I Get Email

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

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.

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30 Responses to “I Get Email”

  1. #1 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    Being in jail for decades for something you didn’t do, with everyday having people telling you that you did it, you’re a liar, would you just admit it already, etc. probably wouldn’t be very helpful to your grip on reality.

  2. #2 |  lunchstealer | 

    Yikes. I’ve always wondered how you keep the stuff you write about from driving you to either deep depression, uncontrollable rage, or just outright insanity. I mean, the phrase “today’s Balko nut-punch” is a common way to refer to some of your most disheartening stories.

    You do more good than harm by any stretch of the imagination, so yeah, do what you’ve gotta do to keep the noodle on straight.

  3. #3 |  Irving Washington | 

    Well, so-called “Radley Balko,” I see that you have extended the coverup by deriding the victim. How deep does the conspiracy go?

  4. #4 |  Mister DNA | 

    Over a decade ago, a friend and I used to marvel at a website called “BANDS REPORT”. It was written by some guy in West Texas who claimed to have intimate knowledge of how the US was going to be “consumed by fire” in Spring of 2000.

    There was plenty of Biblical verses backing up his claim, but if you delved deeper into the site, you’d find the real meat & potatoes… It turns out he had been “framed” by the local District Attorney for passing bad checks, and God was going to destroy the United States because this public official ruined the life of a godly man.

    From reading the work or Radley (and others), I’m a lot less suspicious of claims of being framed, railroaded, etc, but there are still plenty of dubious claims out there.

    There’s a website (or was, several years ago) dedicated to “proving” that the kids in the case that the movie Bully was based upon had been framed. Among the evidence: The prosecutor’s last name was DeSalvo. You know, just like The Boston Strangler!

    Sorry about the long tangential rant, but that email gave me a familiar vibe…

  5. #5 |  RomanCandle | 

    Hopefully that guy isn’t schitzophrenic or anything. Pretty weird.

  6. #6 |  Aresen | 

    Weird. Truly weird.

    Difficult to even tell what the writer is talking about, other than he seems to obsessed some crime to which he has been tangentially associated. It is possible this is an innocent person who is falsely under suspicion. It is also possible that he actually did commit a crime but is completely delusional.

    Or he may be like some of the people in my office who can’t compose a comprehensible sentence or paragraph.

  7. #7 |  Carl-Bear | 

    I did some web searches with key words from that email, and I couldn’t find a thing that seems to relate to this claim.

    Radley, could you ask your correspondent in which spacetime continuum’s Colorado this took place? So far as searches indicate, it wasn’t in _our_ universe.

  8. #8 |  Flight 741 | 

    I’m going to write a book! about sentence structure.

  9. #9 |  B | 

    I’ve long planned that if I ever got the opportunity to meet you over a drink and pick your brain a little, I’d ask you how you keep the grind of the stuff you cover from getting to you. I figured black humor had a lot to do with it…

    Carry on, sir, and give the crazies a wide berth!

  10. #10 |  Joe | 

    Accusations of prison plagiarism: Say it aint so Radley, say it aint so!

  11. #11 |  Joe | 

    I did a check to see if anything came up in Colorado, nothing right away on the allegations that emailer raised, but I did find these two sites that readers here might like.



  12. #12 |  dingdongdugong | 

    Public figures get really bizarre emails sometimes from schizophrenic people. The world is a big place.

  13. #13 |  Cornellian | 

    Every once in a while I run across a pro se litigant who is convinced that CNN, Fox and MSNBC would be covering his case non-stop if only they knew how unfair his supervisor was for issuing him that letter of reprimand for being ten minutes late.

  14. #14 |  Dog's New Clothes | 

    “I have come to realise you sir are not that man!”

    Keith Olbermann?

  15. #15 |  Pete | 

    I’m sorry to go somewhat off-topic here (it’s at least about an email!) but this is really troubling me.

    I won’t name names, but there is a libertarian website with a lot of different contributors, and this website is big on Mises and the Austrian school. The person the site is named after posted a vaguely anti-union bit, but made it clear that he was a lot more anti-state than anti-union. (but still anti-union, that was also clear.)

    So sent this to him via email:

    I’m still trying to find my ‘Libertarian Heading’, so to speak. I would not consider myself a hardcore anarcho-capitalist, but at the same, since I’m able to put 2 and 2 together and walk while chewing gum at the same time, I know that massive deficits to fund entitlements would do a lot more harm than not funding the entitlements. I also personally believe that the single biggest line item in the macro budget, Medicare, is a corporate entitlement writ large, enabling Big Pharma to jack up their prices and thereby screw everyone. (And they do, and they consistently post ridiculous profits as an industry that wouldn’t be possible without a guaranteed market.)

    But what I have firmed up in my mind is that individual rights should trump all. I should have the right to be an idiot or genious with regards to my own body. I should be able to read what I want, write or say what I want, and do what I want as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else, and by harm I mean real physical harm or property damage. A shining example is the Phelps crew. I despise them, but I vigorously oppose any effort to stifle them or chill their speech.

    I should also be able to buy and sell what I want, and associate with whoever I want.

    Which leads me to this – a strict anti-union stance strikes me as blatantly corporatist, and stemming from an agenda. Labor is a product, a commodity. If you want me to rake your leaves, it’s not the clean yard you’re paying for, it’s my time and effort to make that happen.

    So in the strictest libertarian sense, what is wrong with a labor union? And don’t misunderstand me, I’m talking purely union here, and not, say, laws that some states have that mandate the use of union labor. I think that’s anti-competitive and I can easily see the problems with that. But really, how can you fit a 100% anti-union stance into the Libertarian ideology? I don’t understand it, and maybe it’s because I’m still not fully out of my cocoon yet.

    At the end of the day, I can’t get away from the fact that a 100% anti-union stance involves “No, you can’t do that, it’s not allowed.” And as an advocate of personal liberty, I find that much more offensive and dangerous than a labor union could ever be.

    Now I certainly know enough to realize he’s probably a very busy man and can’t take the time to respond to every question a nobody like me sends him, and I respect that… but I really want an answer on this one, so I pose the above blockquote to you, fellow Agitator readers. Radley has already given me his answer in another thread (and it was a very good answer that made me happy) but if there are any hardcore anarcho-capitalists of the Austrian school in the house who could read this and reply, I would be grateful for your time.

  16. #16 |  Difster | 


    The libertarian anti-union stance is directly related to the way unions are formed and run today. They operate through force and they’re backed by government.

    In a more perfect world, an employer should be able to fire any employee at any time for any reason. Employers however are forced to use unions in many cases which violates the employers liberty. Likewise, many employees are forced to join a union in order to work in a particular profession or for a particular employer. They are forced to pay dues to a union who’s services they do not desire. They could choose not to take the job but that’s not the issue here.

    There is nothing inherently anti-libertarian about collective bargaining. A group of people coordinating their efforts to change their working conditions is fine. Where libertarianism has a problem is when union bosses start using bullying and anti-competitive behavior to extort employers to sign a contract. Going on strike is an example. I should not have to allow union workers on my property if they’re going to strike. If they want to protest whatever they’re striking for, they can do it on public lands. But if I have a business to run, I don’t want them striking on my property and chasing off my customers. But it’s worse than that, union workers will often use violence against strike breaking employees who need to feed their families and even customers who patronize the business during the strike. Often times the employer has no legal recourse against these things. A violation of the liberty these people deserve.

    Actual collective bargaining would not and could not ever be coercive. The employer and the employee representative would work together to come to a mutually beneficial agreement over salaries, working conditions etc. That would be great. Unfortunately, that’s not what unions are and so libertarians oppose them in general.

  17. #17 |  Mike T | 

    ou’re doing great work here, Balko. Welcome to the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Your membership card is in the mail.

  18. #18 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    There is nothing inherently anti-libertarian about collective bargaining.

    Correct. I would add that a libertarian state would, possibly, have plenty of unions. But, those unions would not resemble (IMHO) unions of today’s America. Today’s unions in America are state-protected in some truly unbelievable ways. Most of this works to take away competitive forces and render the union as little more than a racket.

    There is also nothing inherently “wrong” with the concept of unions. Like most things, they tend to get the clap and then get perverted when they sleep with government…so it’s another anti-state rant by me I guess. Shit.

  19. #19 |  Mattocracy | 

    What dingdongdugong said. When schizophrenic people try to contact you, that means you’re somebody now. Look on the bright side.

  20. #20 |  Cornellian | 

    “You’re doing great work here, Balko. Welcome to the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Your membership card is in the mail.”

    Clearly an imposter – the real VRWC uses only private delivery services.

  21. #21 |  Bryan | 

    The guy makes some good points.

  22. #22 |  Matt D | 

    Pretty sure that’s just spam.

  23. #23 |  Dana Gower | 

    I found this at http://www.topix.com/forum/houston/TM303PAAAU6U86URK, but it crashes my computer, so I can’t get much:
    “Rodgers, who worked for the FBI for 27 years, much of it in Denver, became chief investigator for the district attorney’s office in Colorado Springs. During his employment at the DA’s office from 1967 to 1983, he became a well-known figure in Colorado Springs and lectured about child abuse both locally and nationwide.” It looks like he may have lost a civil suit, but, as I said, I can’t read much.
    Could this be it?

  24. #24 |  CyniCAl | 

    No good deed goes unpunished.

  25. #25 |  Brandon | 

    Mike T: You benefit from the Government-run mail?! This hypocrisy permanently discredits anyone who ever disagrees with a statist viewpoint anywhere ever!!!!

  26. #26 |  Dana Gower | 

    Okay, here’s the entire article:

    http://www.headwatersproductions.com/press/article5.html – 18k

  27. #27 |  JOR | 

    “The libertarian anti-union stance is directly related to the way unions are formed and run today. They operate through force and they’re backed by government.”

    Sometimes. There are plenty of self-described libertarians (including self-described anarcho-capitalists) who really are against any and all unions. Sometimes they justify this by saying unions couldn’t exist without government support and privilege (nevermind that they have existed historically even when faced with considerable government-backed, hyperviolent opposition). Sometimes they justify it by saying that for unions to be able to work without government support, they have to use violence to get their way (nevermind that this is claim is falsified by histoircal events); sometimes they’re a little more nuanced with these claims and just say that unions necessarily must commit torts (by, say, violating contracts), etc. And a lot of the time they just hate unions because hypercapitalist communist dictatorships like the USSR violently persecuted coddled them and based their whole economy around them and well look how that turned out, or something.

  28. #28 |  LibertarianBlue | 

    You know whos hate mail I would love to see? Laurence Vance from LewRockwell.com, he’s always going after conservatives. Got to think he has gotten some gems of hate.

  29. #29 |  Pete | 

    So basically the consensus here isn’t ‘unions are bad’, it’s ‘most of the laws propping up and enabling the really ridiculous monsters unions have turned into are bad.’

    Which, I hope it was obvious, is how I feel.

  30. #30 |  Helmut O' Hooligan's Ghost | 

    #16 Difster: “In a more perfect world, an employer should be able to fire any employee at any time for any reason. Employers however are forced to use unions in many cases which violates the employers liberty. Likewise, many employees are forced to join a union in order to work in a particular profession or for a particular employer. They are forced to pay dues to a union who’s services they do not desire. They could choose not to take the job but that’s not the issue here.”

    Wait just a second. An employer should be able to deprive an employee of his or her livelihood for ANY reason.

    So if the employer is engaged in corrupt and/or criminal activities and the employee exposes him, a termination would be ok with you (Whistleblower protection is against libertarian doctrine, right?). What if the employer fires an employee who refuses to have sex with him/her? Is that ok (Protection against sexual harrassment is too statist for your taste, no doubt). And I won’t even get into issues of race/religion/sexual orientation.

    Unions are not a panacea. I know that. Being required to join a union may limit freedom (and income), but being a “free agent” –in libertarian parlance–severely limits your ability to bargain with an employer that has a great deal more money (and lawyers) than you possess. I don’t know why libertarians tend to ignore this rather obvious fact. I suspect that many movement libertarians are employers, are self employed, or work in very small firms. This likely explains why they have difficulty understanding those of us who work for an hourly wage. I do have to work as a “free agent” in my non-union workplace, and let me tell you, I don’t feel like I live in libertopia.

    In a perfect world, everyone would have basic resources and would be able to walk away from an employer who mistreats them and walk away from a job that doesn’t satisfy them. But we don’t live in Monopoly. We don’t all start life with an equal amount of money (And I am not saying we should). This is where unions come in, for better or worse.

    If you advocate for some form of minimum income program (which I do, but in a much less socialist way than you might assume) then I might take your perfect world scenario more seriously. If not, then I am left to assume that you just don’t understand the workplace from the perspective of non-salaried, non-management employees.