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I Learned a Lesson from the Patty Hearst Kidnapping

Patty Hearst Released From Prison

You read it right–I learned a lesson from the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, but not in the way you might think. So stay with me here.

The facts are these: The newspaper heiress was kidnapped on February 4, 1974. Two months later, she announced she had joined her kidnappers, a rag-tag outfit calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army. On April 15 of 1974, she was photographed wielding an M1 carbine rifle during an SLA bank robbery.

The law caught up with her in September 1975, and on September 24, 1976 she was sentenced to 7 years in prison, but she served 22 months.

Now, just over 2 weeks after the Hearst kidnapping, Atlanta newspaper editor J. Reginald Murphy was kidnapped. He was released a few days later after the Atlanta Constitution paid a $700,000 ransom. A man was later convicted and sentenced to prison.

But here’s the lesson I learned. The day Murphy was kidnapped, I was in a grocery store in Huron, where I was working, when an older gentleman ahead of me at the cash register told the cashier “Did you hear about Patty Hearst? Somebody went and kidnapped her right back again–some guy named Murphy!”

That didn’t sound right to me, and when I went to work at the radio station that night I found out what had really happened.

But I’ve never forgotten what I learned: Even when you spell the whole thing out, not everybody who hears it is going to get it right. So be clear!

To this day, it’s something that drives me in my work.

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