To the Editor:
With every new detail of Tom Jones' chicanery ("End of the Honeymoon," November 14th issue), I get more pissed off. He's a thief, and he should go to prison. I don't see how it's relevant that he was a great guy to deal with while he was ripping off the taxpayers. You guys are quick to hammer The Commercial Appeal for being lightweight, but John Branston's kid-glove closing to the story ranks right up there. Jones should call Branston as a character witness at his sentencing hearing.
Slavery or Not?
To the Editor:
Ron Martin has an inaccurate statement in his "Slave Traders?" article (November 14th issue). The University of Michigan did not make an "admission of guilt for buying athletes in the1990s." The university admitted that four student-athletes and their families received improper loans from a rogue booster, Ed Martin, a time-honored tradition in all collegiate athletic programs.
Martin's article implies that Michigan was illegally paying for the student-athletes' services, which was certainly not the case. The University of Michigan case is much different from the Albert Means/University of Alabama case and should not in any way be compared to it. The student-athletes in the University of Michigan case -- Chris Webber, Robert Traylor, Maurice Taylor, and Louis Bullock -- had successful and productive collegiate basketball careers. Hopefully, Albert Means can have a successful and productive collegiate football career.
To the Editor:
Ron Martin should tread lightly when comparing the Albert Means fiasco to modern-day slave trading. I am not African-American, but if I were, I am pretty sure such a comparison would offend me. How can you compare the opportunity for a young man (regardless of color) to receive room and board, a quality education, and a chance to make millions of dollars in the NFL to slavery?
What happened to Albert Means is terrible, but it hardly reeks of racism. Martin seems to think that because the men who "sold" Albert Means are black the African-American community -- specifically, maybe even exclusively -- should be outraged. I would argue that the African-American community is equally outraged about this situation as the rest of the community is. "Equal" -- quite a concept, huh, Mr. Martin?
Martin essentially refutes his own African-American call-to-arms with a single quote: "The color of their skin does nothing to diminish Lang's and Kirk's acts of treason against those who trusted them." Damn right, it doesn't. Does Martin not realize that one of the other "slave traders" involved -- the "buyer," in this case -- is white? This incident transcends race.
To the Editor:
I believed Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley were innocent ("Untangling Devil's Knot," November 7th issue) after seeing the film Paradise Lost. However, I always research anything I get involved in and I quickly found out that many of the things I saw in Paradise Lost were sensationalized or blatantly misleading.
First, Jessie Misskelley Jr. is not mentally handicapped. He has a low IQ and I'm sure he'd have trouble with quantum physics, but he's no Forrest Gump either. He was completely capable of being questioned by the West Memphis police without getting confused. Could Jessie handle the questioning? I think so.
Second, which one of Jessie's confessions was coerced? The first one? The second one? The fourth one? Would someone confess multiple times if they're being coerced? Can coerced confessions happen when the accused's lawyers are present? Misskelley confessed to the murders multiple times, and one of the confessions took place with his lawyer, Dan Stidham, and other counsel present.
As Mara Leveritt writes in her book, the West Memphis police didn't have much information about the crime. The crime lab in Little Rock wasn't releasing anything, and the medical examiner, Peretti, wasn't either. They didn't know what type of weapon was used, what the causes of death were, and didn't know who died first or last. Jessie Misskelley Jr. told them all that information in his confessions. You know, the ones that were "spoon fed" to him by the West Memphis police. How could they have "fed" him anything if they didn't know anything themselves? They couldn't have.
Last but not least, why would any of the victims' families talk to Mara Leveritt? Since day one she has been an advocate for Damien, Jason, and Jessie, not the victims. She's making money off of dead children and supporting the men who killed them. Not only does Leveritt avoid representing their side of the story, she points an accusatory finger at one of the parents as being the actual killer!
The men convicted of these crimes are guilty. Anyone who has researched the case can see that. Don't believe everything you read just because there are money, movies, and celebrities attached.
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