Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | OCTOBER 24, 2012 6:30 AM

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Take down the blotter

The Daily Iowan’s publication and archiving of the police blotter online — apparently archiving arrest records permanently and forever — is absolutely despicable.

I have a family member who committed an offense several years ago, was fined and placed under probation, finished with all of that years ago, and yet continues to be tarred and feathered, or at least publicized, by your website as a criminal and a lowlife.

It should be obvious to anyone with half a brain that this can have a damaging effect on a person’s professional and personal life. Even minor acquaintances can look up the name online and say, “Oh, I see an offense,” as if it happened yesterday or sums up my relative’s character.

The harm you do to people is even greater for the many young people who commit minor offenses or a serious one-time OWI offense. Their early careers — and apparently their lives — will be blighted because they had the misfortune to make a mistake, big or small, in a city where the DI doesn’t give a crap about the harm it does.

If you have to publish the police blotter online, which as you can gather I don’t favor, at least have the decency to stop archiving it online beyond a year or two. Any Google or other search can find these offenses from years ago, doing no one any good.

If people need to do criminal background checks, there are firms that can handle that. Your old police-blotter records do not compromise an up-to-date law enforcement database. Anyone can find this online, years after the fact, with terrible results for people’s lives. At least people who make mistakes in big cities don’t have such idiotic websites harassing them, adding to their punishment.

Do you really think that it’s a good thing to waste taxpayer money to ensure that no crime will ever be forgotten, no self-inflicted wound ever healed?

John Smith
Iowa City resident

Editor’s Note: The Daily Iowan does not receive any taxpayer money.

Vote for retention

In the Oct. 22 DI letters section, Randy Davis urged Iowa voters to remove Justice David Wiggins from the Iowa Supreme Court because he (along with all the other justices then serving on the court) ruled, in Varnum v. Brien, in favor of gay marriage. He condemns the court for pursuing an “activist” role, saying, “This is not the court’s role. The Legislature makes the law,” and suggesting that the judges effectively amended the Iowa Constitution.

Davis is wrong about the justices, and he is wrong about the law. The court’s obligation was to decide whether a discriminatory marriage law was in conformity with the state Constitution.

The justices ruled — unanimously and correctly — that it was not: It violated the Constitutional right to equal protection under the law. This not activism, and it is not legislating. It is protecting our state Constitution, which in turn articulates the fundamental principle of equal protection as a basic right. 

Davis may not like it; the majority of Iowans might not like it. So what? The whole point of a basic human right is that no one — not Davis and not the majority of Iowans — can take it away from you.

When someone calls a judge “activist,” you can be sure that just means the person doesn’t like her or his decisions. I urge all of you to flip your ballot and vote in favor of retention for all of our Supreme Court justices.

Evan Fales
Iowa City resident

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