Ethics Dunce: Ashlea Johnson And The Supporters Of Her Petition

Crack Mayor

How wrong is the 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.


Pointer: Mediaite


10 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Ashlea Johnson And The Supporters Of Her Petition

  1. I have already seen a headline heralding Barry as a pioneering mayor, or somesuch – just can’t remember where I glanced at such humor.

    “…character and honesty, even good citizenship, don’t matter as much as group identification and cronyism”

    The sad truth is that Jonathan Gruber is more correct than incorrect about American voters. Barry’s Ward 8 base offers strong proof of that.

    This comment is 100% sarcasm-free.

  2. Does being an elected official, and thus implicitly having the support of the majority of the public of the city that elected him, mean he should be given more respect than other miscreants? The other examples you list (except for Weiner) aren’t elected officials. Would it matter if the person was in office when they died?

    I’m certain the petition is stupid, because TMZ will savage anyone with celebrity the way a scorpion will sting a frog when they’re trying to cross a river. But I wonder if the headline, if not the obituary itself, should have avoided being so blunt when that could be the way many people discover his death. (For instance, I didn’t hear about it until just now.)

    What I’m saying is, I don’t want the headline of my obituary to read “Fat Jeff H. Dead of Compound Fatness, That Fat Fat Fuck Fat Fatty.” I’d rather it read “Fast Food Enthusiast and Exercise Skeptic Jeff H. Dead At Thirty-One”

  3. I never voted in DC, but I live across the bridge in Virginia. It saddens me to see a life of service reduced to a sound bite. I signed the petition. It is wrong to disrespect the dead. Then I considered the source. We will be watching, TMZ to make sure you disrespect everyone.

    • Well, a headline is necessarily a summary. That summary is what Barry deserved, asked for, and lived. We don’t have to lie for the dead—there were plenty of news sources that were happy to put Barry’s career and life in a good light and ignore the rest, just like the Washingtonians who kept voting for him after prison, repeated tax evasions, and repeated evidence that he really wasn’t sorry about any of it.

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