On Splitting Hairs: `Mustache Defense' Could Help Griffin

By McClellan, Bill | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 23, 1995 | Go to article overview

On Splitting Hairs: `Mustache Defense' Could Help Griffin


McClellan, Bill, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


AN ASTUTE reader took me to task last week.

In a letter that was published Friday, he criticized a column I had written about Bekki Cook, Missouri's new secretary of state.

"If a man stands up for his convictions, he is tough and decisive. If a woman fights for what she believes in, she is labeled a crook," he wrote.

The letter-writer was referring to the fact that I had added an R to Cook's name after she refused to count the votes when the Republicans and a group of dissident Democrats voted against Bob Griffin for Speaker of the House in the Missouri Legislature.

The letter-writer supported that decision to not tally the votes.

"I see that as being tough, decisive and, yes, loyal - qualities all Missourians hold in high regard. And she is also a woman, which makes her a crook in McClellan's eyes," he wrote.

"I am sorry that Cook does not fit McClellan's stereotype of the way he thinks a woman should act. Some men just don't get it when a woman stands her ground," he wrote.

Well, fine. As far as I'm concerned, citizens should be able to write a letter to the editor about a column without having to fear that the columnist is going to respond.

So I won't.

I would like to point out, however, that the letter highlights one of the problems that Griffin faces.

He's a white male.

In other words, he can't employ any of the popular Defenses of the Day. When a black male is criticized, he can fall back on a racial defense.

Virvus Jones, for instance, is in a position very similar to that of Speaker Griffin. Both men are being investigated by federal grand juries.

But Jones and his supporters can suggest that the investigation is part of a racially motivated conspiracy.

This is a fine defense. That is, a lot of people believe it. Moreover, there is some historical underpinning to it. In fact, a national magazine recently published an article that documented the fact that black public officials have been targeted for investigation at a greater rate than white public officials.

Consequently, it was natural that the recent Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in St. Louis was turned into an impromptu rally for Jones. People hugged him. Speakers suggested that his plight was really part of the civil rights struggle.

There's no way that George Washington's birthday is going to turn into a rally for Griffin. …

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