The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

On Bill Janklow

Like many journalists, and former journalists, I have to admit I have mixed feelings about the passing of former governor and Representative Bill Janklow.

I have several friends who were very close to Janklow. One has been in the "inner circle" of the Janklow family for many, many years. Another was a friend and associate for about the same amount of time. They grieve.

I do not mourn Bill Janklow's death, neither do I celebrate it.

There is no question that Janklow was a unique individual, who was able to accomplish many of his goals in life. But he was mean.

I'm somewhat surprised to see journalists commenting on their fondness for Janklow, mostly because I don't believe them. Mr. Janklow had a deep and abiding loathing for reporters. Nobody in my recollection was ever able to control the press as well as Janklow did. And he reveled in that control.

I know several people who were on the receiving end of one of his tirades after reporting something of which he did not approve. I got a couple of those calls myself. And, I can tell you that those tirades were vicious, angry and unprofessional.

He was cruel, belittling and often threatening. There wasn't a journalist in the state who did not believe he would follow through with his threats. Some of the best journalists I've known in this state were driven from their jobs by an angry egomaniac who in at least a couple of cases wasn't happy with threatening their bosses to the point of getting them fired, he would find out where they went and get them fired from the next job. It seems cruelty oozed from his pores.

He was a lawyer who believed the law did not apply to him. No amount of power seemed to satisfy him.

So tonight I am confused by the journalists who are now candy-coating their real feelings about the former governor.

I did not like Bill Janklow. I recognize his contribution to this state and I respect it. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who loved him, for their loss.

While I certainly would not wish upon anyone the manner of his death, I also cannot mourn the fact that he died. We all die.


Wayne Gilbert said...

That is very well said.

A character I just played had this speech: "Ah, respect is no use to you when you're gone. And if you didn't earn when you were alive, well don't be expecting people to be crowding around talking about what a brilliant fellow you were when you were alive." I like to think that Bill Janklow felt this way. If he didn't, well then he should have.

David Newquist said...

The constructive things Bill Janklow did will never be considered apart from the menacing and destructive things he did. He brought out the real defects in our criminal justice system. He was sent to jail rather than required to use his legal talents in behalf of those who need good legal representation, as he gave in many cases during his years on Rosebud.

The saddest thing regarding his death is the ambiguity and the remembrance of some very damaging actions. In the final summation, one gets what one earns.

Douglas said...

"I do not mourn Bill Janklow's death, neither do I celebrate it." Sounds like a good dummary.

I find it both amusing and sad that many of Janklow's appointees are now complimenting his remarkable ability to select and appoint such good people. Seems a lot like unseemly self-serving propaganda that warrants little press coverage, but is getting it by the truckload.

Bob Newland said...

A visitor said you suck, Mike. Cool. Traffic.