Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.

12 responses to “Good Systems Sometimes Defend Bad People”

  1. leftyrite

    And here I was, thinking that, maybe, R.I. Future occasionally goes out of its way to find the atypical topic that might possibly take us afield for no particular good reason.

    Not to worry.

    Even the Deli Llama would say, “F***** it,” when it comes to the voting rights of an accused cannibal.

    (Could you find a slightly better argument against voter suppression?)

    “Do they discuss cannibalism at the Taubman Center?” he said, trying, perhaps trying to butter them up. 

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  2. Nancy Green

    Michael Woodmansee has done immeasurable damage to the Foreman family and to all of Rhode Island. We should not distort our laws for this aberrant man. The principle of reform, that a felon can pay their debt and rejoin society is too precious to throw away, just for some satisfaction against a person not capable of being part of society.
    If we shape our law around extreme cases we will make bad laws.

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  3. davidc

    I disagre with a lot of things on RIfuture, but you’re right here.  While some may want to change the law, the current law is clear and Woodmansee should be allowed to register.

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  4. davidc

    Not to take this too far off track, but I like this quote from Nancy Green very much:

    “If we shape our law around extreme cases we will make bad laws.”

    This is exactly my view of the attention over Romney’s tax rate and the “Buffet rule”.  Making a law to meet an extreme, rare case.

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    1. Nancy Green

      Pretty far off track, we can talk about Mitt Romney’s extreme wealth on another thread.

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  5. jgardner

    I have no interest in empowering politicians to determine which crimes are bad enough to warrant losing for life one’s right to vote. Oh the abuse and vote-pandering that would bring. This is absolutely a case in which we must defend the rights of a bad person.

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  6. Jef Nickerson

    It is getting tiring that people are so shocked about issues surrounding Micheal Woodmansee. Shocked that he can be released early. Shocked that he can vote. We’ve had since 1975 to change these things if people thought it was so vital to do so. 

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  7. patrick

    The question is whether the guy has been found to be of sane mind. Has he? Why is he in Eleanor Slater if he is mentally sound?

    I ask because Article II of the RI Constitution covers that:
    Section 1. Persons entitled to vote. — Every citizen of the United States of the age of eighteen years or over who has had residence and home in this state for thirty days next preceding the time of voting, who has resided thirty days in the town or city from which such citizen desires to vote, and whose name shall be registered at least thirty days next preceding the time of voting as provided by law, shall have the right to vote for all offices to be elected and on all questions submitted to the electors, except that no person who has been lawfully adjudicated to be non compos mentis shall be permitted to vote.

    So I believe that is the basis for the Cranston Board of Canvassers to reject the application. They don’t believe he’s been lawfully judged to be of sane mind. Has he? I don’t know that answer. 

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    1. jgardner

      It is my understanding (based on the news report) that Woodmansee voluntarily checked himself into the mental institution. I can’t say whether or not he’s been evaluated for soundness of mind though. Interesting point.

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  8. leftyrite

    Having read the post and follow-up comments, I must admit to feeling a bit queasy.

    This man has been spared the gallows for the murder of a child.

    To take up his cause to vote, at this point, seems not only misguided but depraved.

    Sad footnotes to history will always lurk in the corners of our world.

    They are not examples of anything other than the susceptibility of some humans to madness.

    To make these pathetic cases the basis of some sort of principled argument strips that notion

    itself of a good deal of its value.

    Years go by, and people forget intolerable pain and mental cruelty. That’s what I did when I made an earlier sarcastic comment.

    I remember now. I apologize.


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    1. patrick

      lefty, I think everyone agrees that this is a despicable, depraved animal we’re dealing with here. However, unless we want to be lawless ourselves, we must follow the law. As always, if we don’t like the law, then change it. However, what is the difference at this point between Woodmansee and Bruce Reilly? Do you want to keep Bruce from voting too? Both are murderers who served their time. If the answer is that Woodmansee’s crime was even more disgusting than Reilly’s, then were is the line? Do we want to draw the line at child murderers? If you murder an adult, you can vote when you get out but if you murder a child, you cannot?

      Wherever the line is to be drawn, that’s fine, but it needs to be written into the law. If we’re not going to follow the law, then what’s the point of having them? 

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  9. leftyrite

    These sorts of arguments will never go away, and there will always be enough validity to them to keep them, however slightly, in the picture.

    That stated, maybe the Left is so poorly motivated to fight because it is benumbed and weakened by too many painful cultural issues. Too many meaningless skirmishes.

    Culture lives at the sufferance of power until it reaches a point of consciousness to fight back.

    We need lots and lots of people to reach this positive point of consciousness. Do we help to bring that about by depressing the hell out of them?

    Take a drive and look around. Spirits are guarded. Spirits are low.

    Authoritarians do not respect civil rights. Never did; never will.

    Nor do they respect fine distinctions. As for the rest of us, we feel worn out.

    Authoritarians have the microphone now–here, there, and everywhere.

    What sorts of messages can we send to our own people that will help them to rally and to take heart?

    Voting rights for murderers is not a high priority for me right now, but it could be an issue freakish enough to get some schlemiel on the air, making himself and the Left look foolish. 

    Dan Yorke will bite if there’s a lull in the action. Of that, I’m sure.


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