9.23.2009

Is This Their Legal Defense? (ACORN)

I saw this on NPR just today and find the entire legal defense rather troubling. I consider myself a champion of fair play and if ACORN and its employees have been wronged, I would be the first to speak up for them. But I don't see it here. If you haven't seen the vid posted all over YouTube, CNN and other places, you might want to check it out.


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The journalistic methods used were sound, not necessarily professional like CNN or NBC, but they did the one important thing that the big guys do: visit multiple places to gauge whether the first was a anomaly or the tip of the iceberg. So kudos to Hannah Giles and James Okeefe.

Back to my point... NPR reports that ACORN not only fired these two ladies who gave the "pimp" and his "prostitute" advice on how to skirt the law, but ACORN also filed a lawsuit against Giles and O'Keefe for - now get this - it 'damaged ACORN's reputation'. EXCUSE me? Your employees willfully aided and abetted a hypothetical criminal enterprise, but the people who filmed it damaged your reputation? Dang. Talk about shooting the messenger!

Now the funny part....

The story goes on to say that ACORN wants all distribution of said video stopped. This the age of the Internet, man! Ain't no stopping that train! There's people like me that the courts cannot stop, and even if they did - it's too late. Do they not live in the same sphere the rest of us do? All the important people (i.e. the people who can bring down ACORN) have already seen it. Congress is investigating too and ACORN wants it to stop? Funny stuff. I guess it doesn't hurt to ask.

And for more funnies....

The issue ACORN is using to bring this embarrassing situation to an end is the old Johnny Cochran trick: "If you can't refute the evidence then refute the one who brings the evidence" (okay, the late JC didn't actually make up that trick, but you get the point). The NPR story says that ACORN is suing using the Linda Tripp Law - the one that says both parties have to know the conversation is being recorded. True enough, but NPR quotes their attorney as saying -


While everyone, including them, agrees that some of the things they said were dumb, in Maryland we have a right to say dumb things in the privacy of our homes and offices without fear of being taped and without fear of being splashed all over the Internet."
---Andrew D. Freeman — an attorney for ACORN

If that's not attorney speak, I don't know what is. I mean, does it really make sense to you that I'm free to say stupid stuff to a prospective client without fear of repercussions? If that's the case then the two ladies shouldn't have been fired. They should be free to say whatever they want without fear of losing their jobs!! We should all behave like we are being taped - because you are... Did I mention this is the age of the Internet?

Bringing It Down and Keeping it Real

I genuinely feel bad for these two ladies the former employees of ACORN. We could pick them apart all day, but I won't do that. It is hard for me to accept their fate in a way because I have seen ACORN at its best. They do a legitimate service - sometimes. Unfortunately, they have come under a lot of fire for a number of indiscretions - both real and perceived - so something like this was bound to occur. Particularly in this environment (some of the more cynical conservatives even blame ACORN for the landslide election-day loss).

My take from this video? There are several... One, I find it mind-boggling that the ladies in this video didn't seem to pick up on the fact something was wrong. No pimp uses the word "prostitute". I don't care how "classy" he may be. In fact they had to tell him to stop using the word "prostitute" and call Giles a "performing artist". That should have been a red flag.

Two, ACORN's mission is the help the indigent, less-represented members of society. I'm sure they deal with such unsavory characters as Giles and O'Keefe all the time, but I doubt any of them were as white (er, I mean 'eloquently spoken') as these two. Judging from the employees' reactions, I can't tell if they caught on and were playing along, or if they genuinely thought they were actually helping someone in need. If they were following ACORN protocol, then they should not have been fired. ACORN should have been reprimanded (which they were, later, by Congress no less).
Three, which is obvious - ACORN should always try to uphold the law, regardless of the circumstances. The video made its point for the anti-community organization crowd.

That's my hit for today. It has been a while, hasn't it?


NPR Topics: News