Thursday, March 4, 2010

Crime of the Century (Friends with Johnny Law Division)

   Mark E. Blaylock, forty-nine, of Manheim Township, PA (pop. roughly 35,000) had a very busy day Wednesday, and most of it involved interacting with police. 
   At 11 a.m., according to a March 3 Associated Press story, Blaylock was charged with theft of services after bailing on a sixty-nine dollar cab fare. The surprisingly uninformative AP story does not say why Blaylock owed such a large amount of money to a cabbie. Either he was driven many, many, many miles across hill and dale; was driven around in circles for an hour or two; or was provided sexual favors by the driver. A clue might be found in the amount owed.
   A clue also might be found in the fact that, a mere hour later, Mr. Blaylock was found lying drunk on a road near his house. Again, the AP shirks its duty to carry the facts, the facts and nothing but the facts - all of them. 
   Yes, Blaylock was drunk. But is it possible that, as far as the lying-in-the-road business goes,  Blaylock was simply sunbathing? Or, if the weather was inclement, might he have been creating snow angels? We will never know; given the generally devolving fiscal state of journalism these days, it appears the AP has not only cut staff from its masthead but also facts from its stories. 
   (The photo above shows a snow angel enthusiast who is, alas, not Mark E. Blaylock.)
   Police charged Blaylock with public drunkenness. The message was: snow angels or no, you simply do not laze around on a public road, soused to the gills, in Manheim Township. It's just not that kind of place.
   It appears that Mr. Blaylock roused himself, for it was but a scant hour later that, showing a resourcefulness of which taxpayers of all ages should take note, he dialed 911 to request police assistance - to fill a prescription. 
   Police, however, failed to see either the humor in or ingenuity of Blaylock's call. They charged him with reporting a medical emergency without good cause. ("Good cause" would include having, say, a ruptured spleen, a twisted ankle, or a broken heart.) 
   Blaylock faces a misdemeanor charge and a pair of summary offenses. 
   Cementing the dismal reality that, in the case of this report at least, the AP simply seems to have given up the ghost, the story concludes, "A phone number for Blaylock could not immediately be located Wednesday." 
   Even taking into account the kinds of monstrous deadlines AP writers face, not being able to find a number for a man who, plainly, has a phone - he dialed 911 to request police assistance - suggests a sort of institutionalized psychological depression troubling to contemplate for those who, in addition to Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, still believe in the Fourth Estate in all its (fading) glory. 

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