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Keller @ Large: Beacon Hill Politician Lashes Out At Media

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State Representative Eugene O’Flaherty (Photo courtesy: Facebook)

State Representative Eugene O’Flaherty (Photo courtesy: Facebook)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Chelsea State Representative Eugene O’Flaherty has been House chairman of the Judiciary Committee for a decade, a very powerful and difficult position as gatekeeper on a range of controversial and emotional justice issues.

I’ve never seen reason to doubt he was doing the best he could in a tough job.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

But with all due respect, O’Flaherty was off base to lash out at the media yesterday in an e-mail announcing he’ll give up that committee post later this year in part because of a critical write-up in the newspaper.

O’Flaherty’s last straw, it seems, was a Globe column by Kevin Cullen about an effort to dramatically raise the statute of limitations on child sex-abuse cases.

Cullen reported on O’Flaherty’s opposition to the bill and how it was fueled by the representative’s conviction that statutes of limitation are an important legal protection against unfair prosecution.

And Cullen wrote: “There is a general consensus that there should be no statute of limitations for murder, and the law reflects that. There is a growing consensus that there should be no arbitrary hiding place for those who murder children’s souls by sexually abusing them. That consensus does not include Gene O’Flaherty.”

O’Flaherty didn’t like it.

He claimed he had been portrayed as “unconcerned about the murder of children’s souls,” and added: “Our way of making law is becoming more and more reactionary and increasingly done by maligning individual members…such journalism, acidic discourse and public humiliation being brought into the public square is why our democracy on all levels is increasingly becoming dysfunctional.”

Sorry, I’m not buying it.

O’Flaherty is a defense attorney, and his handling of this and other matters over the years has reflected the agenda of the defense bar.

That’s fine.

But so is him being called out on it by a journalist.

Yes, it’s no fun being criticized in print or on TV, we get it.

But Cullen’s column was well-reported, reasonable, and reflective of legitimate public outrage over O’Flaherty’s position.

And that, Mr. Chairman, is part of the process, not part of the problem.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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