Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More McTague Defense

Travis has part two of his analysis of Denning McTague's defense sentencing memorandum (part one here). He notes "In the McTague sentencing, there is really only one major disputed legal point: whether DMcT 'abused a position of public or private trust ('characterized by professional or managerial discretion'), or used a special skill, in a manner that significantly facilitated the commission or concealment of the offense.' The government claims he did and he claims he didn’t. (Okay, archivist readers - do you exercise a special skill?)"

It seems ludicrous to suggest that McTague could have committed these crimes without abusing a position of public or private trust - that's exactly what he did. And yes, I think that being trained as an archivist and knowing how to handle documents (thereby fooling people into believing he could be trusted with them) is a special skill which McTague used to his full advantage in carrying out these attacks on our cultural heritage.

Travis writes that McTague's lawyers have done a good job in the brief of pinning the blame for McTague's 'break' on just about everyone except the Thieving Intern himself. Yes, it's difficult to get jobs in libraries (but if he thought it was hard before ...). No, they don't even pay particularly well once you get one. Yes, it sounds like McTague had some financial difficulties and that his life wasn't exactly perpetual sunshine. But that should not, does not, cannot give him carte blanche to abuse his position, steal archival artifacts, and try to profit from their illicit sale.

The defense memo, Travis says, characterizes McTague's crimes as "more self-destructive than self-interested" - be that as it may, they're still crimes, and he deserves as severe a punishment for them as can be handed down. Self-destruction may be at the heart of it, but self-interest was clearly a major contributing factor.

Book/map/archives thieves are one thing when they come from the outside and steal. Inside jobs are, to me, even more nefarious and should be punished with an extra helping of vigor. I hope McTague's judge takes this opportunity to set an example and show all the would-be McTagues out there that this kind of criminal behavior cannot and will not be tolerated.

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