There's this speech I give my students. Distilled, it goes like this.
"Your primary asset as a journalist is not your dogged curiosity, your talent for research or your ability to make prose sing on deadline. No, your one indispensable asset is your credibility. If you are not believable, nothing else matters."
I call it the Secret Knowledge.
Meaning that body of information not everyone has, that body known only to those few people who had the good sense to go off the beaten path and seek it. It is information you'll never see in your "newspapers" or "network news" or any other place overly concerned with verifiable "facts" and reliable "sources."
He had his first major breakdown when he was 26.
A man who had been known for his sunny, outgoing temperament became suddenly sullen, silent and withdrawn. He spoke openly of suicide. It got so bad that a couple took him into their home to ensure he did not hurt himself.
Marissa Alexander got out of jail last week, but she is not free. At best, she enjoys only a species of freedom, a defective freedom that imperfectly resembles the real thing.
We should have seen this one coming.
This is America, after all, a country having no shortage of people with, apparently, too much time on their hands. So someone should have predicted Cake Wars II.
Tucker Carlson said on Fox that more children die of bathtub drownings than of accidental shootings. They don't.
or what it's worth, there are a few that are acceptable. You don't threaten or incite violence. You don't defame. You don't produce child pornography. And you don't falsely shout "Fire!" in the proverbial crowded theater.
OK, you win. We surrender.
This should not even need saying, but obviously, it does. So, for the record:
To oppose police brutality is not to oppose police.
They have not stopped.
That's one of the most heartening things about the demonstrations against police brutality that began with the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August and renewed with a grand jury's decision last week not to indict a New York police officer who choked Eric Garner to death.
I once asked that of a law professor. The Eighth Amendment prohibits "cruel and unusual" punishment, but I figured there had to be some technical definition I, as a layperson, was missing. I mean, from where I sit, it's pretty "cruel and unusual" to execute someone, but to judge from the 1,392 executions of the past 38 years, that isn't the case.
What follows is for the benefit of one William James O'Reilly Jr. -- "Bill" to his fans.
OK, fine. Let's talk about "black on black" crime.
In September, I received an email that should have left me feeling vindicated.
It was in response to the nonfatal shooting of Levar Jones, an unarmed African-American man, by Sean Groubert, a white South Carolina state trooper. Groubert would later claim he shot Jones because Jones came at him in a menacing way. But this lie was unmasked by Groubert's own dashcam video, which shows Jones complying with the trooper's orders until Groubert inexplicably panics and starts shooting.
Wow. Just ... wow.
So what's next?