Pubdate: Thu, 13 Nov 2003
Source: Florida Times-Union (FL)
Copyright: 2003 The Florida Times-Union
Author: Stephen M. Supernak


This is in response to Tonyaa Weathersbee's Nov. 10 column.

Let's not be fooled by her brief foray into political correctness. While 
the personal responsibility backstroke seems genuine, it quickly unravels 
into an ocean of oversimplification.

The column began with Weathersbee speaking of personal responsibility as if 
she invented it, letting us all know it was understood to the point it 
doesn't require repeating.

The next point was interesting but I'm afraid it, too, failed the logic 
test. To illustrate the truth of the matter, that far too many people fail 
at the simple responsibility of avoiding crime, Weathersbee simply used as 
proof the fact that the United States is the top jailer in the world. She 
acts as if everyone has already embraced personal responsibility and it 
just hasn't worked.

If incarceration is a growth industry in this country, which it is, that is 
all the more reason to ring the familiar bell of personal responsibility.

While teachers can reinforce it, it must begin at home; it is learned best 
through example.

Weathersbee used a high-profile case to help make the unfair treatment 
case. Of course, we have a white conservative radio personality and a black 
liberal politician. One gets off scot-free and one does jail time. Can you 
guess which is which?

The conservative guy, when faced with the reality that the cat is out of 
the bag, admits he has done wrong, has a drug problem, cooperates with the 
police and enters a rehab program.

The politician does not admit to anything, despite video evidence. He is 
charged and goes to court. In court, his lawyer tells the jury, in a last 
ditch effort, that the politician occasionally uses cocaine. The politician 
never admits any wrongdoing and goes to jail.

Does anyone really believe the politician would have gone to jail if he 
admitted to the crime? I rest my case.

I would like to point out what I think Weathersbee and I do agree on. 
First, the number of black males in prison is a huge problem for everyone 
in our society.

Secondly, the jail time for drug sentences is too long; it was pushed on 
the public as a way of solving the drug problem. It doesn't work.

I do know excuses will never help ease the pain of a mother who loses her 
son to a life behind bars. We need to begin to focus on positive changes, 
which will someday remove the bars that hide the real answers.

STEPHEN M. SUPERNAK, production controller, Kingsland. Ga.
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