Monday, January 12, 2009

Here's the Problem With That, Avi.

Avi Adelman. Love him, hate him, think he's a hero or a ridiculous zealot and party pooper, but the man loves his community, and stands up for what he believes in. However, there's a difference between being on the side of the righteous, and engaging in behavior that is just as risky to reputations as staggering down Lower Greenville schnockered. As WFAA reported, Adelman has begun to publish the list of those who receive misdemeanor citations for public intoxication - misdemeanors that will likely be pleaded out or placed on deferred ajudication. Which is why generally every newspaper doesn't bother. A public intox arrest might show up in a police blotter, but unless the person is in a position of public trust - a school principal, a mayor, city council person, etc. - names are omitted. The reasons are many: The charge will likely be ajudicated, which means it will disappear from the person's record if they mind their P's and Q's and the sheer volume of misdemeanor arrests are just two. Think about it - you make one mistake, and get arrested for public intox. You manage to eke out an agreement that allows you to atone for that mistake, not make it again, and have it go away for good. Yet, it's not gone, because Avi Adelman has published your name on the Internet, where it is instantly searchable by everyone. And therein lies another problem - one directly related to the second reason I listed. So many people, and no way to ensure that those with common names are differentiated. So for instance, this post, with a Michael Davis, means nobody knows if it's a random one, or this one. And is David Banda a random Dallasite, or a lucky boy plucked from Malawi? See where it gets sticky? And why stop at misdemeanor PI's? Why not speeding, failure to yield, or rolling stops? Why not littering, or publishing every name of every person cited for disobeying the leash law? I'm no lawyer, but at some point, Adelman is opening himself up to a massive lawsuit. I do wonder if perhaps he's considered taking some classes - or even auditing some at SMU - on media law, or even picking up an AP Stylebook, which will offer him the most basic of primers on the subject.