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Mike Kabakoff Responds to Rachel Lange

Mike Kabakoff writes in with some concerns about Rachel's essay--a good representative email from some of the people who weren't sure whether to believe her or not.

From: Mike Kabakoff
Sent: Friday, March 28, 2003 11:48 AM
To: Paul Ford
Subject: Pittsburgh, PA

Hi there:

I'm writing because I just read the latest post, “what's going on in Pittsburgh.”

There are a lot of odd things going on right now domestically with repect to speech and protest, patriotism and dissent. I thought Rachel's story brought a lot of that out through her own experience. But something also rang false. Parts of it are just too exaggerated. I know your site's not a straight news source (or if such a source exists), but I felt compelled to write.

So, the biggest problem I had was that Rachel said she was charged with two misdemeanors: obstructing traffic and failure to disperse. she said that the max on the first was two years, three on the second. That's just not right. By legal definition, you cannot be imprisoned for more than one year on a misdemeanor. Not only that, and I don't know exactly how things work in Pittsburgh, but obstructing traffic (which in NYC is under the general heading of disorderly conduct in the pedestrian context) and failure to disperse aren't even misdemeanors; they're “violations” for which conviction means a max of 15 days in the pokey.

All I'm saying is that there's artistic license and then there's misinformation. People should be riled over what's happening, but one thing the law has not come to yet is imprisoning people for two or three years for sticking around and blocking traffic.

[Nice things about Ftrain deleted for modesty's sake.]

Mike Kabakoff


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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