Letter to the Editor


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Dear Editor:

My spirit soars to read the semantics spat in progress in your Public Mind section between the Honorable Judge Hopkins and former Editor, Mr. Blue. Finally, something worthwhile to read in the Missouria~n! At long last some relief from the gnashing of teeth and rending of clothing your tabloid causes me! Hallelujah!

At any rate, the battle is engaged and I heed the call to arms.

It seems that Judge Hopkins takes issue with your reportage in using the word "innocent" rather than the more precise legal term, "not guilty." Undoubtedly, the Judge has seen "guilty" people found to be "not guilty" under the law and this probably wrinkles him a tad. This is understandable. No one wants guilty people to go free.

Mr. Blue disagrees and relies on the rather dubious argument that dictates the use of the word "innocent" rather than to risk the potential legal problems that arise from the errant omission of the word "not" in the news article. Come, come, Mr. Blue. Surely a typographical error, absent the element of malice, would never subject a newspaper to liability for libel? At worst, the paper would simply be required to print a "we regret the error" statement, buried in its dark recesses, that a mistake had been made.

I offer the following compromise ... Rather than, "John Doe was found innocent of charges" ... or, "John Doe was found not guilty of charges" ... How about, "John Doe was acquitted of charges"?

My thanks to Judge Hopkins and Mr. Blue for the bright pieces in your paper. I now give you leave to return to the pursuit of your self-appointed task of saving mankind from liberals and Democrats and free-thinkers everywhere.

Very truly yours,

Marshall Shain

Cape Girardeau