To the point week of 4-21-11

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IT’S ALL A MISUNDERSTANDING.  Apparently there are misunderstandings occurring all around the country, and many involve professional athletes.

This week, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mike Leake was arrested for shoplifting some tee-shirts from a department store. Retail value? About $60. At the time he was arrested, he had $250 in cash in his pocket, along with several credit cards.

He signed a major league contract that came with a $2 million signing bonus, plus his yearly salary. This year, he is making $425,000, and on Monday security cameras caught him taking the security tags off of six tee-shirts before walking out the store with them.

The police report totaled the value at $59.88.

Surely, there must be some misunderstanding, right?

Surely those security cameras that caught him taking off the security tags were wrong.

Surely he just doesn’t feel entitled, does he?

Last week Switzerland County experienced a “misunderstanding” when NFL football player Mike Vrabel apparently thought that beers were free if the establishment is closed at the time he wanted one – or eight.

He ended up with a mug shot in the Switzerland County Detention Center and his name on ESPN.

But it was a misunderstanding – just ask him. He’s sure that once everyone knows the whole story, it will all just go away. I’m thinking he had plenty of time to tell the whole story while he was getting to know Jail Commander James LaPine, but I digress.

Then there’s former New York Giant Lawrence Taylor, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He recently got probation for knowingly paying for sex with a minor. It wasn’t his first offense, but the Judge decided that he only had to register as a sex offender at the lowest level of the law, and he only has to register for the shortest period of time.

After all, he’s Lawrence Taylor. There must have been some misunderstanding, right?

With football experiencing a lockout, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Aquib Talib decided to pass the time by firing a shot at his sister’s boyfriend. He turned himself into the police, and through his agent he said that it’s a misunderstanding, and he’s sure things will be cleared up soon.

The list continues, and that’s just athletes. I haven’t even gotten to television and movie celebrities.

All of this leads me to the question: Is justice really blind?

And, better yet – what are these guys thinking?

I mean, you’ve got $250 in cash and a fist full of credit cards and you decide to steal some tee-shirts? Was it for the thrill? Did Mike Leake think he’s above the law?

Did Mike Vrabel think his profession allowed him a free pass to do whatever he wanted with no consequences? I’m not sure how much cash he had on him, but I’m guessing he could cover the cost of eight beers.

And, in my opinion, Lawrence Taylor is a sexual predator who needs to understand that his money and fame can’t buy him whatever he wants, legal or otherwise. There comes a time when fame gets thrown out in favor of justice.

But before we blame the judicial system, we need to point a finger at ourselves.

As a society, he place these athletes and entertainers on such a pedestal that when they get themselves into trouble, more often than not it is our society who is screaming the loudest:

“There must be some mistake! We’re sure it can be explained!”

Then, after our athletes and stars seemingly get off easy, we as a society stand around the proverbial water cooler and gripe because they got off easy.

At the same time, I would argue that “famous” people shouldn’t get stiffer sentences than “normal” people just because they’re famous.

If Justice is blind, then it’s completely blind.

Yes, there are times when there are circumstances, but at those times civil people make civil decisions.

If you’re famous, then you can’t have it both ways. You can’t demand special privileges that come with your status; and then claim to be an everyday Joe when you get caught doing something stupid.

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Tuesday night’s storms that ripped through Switzerland County and Southeastern Indiana – well, pretty much the entire Midwest for that matter – helps us understand and appreciate what’s really important in our lives.

There were some trees uprooted and some structural damage to some buildings; but no one was hurt, and that’s truly the important thing.

“Things” can always be replaced – our loved ones can’t.

I couldn’t help but think of the Good Friday tornadoes that came through this part of the country in 1974; and also the tornadoes that went through an area of Tennessee near where my brother in law and his family live in 2009.

But the one thing everyone needs to know is that if they are not a part of the CodeRED system here in Switzerland County, they need to sign up.

It doesn’t take very long and it doesn’t cost anything, but there is a peace of mind that comes with knowing that if there is severe weather in our area, you’re going to know about it.

If you’re not registered on that system, go to the Vevay Newspapers website at www.vevaynewspapers.com and on the right hand side you’ll see a black and red CodeRED square. Click on that and you can register your home phone and cell phone numbers.

It’s too important to ignore.