The Blawgosphere and Real World Collide

When I first learned of Packratt’s existence, he was writing to tell the story of what happened to him.  Following his ungentle handling by police, he learned that lawyers can be just as callous.  It was a cautionary tale, and one that needed telling and retelling.  Sure, he was outraged and in turn outrageous, but he was still a person who needed help.  He found none.

I’ve followed Packratt since then, as he released a part of his anger toward police and lawyers by trying to turn his energies toward more productive uses.  The catharsis helped him.  The information Packratt brought to the blawgosphere helped everyone.  In the process, Packratt became a target of his local police, who weren’t at all pleased with his efforts in highlighting their misconduct in Seattle. 

While criminal defense lawyer do this as part of our job, without any reason to fear retaliation, Packratt took his chances.  He started out a victim of the cops, and then continued down a road that nearly begged for another lesson on who has the power.  Still, he continued, uncowed.

A few months back, Packratt took a big leap forward by starting a new endeavor, Injustice Everywhere, coupled with his twitter feed Injustice News, providing links to police misconduct nationwide.  It was a time-consuming and ambitious endeavor.  There are far more stories in the media about police misconduct and abuse than you would believe, and Packratt not only broadcast as many as he could find, but was trying to create a statistical backdrop for his findings.  His efforts caught many important eyes, including those of Radley Balko, the Agitator.  Packratt was doing great work, and some very heavy lifting.

But it’s all about to come to an abrupt end.  Packratt announced it with a misguided apology, as if he’s failed us.

Today, fathers day, was going well for the most part, but then a bombshell sort of destroyed the calm pleasant day. My wife, bless her, tried to keep it a secret and not let it bother her, but the stress of it sort of made things come to a head and she told me what was going on…

We only have $100 to last us until the first of next month, and next month looks even bleaker than that, we’ll run dry by mid-month.

It appears as though what I’m doing here and with the feed is no longer sustainable for me because it’s using up time that I should be spending trying to find ways to take care of my primary responsibility as a dad… being that I need to make sure my family has a roof over their heads and food in their bellies.
There is nothing about a blog, or twitter feed, that let’s us in on the details of real life.  Packratt hit the wall, and I never knew it until he said something.  How could I?  Why would I?  Packratt is a real person, with a real family to feed.  No matter how great a job he did on the internet, we forget that he still has to go to the supermarket and buy dinner.  The supermarket people still charge for the food he takes home.  A great job online doesn’t translate to a great job in real life.  Packratt didn’t have one, and sure could have used one.

There are a few people who write blogs who earn a living that way.  Balko is one.  I’m not, but then I’m a lawyer and throw this together in my spare time.  Packratt wasn’t getting paid for what he did online, and he wasn’t a lawyer.  He was just a guy who wrote about police misconduct for the benefit of the rest of us.

It seems as if there ought to be a way that Packratt should have been paid for his effort.  He certainly put in the effort, posting late into the night about cases that the rest of us needed to know about.  At another time, some media outlet might have hired him.  But here, we give it away.  No reason to buy the cow when you get the milk for free.  I’m not suggesting that everything in the blawgosphere is worth paying for, though I sincerely believe that some of it is.  Judging from the number of people who read, learn, and benefit from the blawgosphere, my guess is that many readers should feel it worthy.

Maybe Radley Balko, who I know follows Packratt’s twitter feed, will read about this and tell his people at Reason Magazine that this guy should be on the payroll.  I won’t press the issue as I have no idea whether the idea has any feasibility at all, but I can’t help but wonder whether Balko’s work will be the worse for Packratt’s absence.  I suspect it will.  I don’t suspect that Reason will put Packratt on the payroll.

For the readers who have followed Packratt and benefited from his efforts, consider that he stayed awake late at night researching, reading learning and posting about stories that mattered to you while his bank account dwindled.  He doesn’t need donations, but a well-paying day job.  What happens here in the blawgosphere is free for all to enjoy.  But we still live in the real world.  We still need to pay the bills and feed the kids.  This blawging thing doesn’t much when it comes to that.

Packratt says he’s sorry that things have come down to this.  It makes no sense for him to say that, as there is no one to whom he owes an apology for anything.  As for us, if you’ve read his work, gained any benefit from his efforts, then you might want to let Packratt know.  We owe him thanks for his efforts.  They didn’t cost us a thing.

6 thoughts on “The Blawgosphere and Real World Collide

  1. Mike

    It’s sad. People don’t tell us they need help until there’s not much help we can offer.

  2. Packratt


    Thank you for the kind words… not sure I deserve them, but thank you. As I said before, you’re one of the people who really inspired me and pushed me to move forward all this time, so you deserve your share of credit for anything good I might have done.

    As for the short notice of my situation, I just didn’t know how serious it was until yesterday. I’m sorry I didn’t warn people sooner.

    Hopefully, though, I’ll be able to turn things around soon and be back at it better than before.

  3. Mike

    Of course not. And yet that sentiment is the problem.

    Often people need help. That’s life. I don’t look down on anyone with problems. It happens.

    If there are people willing to help, I don’t see the problem with saying, “Man. I’m short on cash. Can you help?”

    Yet we’re conditioned not to ask for help – at least if we want to perceived as someone who is “worth a damn.”

    Of course, that leads to all sorts of problems. In extreme circumstances, it’s why people are so shocked when a friend commits suicide. “I never saw that coming.”

    Well, yeah, of course you didn’t. Because we as a society have agreed that people “worth a damn” shouldn’t air their problems.

    Instead, we should all pretend that everything is all right…. until it’s too late to make things right.

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