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Williams' comment jeopardized a fair trial.

David Paoli's March 17, 2013 guest column in the Missoulian:

Pat Williams is a friend of mine. So, he will understand my advice.

Williams earned my respect and support for more than three decades. Sadly, that respect ended last month when he spoke, again, to a New York Times reporter. Williams abused his position as a regent to ignorantly blast University of Montana student-athletes, seriously jeopardized a young man's fair trial.

Williams gave a New York Times reporter red meat quotes about the university recruiting "thugs" to its football team and that the "thuggery" had to stop. When he was roundly criticized for his bombastic statements, he wrote a guest opinion to explain himself. Pat, when you are explaining, you're losing. Now, his refusal to recognize his poor judgment is astounding. Given his years of experience and titles, Williams should have quickly apologized, not defended himself as a "straight talker" speaking "purposely blunt." Montanans are a forgiving bunch. Montanans apologize when they are wrong.

. . . .

Williams is not a racist. However, his use of the racial epitaphs "thugs" and "thuggery" are racist. Anyone who has lived in D.C. or Seattle or Berkeley or anywhere else knows very clearly that the use of these words have serious and hurtful racial overtones. The use of these racial slurs requires an apology.

No, Pat, Montanans don't expect their "straight talk" to be found in a New York Times story. We want serious people who will devise a plan of action. We want our representatives to have all the facts before they speak to the press. You work to solve nothing when you give incendiary quotes to the New York Times or any other media outlet.

Williams' comment jeopardized a fair trial

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