Amer­ica’s much bet­ter at sup­port­ing its troops

Woonsocket Call - - Opinion -

As a guy who grew up dur­ing the Viet­nam War, you can prob­a­bly imag­ine just how much change I have per­son­ally wit­nessed in the way Amer­i­cans treat their ac­tive mil­i­tary and their vet­er­ans. I have sev­eral close friends who served in Viet­nam. One came back and strug­gled to live a nor­mal life for many years. An­other threw his uni­form and medals into the ocean and never ad­mit­ted to hav­ing served to any­one, not even to the woman he even­tu­ally mar­ried. Both were treated badly by Amer­i­cans upon their re­turn from do­ing their duty.

Never in my life­time have our ac­tive mil­i­tary and our vet­er­ans been treated with so much re­spect as they are now. In fact, it’s got­ten to the point where peo­ple are com­pet­ing among them­selves in how to sup­port our troops. Good. • I got a good laugh Sun­day while watch­ing my overnight record­ing of “Sat­ur­day Night Live.” Last week, co­me­dian Larry David was the host of the show, and dur­ing his open­ing mono­logue he told a joke which must have worked bet­ter in re­hearsal than it did on the live show. It was a mis­take and it will hap­pen in any in­dus­try. The joke was about what a guy in a Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camp would say to a girl in the same camp as a “break the ice” first line. Mr. David was flamed in so­cial me­dia af­ter­ward for mak­ing any joke re­lated to that sit­u­a­tion. I saw it, it wasn’t all as bad as some said it was, but the joke clearly failed.

What made me laugh this week was in a to­tally dif­fer­ent show, dif­fer­ent sketch, they used a clip of Larry David him­self rant­ing about co­me­di­ans who make jokes about con­cen­tra­tion camps, and de­mand­ing they “should rot in H---!” I ad­mire some­one who can laugh at their own folly and im­prove them­selves from their mis­takes.

• Since we last met on these pages a week ago, Pres­i­dent Trump, who con­tin­ues his trip over­seas, has strug­gled to stay in the head­lines. It’s not that he hasn’t tried, but how do you com­pete for top billing in the news when dozens of well­known show busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal peo­ple are ac­cused one af­ter an­other of sex­ual mis­con­duct? I hes­i­tate to list them here be­cause there will likely be an­other dozen be­tween the time I write these words and the time you read them.

In some cases, the ac­cused de­nied the al­le­ga­tions. In oth­ers, there was ad­mis­sion and a plea for for­give­ness. But with so many peo­ple be­ing ac­cused, I am be­com­ing con­cerned with what hap­pens next. On the one hand, peo­ple might just ac­cuse any­body with no proof and let a lynch-mob men­tal­ity in the pub­lic de­stroy the ac­cused be­fore they even have their day in court. We saw marches this past week­end from a group called #Me Too, en­cour­ag­ing ev­ery­body who has a story to tell to come out and tell it. I hope they tell it hon­estly.

We must, of course re­mem­ber that some­one is pre­sumed in­no­cent un­til proven guilty in a court of law, not on the 24 hour pay-ca­ble news chan­nels.

While that would be wrong, I’ll tell you what else that could hap­pen which would also be wrong. That is, if so many peo­ple are ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct that it no longer mat­ters to any­one but the al­leged vic­tims.

That may sound far-fetched to you now, but you know how the av­er­age per­son just starts “turn­ing off” the news when it gets tire­some?

So, as I say, either ex­treme would be wrong and we need to guard against that.

You may have no­ticed I have not used gen­der-spe­cific words in talk­ing about the many sex­ual mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions. Well, I do try to be care­ful, but wouldn’t you know over the week­end came news of a claim from a man who claimed that noted ho­mo­sex­ual ac­tor George Takei drugged and mo­lested him years ago. I sup­pose it hap­pens be­tween women, too.

At this point you might go an­a­lyt­i­cal and point out how nearly all of us have sex­ual sides to us, so there is per­haps the po­ten­tial for mil­lions of us to mis­be­have, but I’m not buy­ing it. Ev­ery one of us also have hands and feet, but only a small mi­nor­ity of us use them to com­mit crimes. There may be “rea­sons,” I sup­pose, if you think of these things like a psy­chol­o­gist does, but I re­main un­con­vinced that there are any valid ex­cuses. Some­body just makes bad choices and some­body else be­comes a vic­tim.

What can we do about this? I’m sure some peo­ple will have no trou­ble at all propos­ing new laws and penal­ties be­cause that’s what these peo­ple al­ways do. But I think that is the wrong way to go about it. There are plenty of laws and penal­ties to dis­cour­age sex­ual mis­be­hav­ior right now, more than ever be­fore. The way I see it, the peo­ple who can­not con­trol them­selves now won’t be able to con­trol them­selves any bet­ter if the penal­ties are stiff­ened. The death penalty does not stop peo­ple from com­mit­ting mur­der.

I say the only ef­fec­tive way to re­duce all crime, in­clud­ing sex­ual mis­be­hav­ior, is to fo­cus on rais­ing our young peo­ple to be car­ing and thought­ful in­di­vid­u­als and to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their deeds.

Eas­ier said than done. But noth­ing this big is ever easy.

That’s what I think. What do you think? Com­ments to: dave@on­world­ or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Ra­dio, 985 Park Ave., Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.

Thanks for read­ing!

Dave Richards

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