A double standard | AspenTimes.com

A double standard

The recent decision by both Aspen newspapers to print the names of the local victims of the Bernard Madoff scandal has unearthed some staunch critics.

These critics were silent several weeks ago, when this newspaper reported about a Basalt couple who are recovering from a horrific head-on collision last summer. Recently Jeff and Susan Reese testified at the sentencing hearing of Oscar Canas Portillo, who was driving drunk the night he slammed head-on into a vehicle occupied by the two, changing their lives forever.

The critics were just as subdued earlier this week, when it was reported that Aspen Jetride had filed for bankruptcy, and a number of its creditors had Aspen ties. A brief article identified some of the creditors, along with the amounts the charter airline owed them.

And Thursday’s report about the arrest of a Commerce City man on laundering charges, who also allegedly bilked Pitkin County employee Ignacio Gonzales’s retirement savings to the tune of $24,000, did not draw a whimper.

But some have spoken loudly and vehemently about the decision to publish the names of the dozens of Aspen residents who were snared by the Madoff investment scandal.

This is, understandably, a humiliating position to be in. Some people’s finances have been entirely wiped out; so it stands to reason that the Madoff list, which became public last week, only added insult to injury.

For sure, the local press could have chosen not to identify the local victims, and there’s a chorus of angry critics who argue that sentiment.

But concealing their names would have sent a message that Madoff’s victims are a protected class, unlike victims of drunken-driving accidents, thefts, bankruptcies, and other investment scams and crimes. (This newspaper does has a policy to not print the names of sexual assault victims, or those victims of crimes whose safety might be jeopardized.)

As embarrassing as this list might have been for some of the victims, it would have been a shame if the Aspen newspapers covered it up. It’s also worth noting that some victims of the Madoff scandal were forthcoming, granting interviews to both newspapers.

We certainly are aware of the privacy that some of these victims would prefer, but we are also mindful that they are no more entitled than victims of other crimes ” no matter how high-profile the crime might be.

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