Innocent Until Proven … Ah, to Hell With it


You don't have to give one hoot about baseball, steroids, Barry Bonds, or his upcoming trial to appreciate the sight of grown men declaring -- before the first gavel is even struck -- that "innocent until proven guilty" is for suckers, and that the government is right because the government is right. A sampling of a certain mindset in action:

Bill Plaschke, L.A. Times:

Other folks say that this is only a charge, not a conviction, so Bonds should be given the benefit of the doubt. That benefit has been foolishly extended for four years.

Time's up. Game over. On federal indictments, the government swings and misses even less than Bonds did.

John Feinstein, Washington Post:

Some also made the "he's innocent until proven guilty" argument. Wrong again. Only in a court of law are you innocent until proven guilty. In the court of public opinion you can be guilty at any time, especially when the evidence of your guilt is overwhelming.

Tim Dahlberg, the Associated Press:

[The jury] can judge the evidence as presented, then decide whether Bonds lied when he told a federal grand jury he never knowingly took steroids.

I don't need to do that. Because one of the great things about being a columnist is I don't need to worry much about judicial protocol or any other legal gobbledygook. Actually, most of the time I start with a presumption of guilty and then wait for someone to prove me wrong. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I figure it just might be a duck.

And Barry Bonds is one big duck.

Joe Strauss, St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

His apologists will say the process is just beginning. They are wrong. It's over.

Jeff Passan, Yahoo Sports:

Even if the charges don't stick or Bonds escapes without jail time, the unsealing of the indictment revealed to the public the true breadth of Bonds' arrogance – and appears to have confirmed, once and for all, that he had tested positive for steroids.

Neil Steinberg, Chicago Sun-Times:

The feds don't indict unless they have a pretty good case. And while baseball star Barry Bonds is innocent until proven guilty, yaddity yaddity yaddah, he's still looking at 30 years if he's convicted.

Jim Litke, the Associated Press:

[E]ven with [Greg] Anderson clammed up in a jail cell, [the feds] indicted Bonds by doing the same thing that made him the toughest out in the game. They never took their eye off the ball.

"I'm curious what evidence they have now, they didn't have before," said John Burris, one of Bonds' attorneys.

Here's the answer: Enough.

For those more concerned with government overstretch in this case than government infallibility, some good news -- the one must-read article about the Bonds/BALCO investigation, by Playboy's Jonathan Littman in 2004, is finally online at a secure location. Also, Littman is covering the trial over at the mag's blog; first three installments here, here and here.