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paring-1Detroit News, March 7, 1931. Tragedy befalls a physically robust couple: his hugs are as emphatic as her grasp on a paring knife. Which she happened to be holding at mid-chest level, blade outward, when he moved in for the clinch.

Alibi aside, here’s how I see this going down: Mrs. Diedrich is in the kitchen peeling radishes when Frank comes home mean drunk. He slaps her one too many times, she plunges the knife through his sternum. The neighborhood flatfoot is summoned to the Diedrich residence, as he has been countless times before. He sees blood on kitchen floors every week, and never complains when a wife beater is removed from his beat. He’s definitely willing to work with Mrs. Diedrich’s story–maybe he even coaches her on it if she’s too upset to think straight. Nobody back at the station house is going to second-guess him about a shitheel like Frank. As for the D.A., the last thing he needs is to prosecute a defendant that no jury in the state is going to convict. So, it remains for the coroner to confirm that Frank indeed died of a knife wound to the heart, and justice is done.

What I’m curious about is the level of irony at work in this sort of reportage. Otherwise put, what percentage of Detroit News readers took the story at face value?

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