A Stones Throw 9-15-16

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Before I write what I intend to write for this week’s column, I have to make one more comment about the National Football League and some of its players. I no longer have any respect for the NFL, and many of its players are trying to divide the country – not bring unity.

With all but two of the first week’s NFL games were played on Sunday, September 11th – the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that destroyed the twin “World” towers in New York City, damaged the Pentagon, and had aims on the White House only to be thwarted by the plane’s passengers forcing the plane to crash into a field in Pennsylvania.

The result of the worst terrorist attack to reach our shores was a loss of life of more than 3,000 American citizens and the destruction of the lives of tens of thousands of family and friends of both victims and survivors.

And, anyone who believes in America.

So, since Sunday was the 15th anniversary of the attacks, each NFL game was started with a minute of silence in memory of those who died. Each game started with a large U.S. flag unfurled, covering most of the field, and held by hundreds of first responders, military personnel, and even a few NFL football players. Each game was started with the National Anthem.

That is the way it should be – Right?

Unfortunately, on a day when America took time to reflect and to honor the first responders and the victims of 9-11-2001, some players, along with the NFL, had to spoil the day with dishonor rather than honor.

How? Several players not only sat or kneeled during the National Anthem – several lowered their head and raised their right fist in the air – the Black Panther’s salute from several decades ago.

Keep in mind, the stated purpose of the Black Panthers was to kill police and any white people who got in the way. Actually, the stated purpose was to “kill the pigs.”

Which brings me back to the NFL and its players.

In pre-season training Colin Kaepernick was seen wearing “pig” socks – socks with a cartoon pig wearing a police officer’s hat and a red X across the chest of the pig. (Yes, the same Colin Kaepernick who started the disrespect movement.)

The NFL has stated it doesn’t agree with these actions, but says the players have the right to exercise their beliefs and opinions.

That is unless you wanted to do something special to honor those whose lives were lost or destroyed on 9-11.

When Tennessee Titans linebacker Avery Williamson decided to wear special made cleats designed to honor the 9-11 victims and first responders, the National Football League immediately told him, and anyone else considering wearing those tribute shoes, that they could not wear them. If they did, they would be fined by the NFL.

Avery Williamson, and others, were not allowed to honor the victims and first responders of 9-11.

But, he could have lowered his head and raised his fist in defiance – the NFL allows that.

I applaud Avery Williamson. He chose to wear his tribute shoes anyway – and pay his fine.

*

On a different note, I also applaud the Indiana Supreme Court for a new criminal rule it announced last week.

The Supreme Court stated “The reforms are designed to provide for public safety and protect the presumption of innocence. The prompt release of arrestees who do not pose a public safety risk is associated with reduced recidivism and lower jail expenses,”

In simple terms, except in certain cases such as Murder or Armed Robbery, unless the individual arrested has a violent conviction in the past or is on probation, the courts should release the arrestee immediately without bail.

On the whole, it seems that while defense attorneys like the rule, prosecuting attorneys feel the rule will be a danger to the various communities.

Still, according to Eagle 99.3, Lawrenceburg criminal defense attorney Frank Cardis states: “The reforms are designed to provide for public safety and protect the presumption of innocence. The prompt release of arrestees who do not pose a public safety risk is associated with reduced recidivism and lower jail expenses,”

Cardis also stated: “I am pleased that the Indiana Supreme Court has addressed statewide bail reform by adopting this rule.  Until this change, a person charged in one county may have a significantly different bond than a person charged the same crime in the county next door.”

While I understand the pros and cons of this rule, Frank Cardis explains the rule in a way I like. He says this makes every jurisdiction in Indiana have the same rules when it comes to determining bail and/or the release of an individual awaiting trial.

Now it is time to do the same for those who plead guilty or who are convicted of a crime. I get tired of reading about a white collar worker being sentenced to a year or two in prison for embezzling hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars while someone who steals a box of Twinkies or a six-pack of beer from a convenience store is sentenced to 10 to 20 years.

I get tired of reading about a woman leaving a young child in a car to cook to death and it is a tragic accident while a man does the same and is charged with murder.

I get tired of reading about someone convicted of murder getting a lenient sentence while others get the death penalty – for committing murder in similar circumstances.

We have Marijuana dealers in jail for life and Heroin dealers in jail for a year or two.

While I have always maintained these discrepancies are usually a result of either different community standards or of different economic status, too often the discrepancies defy logic, community sensibility, and economic status.

A case in point is the treatment of 23-year-old Randy Andrew Pitts and that of 23-year-old Brock Turner.

Randy Andrew Pitts is a young unemployed black man who plead guilty to four rapes in Indianapolis. In his plea agreement, the prosecution has asked for a 100 year sentence.

One hundred years for four rapes.

Brock Turner is a young white man with money, who was caught raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster in an alley. Turner was sentenced to six months in prison, but was released after three months for “good behavior.”

Six months – reduced to three – for one vicious rape.

Released early for “good behavior?”

I have to wonder, is such a disparity because of the race of the rapist, the community standard, or the economic status of the rapist.

I would guess it is a combination of money and race. Regardless, such disparity cannot be justified.

While the above example comes from two different states, similar disparities can be found daily throughout Indiana – and every state in America.

It is time to start treating everyone, regardless of race or economic status, fairly. I know there can never be equality, but there can be fairness – which will approach equality.

When I think in these terms, I can understand those who decry the inequalities occurring on a daily basis.

But, dishonoring the flag is not the answer.

– Mike Cooney

Note: Last week I received two $20 checks made out to the Switzerland County Animal Shelter – one for the Ziva project, the other in honor of Shadow. I will match both. Thank you!

Oh, and where are the barn pictures – I know we have some interesting barns in Switzerland County.