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SUNDAY, MAY 8, 2005
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Runaway bride must be punished for crime

THE DECATUR DAILY:

I agree with and appreciate most of THE DAILY's editorials, but you missed on Jennifer Wilbanks.

What Ms. Wilbanks did was somewhat comical but not right and definitely not spur-of-the-moment. It was premeditated. In addition to breaking some laws, Ms. Wilbanks broke the public trust. The principal issue here is what is missing in today's society — individual responsibility. If one cannot exercise responsibility on one's own initiative, society must encourage it through public means — in this case, punishment. The greatest deterrent to crime is the fear of being caught, its associated public scorn, disdain and ridicule and its ensuing penalty — collectively "punishment." If there is no punishment, you have said there was no crime.

Ms. Wilbanks is definitely not public enemy No. 1, but neither should she be rewarded for what she did. You cannot claim "no harm no foul" here. She irresponsibly exercised poor judgement and must be penalized in some manner — or you label the action as OK, to be repeated by anyone else as they please, at the expense of the public.

James L. Nix

Hartselle

Bush administration gave Saddam warning

THE DECATUR DAILY:

Gordon D. Pigg's letter prompts me to write. He cited a lot of statistics (figures), but if he listened to the news, I don't understand how he missed the fact that the Bush administration announced at least a month before the United States invaded Iraq that we were going to do it. So naturally, they moved their WMD's out to their allies (supportive neighbors).

If your neighbor were running a methamphetamine lab and the police told them, "We are coming out next week to search your home," would they find anything? You have to know the police would find no evidence. It's the same principle.

It seems like a lot of people fail to remember that Iraq knew the invasion was coming. He writes like a Bill Clinton fan.

Carver Gordon

Hartselle

Lobbyist gifts should be made public

THE DECATUR DAILY:

I would like to say that Cal Thomas is correct: "Everybody does it" is no excuse. It should not be allowed to stand and it should not be allowed as an excuse to attack others.

What is showing is the tip of a corrupt iceberg. The policy of lobbyists should not be tolerated. It is time that all monies and gifts are made public. None should be exempt. It is time to make it all known. The voters can then see who bought the vote. Integrity and accountability do not exist in our government.

I could mention one other thing. Many U.S. presidents have had mistresses, but only one has been brought up on charges. (Martha) Stewart was not the only one to do what she did. It didn't make it right nor is (U.S. Rep. Tom) DeLay right. We can lay down rules for all to follow and enforce, or we can wave goodbye to integrity and say anything goes as long as you don't get caught.

Patsy Sparkman

Decatur

Opposing opinions are worthless to conservative

THE DECATUR DAILY:

Perhaps it is my conservative nature, but the only thing of worth on your Opinion Page for the April 29 issue was Mallard Fillmore.

"An Open Letter to Gen. Colin Powell" was as misleading and trite an article denouncing John Bolton that I've read yet. You would think two writers, Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift, could combine for a better job of reporting than following the tiresome party line of being against every person and every issue that President Bush advocates.

"Don't Hesitate to Fear Tom DeLay" was fear-mongering at its best. How old is Cynthia Tucker, anyway? I get the impression she's a student of journalism at some junior college. Her revelation that the DeLay "wing" of the government and "an increasingly vocal group of extremists" (rather nebulous, don't you think) are against the use of contraceptives is astounding. Good heavens, could she be referring to the Catholic Church as extremist? Maybe she is mistaking the term "abstinence" as anti-contraceptive. Maybe that is what she feels is a "serious threat to American democracy."

"Blame Christian Coalition for Last-Minute Budgets" is another attack against religious organizations. To make the absurd remark that the Coalition made a deal with the devil to defeat the educational lottery referendum is ignoring the facts. That lottery was defeated, pure and simple, because it was a bad idea. Of course, the "rumor" (that powerful source) you mentioned to try to make your point is pretty juvenile journalism.

Bob Perry

Decatur

Sex offender laws need review and revision

THE DECATUR DAILY:

Unfortunately, sex offenders have an extremely high rate of committing sex crimes again after being released from jail. Unlike many other criminal types, this holds true even for older sex offenders. These two phenomena have been widely studied and are now generally accepted by psychologists, sociologists and law enforcement. This poses a dilemma for society. What do we do with sex offenders who have finished their jail time?

First, we need to establish the principle that the well being of the innocent trumps the "rights" of the guilty. Even though the sex offender has "paid his debt" to society through serving his sentence, we know that the odds of him offending again are quite high. It is also becoming clear that the notice laws are ineffective by themselves. Therefore, the attorney general should put together a working group to examine sentencing in Alabama and whether longer sentences would be helpful. Every extra day an offender spends in jail is a day he cannot molest and/or murder someone. Since our jails are already overcrowded, as a trade-off (for example), there could be shorter sentences for simple drug possession in which violence is not involved.

Most importantly, the criminal laws regarding sex offenses should be modified to include an electronic monitoring component upon release for all sex offenses. This is not an "additional" punishment — it will simply be part of every sentence. This will cost money, but it is worth it. After all, the primary function of government is law and order.

John Hay

Executive Director, Alabama Advance Inc.

Birmingham

Liberal judges will destroy constitution

THE DECATUR DAILY:

Court appointees have historically received up or down votes in the Senate. However, since the Democrats in the Senate are controlled by the most liberal wing of the party, they have decided to block President Bush's judicial appointments.

This is a battle for the soul of America. If you believe in judges legislating from the bench laws that are not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, then you could support the blocking of the Bush's court nominees. Over the course of my life there have been hundreds of laws put forth by the liberal judges which are not even mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. If one believes the Constitution is evolving, as some believe, then over a few more years it will be destroyed. Our nation has been guided by this document for more than 200 years. If it is destroyed by liberal judges who have only their agendas in mind, what will be the final outcome of society? Since you are a newspaper editor, please explain to the local readers how you can support the blocking of Bush's nominees to the courts?

John W. Key

Decatur

Tablet display belongs on private property

THE DECATUR DAILY:

As a patriotic citizen of the United States of America I am very grateful that Judge Roy Moore's Ten Commandments monument has been moved to private church property.

Moving Ten Commandments monuments from public property to private property is an important step in protecting one of the most cherished freedoms granted us by the Constitution of the United States of America — the freedom to follow any religion we choose or to follow no religion at all.

When a religious monument is on any government property, it presents the government as establishing that religion as the state religion. For example, the first commandment of the Ten Commandments, when taken in context, tells us that we should have no other gods before the god, Yahweh, of the Old Testament, so with the erection of the Ten Commandments monument, the government commands the worship of Yahweh.

Where does this command to worship Yahweh leave good U.S. citizens who are Buddhists or Hindus or Wiccans or Deists or followers of any of the many other religions? Where does this command leave me, a god-free atheist?

As a patriotic United States citizen, I thank you for this step to preserve our constitutional democracy.

Carolyn S. Holland

Weatherford, Texas

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