Improper Use of Authority?

Is a sheriff allowed to use driving records to track down a citizen who criticizes him? This has what has happened in Orlando, Florida. A resident named Alice Gawronski (search) wrote to the Orlando Sentinel, criticizing the sheriff department's use of Taser stun guns; in her letter to the editor, she also described Sheriff Kevin Beary (search) as too fat for basic police work.

Well, WFTV (search) in Orlando reports that Beary then had his aides use driver's records to find Gawronski so he could write her an angry letter. What do you think about that? E-mail me at, and I'll use your e-mails on the air Friday.

Now to the controversies on Thursday's show. Some pretty provocative e-mail came in from you all about the serial killer's father, selling DVDs of his son’s gruesome confessions for $39.95 (The father says he hopes to educate the public about mental illness):

...The serial killer's proud father's video IS educational — TO OTHER KILLERS...
—Edna MacDonald, Bakersfield, California

A few of you wrote in that selling the DVD is no different from us in the media showing crime video:

'Unsolved Mysteries', FBI Files, Forensic Detectives and dozens of other 'crime-related' TV shows profit from 'others' tragedy' — these shows are quite profitable. Richard Paul White's video is just a micro-example of what is commonly considered 'entertainment' or 'education' in this society.

...What is the difference between what [White's father] is doing, and Ann Bird and Catherine Crier profiting from their books regarding the horrible death of Laci Pterson?...
—Bettie Hammer, Republic, Washington

Yesterday your program had coverage of Iraqi TV broadcasting the confessions of insurgent killers. Everyone thought this was appropriate. Today you have similar coverage about a father selling videos of his son's confessions but everyone is appalled...Please address these conflicting views...
—Dan Male, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Dan, you make a good point. A purist could argue there's no difference here. But look at the circumstances: For months, Iraq has been fighting an uphill battle against insurgents. Citizens didn't believe the government's claims that it was arresting these terrorists, so it started airing the confession videos to prove it. Since the show started, the government says the number of tips coming has grown dramatically. In R.P. White's case, there is no such upside — no leads to be gleaned for investigating other crimes. No rampant terrorism that could be stopped by citizens viewing his twisted, self-justifying confessions. See what I mean?

Now, to the atheist group complaining about the government flying flags at half-staff in honor of the Pope:

Were the Pope strictly a religious leader, there might be a constitutional argument against lowering the flags: However, the Pope is also the head of state of a sovereign country and as such deserves this sign of respect.
—W. Robinson, New Jersey

Isn't it wonderful that there are people with such few problems that they can go around making problems for others, where none exist?

J, my only beef with your comment is that you didn't give your name/hometown. Have the courage of your convictions! Sign your missives!

See you all Friday.


Watch "DaySide with Linda Vester" weekdays at 1 p.m. ET

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