Thursday, February 19, 2009

Shout Out: Radley Balko

Remember Eastern Hancock High School, where I taught for three years in uncomfortable undergarments? One of my more memorable and perplexing students was the skinny, red-headed Radley Balko: insanely bright, pretty lazy, smirky, snarky, ultra conservative, argumentative and highly opinionated.  He was one of those kids you don't forget, even if his name isn't Radley Balko.  I was his English teacher freshman year, and again his junior year for AP English, where I gave him a B for sheer laziness, even though he was by far the smartest kid in the class, the best thinker, and the best writer.  As I recall, he had the good sense not to argue with me about that, but he argued with me about just about everything else. One debate I recall vividly was about the death penalty:  Radley was outspokenly in favor of it, and, I believe, may have even cited the Bible (an eye for an eye) to support his argument (yes, Radley, I'm having fun at your expense).

So these days, Radley blogs at the libertarian blog The Agitator, which I've been reading fairly regularly for about a year now. He's also a senior editor at the libertarian rag reason. Among Radley's passions as an investigative journalist are criminal justice and helping to exonerate innocent folks on death row (yes, I'm trying very hard not to smirk). I'm happy to say that Radley has grown up to be insanely bright, hardworking, and only occasionally snarky (and then only when it is well deserved). Most of the time, though, I find him remarkably earnest and even a little bit sweet, and as for his political views, I only disagree with him about half the time, and I respect him all of the time.

Radley just published a disturbing, smoking-gun expose entitled Manufacturing Guilt? about two medical examiners in Mississippi who have apparently been manufacturing evidence that has landed at least several -- perhaps many more -- innocent men on death row. You should all head on over to reason and check it out. This is Radley at his best. (I'll warn you, the article contains some pretty gruesome images of an autopsy of a toddler.)

8 comments:

gadget73156 said...

Radley is my HERO! I wanna be just like him when I grow up and I am already 52 years old!

Anonymous said...

The world needs more Radley Balko's today. I have his Agitator.com in my favorites, and he is always an intesting read. And take a little credit - I would daresay you made an impression on young Radley and certainly challenged him - something that I find is lacking in our education system today.

Patrick said...

Can't wait to check this writer out. How gratifying it must be to have a former student become respected peer! For some reason I keep thinking of the glee grandparents feel when their children are faced with their own troublesome off-spring. I think you're entitled to a bit of fun at Radley's expense. Sounds like he might even agree.

Marta said...

gadget73156: I agree he's pretty wonderful, though I am still committed to bringing him around on the half of his politics that we're still in disagreement about. ;-)

Anon: I agree the world needs more folks who are willing to blur the lines of ideology and think independently. And I don't doubt I made an impression -- I was quite the fish out of water at EHHS! Just not sure what sort of impression it was, lol!

Patrick: Oh, Radley's got a great sense of humor all right. He linked to my shout-out on his blog, right under a link about sex toys, tee hee. If you start reading Radley's work, you'll hardly agree with him on everything, but he'll make you think. He has a funny series on his blog called "I blame gay marriage" you might enjoy. xox

Bill said...

Radley can certainly hit the nail on the head.

Jeaux said...

Marta I can't begin to describe how moved I am by this post. I'm going to surround it with a little respectful silence for the time being, except to share a memory that it immediately evoked...

I attended an all-male late-night service at a church in New York at least three decades ago. It must have been Catholic or one of the other old sacramentally-based churches, Lutheran or Episcopal. The only thing I remember about it is reciting the Nicene creed by candlelight. That gorgeous affirmation of faith that was, absolutely, all about we, voices solemnly joined, timeless, somehow clandestine, apart, one of the holiest moments I've ever experienced.

Thank you for reminding me.

(word verification was 'ports')

more...

Jeaux said...

PS I found you via Patrick (Hi, Patrick... 'ports' how mindblowing is that)

this one was 'musinest' lol

Jeaux said...

Well, Marta, there's nothing like making a big dramatic entrance... in the wrong room. Or in this case, post. Oy. The above was supposed to go with "The Cost of Discipleship." I DO hope that's obvious. My ears must look like stoplights right about now...

If you can find a way to move them that would be cool. :o\