Blogosphere: July 2005 Archives

...but not here!

You know the "What Everyone Should Know" series of booklets with the handwriting-like fonts and the artwork that looks like it came from Good News for Modern Man? There's one of those for bloggers.

"What Everyone Should Know about Blog Depression" -- a helpful booklet helpfully linked by the ever-helpful Dawn Summers. (Who has been blogrolled -- even if she is a lefty, she spins a good yarn, like this account of the wake of a woman who was not exactly her aunt.)

UPDATE (10/25/2005): Lance has taken a hiatus from blogging and taken down his blog for the time being. Unfortunately, shortly after he took his blog off the net, a spammer grabbed the blog name in order to take advantage of its high page rank, so I've had to remove links to his old blog. (You can read about this newfound method of junking up the Internet here.) When Lance returns to the blogosphere, I'll be sure to let you know. In the meantime, you can still listen to the radio interview with Lance, linked below.

UPDATE (12/13/2005): The spam blog was deleted, and his old blog address is back in safe hands, although Google is still caching the spam blog home page. I'm restoring the links in hopes that Google's bots will pick up the new, blank page.

Last week, I told you about Lance Salyers, a blogger who was fired from his job as a prosecutor in Dayton, Ohio, because a colleague recognized herself in an obscurely-written entry he posted on his blog about cowardice, was offended, and set about to get him fired. The colleague in question had declined to prosecute a case involving a violent crime, but was overruled by a panel of prosecutors which included Lance.

Lance will be on the radio today at 11 a.m. Central Time (noon Eastern) on a legal talk show on Dayton's WHIO 1290. You can listen live over the Internet.

UPDATE: I captured the audio of the show, and have uploaded the segments of the show where they spoke to Lance, in MP3 format, in three parts: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Part 1 was toward the beginning of the show, then the hosts took listener questions about a variety of topics. One question was directed to Lance -- that's part 2. Part 3 contains most of the discussion about Lance's firing. Unfortunately, I set the timer to cut off recording right at the top of the hour and I missed a bit of the end.)

Earlier this week, Lance responded on his blog to those who argue that he deserved firing, responding particularly to the notion that his blog entry amounted to giving the Montgomery County (Ohio) Prosecutor's Office a public black eye. As I pointed out, Lance had never mentioned where he worked on his blog or anywhere else on the Internet, and Lance says that this was acknowledged when he was fired:

They were not worried about somebody outside the office reading what I wrote because, I was told, "You're right: nobody out in the public is going to read this and know what you're talking about at all." Their problem was that people inside the office read it and knew what I was upset about.

The scary reality is that, when you click the "Publish" button, anyone might read your words, conclude that you're writing about him or her, take offense, and take action. This could happen even if you weren't thinking of the offended party when you wrote. Some people are so skilled at reading between the lines that they see things that aren't there. In some cases, what a reader sees may convict him of his own weaknesses, flaws, and sin, but rather than recognize the voice of conscience working through your words, he casts you as an attacker and seeks to retaliate against the person who (however inadvertently) made him feel bad about himself.

(NOTE: If you are reading this and think that I am writing about you, please be assured that I am not. Is that clear?)

Some people, and evidently Lance's former colleague is one of them, seem to be looking for opportunities to take offense, and if such a person has the ability to hurt your career -- well, that's a risk we take when we publish our opinions.

Lance isn't crying about the injustice of it all. He's busy praying about and preparing for the next steps for his family and his career. But as a part of moving on with his career, he must and will defend against the charge that he was fired for unprofessional behavior.

The only unprofessionalism I see in the situation belongs to two people: The first is the unnamed prosecutor who took such offense to being overruled and felt convicted of her own insecurities when she read Lance's words. The second is Mathias Heck Jr., the Montgomery County Prosecutor, who set aside process and proportion to get rid of Lance, thus depriving his constituents of an able and energetic prosecutor. (You can read Lance's performance reviews, which are linked from his home page.) (See UPDATE at the top of the page.)

This is a bit of pure speculation, based on years of observation of local government machinations around here: Is the defendant in the case in question politically connected? Was the prosecutor who initially declined the case told to "throw the fight" by her superiors? A guilty conscience from complying with such a request might explain the hypersensitivity to what Lance wrote. Lance was successful in persuading his fellow panel members to prosecute -- did this inadvertently upset some well-laid plans? If I were a Montgomery County resident, I'd hope that someone is digging into this story. (UPDATE: Lance responds to this point in the comments.)

Happy Independence Day! In honor of the day, take a few minutes to thank the men and women who help to keep our nation independent, free, and secure. Through the America Supports You website you can send along your message of thanks and appreciation. The site has information on other ways you can provide help and encouragement to the troops and their families.

Phillip Johnson has a cool photo for the day, snapped by his wife Darlene during their trip to London -- red, white, and blue over Big Ben. Go check it out.

UPDATE (10/25/2005): Lance has taken a hiatus from blogging and taken down his blog for the time being. Unfortunately, shortly after he took his blog off the net, a spammer grabbed the blog name in order to take advantage of its high page rank, so I've had to remove links to his old blog. (You can read about this newfound method of junking up the Internet here.) When Lance returns to the blogosphere, I'll be sure to let you know.

This last week, the good people of Dayton, Ohio, lost a skilled prosecutor, but Dayton's loss may be Tulsa's gain.

Fighting for justice and truth is a costly thing. You face opposition not only from those who are trying to conceal their wrongdoing and escape the just consequences of their deeds, but also from those who believe the battle is too risky and not worth fighting. The phrase, "Pick your battles," is too often a coded way of saying, "Don't ever fight." The latter kind of opposition can be more demoralizing than the former, because it comes from those who are ostensibly on your side.

At the international level, President Bush has taken grief from our Western "allies" for taking the war on terror directly to the enemies of civilization. Our "allies" aren't pro-terror, but they're unwilling to take the decisive action necessary to defeat those who threaten their survival.

At the Capitol, the effort to get just judges appointed to Federal courts has been undermined by those Republican senators unwilling to consider the "nuclear option" -- hiding behind comity and precedent, they seem most afraid of getting a tongue-lashing from the editorial board of the Washington Post.

At Tulsa's City Hall, we've seen the price being paid by Councilors Jack Henderson, Roscoe Turner, Jim Mautino, and Chris Medlock, and by their families, particularly by Mautino and Medlock, who face a recall election a week from Tuesday. Make no mistake: The purpose of the recall election is punitive, to make men like Mautino and Medlock pay so dearly for trying to serve the interests of Tulsa's citizens that other men and women of integrity will not seek to serve on the Council. The people behind recall want a Council that is cowed and compliant. Mautino and Medlock face fierce opposition, but it's my own experience that what can be most discouraging is the lack of fight in some of one's allies, who urge playing it safe.

For some in public life, the time for political courage is always beyond the next election, and political capital is always to be hoarded. Real leaders like George W. Bush and the four reformers on the Tulsa City Council understand that God has given them their positions and powers for a purpose. Like Queen Esther, they have been placed where they are "for such a time as this," and they are intent on doing as much good as possible with the time and resources they have for those they are sworn to serve.

Blogger Lance Salyers saw the "play it safe" principle operating where he worked, and he lost sleep over it, because playing it safe where he worked can mean leaving a violent criminal free to harm someone else. In his entry, "I Hate Cowardice," Lance compared the timidity he witnessed to the unfaithful servant in Jesus' parable of the talents:

There's the pitiful servant, having done nothing with the opportunity that the Master gave him, and all he can come up with as his reason for failing to act? -- "I was afraid." Is there a more lame excuse? Probably, but from the perspective of where I am tonight, I'll take anything over being afraid to lose. Such a weak way to approach the job of doing what's right.

Citing Theodore Roosevelt's famed "in the arena" quote, Lance wrote:

Sadly, the work of doing Justice sometimes falls into the laps of "timid souls," who not only shrink from the hard and uncertain work of Duty, but have the audacity to wrap themselves up in an air of self-congratulatory smugness at their exercise of "responsible caution." And while the halls of the ivory tower bear witness to the solemn nods of other, like-minded souls with their reinforcing pronouncements of "Yes, it had to be done. Nothing you could do," the Small, the Weak, and the Victimized are left to fight Evil alone. Some fight, too: unfair to start, now Evil has the added upper-hand of having had the Powers That Be tell its Victim in no uncertain terms "You're not worth fighting for."

Lance posted that entry early Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, Lance Salyers was told he was being fired for posting that on his blog. Lance had been an assistant prosecutor in the criminal division of the Montgomery County, Ohio, Prosecutor's Office. Although Lance did not identify any specifics of the situation that inspired what he wrote and had never identified his place of employment on his blog or anywhere else on the Internet that I can find, a colleague recognized herself as the inspiration for the entry, took offense, and set about to get Lance fired.

Lance's situation escaped the notice of Dayton media, but it made this Sunday's New York Daily News column about blogs:

Last Monday, he said, he got a police report in preparation to review a prior decision to not press charges against an alleged rapist.

In investigating the refusal, he said, he called the prosecutor who had turned down the case. She said there was "not enough evidence to convict," Salyers wrote to me in an E-mail. ...

Salyers told me that the day his "I Hate Cowardice" entry appeared, his panel voted to take on the twice-refused case - and the case's original prosecutor was infuriated.

Lance contacted me by e-mail Thursday night, and we spoke by phone the following day. He had been assigned to a review panel -- a routine step when a decision is made not to prosecute a case -- and his research for that responsibility led to the events described above.

Since his firing, Lance has updated his blog, Ragged Edges, several times with the latest developments. A Dayton, Ohio, TV station got wind of his dismissal and interviewed him for a story that aired late Friday evening. He's also been under attack from a few cowardly anonymous commenters, on his blog and elsewhere, claiming to present inside information that discredits him. He has responded to the attacks with class and forthrightness. To back up his assertion that he had an unblemished record, he has posted every one of his performance reviews from his five years in the Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office. (They're linked from his home page, on the sidebar, under the heading, "The Paper Trail.") (See UPDATE at top of this entry.)

I first became familiar with Lance and his blog by way of his comments on some theological threads on another blog. He struck me as someone passionate about the truth, who could make his points firmly and skillfully without being disagreeable. I got the same impression from his blog. His performance reviews back up that impression.

That someone with such an exemplary record would be canned for that blog entry suggests to me that something else was at work. The colleague who was offended by the decision to overturn her call evidently had enough pull with her superiors to get her revenge. It might have been reasonable to ask Lance to remove the post from his blog, but that option was never offered to him. He was told he could resign or be fired. Montgomery County's voters ought to wonder at the way the situation was handled.

As I wrote at the start, Dayton's loss could be Tulsa's gain. Lance has connections to Oklahoma -- he went to Oklahoma Baptist University and married a Tulsa girl, a graduate of Memorial High School. He and his wife had been thinking they'd like to move back so their baby girl could grow up near her grandparents. I think Tulsa County residents would be blessed to have Lance working for them to put the bad guys behind bars, and I think he'd fit in well with District Attorney Tim Harris's team. In fact, he reminds me a lot of Tim -- a devout Christian and someone willing to take risks to do the right thing.

Of course, if Lance were to imitate Tim Harris thoroughly, he might challenge his former boss in the next election. Tulsans will recall that Harris ran against then-DA Chuck Richardson and Judge Ned Turnbull in the 1998 Republican primary. Richardson was eliminated in the primary, and with significant grass-roots support Harris prevailed in the runoff. Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias Heck, Jr., a Democrat, doesn't appear to be up for re-election until 2008, but the voters of that county, which has a murder rate twice the national average, might just prefer to have their prosecutor's office led by someone like Lance Salyers, who believes that it's worth taking risks to see to it that evildoers are punished.

I'll be keeping Lance and his family in my prayers, and I hope you will, too. I trust that God has bigger and better things in store for him.

Those are familiar words during tornado season in Oklahoma, but I'm talking about a cellar of another sort. Via Dustbury and reader Joey Baumgartner, I learn of a new Tulsa blogger, Matt Galloway, whose blog is called The Basement, and after just a month in business, he's already off to a great start. He's been poring over stats from BlogPulse, and he's passed along some interesting observations from his dad, Bethany, Oklahoma, City Manager Dan Galloway, on the proposed flag-burning amendment and on the relationship between eminent domain for economic development and Oklahoma's municipal finance structure, which is almost entirely dependent on locally-collected sales taxes. Dan says, in a nutshell, if you don't want cities to condemn neighborhoods to build shopping centers, don't make cities rely on sales tax collected within their boundaries to fund municipal services.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Matt!

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Blogosphere category from July 2005.

Blogosphere: June 2005 is the previous archive.

Blogosphere: August 2005 is the next archive.

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