Friday, October 5, 2007

Boston fire fighters and the First Amendment

On August 29, in the Boston neighborhood of West Roxbury, two fire fighters died while fighting a blaze that started as a grease fire behind the ceiling. "Sources" leaked autopsy reports saying that one was intoxicated and the other had traces of cocaine in his body.

A judge suppressed a television station from reporting the leaks, citing previous rulings about protecting the families of the dead men. Normally, I'd defend First Amendment rights, but in this case, I'm thinking the judge may know what she's doing.

In light of the reports, Boston Mayor Menino ordered a full review of the Boston Fire Department. Okay, not a bad idea, but the media tends to turn stuff like this into dramatic witch hunts. If the city thinks it's a good idea to see if there's a drug and alcohol problem within the ranks of the fire fighters, then do it calmly and intelligently without pointing fingers or bringing politics into play. Do it for the safety of the public and the fire fighters themselves.

None of this should diminish any acts of heroism or simple humanism performed by these two men.

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