Dissatisfied voters have real choiceSo much is being read...

the Forum

May 05, 1992

Dissatisfied voters have real choice

So much is being read and heard this election season about "voter dissatisfaction." The voter should be satisfied with the priceless privilege of being able to vote. That he/she does not take advantage of that right is immature. It is like a child saying, "If I can't have what I want, I won't play."

We cannot vote for a person who did not choose to run. We must select the road that's available, not the one that has not been built.

However, experience is the best teacher. What we have experienced this last decade is depletion of education, environmental aid and health conditions -- promised but not delivered. Are we satisfied with mediocrity, or do we want superior jurists appointed when the next Supreme Court vacancies occur?

Voter apathy is blamed on their indecision over "the character issue." Have they checked out which is worse, a college youth having smoked a marijuana cigarette or a presidential maneuver to avoid paying income taxes to the states where he works and owns property?

The White House should not be for sale. Even a person who is a proven "money maker" in business may not necessarily be a statesman. There was once talk of Lee Iacocca for president. Then he went to Japan and proved that a CEO does not a diplomat make.

Ronald Reagan's "are you better off than you were four years ago?" seems off key when sung to a 1992 melody, doesn't it?

Sylvia Bliss Mandy

Pikesville

Real issue in the King case is the judicial process

Of those questioning the Rodney King verdict, and I do, I wonder how many people know what criminal violation(s) the officers were actually charged with. How many have based their opinions solely on the approximately 20 seconds of the available 81 seconds of video depicting the altercation, instead of the totality of the evidence and testimony which obviously was presented during this nearly two month long trial?

I ask this because many people have said there is no doubt the officers used "excessive force" on Mr. King. The video tape, in their minds, made that very clear.

Excessive force is not a criminal charge. Assault and battery, or assault with intent to maim, murder, etc. are the possible charges that an officer who uses excessive force could face. The term "excessive force" is that force used by a police officer in making an arrest or other confrontational situation which, considering the totality of circumstances, is more force than was necessary to get the job done. Unreasonable does not always equate with criminal.

It is being said that the criminal justice system is applied in two standards: black and white. If those four white police officers were guilty, as polls indicate the majority of Americans feel they are, are they the first obviously guilty defendants, either black or white, to emerge from a courthouse acquitted of the charges brought against them? The answer, unfortunately, is no.

The real issue should be the effectiveness of the entire judicial process, not just the outcome of this one case. The real issue shouldn't be, and in my opinion isn't, racial. The focus should be on how defense attorneys can manipulate the judicial system by changing venues, stacking juries, judge-shopping, prosecutor-shopping, postponing cases and requesting jury trials in order to frustrate witnesses and victims. Tactics, which I might add, were strikingly effective in the King trial.

The focus should be on the state legislatures, comprised in large numbers by defense attorneys, who year-in and year-out introduce legislation which only add to the already too numerous avenues of redress and appeal for those defendants the states are able to convict.

David R. Etheridge

Hampstead

____________

I awoke from a disturbing dream this morning. I was attending a lecture in a large hall. A middle-aged professor with graying hair stood addressing what looked like an audience of serious scholars.

"Our subject is Western History. Most of you did the reading about the California case and Mr. Rodney King -- or you should have by now. As you remember the policemen involved were acquitted after what seemed very strong evidence against them.

"Now, what the reading did not tell you was the climate of those days in what was the United States. Some scholars believe that the public was being slowly conditioned to accept a police state by many factors, including popular entertainment, TV shows such as "America's Most Wanted" and "Cops in . . ." wherever, Dallas, Chicago, Hooterville and so on.

"Of course, most of you are too young to have experienced TV or even to remember when the United States was a democracy with a Constitution centered around the rule of law. Now, the King incident is one of the important landmarks of studying how the U.S. shifted from having a Constitution into becoming a police state, not that scholars all agree as to when the transformation became complete as it is today..."

At this point I awoke.

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