Friday, June 5, 2015

Droppings from the Fox News Talking-Points Birdcage: "Slam Dunk Heads Will Roll" Due to Illegal Release of Josh Duggar's Police Report

Someone with the username wreckinball writes in here yesterday in reponse to my update regarding the Duggar family, to challenge my statement that Judge Stacey Zimmerman abused her judicial office in having the police records about Josh Duggar's molestation of minors destroyed, on the ostensible ground that she was protecting the minors who had been molested:

Just read the law The judge is right crimes committed by minors are sealed and it's illegal to ever release the names of the victims direct or " indirectly" 
Slam dunk heads will roll

Please note that the lack of punctuation is in the original. I very seriously doubt that mr. wreckinball has "read the law." I'm strongly inclined to believe he's merely mouthing the right-wing Duggar-excusing talking-point du jour, which he has no doubt heard on Fox News. This talking-point about Judge Zimmerman's judicial order was, in fact, pushed in Megyn Kelly's interview itself.

Here's my reply to mr. wreckinball:

Sorry, but you're mistaken. As Max Brantley states in a comment in this thread discussing that issue, the police report is not a juvenile record but a police report of criminal activity, and it redacted the names of the offender and victim. Josh Duggar himself disclosed his name. 
The judge, who has clearly proven ties to both the Duggars' friend Huckabee and the Duggars themselves, was acting politically. 
Brantley's wife happens to be a judge. He knows the state's legal system very well.

In a new posting about this issue at the Arkansas Times website today, Max Brantley notes that national reporting including this TMZ article is demolishing Fox News' argument that the release of police reports about Josh Duggar's molestation of minors was illegal. As Max states,

Multiple lawyers have said Springdale and Washington County police agencies were required by the state Freedom of Information Act to release police reports on a 2006 investigation of allegations, with information identifying the victim and the perpetrator redacted.

As he goes on to state,

Last night on Fox, Megyn Kelly went off on a lawyer who attempted to defend the release of information. She and a supporter cited Arkansas law about protecting the identities of sexual assault victims and shielding release of juvenile information. 
Neither law was violated by the release. Victims were not explicitly identified until the Duggars themselves did it, including by producing abuse victim daughters to talk on TV. Police reports are not juvenile records. Police are mandated to release incident reports of crime, but they must protect the identify of juveniles involved in such reports. They did so. TMZ covered a Springdale response to Kelly's unhinged diatribe in support of the Duggars. 

As the TMZ report linked above also notes, the case file that was released before Judge Zimmerman ordered it to be expunged had never been sealed, since the police report was not filed until 2006 — when Josh Duggar was 18 years old. He was, in other words, of age when the police report was filed, since his parents waited three years to notify the authorities about his behavior.

With Ms. Palin now weighing in to defend the Duggars and to claim that they're the victims of a liberal conspiracy that employs a double standard (conservatives, wrong; liberals, okay) in judging cases of child abuse, we can look for a lot more disinformation to be spread around about the Duggar story. By Christians. 

By Christians obliged by central moral norms, I have always understood, to speak the truth and defend the vulnerable. About the ilk of Christians now defending the behavior of the Duggar family and using Fox News talking-points to do so: I like the following observation of a contributor to the thread discussing Max Brantley's latest report on this story linked above:

I've called this a Fox News talking-point birdcage dropping because it's not absolutely clear to me that mr. wreckinball is Catholic — and so my usual "Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage" title may not be in order. I suspect that he actually is Catholic, given his surname. 

Whatever his religious background (or lack thereof), it's not hard to tease out the tenor of his thinking about these issues by taking a look at his comment history on his Disqus page.

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