[Judge John Roberts] doesn’t appear to be crusading for a wholesale national retreat to the good old days of executing miscreant ‘tweens (although he seemingly finds arresting them for French-fry possession to be a cornerstone in good parent-child relations).
I criticized an L.A. Times article yesterday for making it sound like Roberts approved of arresting a 12-year-old girl for eating a French Fry. I noted that anyone who actually bothers to read the opinion will plainly see that Roberts was unhappy that police arrested the girl.
Beldar says that “one could at least defend the LAT’s writers and editors as being merely stupid instead of dishonest. Perhaps they never actually read the opinion, or lacked the training to understand it.” I’d say they might have been “lazy” rather than “stupid.” It takes no particular training to read the passages of the opinion in which Roberts expresses his disapproval of the police actions in that case. It just requires a reporter who cares about getting it right — at least enough to read the opinion.
But, as Beldar also observes, it’s very hard to believe that Dahlia Lithwick, who is supposedly knowledgeable about the law, has not read the opinion. And if she hasn’t, what the hell good is she anyway?
And don’t try to tell me that this is simply exaggeration, like her ridiculous comment about the United States executing “‘tweens” (typically used to refer to 9 to 12-year-olds) for being “miscreant,” when execution is possible only for murder. (“Mabel! Them kids done raped and murdered another young girl! Dang miscreants!”) That comment is simply the usual Lithwick nonsense: cheap shots and gross exaggeration. But the “French Fry” comment is either a lie (as Beldar believes) or an inexcusably sloppy misrepresentation from someone in Lithwick’s position.
Folks, this is an important issue. The “John Roberts wants to arrest 12-year-olds for eating french fries” lie has to be nipped in the bud. It’s disturbing that someone as widely-read as Dahlia Lithwick believes that she can make a misrepresentation like this and get away with it. I am encouraging everyone with a blog who cares about a good judiciary to link Beldar’s post, and ask your readers to link it too. I also encourage each and every reader of mine to write Slate and demand a correction. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s show Lithwick that she can’t get away with something like this.
UPDATE: Dahlia Lithwick has responded to Beldar. He sets forth her defense, and then utterly demolishes it, in this post.