Response to Mike’s ‘takes aim’ column

Dear Mr. Wilcox,
This is in response to your “Readers take aim at this columnist!”. While I disagree with some of your facts and conclusions (which I don’t think are unique to your column), I don’t see it as taking aim at you as a person. What we need in this country is to talk and listen to each other respectfully. That is the strength of a democracy. I commend you for printing differing viewpoints. I hope you continue to do it.

In regard to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, I haven’t closely followed their personal finances. You may well have a point. I don’t believe in outrageous salaries well beyond what it takes to live a decent life. However, this goes two ways. Look at Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA. The NRA is behind the Stand Your Ground law now prevalent in many states (including Michigan). It was instrumental in contributing to Trayvon Martin’s death. I believe it is a terrible law that will result in more deaths unless abolished.

Wayne LaPierre is very well off as head of the NRA. He was paid just under a million dollars for one year’s salary based on his last income tax filing. And there is substantial evidence that the NRA pushed the SYG law through in large part for economic reasons (i.e., it makes money for the gun industry and for the NRA). Take a look at the video and book by former NRA member Tom Diaz, The Last Gun: How Changes in the Gun Industry Are Killing Americans and What It Will Take to Stop It.

I want to make clear I’m not opposed to hunting and recreational shooting. Most gun owners are responsible. I am in favor of making guns, as a product, far safer than they are now—just as we did with automobiles. I want to see sensible gun laws inacted that protect public health and end senseless deaths and injuries.

Since you wrote your “Stop Playing the Race Card” editorial, Juror B29 has come forward to state her opinion that “Zimmerman got away with murder”. However, she felt she and other jurors had no choice but to aquit based on Florida’s SYG law. Before Florida’s SYG in 2005, the instructions to jurors would have read that Zimmerman “cannot justify the use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm if by retreating he could have avoided the need to use force.”

As I see it, a bad law and money interests “win” here and the Trayvon Martins of the world lose. We all have to speak up and not let this happen. One of the first things we are taught working in crisis intervention with youth is to use de-escalation techniques. The Stand Your Ground law, as it exists now, escalates, not de-escalates, situations. The results are too often tragic.

Current polls show if you’re white, you are less likely to view the Zimmerman / Martin case as a racial issue. If you’re black, you are much more likely to see it as racially based. As long as there is this kind of a divided world viewpoint, I’d say we have a problem that continues to need urgent addressing.

Catherine Loeb
Former Clare resident

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