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Thursday, March 25, 2004 07:35 am

Letters 3-25-04

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Send letters to: Letters, Illinois Times. P.O. Box 5256. Springfield, Illinois 62705. Fax: (217) 753-3958. E-mail: editor@illinoistimes.com


JUSTICE NEEDS HER BLINDFOLD

The system of justice here in Springfield can be described as "simply amazing." If we are to believe that justice is blind, then those rules apparently do not apply in Springfield. Cases-in-point:

• A 16-year-old man is accused of firing a handgun in White Oaks Mall. He is quickly apprehended (in less than three hours), arraigned a few days later, and his bail is set at $1 million. Oh yes, it should be pointed out that this youth had fired a handgun previously, was incarcerated at one of the IDOC facilities for youth, and was subsequently put on probation. Then, less than a year later, he is involved in the shooting incident at White Oaks Mall.

• A 26-year-old man is accused of leaving the scene after striking and killing a Sherman resident with his truck on Jan. 27. This man was free until Feb. 26, when he was indicted by a Sangamon County grand jury on charges of failing to report an accident involving personal injury or death and driving while his license was revoked. His bond was set at $250,000. Then, on March 11, his bail was reduced to $50,000 at a late morning hearing. He, too, has a history. Sangamon County Circuit Court records indicate he was convicted in 2001 of driving under the influence as a result of a DUI. And in 2002, he was convicted in Menard County of driving while his license was revoked.

In looking at how both the young men were handled, is justice blind? Obviously not in Sangamon County, unless there were some other circumstances that the public is not aware of. Were they treated fairly? I think not. The justice system in Sangamon County is "simply amazing."

Johngylene Stewart
Springfield


KEEPING WOMEN IN THEIR PLACE

I read "The Incident" online, and I applaud Jane Galliher and Illinois Times for confronting this issue [Dusty Rhodes, March 18].

When I was a 20-year-old newspaper intern, I interviewed a man who worked with the mentally ill. He suggested we go to dinner, and we meet at his house. He was much older and well-respected. At his house, he offered me a couple of drinks. (I now assume they were drugged.) Afterward, I couldn't do much of anything but cry.

Although the law required "informed consent," I didn't think of this as rape until much later. Like Ms. Galliher, I couldn't understand his behavior, and if he had asked to see me again, I would have (although not, of course, to have sex).

Twenty-five years later, I wish I had told police or his superiors. He worked with vulnerable women; I wonder how many he raped.

We need to understand how rape keeps women "in their place." Either women restrict personal and professional activities, or they risk being raped or harassed, and then dismissed as promiscuous, prudish, crazy or vindictive.

We need to question the messages society sends about dominance, violence, superiority and sexuality.

And we need to make this a political issue.

Suzie Siegel
Denton, Texas


SCHMIDT LOST MY VOTE

The story about Jane Ross Galliher has just about destroyed my confidence in our judicial system. The lack of any action by State's Attorney John Schmidt is beyond my belief. While you state that Schmidt is running unopposed for reelection, I hope that someone -- anyone -- will run against him. Without a doubt, I will never vote for him again.

Mike Carmody
Springfield

 
MORALLY RECKLESS ILLUSIONS

Most people, whatever their opinion on the justness or unjustness of particular wars, agree that peace is preferable to war. When we see the terrible cost of war, as we have so powerfully in the past year, we recognize it as something to be avoided.

At the same time, most people understand that war is not something that is possible to avoid at all times and in all cases. It can be worse to sit on the sidelines and ignore a threat or tolerate the existence of evil than to fight.

I see nothing in the words of the "peace warriors" -- platitudes about downward spirals of violence, war not "working" and enforcement of international law -- to suggest that these undoubtedly well-intentioned folks know any better [Ginny Lee, "Warriors for peace," March 18]. They have high ideals, but no real plan, other than inaction, to deal with aggressors.

Would they, for example, maintain that the liberation of Germany during World War II, accomplished by American military might at a dreadful cost in human life, was bad or unnecessary? Do they really think that it could have been accomplished by any means other than force? And if they allow these two points, shouldn't they be arguing for the use of military force only in the right times and the right places, rather than preaching against its use in all situations?

C.S. Lewis once said that "history is full of useful wars as well as useless wars." If someone wants to argue that the invasion of Iraq was wrong, then they should argue that point. But they should first dispense with the morally reckless illusion that all conflicts that arise among nations can be solved without the resort to force.

David Kuner
Evanston

'WARRIOR' WEIGHS IN

Ginny Lee's photo essay on Springfield's peace activists accurately reflected what I want to say when I talk about the war on terror and the Iraq war. The big surprise was that it also told me so many things I didn't know about people I've been at meetings with or standing on the corner with for years. The depth of experience was amazing -- as were the different approaches we all took. I don't think any of us had a sense of how many different aspects (opportunities) there are in this work of making peace.

Dusty Rhodes' article, "The Incident," also was excellent. I admire Jane Ross Galliher's courage and Rhodes' reporting. The story told us about a situation in the reporting and prosecution of rape cases that we need to know about. And it also told us the story of Galliher's terrible experience and her refusal to be intimidated into silence -- a silence that would leave the citizenry and future victims in the dark.

Then there's your continuing story of politics and issues on the East Side [Rhodes, "Mixed bag," March 18]. Illinois Times is the only place I know to get this information.

Keep up the good work.

Peggy Sower Knoepfle
Springfield


HUGGING THE WRONG TREES

The red pine plantation near Litchfield is just that -- a plantation [Linda Hughes, "Speaking for the trees," Feb. 26]. There are no pine species native to central Illinois. The red pine is listed as endangered in Illinois because it occurs naturally [here] only in a single location in LaSalle County. Planting pine trees in an area that was originally prairie or oak-hickory forest does not make the area pristine or qualified to be designated a nature preserve.

Most natural habitats in this area are fire-adapted. Since pine trees are often badly damaged or killed by fire, the presence of planted pine trees necessitates aggressive fire prevention that precludes natural habitat management. As long as the pine trees are at this location, this area will never be anything approaching natural.

If the people familiar with the red pine plantation near Litchfield are fond of the place, they are welcome to try to convince the local officials to leave the trees. However, it is inappropriate to misuse conservation terms to try to save this very unnatural site.

William Zierath
Petersburg

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