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For the week of July 9 - 15, 2003

Opinion Columns

When adults sound silly—and stupid

Commentary by Pat Murphy

Yes, kiddies, adults are fully capable of sounding silly when abruptly thrust into the public eye and feel compelled to open their mouths.

·  Start with the leader of Arizona Catholics, Bishop Thomas O’Brien, of Phoenix, whose car struck and killed a pedestrian. O’Brien didn’t stop, he later said, because he thought he had hit a dog or large rock.

O’Brien’s explanation was lame from the get-go: before police tracked him down, the bishop had two days to examine the windshield, half of which was splintered and caved in, which was certainly more damage than an errant rock or dog could’ve inflicted. Even if a dog had caused such damage, wouldn’t a compassionate prelate of the Catholic Church stop for a poor animal he might’ve injured or killed?

The Vatican forced O’Brien, who faces a criminal trial and perhaps prison time, to resign. Worse for O’Brien, he has the reputation of covering up sex crimes by predator priests and stonewalling law enforcement investigators. What a jury would swallow his dog-or-rock excuse for hit-and-run?


·  The other newsmaking hit-and-run killer, Chante Mallard, of Fort Worth, spoke even sillier nonsense. Her car hit a man so hard he crashed through the windshield and was left dangling over the dashboard to bleed to death after she parked her car at home. Mallard excused her behavior because (a) she’d been drinking liquor and using the hallucinatory drug "ecstasy" for hours, and (b) was snockered and didn’t know what to do while the victim’s life seeped away in her car.

Did she really believe a jury would excuse her killing a man because she was wasted on booze and drugs—especially after jurors heard evidence she (a) asked two friends to move the body to a park and (b) she burned her car’s bloody front seat to destroy evidence? Her 60-year prison sentence testifies to the jury’s disbelief.


·  Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne jumped in with his own silly rhetoric. After emerging as a candidate to become administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Kempthorne hurriedly boasted that his environmental record is good (it isn’t). Has Kempthorne forgotten that President Bush doesn’t give a flick about the environment, and just needs an unthinking lapdog at EPA to carry out pro-industry attacks on air and water quality laws ordered by the White House, not someone claiming to be simpatico to the environment who’ll stand in the way?


·  Finally, honors for the most inane disconnect from reality goes to American Teleservices Association executive director Tim Searcy. When the Do-Not-Call law banning unsolicited telemarketing phone calls was signed, Searcy insisted that unwanted calls during the dinner hour are needed and wanted by consumers.

Oh? If consumers are so enamored with unsolicited dinner hour calls, how come they raced to sign on to the Federal Trade Commission’s Do-Not-Call registry at the line-choking rate of 104,000 per hour for a total of 16.9 million registrations in the first five days?



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