Faster than the speed of civility

Ugly public reaction to Dean indictment trumped prudence

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Who knows how many people's stomachs turned sickeningly Wednesday at such shocking news.

A grand jury issued a two-count indictment of child molestation against former Harlem Mayor and Columbia County Commissioner Scott Dean.

The crimes of which Dean are accused are revolting and utterly indefensible.

But the way in which portions of the public, especially online and in social media, are eviscerating him -- scornfully ignoring his right to a fair trial, without an ounce of civility -- is deplorable.

Communications today can be miraculous with its speed and ease. But it's also sadly misused. Instant communications allow for regrettable sentiments to be put forth more quickly than the calm mind might consider prudent.

Within minutes of the information appearing online, commenters fell over one another apparently trying to throw Dean's Sixth Amendment rights in the garbage -- using some of the most disgusting language they could muster. Reaction was so shrill that The Augusta Chronicle's Web site turned off its comment thread on the Dean story.

Many comments extended beyond hate. People were expressing glee over Dean's circumstances. Remember, this is a man who is still presumed innocent under the law.

Also, few people understand that grand jury indictments are relatively easy to achieve. The standard of proof is "probable cause," one of the lower standards in the criminal justice system. Earning a conviction, especially in molestation cases, can be infinitely more difficult.

None of this should be construed as a defense of Scott Dean. His legal counsel will be responsible for that.

But Dean still is a man whose wife and family deserve to be in our prayers in what is likely the worst time of their lives.

Comments (32) Add comment
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soldout
1280
Points
soldout 02/04/11 - 02:19 am
0
0
Our comments won't make him

Our comments won't make him more innocent or more guilty. Time will tell the truth but my guess is that he is innocent.

Austin Rhodes
2855
Points
Austin Rhodes 02/04/11 - 05:28 am
0
0
When no real name is attached

When no real name is attached to what is said, and there is not another human being to either react to, or to temper one's comments, it is amazing how quick the commentary deteriorates into language and thoughts that would make cavemen wince. Once again proving that internet anonymity is the Klan hood of the computer age.

dougk
3
Points
dougk 02/04/11 - 07:38 am
0
0
No argument from me, Austin,
Unpublished

No argument from me, Austin, on your observations...but why does the the Chronicle find the need to shut off the comments when the Deans or the Weinbergers are involved while allowing the lynchmob mentality comments when it involves someone less prominant in the city?

Lobosolo
5
Points
Lobosolo 02/04/11 - 09:41 am
0
0
The Chronicle has its own set

The Chronicle has its own set of standards, double, that is... I've seen this rag blast many and use conjecture as truth on so, so many instances... Dougk is right... This paper foments a lynch mob mentality on a daily basis, and the hypocritical messrs Morris and Ryan are absolutely blind to their own hypocrisy... One of the reasons why this sorry paper is on its way to oblivion...

Sean Moores
193
Points
Sean Moores 02/04/11 - 09:42 am
0
0
dougk, I wasn't involved with

dougk, I wasn't involved with the Weinberger comments, but I turned off the Dean comments as well as several other threads in the past few months. The decision has more to do with the commenters' behavior than with the story subject.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 02/04/11 - 09:50 am
0
0
Maybe the comments went

Maybe the comments went downhill after I read them but I didn't see anything totally out of line. The Chronicle is just being sensitive because Dean is part of the Columbia County good old boy network.

I feel only for his kids. They didn't choose to be born into or taken into this situation.

Justice will be served.

Riverman1
82448
Points
Riverman1 02/04/11 - 10:05 am
0
0
I have been Dean's biggest

I have been Dean's biggest critic, calling him a scumbag and other things. But I haven't made one comment after the indictment for these charges because it doesn't feel like the right thing to do. I actually never commented on these charges ever. I'm not gloating after his arrest; it's a tragedy. I was on Dean long before this arrest for the episode with the county employee married to the soldier in Iraq that Scott Hudson reported so well on WGAC.

But, Austin is wrong to criticize all internet posters because of what some say. The internet is a tool like a phone. Lots of words pass on phone lines. Further, law enforcement agencies advise against posting personal information on the internet. So for all us cowardly anonymous commenters, I object to us being characterized as Klansmen.

Riverman1
82448
Points
Riverman1 02/04/11 - 10:11 am
0
0
Sean Moores, saying you

Sean Moores, saying you turned off comments because of behavior means absolutely nothing except you did it. You should specifically challenge poor behavior by particular commenters and point it out. Behavior not meeting YOUR standards is a nebulous term. We are not writing to please Sean.

fd1962
26
Points
fd1962 02/04/11 - 10:12 am
0
0
It's entirely predictable
Unpublished

It's entirely predictable that the Chronicle, protecting community welfare, of course, would devolve the substance of the New York Time's masthead from 'ALL the News Fit To Print' to: 'ONLY The News Fit To Print.'

raul
4644
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raul 02/04/11 - 10:17 am
0
0
I agree with the AC's

I agree with the AC's assessment. Many comments reflected a total lack of knowledge and respect of the legal system under which we execute justice in the USA. I would hope that those posters who have found Mr. Dean guility without benefit of a trial will be honest enough to admit that if selected to serve as an eligible juror in his trial if that is the course this matter takes. Mr. Dean's counsel should consider using the comments as basis, in part, for requesting a change of venue to ensure Mr. Dean receives a fair trial.

fd1962
26
Points
fd1962 02/04/11 - 10:18 am
0
0
And, Riverman, give us a
Unpublished

And, Riverman, give us a break. You probably didn't comment because of that worse than usual hangover yesterday. lol

Riverman1
82448
Points
Riverman1 02/04/11 - 10:29 am
0
0
Ah, I pulled my post. Just

Ah, I pulled my post. Just playing with ya as you are with me.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 02/04/11 - 10:27 am
0
0
Right about that. Sean
Unpublished

Right about that. Sean reminds me regularly too.

Local Interests
40
Points
Local Interests 02/04/11 - 11:33 am
0
0
While Riverman and I don't

While Riverman and I don't always agree I completely agree with him concerning both Rhodes and the AC.
Rhodes uses Facebook posts and radio call-ins all the time. Both mediums are quite easy to fake identity - as Rhodes should now know quite well after the Columbia County student incident.
I also don't understand Moores' reference to "behavior". Again, the AC very recently defended hate speech by political conservative extremists; speech that is generally much worse than anything I saw posted in the thread in question.
In fact, the only mis-behavior I saw was on the part of the AC when they posted the un-redacted indictment. To their credit they corrected that error after it was pointed out to them by some of the very posters they then shut down.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 02/04/11 - 11:52 am
0
0
happy chimers disgusting

happy chimers disgusting comment "I hope he rots" stays....my comment that Finding an uncontaminated jury would be difficult and that he must be proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt was pulled???....What?! AND with no notification..no reason why.

burninater
9404
Points
burninater 02/04/11 - 12:34 pm
0
0
Knowing absolutely nothing

Knowing absolutely nothing about the accused, I can confidently state the following based on the AC response: accused is most likely white, male, conservative, regular church-goer, and prominant business and/or political leader. Most fascinating has been the community sentiment that DCFS is overstepping its bounds, when in cases where the accused fits a different stereotype the community is in an uproar that DCFS does not do enough.

Calls for civility are well and good, but ultimately hit a brick wall when it is abundantly clear that such civility is only intended to apply to a specific minority.

newsjunkie10
6
Points
newsjunkie10 02/04/11 - 12:52 pm
0
0
DFCS is generally

DFCS is generally conservative when it comes to removing children from a home. It was evident when they removed these children that something serious was happening in this family.
Why is the wife still at his side? Is she doing what is in the best interest of the child? I don't know her.....I'm just asking.

raul
4644
Points
raul 02/04/11 - 01:47 pm
0
0
@BettyBoop, Betty, your

@BettyBoop, Betty, your comment that finding an uncontaminated jury and he must be proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt, was pulled? Sounds innocuous enough. That is curious. Why don't you ask Sean or whomever is controlling the comment board for an explanation?

SouthernChic
3
Points
SouthernChic 02/04/11 - 01:58 pm
0
0
Chillen says, "The Chronicle

Chillen says, "The Chronicle is just being sensitive because Dean is part of the Columbia County good old boy network"

I think so too. And this editorial seems to prove it. In the words of the great Bard, "[the AC]...doth protest too much, methinks"
Most of the comments from the public acknowledged "Innocent until proven guilty" but there is no there is no joy in a person who has possibly molested a child. What did the AC expect from the commentors, praises and a party for Dean?

There are a lot of us who have watched Dean abuse his power since he started his political career here in Harlem. There are more abuses then have ever been brought to light because it has been carefully shielded from the general public.

I don't think there was a single person who wasn't revolted at the indictment, but there were a lot of us who said "we aren't surprised"
If it seems as if 'glee' were expressed, it is because Dean has resigned and we now have one less crooked politician in office.

In closing, I'd like to express my thoughts and prayers to all the victims, whomever they might be. May God grant you peace.

usapatriot
0
Points
usapatriot 02/04/11 - 02:08 pm
0
0
The hate posts will be a

The hate posts will be a defense lawyer's gold mine when he/she asks for a change of venue because an unbiased jury can't be found.

Brad Owens
4290
Points
Brad Owens 02/04/11 - 02:33 pm
0
0
Sean is just making a point.

Sean is just making a point. Sometimes when someon IS known it makes for a mob who, as Austin points out, can hide behind screen names and say things they would notin a face to face situation.

I have always made it a point not to hide my name on forums because I don't care if someone knows my opinions or not.

I don't care if you don't unless you dive into personal attacks against someone and then I have always felt you should put your name on it.

that is just the way I was raised. Stand by your words.

Mr. Dean may or may not have done what it is claimed he did, but I know I would hate to be innocent and stand accused of it.

Brad

Alan English
6
Points
Alan English 02/04/11 - 03:06 pm
0
0
A few bad apples can spoil an

A few bad apples can spoil an otherwise productive conversation by not letting go. When they won’t go away, we either ban them or stop the thread – or both. Otherwise, our team has to turn away from reporting to meet a spiking demand in managing one thread. Some posters attack family or share unsubstantiated, unattributed information about children or family who may/may not not be connected.

usapatriot
0
Points
usapatriot 02/04/11 - 03:46 pm
0
0
I thought Summerville had the

I thought Summerville had the only wild dog pack problem.

chascush
0
Points
chascush 02/04/11 - 04:04 pm
0
0
burninater, ‘Calls for

burninater, ‘Calls for civility are well and good, but ultimately hit a brick wall when it is abundantly clear that such civility is only intended to apply to a specific minority.’
It seems you will find a way to play the ‘race card’ about everything.
The card is starting to wear pretty thin.

augusta citizen
9137
Points
augusta citizen 02/04/11 - 05:01 pm
0
0
Maybe some comments were

Maybe some comments were pulled before I saw them, but I didn't see any comments on the Scott Dean indictment that were nearly as mean spirited as the ones between the motorists and cyclists over the last few months. I was appalled by many of those.

burninater
9404
Points
burninater 02/04/11 - 05:21 pm
0
0
"It seems you will find a way

"It seems you will find a way to play the ‘race card’ about everything.
The card is starting to wear pretty thin."
-----------------
chas, I identified more points than his race, I also addressed: gender, political leanings, occupation, and religiosity.

For future reference, if you would like to be more accurate, it is not the "race card" I am playing. It's the "good ole boy" card. They are quite different.

If he were female, liberal, non-Christian, and/or not prominent, I feel about 99% positive that this editorial would NOT have seen the light of day, regardless of race. It's open season on "those types".

stairway2nowhere
0
Points
stairway2nowhere 02/04/11 - 05:36 pm
0
0
yawning...the premise of a

yawning...the premise of a newspaper or a journalist is the promise of freedom of speech yet you pick and choose who you censor and what you censor....makes no sense with the abuse warnings you give out because of someone insulting another commenter....even when there was no insult at all...and you talk about contaminating a jury pool...well what newspaper or news channel doesnt contaminate a jury pool

follower
59
Points
follower 02/04/11 - 05:55 pm
0
0
" stairway" said, "and you

" stairway" said, "and you talk about contaminating a jury pool...well what newspaper or news channel doesnt contaminate a jury pool"

No stairway, they haven't. This case is newsworthy. I've read each article and have yet to see a slant either for or against guilt. The A/C has printed the facts they were given. It's a fair percentage of the posters that have concluded Dean is;
demented, immoral, sick, a monster,...........and guilty. Hang him, crucify him, death penalty.

The only ones contaminating a future jury pool are the mud slingers. It's their opinion he's guilty, forget a trial. He may be, but let's have that trial or a confession. Wouldn't you want that same opportunity?

As I said on another forum, let the legal system do it's work.

Lord, I pray I'm never accused of anything newsworthy.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 02/04/11 - 06:13 pm
0
0
I am still waitng on the "PC"

I am still waitng on the "PC" as to why reasons my response was pulled....................

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 02/04/11 - 06:17 pm
0
0
"Some posters attack family

"Some posters attack family or share unsubstantiated, unattributed information about children or family who may/may not not be connected."........
was this the reason my post was pulled??....READ the pulled post... THEN TELL ME WHY IT WAS PULLED!!

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