Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tank Johnson's "Second" Chance

"Shortly after noon, police responded to Roosevelt Center for Adult Education, 978 Haskel Ave., in reference to an anonymous tip regarding a student with a gun. Rodrick F. Lyke, 17, was found in a classroom.

After speaking with Lyke, police determined that he was armed with a 38-caliber handgun. Police said Lyke never displayed the weapon or threatened anyone. Lyke was charged with unlawful use of a weapon and failure to carry a firearm owner’s identification card. He was lodged in the Winnebago County Jail, where he is being held on a $50,000 bond...Lyke is suspended pending a recommendation from the Roosevelt principal for expulsion.”

- The Rockford Register-Star, December 12, 2006

"Chronic misfit defensive tackle Tank Johnson, who has been arrested three times in the past 18 months (most recently for six misdemeanor weapons violations), received a slap on the wrist Tuesday from the Bears.

Amid speculation that he could be released or at least be inactivate for the remainder of the 2006 season, Johnson instead was given a one-game suspension by the team and will be back on the field for the regular-season finale Dec. 31 at Soldier Field against the Green Bay Packers. He will not be paid this week, unlike last week when he was placed on the inactive list."

- The Daily Herald, December 20, 2006

Something is deeply, deeply wrong here.

Before I say anything else, I must point out that the headline for the Daily Herald story is “Bears Give Tank a Second Chance.” Excuse me, but if he’s been arrested three times in the past year and a half, then this would be his fourth chance, by my count.

Now, I’ll admit that I don’t know if Rodrick Lyke is a Bears fan or not. And I can’t say that there is any direct link between his behavior and that of any specific celebrity or potential role model. But the juxtaposition of these articles says a lot about our society’s priorities and values.

There are plenty of ridiculous examples of zero-tolerance gone wrong in our country, but I pointedly chose Lyke’s story because it does involve a serious situation that certainly should be dealt with severely and judiciously. In my opinion it’s not only unfair, but also counterproductive, to let a school board ruin the prospects of higher education and a good career for a 17 year old but accept the Bear’s decision to simply give a slap on the wrist to a repeat-offending adult for what is ostensibly the same crime.

After all, zero tolerance, as a disciplinary policy, has a lot more to do with deterring behavior than actually correcting it. Offending students are “made an example” for others, in an effort to discourage them from pushing the envelope of acceptability. But talk about mixed (and downright unfair) messages! Imagine the impact it might have on students if they got a “second chance” from their school, but learned that the their ability to make a living with the talents God gave you could be ruined if they didn't shape up and live within the law as an adult? We might never know for certain if that would or would not discourage any kid from bringing a gun to school; but I’ve got to think that it would be more effective than the reverse, which is what we are doing now.

Read this and other posts at the Grand Old Partisan of Illinois

4 comments:

Anonymous,  8:00 PM  

Sure is something wrong whe the poice break into a private citizens home, create thousands of dollars damage and get a misdemeanor charge?

Wumpus,  11:28 PM  

So someone shooting a gun in a residential backyard and the police being called with a warrant is breaking into someone's home?

That being siad, if Joe in a regular job would not be fired, why should Tank? Hold him to the same standards.

grand old partisan 9:12 AM  

wumpus, I'm really not sure what you are talking about (is this a hypothetical, or are you referencing an actual story?), but to answer your question....

Because Joe's regular job doesn't make him a high publicity role model for the youth in his community, that's why. And let's not pretend like there aren't already different standards for rich and famous people when it comes to crime and punishment....the problem is that the current set of double standards usually works unfairly in their favor.

Anonymous,  11:46 AM  

Fact is the the alledged weapons discharge occurred more than 6 weeks before the SWAT assault (Not a SWAT style, but including large numbers of black attired police,automatic weapons, exploding devices, armored vehicles and forcible entry into a private residence, There was an initial vist to investigate. (Mr. Johnson was not home whe the alledged discharge took place.) The PD elected to investigate for a long time.

I can argue that Mr. Johnson is being treated worse than the average citizen There was a home breakin in Zion recently where a firearm was used to kill an intrudor. Turns out that there was no FOID in that case either. No charges of anykind were made.

If the FOID is such an important misdemeanor, then all should be charged, not just the celebrity.

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