Friday, June 29, 2007

What's Porn Got to Do With It?

UPDATES AT BOTTOM OF POST.

A fascinating case of stolen property turned to tragedy here in Denver recently, resulting in lots of finger-pointing, speculation and armchair psychiatry.

Former Denver City Attorney Larry Manzanares resigned his short-lived post back in February amidst allegations that he'd stolen a laptop from the State Court Administrator's Office. He admitted that he'd bought the laptop from a dude in a parking lot, but said he didn't know it was stolen.

He was later charged with felony theft, embezzlement of public property, tampering with physical evidence, official misconduct and computer crime -- charges that carry penalties of up to six years in prison.

The big story, however, was that the computer had a "massive porn stash" on it.

Please note once again that none of the filed charges had anything to do with pornography.

So it was off to the races for the media -- the story wasn't that the city attorney bought a stolen computer. It was that the city attorney had porn on it.

Larry Manzanares shot himself in the head on June 22.

To date, nothing has come out stating that any of the porn was illegal porn -- no child pornography, no snuff films, etc. If that comes out, it sheds an entirely new light on the story. But from what's been reported, that's not the case.

The guy just liked porn. As lots of guys do.

Did the media's and the DA's handling of the porn aspect lead to Manzanares' suicide? I'm sure it did.

I'm not absolving the guy of his real crime, which was buying a computer from a dude in a parking lot (or, possibly, actually stealing the computer from the State).

But I don't for a minute believe that the porn was important to this case. All it did was serve to vilify the man.

And that vilification ended up costing him his life.

UPDATES: Here is a letter from the District Attorney who was assigned to this case. It explains much of how and why certain things were done and said. In one paragraph he addresses the issue of the pornography. As of yet, absolutely nothing has given any indication that there was any illegal material on the computer. And here is a story from yesterday's Denver Post, speaking to the family of Manzanares. It explains the history of depression in his family, and their speculation as to why he did it. Again, no mention of illegal material. The media ran with one tiny fraction of this story -- the most embarrassing one.

10 comments:

O' Tim said...

The porn thing was definitely embarrassing for him, but that it brought him to such life-ending despair is hard to take. I'd guess it was the cherry on a cake of other despairing aspects of his life. And I would not be surprised if it was discovered that he had cached kiddie porn.

Don said...

Say, if someone can sue the media for say stereotyping an ethnic group, how come they can't sue for being so insensitive a man on the edge is pushed over it into suicide?

Miz UV said...

I agree with O'Tim. There must have been something else going on, maybe he was depressed already, or he did have illegal porn.

Joe the Troll said...

If there IS kiddie porn, I'd say that would be news, but it wasn't news absent that. It was another case of some reporters grabbing the wrong end of the stick and beating around the bush with it.

What I don't get is how someone qualified to be a city attorney could buy a computer in a parking lot and not suspect that it was stolen. If he did steal it, I would expect someone in that position to be able to concoct a better story. Either way, they had the wrong man in the job.

Mark said...

Porn had zero to do with it. but the press and reporters love any juicy tidbit that will sell papers. I'll bet those reporters NEVER look at porn.

Reminds me of a case here where a guy was arrested for burglary but the press had to focus on the fact that police found porn on his computer.
-Not just any porn - he ACTUALLY HAD PICTURES OF NAKED PREGNANT WOMEN on his computer.

Lordy, what a sicko. Course it's different when that reporter was boffing his own seven-months-pregnant wife.

This is another case of Jenny I-didn't-know-he'd do-such-a-thing-so-my-hands-are-clean Jonesitis. The press most definitely had a hand in this guy's suicide. Maybe one day reporters will learn to stick to the salient points of a story, but I doubt it. Sex sells everything, including newspapers.

Sour Grapes said...

The porn would only drive him to suicide if HE thought it was something shameful. And there was porn on the computer. So why is it wrong to say so?

People might ask themselves why sex sells newspapers, and who it sells them to.

ravenous said...

People have such knee jerk reactions to porn. Someone in Manzanares' position would be devastated career-wise by the not only the charges of theft but also porn being found. Even if he was innocent of theft, having being humiliated publically could push someone over the edge enough to commit suicide.

I think that we have become so cynical about celebrity, we think that anyone can handle any type of spotlight. Some people crumble under the pressure.

Lucyp said...

I will have to stick up for the media and say that if i was the reporter on this story, i would of done the same thing and made a story out of the porn on the computer, and done all i could to find out the type of porn.
Any reporter would do the same.
I would assume he had other things going on in his life or the whole truth is yet to come out to force him to take such drastic action.

Eden said...

Do you think that if we destigmatized porn, things like this wouldn't happen? Like if the accused's response could be "Yeah I have porn on my computer and your point is...?" Do you ever think that will happen?

It reminds me of the mother of the missing toddler who was so hounded & badgered by Nancy Grace and others that she killed herself.

Mark said...

"Do you think that if we destigmatized porn, things like this wouldn't happen?"

They sure wouldn't.

"Do you ever think that will happen?"

Not as long as people continue to get a vicarious thrill out of minding other people's business and telling other people how they should conduct themselves on a daily basis.

Good point about that mom, Eden. Even moreso than the Jenny Jones/Amedure incident.

Anyone who thinks that Manzanares had a shred of presumption of innocence left before he pulled the trigger is smoking some seriously good shit.