Rant & Rave

By Nicole Marsh

Tuesday, October 15, 1996

Country needs change of heart

WHILE there are a serious number of flaws in the fabric of American society today, there is one problem that to me can almost be "blamed" for the countless others.

It is the "bad heart" that keeps this country sickly, pale, inept and lethargic. And all the medicine in the world cannot stop the rapid decay of the American Justice System.

It is said that justice is blind, but apparently in the last few decades the old woman has also lost her hearing, speech and bladder control.

The American public has turned out to be unbelievably forgiving. Only in America, can an ex-mayor like Marion Barry, imprisoned for dealing crack during his administration, be reelected.

I'm all for compassion and pity, believe me. I'm actually very liberal. But the fact is that while I believe in rehabilitation and a humane approach to organized punishment, we live in a country that sends convicted murderers to resort/prisons with five-star accommodations at the expense of the public school system.

And after a short stay, complimented with luxurious amenities and conjugal visits, the criminal is most likely released into a world where he or she has no difficulty getting a gun, which they have no fear of using. And why should they? Prison nowadays makes Kalaheo High School look like some alien labor camp from an episode in "Lost in Space."

But hey, it's the '90s right? And excuses are like high-profile attorneys; everybody's got one.

There are so many laws and bi-laws and codes and other little ways for those who have committed a crime to weasel their way out of what is coming to them that the courts are not only letting the public down, they are taking an eternity and a super-size amount of our taxes in doing so.

BECAUSE of our lax laws and and warped sense of order, no one seems to take the law seriously anymore. From not wearing your seat belt, to drug use, to theft and murder - no one seems afraid of committing illegal activity. Child molesters, rapists, serial killers, gang-bangers, extortionists, embezzlers, kidnappers, thieves - you name it - probably number in the millions in America.

And apparently our sheriffs, judges and jurors - not to mention our fat-cat lawmakers - have been slipped a hallucinogenic and are viewing an alternate reality. Surely, if they could see correctly the statistics of violent crime, talked to children living in inner-city hell, or even watched CNN for five minutes, they would not allow men, women and children to walk and talk their way out of the crimes that are making this country crazy.

Overall, I believe that the reason America is the butt of international judicial jokes is that we, the people, don't recognize the law anymore. We don't believe in it, we don't trust it, we don't support it and most of us don't respect it.

Perhaps it is because we have seen the huge paradoxes . Maybe we feel a need to compensate for those unjustly sentenced in the past - in the Salem witchcraft trials and out of the southern racial policies of old - by failing to convict criminals now.

Or maybe we're just lazy. Maybe we figure that if lawyers, judges and juries let some guy off for killing his wife and her friend, there's a good chance that we won't get a ticket for going 90 mph in a school zone.

Maybe if a child molester is allowed to walk with six months probation, students won't get busted for carrying a dime bag of pot. Because if they don't have to follow the law, then we don't have to follow the law, and hey, that doesn't sound so bad to me.

Nicole Marsh is a law-abiding senior at Kalaheo High School.

Rant & Rave is a Tuesday Star-Bulletin feature allowing teens and young adults to serve up fresh perspective. Guys and girls speak up by fax at 523-8509; by answering machine at 525-8666; snail mail at P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, HI 96802; or e-mail, features@starbulletin.com

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