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Sheriff Claude Screws was more than a little ticked off at Bobby Hall. The reason is largely lost to history.
In those days, it didn't really matter. In Baker County, where Claude Screws was Sheriff for twenty years, even incidental disrespect toward any white man or woman by any black person was informally considered a capital offense.
As day turned to night on January 29, 1943, Sheriff Screws and two other officers of the law were drinking and talking. Most of the talk focused on Bobby Hall. The sheriff told the other two that he was going to get Hall. A bartender overheard the conversation and urged the three to leave Bobby Hall alone.
Instead, the three went to Bobby Hall's home and arrested him for stealing a tire. Evidence was later found that the arrest warrant did not exist on the night of the arrest. Hall was handcuffed and taken away. Before they arrived at the Baker County jail, the officers beat the handcuffed prisoner with their fists and with an eight inch solid bar blackjack. They beat him until he was dead.
They got off. Not unusual in those days.
Sheriff Screws ran for the State Senate in 1958 and won.
Shirley Sherrod, a cousin of Bobby Hall, was not yet alive when the killing occurred. She was born in 1948. She remembers hearing of the murder as a lynching. Conservatives have described her memory as a lie because no rope was actually used during the killing. It seems conservatives are capable of fine distinctions.
In 1965, Shirley Sherrod's father was murdered by a white farmer, shot in the back. She was a teenager by then. A white grand jury ruled the murder should not be pursued. A cross was burned on the family lawn.
In 1984, Shirley Sherrod was working for the US Department of Ariculture. She met a white farm couple who were being ... well ... pretty much screwed over by banks. She made peace with her feelings and fought hard. She helped that couple save their farm. She won on their behalf. She also won their friendship. The story was significant for her because she had to overcome her own resentments toward white people.
In 2010, she told her story to a rural Georgia chapter of the NAACP. They laughed with her as she described the mental convulsions of discovering that her own attitudes needed healing.
A noted conservative, Andrew Breitbart, posted on the internet a heavily edited, severely distorted video of her speech. His false version had her boasting of finally being able to deny help to a farm couple because they were white. The NAACP group was shown applauding, not because of her winning an inward struggle, but because she had used her position to hurt white people.
Fox News promoted the Breitbart story. Others picked it up. The national NAACP was fooled, and condemned her speech. The Department of Agriculture fired her.
Fortunately, the speech had been recorded by a member of the audience. The real and unedited version was eventually posted. The white farm couple appeared on television, angry that their friend, Shirley Sherrod had been smeared. The government apologized. The NAACP apologized.
Breitbart, before dying of a heart attack, went on to post heavily edited videos of others. A couple of University professors here in St. Louis lost their jobs. They were made to seem to say things they did not actually say.
Andrew Breitbart has gone to the Great Beyond. But breitbarting lives, having become a bit of a conservative art form.
CBO Director Doug Elmendorf is occasionally breitbarted by the Weekly Standard, the National Review, and others.
Self-proclaimed Christian historian David Barton even breitbarts the founding fathers, editing documents to mean the opposite of what they actually say.
Now the slice and dice video distortion technique is being used by conservatives on each other.
Conservatives hate taxes. If they say "No new taxes" then reluctantly agree that some taxes sometimes have to go up, they become clones of elder Bush being taken down by Pat Buchanan. Conservatives hate taxes like crazy, especially taxes on the job creators, which is to say the fabulously wealthy.
Here's what one conservative said, trying not to over-promise:
So everybody assumes that if you're going to hold spending - I'm not saying I'm going to cut spending, I'm saying I'm going to hold spending flat. So hey, if we employed everybody in the state government this year that we have with this spending, we can do it next year spending the same amount of money.
- Tom Foley, candidate for Governor of Connecticut, June 12, 2014
That strikes me as a silly promise, whether by a candidate for President or someone running for Governor. Inflation does go up. No business, household, or government can make such a promise.
But that's what he said. He promises to hold spending flat. Cutting spending is left up in the air.
Connecticut's Legislative Minority Leader, John McKinney, also wants to be the Republican candidate for governor. He wants it so bad, he does a little editing for a campaign ad. Here's what Tom Foley didn't really say.
I'm not going to cut spending.
- Tom Foley's words, edited for radio by John McKinney
Somewhere in the hereafter, at a location uncertain, Andrew Breitbart nods approvingly, wishing only that the distortion was directed at some liberal.
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