by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
February 23, 2008
YOU CALL THESE RIGHTS?
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- When you express an opinion you hope to persuade others to your point of view. It doesn't always happen but still, opinion writers try.
I thoroughly enjoy Maureen Dowd's columns in The New York Times but her bashing of President Bush for the last eight years has not persuaded me to her point of view at all. And yet, I have nothing good to say about Ann Coulter, a syndicated columnist with Universal Press Syndicate, who dismisses with rancor half the people I know and love, but at the same time doesn't have to persuade me to her point of view on conservative issues - I'm there.
But I have opinions of my own on the American press and our need to clean up our act - not necessarily because the whole world is watching, although that, too, but because we're feeding ourselves garbage.
How many of us care if it's the anniversary of when Britney Spears shaved her head? The follow-up stories covered her life since then. Since it's been non-stop, we have no need for recaps. I am not talking about news in the tabloids, or even magazines at the checkout counters at supermarkets. I'm talking about the Britneygrams delivered nationwide by the daily press.
It has been 33 days without a murder in Newark, N.J., the longest span since 1963. I suppose this is the good news since they are not printing the news from Jacksonville, Fla.: "About 39 percent of the 848 homicides committed in Jacksonville from 1996 to 2005 remain unsolved, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office numbers show." Where we live, 60 miles north, these murders are our television news of the day. Two or three murders in an evening's suppertime broadcast is typical.
People are shot through the walls of their homes as gunslingers drive by for the fun of it and pop, pop, pop. Two weeks ago an 11-year old girl lying on her bed reading was killed instantly by a stray bullet. There are more and more police but they pose no threat to the gangs. And when they are called, residents say they don't always come "because of the neighborhood." And that's the news of the day. You call these rights?
I don't think the framers of our Constitution, when they drafted the Bill of Rights, meant for those rights to be demanded in extremisby an irresponsible populace. The right to bear arms was intended as a means to protect your home and family against intruders, so you could enjoy the guarantees of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As for your posterity being guaranteed by those same rights - well, your posterity may not make it past age 20.
The airwaves are polluted with stories that don't warrant our attention: A basketball players rape case; a baseball player's use of steroids; nd for the last three weeks, it's been Roger Clemens and he-said, he-said saga of whether he was injected with performance-enhancing drugs.
Why are these sports figures called before Congress? The Congress of the United States? Why am I seeing Senator Arlen Specter questioning the football player about his use of steroids, and a coach's statement about what he witnessed? Who put the needle where? When? What was injected? Neither tells the same story, and that means "somebody is lying." Why is this not being handled by the commissioner of either baseball or football? Meanwhile, Congress is filled with fans scurrying for Clements' autograph!
Simply put, if there are rules about steroid use and it's detected before a game, then he or she shouldn't play they're out of the game. And that's it. Let the fans scream: A rule is a rule. Must we be subjected to a congressional hearing because fans lost (mostly illegal) bets? It might take two seasons to get this message out, but once it's taken seriously, it will take hold.
Of course, they're digging into the past whenever a likely offender broke records, won ribbons or gold medals, and that trophies sit on the mantlepiece of an athlete who took advantage or steroids. So, is that fair? Was it a rule then? Was it enforced? Is that not the business of the powers that be in the sports industry?
Were sports figures the only ones using something to enhance performance? Did sports anchors do so, or news anchors? Did politicians? Did students double up on caffeine to cram all night for an exam? Was Prozac prescribed to help the harried, over-worked mother or career person get through the day? None of these should be the business of Congress.
I'm expressing my opinion. If in your opinion that it constitutes news that Anna Nicole Smith has been dead a year, that there is new information on John F. Kennedy's assassination, and that there's a new study of the accident that killed Princess Diana, then open up the daily newspaper this week and read all about it.
You won't read about gun control. That notion is not even on the table for discussion - not in Congress nor anywhere thoughtful people can work out a compromise about the right to carry a weapon to protect their home and family from intruders - versus the right to fill your car trunk with an arsenal to splay bullets around a neighborhood when your rages take over and retaliation is your goal.
Right now, such criminals are locked up after the court noted for the record that the killer was the product of one sad situation or another. That notation follows him through the system and eventually to any parole board.
The school shooters kill themselves and live in infamy, while the neighborhood punks rot in jail. Something is wrong here. If self-control is not the answer, then availability of illegal weapons must be controlled. Guns are supposed to protect us from the intruders, not placed in the hands of those intending harm.
Of course, that's just my opinion.
Visit longtime AR Correspondent Constance Daley at her Website.