How wrong is the Change.org petition posted by Ashlea Johnson and demanding that TMZ remove and apologize for the above headline announcing the death of Marion Barry?
1. This is an attempt to whitewashing a very soiled legacy.
2. Barry, and no one else, ruined his legacy. Next to using crack while Mayor of Washington D.C. (and being filmed in the process), Barry is best known for his immortal quote after his arrest with an old girl-friend and drug pal: “Bitch set me up!”
3. TMZ has both the freedom to publish whatever it chooses however it chooses, as long as it is true. This is true. Barry was “the Crack Mayor.” Deal with it.
4. It would have been good for all if Barry’s enablers and supporters forced him to apologize and be accountable for his various crimes, hustles and misdeeds, of which the crack was only the most spectacular. Instead, Ashlea Johnson and those like her kept electing Barry, who was unrepentant and unreformed, to office, sending the message to District politicians that character and honesty, even good citizenship, don’t matter as much as group identification and cronyism
The TMZ headline was certainly not kind, polite or diplomatic, but rogues, miscreants and thieves do not deserve pleasant or respectful obituaries. When Bernie Madoff dies, he will be called a swindler, because he was one. When Anthony Weiner passes on, he will be noted as the “sexting Congressman,” because that was his legacy. Monica Lewinsky will be eulogized in the press as Clinton’s intern plaything, or something nastier: what else should she be remembered for? Marion Barry could have earned a headline describing him as a transformative mayor of the nation’s Capital, for he had the ability to be that and more. Barry chose to be the Crack Mayor instead.
Ashlea should have sent him a petition about forty years ago, demanding that he stop being such a jerk.