Diane Seltzer is a design artist who graduated with a BFA from Syracuse University. She taught in inner city schools in Boston and Pennsylvania where she used her artistic talents to help educate and bring inspiration to our youth. She is presently an executive in an import/export business. She has been a long time community organizer and social activist fighting for the rights of the underprivileged, the elderly and children. She is also an ardent animal welfare advocate and recently has extended support to prisoner’s rights and assisting the wrongfully convicted fight for exoneration.
The following essay comes from the Paul Cortez defense fund. The views expressed in it reflect a general concern with wrongful conviction in our justice system as well as the group’s belief in the innocence of Paul Cortez.
Media bias is pervasive in our daily lives. The First Amendment assures freedom of the press and allows all opinions to be expressed. Historically, various perspectives were viewed as thought provoking and a source of stimulation for ideas or actions. However, a new type of journalistic attitude has taken hold of much of the media. Ideas become fact, and these “facts” are manipulated to produce a more scandalous version of the truth and spun into sensationalized stories to boost sales. There are series topics and issues being manipulated by this tabloid media with little concern for accountability or consequence for the “public lynchings” they orchestrate.
One consequence can be the undermining and ultimate loss of a citizen’s civil rights. American law states a citizen is to be innocent till proven guilty in a fair court of law. However, you can be tried and convicted by the media with no chance to prove otherwise unless you have incredible resources. There was such a situation in New York that a group of concerned citizens became aware of and couldn’t ignore. We felt this was an attack on all citizens. The media took a story and sold their product ,the truth be damned, and helped to wrongfully convict a very talented young man named Paul Vincent Cortez.
Paul grew up in a tough neighborhood in Bronx New York but focused intensely on academic, athletic and theatre interests in hopes of fulfilling a dream to create a better life for himself and his family. He earned academic scholarships to the prestigious Buckley School, Poly Prep Country Day School, and Boston University. During his school years, he accumulated an impressive resume of achievements. After becoming the first family member to graduate from college, he was an aspiring Broadway actor and lead singer in a popular New York City band and supported himself by working as a trainer at Equinox Gym in Manhattan.