Pubdate: Wed, 08 Aug 2001
Source: News & Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2001 The News and Observer Publishing Company
Author: Jason Priebe


The Aug. 3 article (from The New York Times) headlined "Jailed 
scholar might be released today" was an excellent lesson in how to 
impart an opinion while remaining outwardly objective.

The headline makes John E. Tobin out to be some sort of political 
prisoner. The article used the choice phrase "a search reportedly 
uncovered a miniscule amount of marijuana in his clothes." The whole 
notion that somebody could be jailed for months in some Ukrainian 
prison for a "miniscule" amount of marijuana that was "reportedly" 
uncovered is made to seem ridiculous.

Had the story been about a young man being arrested in Southeast 
Raleigh and convicted for possession of marijuana I doubt it would 
have used words like "reportedly" and "miniscule." More likely, the 
story would say something like " ...was arrested after officers found 
narcotics on his person ..." and would take on the tone of "thank 
goodness another menace to society has been imprisoned!"

Somehow it's easy to criticize (however subtly) drug policy in a 
"backwards" state like Russia, where surely Tobin's conviction was in 
some kangaroo courtroom, right? But we Americans would never jail an 
individual for something so trivial ...or would we?


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