While many conservatives rightly and promptly demanded that Andrew Breitbart apologize for his smear of Shirley Sherrod, some on the right have — inexplicably — kept up their crusade to prove that Mrs. Sherrod is, if not a racist, then a contemptible liar. It’s very odd and has had the effect of making conservative media outlets like The American Spectator appear unhinged.
In a piece on its Web site, the Specator comes to the conclusion that Sherrod told an outrageous lie in her NAACP speech when she said a relative had been lynched.
This is the Spectator’s proof, from Supreme Court documents:
The arrest was made late at night at Hall’s home on a warrant charging Hall with theft of a tire. Hall, a young negro about thirty years of age, was handcuffed and taken by car to the courthouse. As Hall alighted from the car at the courthouse square, the three petitioners began beating him with their fists and with a solid-bar blackjack about eight inches long and weighing two pounds. They claimed Hall had reached for a gun and had used insulting language as he alighted from the car. But after Hall, still handcuffed, had been knocked to the ground, they continued to beat him from fifteen to thirty minutes until he was unconscious. Hall was then dragged feet first through the courthouse yard into the jail and thrown upon the floor, dying. An ambulance was called, and Hall was removed to a hospital, where he died within the hour and without regaining consciousness. There was evidence that Screws held a grudge against Hall, and had threatened to “get” him.
So the Spectator apparently agrees that Hall was viciously beaten to death by law enforcement agents, including the sheriff. Still:
It’s also possible that she knew the truth and chose to embellish it, changing a brutal and fatal beating to a lynching. . ..The image stirred by the image of the noosed rope in the hands of a racist lynch mob was, to say the least, frighteningly chilling. Did Ms. Sherrod deliberately concoct this story in search of a piece of that ugly romance to add “glamour” to a family story that is gut-wrenchingly horrendous already?
I have no idea why the American Spectator would go to such lengths to prove that racist law enforcement officials actually beat a black man to death and were not forced to pay for his crime, in the service of attempting to make his distant relative, Sherrod, look bad.
It is certainly true that the widely perceived definition of “lynching” is to hang a person with a rope. Nevertheless, if this argument is really over semantics, here’s the definition of lynching, from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: “To execute without due process of law, especially to hang.”
That’s especially, but not exclusively.