Sentinel-Echo.com

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June 12, 2012

My Point Is...If there were a charge for ‘stupid’

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — More than a decade ago, a series of jail work release ‘walk offs’ netted a quote from the jailer that has forever stuck in my mind:  “There’s no charge for being stupid.”

That quote came after several inmates who walked away from work release programs sacrificed their remaining two or three months from freedom in exchange for an escape charge that carries a minimum five-year term.

While everyone occasionally makes a bad decision, and some of us more frequently than others, the lessons of life have revealed some decisions that have an adverse effect on the outcome of lives.

One behavior I fail to understand involves cheating in relationships. Or rather, the fallout of when someone is caught cheating. Why the offended person goes after the third person involved mystifies me.

Any relationship involves commitment from both parties involved. After all, it takes ‘two to tango,’ so to speak, and the party who stepped out on a committed relationship is just as, or more so, responsible than the third party.

Another mystery of human nature is why people stay in abusive relationships. Having been there, done that, there are avenues to rebuild one’s life after abuse. What is absolutely sickening, and most police officers witnessing this scene will agree, is when a woman — still bearing the marks of physical abuse — tries to stop the offender from being arrested and/or calls out, “I love you,” while the abuser is being hauled off to jail.

Speaking strictly for myself, if someone inflicts physical pain on my body, my anger, at least temporarily, will far overshadow any feelings of love. My reaction would be more so of giving the offender some Biblical directions to a place less desired than a Heavenly home.

Physical altercations of any type are basically fruitless. Regardless of who ‘wins,’ all concerned really lose due to ill-will between those involved. My family strongly disapproved of fighting and another quote imprinted in my mind is my mother’s belief: “You can beat me in a fight, but you haven’t won until you’ve changed my mind.” Whether you walk away bruised and battered, or unscathed as the ‘winner,’ you’ve only lowered yourself to brute force and uncivilized behavior and, more than likely, the impression you leave behind is even lower than when the fight began.

A friendly word of advice to the wise who darken the doors of our court system — when faced with an alcohol or drug-related charge, wearing a shirt with emblems of alcohol or marijuana plants to the courtroom is probably not a good idea. It might also be wise to refrain from partaking in alcohol and other intoxicating substances the night prior to a court date. Even brushing your teeth and using mouthwash will not always cover the odor of an alcoholic stupor.

Of course, being sober when you come through the security checks at the judicial center is also recommended. The court security officers are there to ensure public safety and while the metal detectors may find what cannot be seen under clothing, those officers are also trained to recognize someone who is under the influence.

If you are in court to prove your ability as a parent, dress appropriately. A woman trying to prove she is a fit mother should wear undergarments and clothing to cover her midriff and private parts. A man fighting for custody of children should present a mature, responsible appearance. Persons appearing for divorce proceedings might want to refrain from bringing their new companion to the court hearings, at least until the divorce is final. Believe it or not, such things leave bad impressions of the parties involved and may well affect the outcome.

With incidents such as these, it is probably best that no charges exist in our legal system for stupidity. If there were, those left out in society couldn’t possibly carry the load of taxes needed to expand the current jail system.

There may truly be no cure for stupidity, as the saying goes, but a little common sense can go a long way.

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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