Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Drug killings symptoms of disease

Your voice: George Corneliussen

Fewer stories the Enquirer covered in 2003 were sadder than "Killings at 26-year high." On the last day of the year it brought several issues into focus.

In 2003 there were seventy-five homicides. The 75th, the stepson of former assistant police chief Ron Twitty, proves that no one is immune to this tragedy. Police Chief Tom Streicher states that 90 percent of the homicides were drug-related. The obvious sadness in this is the loss of human life over something as worthless as drugs.

Most of the killings took place in Over-the-Rhine, the West End and Avondale. The reason is not because these are bad neighborhoods. We have abandoned these places; the risk of getting caught for anything is very low in them.

City officials call for action against this deadly disease. If the city, its citizens and surrounding communities are truly ready to address the problem head-on, we must look at the cards we have all been dealt.

Drugs are a symptom, not the cause. Money and power that comes from drug sales is the root cause of these deaths.

Two hours before Twitty's stepson Allen Shannon's life ended, the Enquirer tells us, his parents spoke to him, and he told them he was going to get a haircut, a common thing to do. Somehow, he ended up dead.

Violent deaths can occur in any situation that produces a year's worth of income in less than a week and no moral laws apply.

These young men and women are following the wrong path. In order to address the problem, we as a society must deal with the reason they are following that path.

They are after the things that money can buy and the power that comes with money at any cost. That path is wrong. To slow or stop the drug-related killings, we must address that profit and power.

Simply putting more police in the neighborhoods where the killings are taking place may lower the death rate, but it will not stop it.

No one likes cancer; we fear it. Yet we are not afraid to face its cause. No one would prescribe not eating as a cure for stomach cancer. Drugs are a symptom of the cancer that is killing our young. Placing money and power above all else is the cause of the disease. Diseases are not cured by treating symptoms.

This is not a call to legalize drugs or a call for fewer police. It is a call for all of us to look at the cards we have been dealt and work together at winning the hand.

If we keep passing the problem off as a black or white issue, we will be trying to win by bluffing, and all our efforts will simply become another symptom of the disease.

Let's name the gene that causes this horrible disease for what it is: greed without conscience.


George Corneliussen lives in the city of Montgomery, and believes the only thing deserving of bipartisan support is the truth at the core of any issue.

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