Pubdate: Fri, 30 Jul 2004
Source: Laurel Leader-Call (MS)
Copyright: 2004 Laurel Leader-Call
Author: Mett B. Ausley Jr.
Referenced: Copy of Wickham Column
Referenced: Mayer:


To the Editor:

If DeWayne Wickham's opposition to "mandatory minimum" drug penalties
indicates "idiocy" as you allege (in Editor Tom Mayer's July 23
column), this ordinary shortcoming pales beside your editorial's
wanton liberties with truthfulness and reasoning.

Give Wickham credit for forthrightly admitting his interest in helping
a "jailhouse scribe" inmate acquaintance. Absent your own disclosure,
I'm left wondering what of your overstated outrage is sincere, and
what merely reflects an eagerness to sell advertisements and
subscriptions by pandering to your readers' familiar prejudices;
toadying to justice functionaries vending the "news" you stream before
your audience in voyeuristic fashion.

Our rotting "War on Drugs" generates much of this titillation, so
wouldn't it be a shame if allowing judges discretion to sentence
slowed the gravy train down a bit? Of course, your self-interest can
be waved aside with the profundity that "drugs are bad."

When this facile excuse for exploiting human weakness and misery wears
thin, there's always refuge in the First Amendment. Following your
example, pimps and drug dealers might do well to elude "mandatory
minimums" by calling themselves "journalists."

Mett B. Ausley Jr.

Lake Waccamaw, N.C.
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