In the days before the internet, one had to hang out around the water cooler to hear water cooler talk. Now, with blogs and the ability for anyone to post a response to news stories, it's laid bare for all to see, and sometimes it's shocking.
Last week, when the Clarion Ledger first posted an account of the wreck that Karen and Stuart Irby were in, the responses on their website were really just disturbing. Then, the local blogosphere picked up the story like they were preventing some sort of mass cover-up.
I hope to be fair in my comments here. I don't have much emotional investment in either side of this case. Although I dearly loved his dad, I barely know Stuart Irby. Long ago, we served on the Friends of the Jackson Zoo board together. I'm not a member of his church and I don't believe I ever met his wife, Karen. Mark Pogue and Lisa Dedousis I don't know at all.
In response to all the chatter I've seen on the internet, there are a few points I'd like to make:
First: Stuart and Karen Irby might have lead a very visible life, but there were far from public figures. The amount of vitriol and character assignation I've seen thrown their way on the web the past week is entirely uncalled for. There's no way for people to know if what they read is rumors or fact or outright lies.
Second: The local media might cover the story more about the Irbys than Pogue or Dedousis because they are local (Stuart was a third-generation Jacksonian) and Pogue and Dedousis were out-of-towners. That's it. There's no plot to cover-up for the Irbys or protect their reputation, they were local and more people reading the local media knew them than knew the other couple.
Third: The Jackson Police Department is covering their own ass in every possible way on this case. That's why it's taking so long for them to release information. Can you blame them? The press is all over them and the deceased couple already have a lawyer and a private investigator on the case.
The JPD is going to do everything they can to make sure their investigation is letter perfect before they release it to anybody just to protect themselves. I don't see a cover-up here, what I see is a police department afraid of how it will come back on them if they make any mistakes.
Fourth: I don't know what people think, but the Jackson Country Club isn't some wild party palace. I would imagine there are far more drunks driving away from Fenians or Martins on any given Friday night then there are from the Country Club.
You don't have to worry about justice being done here. I am sure the civil case to come of this will fairly compensate the deceased couple. Everything I've seen of that kind of case in Mississippi tells me the jury will probably favor them.
For those who worry that the toxicology report might get suppressed or covered up or outright faked, that's really unlikely. The JPD know the plaintiff in the civil trial will subpoena that evidence and anyone associated with it. They would have to be stupid to be anything but absolutely letter perfect in their handling of it. If they're slow in releasing the information, I'm sure it's because they want to make doubly sure everything is correct before anyone sees it.
As for any criminal charges that might come of all this. If Karen's toxicology report comes back positive, then she will face some serious legal charges. I've already said how unlikely it is that evidence might be altered or suppressed, but, let's suppose that somehow Karen is able to finagle her way out of it, there's still a great deal of instant karma involved here. One side of her body was crushed in this accident. She'll probably never walk correctly again without pain and if her husband survives, who knows what kind of shape he'll be in. Whatever happens in this case, she's not going to come away from it without a great deal of suffering, whether it be from the courts or from her own injuries.
Had this happened twenty years ago, most of the loose talk you see on the net would be reserved for private conversation and not laid out for everyone to see. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from responding to posts when they see them on the internet, but try and remember that people do read what you write so try to be fair. There's an awful lot of pain on every side of this story and it really doesn't help anyone to fling mob comments around.