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Texas and Horrible Legal Reporting

September 23, 2014

Ken White reminds us just how horrible legal reporting can be:

Sometimes the rule of law — due process, application of established rules, procedures, and rights — result in nasty people getting away with bad things. That makes us angry. But it’s not about how we feel.

The Texas court didn’t say upskirts are protected by the First Amendment. Texas could probably ban upskirts, if it did a halfway-competent job of drafting a sufficiently narrow statute.

But who’s going to get outraged about that?

If you’re wondering why I give a shit, consider this: our freedoms are recognized or denied based on court rulings. Our understanding of those court rulings often derives from media coverage of them. When we do a lousy job of covering law, or when we put up with journalists doing so, we’re doing a lousy job as citizens.

It’s hard to put it better than that.  News media is a tremendously powerful force– it can whip up a lynch mob baying for the blood of someone who is not convicted and who may be completely innocent, or it can help force the state and public to take a closer look at an injustice.  The type of coverage Ken exposed is of the former variety.

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