07 December 2007

Dix Newspapers Statehouse Reporter Puts Words In Witness' Mouth; Biased Against Self-Defense?

I'm not sure if Mr. Mark Kovac is trying to be funny, or whether he missed the hearing and was playing catch up, or whether he's another closet anti-self defense media type. But he has created a real problem for himself, and for a witness before the Ohio Senate, with a fabricated lead-in sentence in a story about testimony that took place in Columbus on Wednesday before state lawmakers.

Earlier this week, Ellen Wickham, an occasional contributor to The Ready Line, testified before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee regarding SB 184, the "No Duty To Retreat/Castle Doctrine" legislation. She believes the legislation is important. She gave very eloquent testimony, talking about how criminals would have to get through numerous locking mechanisms at her home, and her 160-pount great dane, Henry, before they got to her. And if they did, she's got a gun. That was pretty much the end of what she said, other than to point out the injustice of facing a civil suit by a criminal or criminal's family for defending your life.

But Mr. Kovac, capitol bureau chief for Dix Communications, in an apparent attempt to sell more papers, wrote a really sexy lead (that is the first sentence or two in a news story) that I am not going to repeat. One problem though. Ms. Wickham never spoke those words. Not even close. Nor did she imply what he wrote. She tells me he never contacted her to talk beyond her submitted written testimony. Not by telephone, not in person.

Why won't I provide a link or key in what he wrote? Because the words don't need to be spread around the internet anymore than they already are. She has already lodged a formal complaint with the editors at Dix Communications, which published Mr. Kovac's story in at least five of its newspaper properties, and of course, online. Worse, God forbid she should ever need to use her firearm in a self-defense situation. If she does, however, some eager-beaver prosecutor could pull out Mr. Kovac's piece of fiction, lay it in front of her, and suggest that she always intended to do what Mr. Kovac said in his story. But, like I have said before . . . facts, they are a problem.

Here is the testimony she delivered:

"Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee,

"My home is my castle. It is the house in which my brothers and I were raised and I in turn have raised my own children there. The walls that surround it hold all the memories of my life. But those are just memories.

"It is the people in the house that are important. The safety of those people: specifically, their well being. I have always felt it was up to me to ensure the well being of the people in my home. So I have built in layers of security to stop anyone who would mean to harm us.

"The first layer includes lighting, alarms, and locks on the doors and windows. The second is Henry. He is my beautiful 160 pound, 38" tall Great Dane. He is very protective of those he loves and anyone would be foolish to try to come into our home uninvited. And that is the point of my testimony. If someone were to enter our home uninvited, that person or persons would have had to defeat the several layers of mechanical security to gain access to our home. Once inside, they would have had to defeat a massive barking, growling animal to get to me and/or other family members.

"Based on the effort an intruder has to gone through to get into my home, I have no doubt he/she means to harm me. It is at this point, as the law allows, I will decide to take the appropriate action to keep my family safe. Of course I will call 911, but I won’t wait for the police to arrive. I, along with my firearm, am my first line of defense. Crime scene investigators are great photographers, but I prefer my pictures without blood and bruises.

"Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, did you know that according to the FBI and reported by our local CBS affiliate, WBNS-10TV, during the 6pm news on November 27th, Columbus has a higher rate of rape than that of New York City, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Philadelphia.

"Were you aware the majority of these assaults are happening in three geographic areas: the Near East side, the Franklin-Hilltop area and the Ohio State off-campus area. The report also showed that one third of the assaults are taking place in public areas.
If someone sought me out as a potential victim, I would be just that: potential. I have the right under the law to carry a concealed firearm for self-defense so long as I fulfill the necessary requirements. I do have the right to protect myself should the need arise and I would. I, along with my firearm, am my first line of defense.

"So tell me, why if I have the right under the law to protect myself in my home and protect myself on the streets, if clearly I am the victim, does the current law make me a potential victim again?

"Why when someone forcibly enters my home, or forcibly holds me against my will, would I be held accountable for any injury I inflicted upon them. Why am I at risk for losing everything I have worked hard for if the criminal I defended myself against sues me in civil court? Who broke the law and who is the real victim?

"A reasonable change in Ohio statutes to protect law-abiding citizens from being sued for taking common-sense actions to protect their lives is long overdue. I respectfully request that you and other lawmakers pass this bill and put it on the governor's desk for signature as soon as possible."

She was asked no questions by the panel, nor of any reporters. She never deviated from this text.

Mr. Kovac, do you know what error of fact means? Do you understand the long-term implications of your actions? Why should people take time off work to come to the Statehouse on a miserable, snowy day to speak out on a subject that they feel is important, when they run the risk of being horridly misquoted in a manner that paints them in a negative light and may well impact their life at some point in the future? Why, Mr. Kovac, why?


Anonymous said...

it figures.....is is like some in the media want to keep people away...hats off to Miss Wickham for a very strong statement and thank you for takin g the time to go say what you said....it is awful that you would be treated this way for doing your civic duty.

Anonymous said...

I was there too, Sir, sitting in the back and I never heard her say anything like what the article says. (I looked it up.). I thought the lady did a fine job.
It is disgusting. Are you serious that a reporter can write a story about something they did not attend? How can they do that? It is like he was not even there.

tekel said...

*cough* libel *cough*