ABOUT THE TIME WE’D THOUGHT WE’D HEARD IT ALL, SOMETHING WOULD COME UP

One thing about being in the news business was how much that we covered was more or less routine. Yes, there were the variations on the given theme, but you could easily fall into a formula in covering them. Think of elections or a football game, for instance. Somebody wins, somebody loses, and you quote from both sides.

There would also be developments that simply fell outside the realm of what we’d covered, and when I started out as a journalist, community tastes were stricter than what now fills the coverage. Pedophile priests and sexually abusive parents, for instance, were never mentioned. Ditto, the private lives of politicians. And pit bull dog attacks were way off in the future.

Not so now, and it’s one of the reasons I burned out editing the low-life stories. After all, not even Hustler magazine would have touched much of the grossness that was now appearing even on the front page.

My goals in journalism were far loftier than soft porn, even in a courtroom setting.

~*~

Still, I was surprised how many times I felt I’d seen and heard all the basic stories, only to be hit by something that seemed completely new.

One of them was the arrest of one of our sportswriters on charges of pimping. Ouch! A professional with children? Somebody we knew?

And then the other day a report took that a couple of steps further.

Seems a man responding to an advertisement for a “social-type service” went to a local motel room only to be met by the woman, as expected. But there he also discovered another man and a pit bull dog, neither of them anticipated on his end.

In the ensuing events, as the story goes, the customer was beaten and robbed before escaping and being chased bleeding and naked by the pit bull into the parking lot before a phone call from the front office summoned police. (There was also something about brass knuckles that were tossed aside in the fray, but let’s stick to the basic outline.)

I keep wondering about the old “honor among thieves” code among outlaws. Aren’t there supposed to be some strict standards of behavior involved? Even among crooks, doesn’t a double-cross draws contempt, as does betrayal? In the case of prostitution, for instance, doesn’t that mean the pimp remains out of sight – or better yet, out of the room? And no dogs, unless they’re part of the, uh, proclivities of the john?

For the record, prostitution was not among the charges mentioned in this case. I raise the issue here more in the theoretical sense of illicit dealings. We could as easily substitute drug purchases or any number of other monetary exchanges. Remember, basic standards are assumed or the economic trade falls apart. Nobody would answer an escort-services listing if this was common practice.

So here we are with the new twists being the presence of the second man and the chase by the pit bull, only to find the ultimate recourse falls back on the police and criminal justice system.

As I said, it’s not your everyday news story. I’m left wondering how we would have handled such a police report in the “old days” or whether we would have published it at all. Or even if things like this even occurred back then.

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