Justice feels bad for non-burglar Griz

The Griz, um, lineup

The Griz, uh, lineup

For a thrilling 48 hours last week, it looked like the county attorney might make Missoula weird again. That was the period after Kirsten Pabst intervened in the case of three Grizzly football players and two other UM students arrested for felony, but before we knew what they did. The hearing was rescheduled for Tuesday, then Wednesday. Meanwhile, local news ran player stats instead of information about the crime. Only the Kaiman—the University of Montana’s student newspaper, recently cut back to a weekly—knew the circumstances of their arrest.

It turned out those three big, dumb kids and one regular dumb kid thought the house was unoccupied, and confined their burglary to the part that was under construction. They climbed a ladder to get in, whereupon the homeowner dialed 911. Literally one minute later, their ride arrived, and they left the house with a case of beer. Then came the cops.

Was that felony burglary? I hope not. They seemed to think they were stealing beer from a construction site, which is bad but maybe not felony bad. People who steal beer from construction sites should probably be allowed to vote. The should be allowed to finish college and pass criminal background checks when they apply for jobs. Kirsten Pabst made a just decision when she reduced those kids’ charges to misdemeanor trespassing.

So why didn’t it feel good?

I can think of some reasons why not, and you can read all about them in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We had a perfect snafu in our little mountain town the weekend before last, and it reminded us how crooked this place feels, even when it isn’t.

People who say Krakauer’s book is unfair haven’t read it

A poster by Missoula artist Andy Smetanka, parodying the cover of Krakauer's book

A poster by Missoula artist Andy Smetanka parodies the cover of Krakauer’s book.

Perhaps you have not read about this issue in your hometown newspaper for the last month, but Jon Krakauer’s book Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town came out yesterday. I am about halfway through, and it is a gripping read. Plenty of local luminaries assured me it was garbage, including Griz correspondent Bill Speltz—who two months ago insinuated that Krakauer was biased and his book misleading, before adding that he would “hold judgment on Missoula until reading it”—and county attorney Kirsten Pabst, who criticized Krakauer for not interviewing her and wrote a memo to Doubleday calling the book “actionable libel.” I quote the Missoulian:

“Pabst did not appear to have obtained a copy before writing the memo; she appeared to be responding to information she had received about the publication, including questions she received from Krakauer in connection with his reporting for Missoula.

That makes it sound like he tried to interview her. Also, guys: I know you love Missoula, and I do too. But you have to read a book before you determine that it’s a hit job. So far, I find Missoula striking not just for its descriptions of how this town has mishandled rape, but also for its generosity.

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