other innocent children. Bill O'Reilly may not be right on everything but in this situation he's fighting to protect innocent children and most decent American citizens will support him for this.

9:19 AM  
Blogger The Streydawg said...

What's your damage? Don't you understand why O'Reilly does so well in the ratings? It's not because of his tactics, which I know you don't care for, and it's not because of his political leanings--I'm sure you think he's a right-winger, and you'd be wrong to think that, of course. He does well because the people are with him on issues like this. You're right about there being more people than just the judge having some responsibility in this mess, but the fact is, the Judge makes the final decision in the end, and he did not have to accept the sentencing proposed by the prosecutor. This is pathetic. Judges do have a responsibility to see that justice is served, and if you think this Conner guy has done that by giving a sick sadistic child rapist probation, then something is wrong with you. These people are often re-offenders, and though prison may not be a place to "rehabilitate" properly, I don't care. Not at all. What about protecting innocent children from child predators? Whose side are you on? Monsters like this rapist scum belong behind bars, and you can call it whatever you want, including revenge. I call it justice. Bill O'Reilly, who I certainly disagree with on a number of things (mostly economic), is good at exposing people that need to be exposed, and that is necessary. Would you be pissing and moaning if it was 60 Minutes doing it?

1:59 PM  

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