the tipping point

In reference to atlpaddy’s comment, I do frequent The Standard, but I did not know John Henderson, *murdered execution-style early Wednesday morning. By all accounts he was a generous, honest dude.

I’m just wrapping up a story, set to run Friday Saturday, about intown crime that had been in the works since before Christmas.

It’s clear that Atlantans are no longer buying assertions made by some higher-ups that theirs is a safe city. Especially in light of overwhelming anecdotal evidence to the contrary.

Be sure to check out Thomas Wheatley’s well-timed piece in Creative Loafing. My story should be online Friday night.

It won’t be the last on this subject.

*Damn those cretins who suggest Henderson’s murder was an “inside job.” Such meritless allegations are the product of tiny, tiny brains.

If you’re going to be a soulless idiot, keep it to yourself.

random musings on a dreary sunday

Alis final fight

Ali's final fight

*Caught a few minutes of “The Simpsons” and was reminded of Ali vs. Berbick. The show is so past its prime it’s not even funny. Literally.

*Greta Van Susteren creeps me out. Her questions are rambling and incoherent, she likes Sarah Palin way too much and she has that penetrating glare endemic to Scientologists (like when Katie Holmes insists to an interviewer, “I’m happy. I’m happy”). 

*Barry Manilow, who looks a lot like Greta, scares me almost as much. Has there ever been a more unnecessary CD than “Barry Manilow Sings The 80s”? (see clip below)

*What is it about Islam that breeds the kind of malevolence on display last week in Mumbai? I don’t intend to impugn an entire religion or people, but if we’re going to address the problem we should — in a serious manner — ponder its origins.    

*Further plumbing the depths of humanity, there’s this from Friday’s stampede at a Long Island Wal-Mart:

Witness Kimberly Cribbs said shoppers acted like “savages.”

“When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling, ‘I’ve been on line since Friday morning!'” Cribbs said. “They kept shopping.”

Officials say criminal charges are unlikely because it would be difficult to identify individual shoppers in surveillance videos. Difficult, but not impossible — these “savages” need to be prosecuted.

*I admit it: I’m glad my alma mater lost to Tech. I’m not much of a college football fan, and I enjoy seeing grown men demand “accountability” of college kids they’ve never met. Plus, the Rev. Richt reminds me too much of his mentor, Bobby Bowden.

Now here’s Manilow covering Astley, a CD probably bought by one of those cows who trampled the Wal-Mart worker.

Call Me Geraldo

Live from Tallahassee, official home of the PT Cruiser …

I keep tripping upon new leads in the Gary Michael Hilton case — this story is far from over. I can’t share details here, but criminal profilers are likely to be studying him for years. Follow developments here (compelling evidence continues to mount).

My apologies to those who depend on the Malcontent’s daily dose of Clinton and Romney bashing. Maybe this’ll help:

Robots are threatening to take over the presidency, and they’ve enlisted plenty of willing recruits (and recruiters). They must be stopped. They go by the names Hillbot and The Anchorman.

Can a Kid Kidnap?

Many questons — all disturbing — surround the alleged rape of an 11-year-old girl by three boys, ages 8-9.

In no way am I attempting to minimize the seriousness of this case, but is it even possible for boys that age to commit a sexual assault?

Again, I don’t know all the facts, but I can’t help wonder if we have another overzealous prosecutor on our hands. Or maybe I just want to ignore the possibility that such heinous acts can be perpetrated by children.

Free the West Memphis 3

If you ever watched the riveting HBO documentary “Paradise Lost” and its sequel, you know the three teenagers convicted of killing three 8-year-old boys in a small Arkansas town 14 years ago were most likely framed.

Now there’s conclusive proof: New evidence filed Monday shows there was no DNA from the three defendants found at the scene. Nothing links them to the crime.

WestmemphisthreeJason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley are serving life in prison while alleged ringleader Damien W. Echols is on death row.

The three victims — Christopher, Steve Branch and James Michael Moore — were last seen riding their bikes on May 5, 1993. They were found the next day in a drainage ditch in Robin Hood Hills, near West Memphis, a low-rent town across the Mississippi River from Memphis. The boys were naked and hogtied with shoelaces.

The police quickly zeroed in on Mr. Echols, then 18, who was familiar to them because he was on probation for trying to run away with his girlfriend. They also believed he was involved in cult activities.

But they could find little evidence against him until Mr. Misskelley, mildly retarded and with a history of substance abuse, came in to speak with them. At the time there was a $30,000 reward.

After hours of questioning, Mr. Misskelley, 17, gave the police a taped statement that implicated himself, Mr. Baldwin, then 16, and Mr. Echols, then 19. Despite coaching by the investigators, Mr. Misskelley was incorrect in several significant details, including the time of the crime, the way the victims were tied and the manner of death. He said the children had been sodomized, an assertion that even the state medical examiner’s testimony appears to refute.

Besides Misskelly’s confession, the prosecution relied on a Satanic cult expert with a mail-order degree, apparently enough to put someone on death row in Arkansas.

The real surprise among the new evidence is who isn’t implicated.

Many viewers who watched the sequel, in fact, concluded that the police should have been investigating John Mark Byers, the stepfather of one of the children, who made seemingly drug-addled, messianic speeches on camera, gave the filmmakers a blood-stained knife, and had a history of violence and run-ins with the police. His child, Christopher Byers, was the most badly mutilated of the three.

But there was a surprise in the new forensic report filed by Mr. Echols’s lawyers: a hair found in one of the knots binding the children belonged most likely to the stepfather of another of the victims, not to Mr. Byers.

Regardless, Byers remains one of the scariest fucks ever captured on film (as seen here, here and here).

We’re left with an enduring mystery and a serious miscarriage of justice. While I’m not completely convinced of their innocence, there’s no denying the West Memphis 3 — social outcasts with a fondness for heavy metal and black trenchcoats — were convicted largely because of who they were, not for what they might have done.

Do pedophiles feel shame?

This excerpt from an AP story about an alleged pedophile suspected of ghastly abuse struck me as a bit odd:

Persson said he personally had opposed making the photos public because it demonstrated to criminals that police can unscramble pictures. But that consideration and the risk that the man could face public humiliation or even violence now that he is recognizable were outweighed by the desire to protect other children from abuse.

I would say a little public humiliation is in order. That, and a painful castration (photographic evidence shows the man sexually molesting 12 underage boys, ranging in age from 6 to their early teens).

“The taser. Use the taser!”

(quoting Beavis …)

No doubt University of Florida police went overboard tasering a student who commandeered the mic at a town hall forum.

Still, I sorta enjoyed watching this spoiled brat suffer. The downside — we’ll have to endure his time in the media spotlight.

Conspiratorial lefties are already rallying behind Andrew Meyer’s cause (note the accompanying anti-Semitic rant, a staple of today’s privileged radicals).

Clearly, the cops should be disciplined, if not fired. But let’s resist blanket declarations — removing disruptive protesters from a Congressional hearing, for one, is not an assault on free spech.

There are plenty of troubling examples, however, like the couple ejected from a Bush rally for wearing anti-Bush T-shirts. And "free speech zones" popularized by the major political parties are blatantly unconstitutional.

UPDATE: Alleged feminist Naomi Wolf — who famously advised Al Gore to wear more Earth tones — just published a ridiculous screed in which she called the tasering "a shocking moment for society."

It is an iconic turning point and it will be remembered as the moment at which America either fought back or yielded. This violence against a student is different from violence against protesters in the anti-war movement of 30 years ago because of the power the president has now to imprison innocent U.S. citizens for months in isolation. And because, as I have explained elsewhere, we are not now in a situation in which ‘the pendulum’ can easily swing back. That taser was directed at the body of a young man, but it is we ourselves, and our Constitution, who received the full force of the shock.

And the martrydom of Andrew Meyer begins.

For those inclined to grant Wolf some credibility, remember she posed for a glamour shot on the jacket of her book — "The Beauty Myth — that attacked media exploitation of women.

(via griftdrift)

Pointless prediction

O.J. will escape accountability yet again. I’d prefer he rot in jail, but the case against him looks weak:

Thomas Riccio, whose tip to O.J. Simpson led to what authorities allege was armed robbery that could put O.J. behind bars, has a checkered past.

Riccio, an ex-con and well-known memorabilia dealer, has been in the headlines for selling Anna Nicole Smith’s diaries for $500,000 and attempting to sell a video of Smith’s breast enhancement surgery.

Guilty is as guilty does

I respect James for his measured take on the Michael Vick case, but damning evidence continues to mount against the Falcons QB. James cites an ESPN article on the history of race relations in Atlanta — and how the city’s past factors into whether you think Vick innocent or guilty — but the article badly misses the point.

Michael Vick is a symbol of how things have changed for the better. Atlanta has been very good to him. Sure, there were critics, but he deserved to be criticized. Vick’s play was uneven at best, and his performance off the field was likewise checkered. Racists didn’t imagine Ron Mexico, and there was no conspiracy to plant weed in a water bottle at a Miami airport (more likely, his enablers — most of them white — called in a few favors and secured a dismissal of charges).

Throughout, he maintained a fervent fan base and a slew of endorsements. No one was out to get Michael Vick. And for the writer of the ESPN article to even mention "lynching" in the same breath as Vick is irresponsible at worst, sloppy journalism at best.

Certainly racism is alive, here and elsewhere. But pampered African-American athletes everywhere have it much better than your average white guy. Sorry, but no one’s giving me free luxury cars to drive, nor interceding on my behalf with the police. Those are advantages. Period. Focusing on the self-inflicted plight of the Pacman Jones’ of the world, at the expense of real victims, does a disservice to any civil rights movement.

I defer, once again, to Cynthia Tucker:

A black woman is secretary of state. A black man is a prominent contender for the Democratic nomination for president. Black Americans are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, presidents of elite colleges and partners at prestigious law firms. Oprah Winfrey is arguably the most influential woman on the planet. And Vick, for his part, has earned more money than most people on the planet and can certainly take care of himself. Among his dream team of attorneys is Billy Martin, who is one of the nation’s best-known criminal defense lawyers and who also happens to be black. 

Let’s not make Michael Vick a martyr simply because people deduce — based on a preponderance of evidence — his guilt. That’s what happens when you’re famous; everyone has an opinion about you, however irrelevant. A jury will decide what matters. They may decide correctly. O.J. Simpson was found innocent, but only the delusional would argue that verdict was correct. I’m not as certain regarding Vick — in fact, I hope I’m wrong. I don’t want Joey Harrington quarterbacking the Falcons. And I don’t want another African-American hero to fall by the wayside.

But none of us should look the other way, blinded by tired excuses and white liberal guilt. A scoundrel is a scoundrel, and so far that’s the best thing you can say about Michael Vick.

There’s assholes, then there’s David McDade

The Douglas County District Attorney is starting to make Mike Nifong look reasonable. This is the plea deal he’s offered Genarlow Wilson, whose "crime" was having consensual sex with a girl two years younger:

Wilson would get a 15-year sentence with five years in prison including credit for time served. And he would be able to avoid registering as a sex offender, McDade said.

"She is interested in publicizing the case for her own personal gain," McDade said (speaking of Wilson’s attorney). "She has lost sight of what is best for her client."

Two of my friends from high school dated 15-year-old freshman when they were 17-year-old juniors. That was how old Wilson was when he was charged with child molestation — for receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old. I assume my peers had sex, or at least sexual contact, with their girlfriends. Funny how I never thought of them as dangerous felons, but in my defense they were privileged white boys.

Let’s hope the Georgia Supreme Court does the right thing today and releases Wilson. You can argue that McDade is just following the "letter of the law" in his zeal to keep the former honor student behind bars, but prosecutorial discretion is but a stranger to the Douglas DA. Besides, those who peddle child porn should not throw stones. 

"Law is mind without reason."

–Aristotle

Often that’s necessary. In this case, it’s a travesty.

The madness continues

GENARLOW WILSON FREED

Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker has appealed Monday’s ruling releasing Genarlow Wilson, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for receiving consensual oral sex in 2003 from a 15-year-old girl when he was 17.

Baker contends the judge overstepped his authority in reducing Wilson’s felony conviction to a misdemeanor.

"I just got off the phone with him," B.J. Bernstein angrily told reporters as Wilson’s grim-faced mother quietly sat nearby. "He has now heard about the judge’s opinion. Literally, people at the prison were saying, ‘You are going home today. Congratulations. I want to say goodbye to you.’ And I just had to tell that child he is staying there, that we don’t have a bond for him, that we can’t get him out."

Baker may be justly concerned with precedent, but hasn’t Wilson suffered enough at the hands of overzealous prosecutors?

Genarlow Wilson freed

A gross injustice has been corrected:

A judge today ordered that Genarlow Wilson be freed from prison, where he has spent more than two years for receiving consensual oral sex from a 15-year-old girl when he was 17. Monroe County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson also amended Wilson’s felony conviction to a misdemeanor without the requirement that he register as a sex offender.

I guess Mark Cuban can come to Georgia now.

Murders up 22 percent in Atlanta

Shouldn’t this be a bigger story?

The number of murders in Atlanta soared 22 percent last year compared to the year before, while in several other areas of the state the number stayed the same or fell slightly, preliminary FBI statistics released Monday show.

There were 110 murders in Atlanta in 2006, compared to 90 the year before, the FBI said. The rise last year followed a nearly 20 percent drop in murders in Atlanta in 2005 compared to 2004.