You’ve had a lot of liberals lamenting the collapse of the rule of law the last decade. This would appear to be a situation where the rule of law and rights of the accused are most important. It’s precisely when the media and the people have already decided the guilt of the accused (and are competing to describe his evil in the most lurid hyperbole) that these principles are the most important. And yet I find silence on that presumption of innocence from most liberal commentators, or the outright abandonment of it, when it comes to this particular case.
Freddie’s usually pretty good on drawing distinctions, but I think he’s missing the difference between condemning someone’s well-documented bad behavior, and advocating against a fair trial for the accused. I hope that Jerry Sandusky gets the best possible legal representation, that he’s given a fair trial, and that he receives justice as defined by our laws and interpreted by our courts. And I don’t pre-judge the outcome, because the standard for proof beyond a reasonable doubt is much higher than the standard for writing about the case in a blog or a newspaper without committing libel. In other words, I can make a (possibly incorrect) moral judgment about Sandusky without advocating that my judgment should replace the operation of the courts.
Freddie also misses that much of the outrage is directed against the institution, not Sandusky. Whether or not Sandusky really did what he’s accused of doing, it’s pretty clear that there was a full-on coverup at Penn State. The rule of law means that possible lawbreaking is investigated, no matter the status of the potential lawbreaker or the place where the alleged crime occurred. Unless and until Sandusky doesn’t receive a fair trial, the coverup is where the rule of law is in danger, not the media circus surrounding the ex-coach.
Finally, this isn’t Canada, where a judge can order a ban on pretrial publicity at the bail hearing for the accused. Does Freddie really want to go where the Canadians have gone? If not, a few liberals shutting up about Sandusky won’t make much of a difference.