A lemon by any other name…

Little did reporter Susan Marshall know when she wrote of Robin Kyle’s brave fight against cancer and her “bucket list” helicopter flight last week how prophetic her words might be.

“When life hands you lemons,” Susan’s story began, “make lemonade.”

Susan’s deftly written account gave us all a taste of the sweetness that can emerge from a sour experience, but it unfortunately told only the first part of the latest chapter in Robin’s life. Sweet as lemonade may be, the acidic sourness of its underlying lemons always seems to come through.

Hours after soaring to new heights aboard a borrowed LifeTeam helicopter, Robin’s fulfillment of a lifelong dream crashed into nightmarish reality as she and her husband became subject of a domestic dispute that ended with her estranged husband jailed on two charges.

According to Deputy Travis Wilson’s official report, Robin’s husband, suspected of being under the influence of alcohol, struck Robin, then threatened law enforcement officers with a firearm. His arrest was a tense time for officers. Already suspecting he had a large cache of firearms in his house, they also expressed concern that he was listening to their radio broadcasts as they approached. No wonder Sheriff Rob Craft a week later asked for new bulletproof vests for his entire police force.

Domestic violence and alcohol abuse have become so epidemic in our community that even a dying woman, trying to fulfill one of her last wishes, has become a victim of them.

The sadness of these twin scourges pour over virtually every aspect of life. In our own office a few weeks ago, we counted at least three employees over the years who had been the victim of abusive relationships. One reported having had her life and the lives of her children threatened by a spouse who would intercept her communications and ultimately forced her to resign.

As we did last year, we again this summer have been reviewing court records of people arrested multiple times for driving under the influence. Again this summer we are finding a criminal justice system that seems to do little if anything to treat or punish repeat offenders. Multiple times this year, defendants have emerged with little more than a slap on the wrist despite doing such things as trying to defeat anti-drinking interlocks placed on their vehicles after multiple drunken-driving convictions.

So much of our energy these days seems to be expended on so-called family values issues like abortion and gay marriage and core beliefs about the desirability of medical marijuana and carrying concealed weapons. We are fiddling with relative distant issues while our true values at home are being destroyed by misogynistic machismo fortified with abused alcohol and abused firearms.

The time has come to just say no to those who cannot handle their liquor and cannot respect their domestic partners. If the criminal justice system cannot do a better job of preventing, not merely responding to, these problems, perhaps it is time find new leadership for elements of that system.

The time has come for our community to unite behind the cause of no more abused wives, no more abused children, no more abused alcohol, and no more abused guns. Until we do, any words of support for so-called family values will ring as hollow as the morality of the perpetrators of these crimes.

— ERIC MEYER

 

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