by Lynne LaMaster
Unfortunately, in our world today, when one decides to run for political office, they are opening themselves up for attack and scrutiny of the most intimate sort. And, if there's not much to attack, no worries, an artificial attack will be manufactured - especially against Republicans.
I remember when Dan Quayle was chosen as the VP candidate on George Bush's ticket. The big charge against him? His spelling left much to be desired and he was in the National Guard. At the time, I thought, 'Gee, if that's all they can say about him, he can't be too bad."
Recently, allegations about Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu were published in the Phoenix New Times. It's been a little more than a week, but since that article came out, the feeding frenzy has been non-stop. In an AZCentral search on the word 'Babeu', I count no less than 36 articles, columns, editorials and videos about Babeu since February 18. To be honest, I stopped counting at 36, I'm sure there are even more.
Last night, ABC News came out with new, stunning allegations against Sheriff Paul Babeu, consisting of abuse and "controversial disciplinary techniques." You can read the articles, "Documents: Babeu ran private boarding school with history of physical abuse" and "The DeSisto School used a variety of controversial disciplinary techniques," and watch the video of the newscast.
That being said, it is up to us as consumers of news reports to be very careful as we absorb the information.
1. Setting aside the allegations about Babeu and the 17-year-old student for the moment (we'll get to those later), there is no indication that Babeu himself did any of these things, cornering, farming, sheeting directly himself. The insinuation is that since he was headmaster, he must have known about it.
2. There is no timeline given. In other words, when was each accusation, investigation made, was it during Babeu's tenure as headmaster, or when? The school closed three years after Babeu left. That's a big gap. Was Babeu named in any of the investigations?
3. Some of the accusations, while they might sound horrible in print, could also have been considered standard procedure at the time. For example, thirty-some years ago, when I was a PE student in my public high school, 'group showers' were the norm. There was one large shower area, with multiple shower heads, and we all used the facility after class. Sometimes, we were ordered to shower, whether we wanted to or not. Our band students all changed into their uniforms on the same bus - guys and gals mixed. Perhaps things are being done differently today, but at the time, nobody thought much of it.
4. Regarding the accusations by Lucy Babeu against her brother, those are certainly serious allegations, and yes, they're specific to Paul Babeu. At this point, however, they are still hearsay. And, although the account is distasteful, perhaps seen as inappropriate by some, and does raise profound questions of judgment, at no time is there an allegation of a criminal nature.
In other words, as you are reading, watching and listening to these stories on Babeu, examine the accounts very carefully. Use every critical thinking skill you've ever been taught. Question the accounts. Seek the details.
In other words, look past the insinuations for the facts.
The purpose of this piece is not to defend Babeu and attack the press. It is intended to be a reminder that we must be diligent truth-seekers, not simply scandal mongers.
So, ask the hardest questions you can. Dig for the truth. Don't rely on hearsay. Request documents. Demand facts. Listen to both sides.
Then, and only then, make up your own mind. And, if appropriate, vote accordingly.
Lynne LaMaster is the mother of 8 children, married to Lewis for nearly 27 years, and the publisher of the eNewsAZ network of websites, which include PrescotteNews.com, PrescottValleyeNews.com, ChinoValleyeNews.com and eNewsAZ.com. PrescotteNews was honored to receive a First Place award from the Arizona Press Club in the Multi-Media category. LaMaster has also been a guest reporter on CNN and the Geraldo Rivera program.