Righteous one day, flawed the next

When Louisiana officials mess up, voters often wonder if they were corrupt before seeking public office or if they went in clean and got dirtied by the political process. If Melton and DeLaughter are found guilty of the charges against them, people in our neighboring state will certainly raise similar questions about them.

Were they always bad? Were they corrupted by external forces? Or do they simply exhibit a frustrating tendency to offset their good deeds with bad ones?

Melton, a millionaire many times over, has taken dozens of boys out of rough neighborhoods and raised them at his home. He has paid their way through college. He has paid to bury young people he was unable to save.

DeLaughter brought de la Beckwith to justice, which is accomplishment enough for Mississippians who thought the killers of their civil rights heroes would never be punished.

But past acts of righteousness don’t grant either man immunity. It’s a sad day for Mississippians who believed they could trust public figures doing good things.

Jarvis DeBerry
Times Picayune
2/15/9