Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Troy Farlow and the Land of Redemption and Second Chances

H/t to Vivian for first exposing the attempted smear job on a fine candidate and bringing us the truth.

America has been called the land of opportunity. It’s the place where people from all over the world come to reinvent themselves. It’s the country that offers a second chance. And that’s a peculiar concept throughout the rest of the world, which respects rigid social caste and hidebound tradition. America, by contrast, is fluid, future looking, and egalitarian.

America is also the place where a young man can wrestle with his conscience, face up to the consequence of past actions, and find forgiveness. Or at least that’s what Troy Farlow thought.

When he was 24, he got into an auto accident with his father at the wheel of the vehicle. His father chose to flee from the scene after making sure that a woman in the car that he had hit had not been injured. Farlow, Sr., also convinced his son, Troy, not to tell anybody. Troy’s father, an insurance executive, feared that if word of the accident got out, he could lose his job.

Troy and his father had been estranged for years and Troy was desperately trying to reconcile with a parent he had never truly known, so he agreed to keep silent. And he did for about four years until his conscience couldn’t take it any more and he got a lawyer and turned himself in.

Despite the fact that nobody was hurt in the accident, a law had been broken when Farlow and his father left the scene of the accident. To reiterate, Troy Farlow was only the passenger. He did not, himself, hit another car. His only culpability was remaining silent. Until he broke his silence, made restitution and agreed to testify against his own father. Ironically, his father was never prosecuted so he’s the only one who actually paid the consequences for breaking a law. And his was a sin of omission, not commission at that.

Nevertheless, he paid his debt to the law and to society. He should have been allowed to move on with his life. Except, unfortunately, he decided to run for office. And he had the misfortune of running against Brenda Pogge, a floundering Republican candidate, who herself is facing a lawsuit for voter fraud.

So, a Republican blogger, Vince Harris, of Too Conservative, decided that the best defense for his failing candidate was to be as offensive as possible in smearing Pogge’s Democratic opponent. So, he dug up this unfortunate incident and blew it up all out of proportion.

Vince Harris received the arrest warrant and court papers, which he posted on his blog. Ironically, Vince also neglected to redact Troy Farlow’s social security number (it’s redacted now) from the documents in his haste to get up his smear post. Redaction is just a fancy word for getting out a black magic marker and crossing the damned social security number out. In an age of identity theft and privacy laws, Vince may himself have run afoul of the law. He certainly violated ethics by not checking the story thoroughly and deliberately leaving his readers with a misleading impression of the events. Ironically, Vince, who has written movingly about his grandfather, a Baptist minister, also probably broke the Ninth Commandment, “Thou shalt not bring false witness against your neighbor.”

But perhaps Vince doesn’t think a young man who makes a mistake deserves a second chance. One he, himself, got last year when another blogger outted him for posting comments to his own blog site under false names. It caused a minor flap and I defended Vince on the grounds that he was young and everybody deserves forgiveness and a second chance.

Unfortunately, Vince, the recipient of a lot of peoples’ willingness to give the benefit of the doubt doesn’t believe in second chances for others, especially if they happen to be Democrats. It’s just not politically expedient at election time when sliming and smearing an opponent takes precedence over ethics. At an important time like this, even redemption must take a back seat to victory in November. Even in the land of second chances.


Anonymous said...

The problem is that you also have people like Ben Tribbett who are so eager to get a story that will publish posts linking to the story, even if it means ignoring the facts of what happened.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Yeah, bloggers with delusions of journalistic grandeur are a problem.

The first thing Vince or Ben or anybody should do in a situation like that is to contact the person who is the subject of the smear to get their side of it and to get quotes from them.

That way, they'd see if there really was a story there. And if they still thought there was, at least, they'd appear more balanced and credible.

But I haven't seen one blogger do the real leg work yet.