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July 17, 2011

FLASHPOINT: Stay consistent on ‘consequences’

In your recent editorial titled “Getting tough on trespassers” you advocated what appeared a new stance by the Tribune-Star calling for actual punishment (consequence) for people who violate the law, in this case trespass on a railroad trestle that has been calling out to teenagers for many years (since before I was a teen). Congratulations on your not-too-late enlightenment. Real, significant consequence may actually work to keep people off that bridge and keep them safe from themselves.

I think, though, that you should campaign for recent community problems to be resolved the same way. Instead of supporting the sheriff’s lame attempt to make us all criminals for purchasing medicine for ourselves and our families you should call for severe punishment of those caught with meth, punishment so egregious that some might think better and others would serve as an example of what lies in wait for meth users/sellers.

Instead of forcing people who have been purchasing alcohol legally for more than 30 years to show their IDs to buy beer, you should be calling for real punishment for those underage people in illegal possession of alcohol because the current slap on the wrist by our legal system isn’t sufficient to make anyone not try to get alcohol, and it never was.

You and I are smart enough to know that teens are still able to get whatever alcohol they want, they always have and they always will. The only way to deter this is punishment or consequence severe enough to make them or those who supply alcohol to them fearful of getting caught, not by making me show ID to buy a six pack.

Get the picture, Tribune Star? Don’t use your editorial assets (as you’ve done in the past) to advocate punishing, or perhaps inconveniencing people who are doing what they’re legally able to do. Don’t ask to restrict groups of adults acting in a legal manner, in order to change the behavior of someone who can’t, or won’t distinguish right from wrong. Use your expertise to get laws on the books sturdy enough to punish even first-time offenders so that those of us old enough to purchase alcohol can do so without proving that my wrinkles are there because of age, or that I’m sick enough to need that medicine with ephedrine without worrying that I may be over my limit to keep myself healthy when I’m unable to contact my doctor to get a prescription.

Be consistent. If consequence works for trespassers, then it should work for others, too. I’m tired of the asinine restrictions (which incidentally you seem to back in your editorial and reporting) that I have to comply with when I’ve done nothing wrong in order to make it harder for those who will violate the law anyway to violate those laws. You can help but you have to advocate the same way each time.

I wonder what your editorial would have read if someone suggested fencing off the far northeast side to keep everyone out in order to keep everyone off the bridge as the solution to trespassers, an idea as inane as forcing a grandpa to show ID in order to buy a beer. Sadly, you’d have probably agreed.

— Jim Kmetz

Terre Haute

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