The “false narrative’’ that for two years has painted New Hampshire as a place likely to attempt to lynch a young black boy never should have been allowed to take hold. Neither the state Supreme Court nor the Attorney General’s office has covered itself in glory with this episode.
Indeed, it should be a lesson to both the court and AG that withholding facts under the claim of juvenile protection laws is wrongheaded and unjustified.
In case readers missed it, the court ruled last week that in order to correct the false “attempted lynching” story, it was going to allow the attorney general to release a summary of the incident. How broadminded!
There was in fact no reason why such a summary couldn’t have been released two years ago. The identities of the juveniles accused in the Claremont incident were never going to be released. By law, their names and any legal charges are kept confidential.
But the court and attorney general stretched that law beyond all reason in claiming that because juveniles were involved, NOTHING about the incident could be released to a concerned public.
So, for two years, New Hampshire was painted as a place hostile to blacks.
Countless news stories about the state’s “lack of diversity” cited the Claremont “near lynching.” (Or an actual “lynching” as WMUR-TV referred to it at least twice last week.)
It turns out that three kids, one black, took turns jumping off a picnic table with a noose from a nearby swing draped on their necks.
Racist? Nope, as all three attested.
Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase said last week that for two years “it pained me I couldn’t get up there and explain to the public what happened.”
The chief takes the long and generous view, however, and says the incident led to his community starting to talk about racial issues, and that’s a good thing.
That’s nice but such an objective need not be accomplished by letting such a gross falsity fester for two years.
Being optimistic ourselves, we will now expect the court, and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, will keep a close eye on “false narratives” that stem from their actions and move to correct the record a lot faster than in this case.