A brief glimpse into the sometimes-surreal world that is my email in-box:
Well Radley Balko, I see you only tell some of the news some of the time. I guess you didn’t have it in you to tell about the rape of the 14 year old by the chief investigator of the District Attorney’s Office here in Colorado. People have acted pretty strange towards me instead. I haven’t any thing to hide. Are you participating in the police cover up ? Or just what are you doing. I have come to realise you are shunning this story. I don’t care what the hell has been fabricated about me, I am no angel but I’m not a rapist, I am still working on my book too, I am going to dedicate a chapter or two, to people like you sir! That are afraid of controversy. This story is a mess, what I am looking for in all of this is a news person that wants to get his hands dirty and find out the truth. I have come to realise you sir are not that man!
I haven’t the slightest idea what this is about. I would point out that if you’re trying to get a journalist interested in your story, this is not a strategy I’d recommend.
It reminds me of a letter I received a few years back from an inmate at Parchman Penitentiary in Mississippi. He accused me of plagiarizing his own reporting on medical examiner Steven Hayne. For proof, he included an article written in his own handwriting which he claimed he had self-published from prison many years ago. It did read suspiciously like one of my articles. Almost word for word, in fact. He then graciously agreed to refrain from suing me if I would investigate and write about his case. I thought that one was actually pretty creative.
I suppose it’s probably a little cruel to find amusement in this sort of desperation. For all I know, both these people could have suffered some real injustice. But hell, when you write (or in your case, read) about this stuff every day, you gotta’ allow for a little levity.