Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Somebody's been laying off the wrong folks

I don't know whether this is a case of "they'll hire anybody nowadays . . . before they fire 'em" or "never let the facts get in the way of a good story."

Whatever the case, what follows is sloppy, sloppy journalism, and somebody at the Associated Press -- or the New Orleans Times-Picayune . . . or WWL-TV . . . or the Akron Beacon Journal -- possessing a high-schooler's understanding of civics and the criminal-justice system ought to have stood athwart stupidity yelling "Stop!"

THE OFFENDING PASSAGE comes at the end of an AP story recounting the rags-to-riches-to prison, then to-rags-to-redemption life story of Dr. Billy Cannon who, a half-century after his LSU glory days, will finally make it to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Even Cannon couldn't help but find irony of his inclusion on the dais such a group.

"You heard all about guidance, leadership, doing the right thing, and there's a convicted felon sitting in the middle of them," Cannon said with smile. "One of the reasons I'm here today: I did the crime, I did the time, and I haven't had a problem since. Not even a speeding ticket."

Cannon did declare for bankruptcy in 1995. Out of work in 1997, he returned to the place he served his time — the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.

He's been working as a dentist there ever since, fixing teeth and acting as a positive example for the inmates.

"I get to talk to them all when they come in and when they leave," he said. "I say, 'You know you can make it.' And they say, 'You made it Doc. We got a shot don't we?'

"I say, 'Don't waste it.'"
DEAR AP IN NEW YORK: Dr. Billy Cannon, in his criminal life, was a counterfeiter. Counterfeiting is a federal offense, kind of like a national writer thinking you get sent to the state pen for it. In fact, Cannon did his time at the federal pen in Texarkana.

I know, mistakes happen. But mistakes based on gross assumptions and grosser ignorance of basic issues of criminal jurisdiction are a lot tougher to forgive.

Especially when there are a lot of unemployed journalists out there who know a little civics and know better than to go around making an ass out of u and me.

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