Playing the devil's advocate
Kim West, Franklin County Times
Earlier this week I received a very pleasant phone call from a subscriber about an article that appeared in last Friday's issue. It is much more customary to receive complaints in this office than compliments, so it really brightened my day.
But I was humbled yesterday when someone innocently commented that I have weird views. I've always enjoyed a good debate, and sometimes I like to play devil's advocate just to hear the other person's reasons for a particular stance or opinion.
When I was growing up, I liked to debate politics and religion with my conservative Republican parents, especially my mom, who was subjected to my ramblings on our many trips to Birmingham. I spent a few summers visiting my Aunt Julie and Uncle Steve in Chicago, and I think Mom was convinced that I had converted to liberalism while I was visiting them, since both are very liberal and tend to vote for Democrats. But I wouldn't call myself a Democrat or a Republican, and I'm not conservative or liberal.
There was a story in the news this week that piqued my interest, one that was more serious than the ridiculous ones involving a very foolish University of Florida student who was tased at a Sen. John Kerry question-and-answer interview session by the university police or the man who put his pet rattlesnake in his intoxicated mouth and nearly died when the snake bit him.
I was concerned when I read a story about State Attorney General Troy King and his feud with the Alabama District Attorneys Association, who have asked for King's apology and questioned his professionalism and credibility. I didn't realize that the state prosecutor has the power to take over a case from a local district attorney without that local DA's consent. Apparently King took over a case from a fellow Republican DA in Shelby County and accused him of not fulfilling his duty. I won't get into the details of the case, because I don't think it matters.
The legal system has enough to handle without adding morale problems. Everyone makes mistakes, but if you are a good leader with good intentions, then you don't publicly criticize your employees, especially for political gain. As one local law enforcement officer put it, the state DA is the quarterback of the state's law enforcement team and he shouldn't put down one of his own teammates in the media.
I sure hope King finds a way to smooth things over soon, because it's long time until 2012 when his office is up for re-election.