Whatever you think of the troubles that confronted the Muns family with the incarceration of their son, Chad, on sex-related charges, you have to give mother Kim Muns her due: She is undoubtedly one of the more doggedly persistent people in the world.
Chad's crimes, duly publicized and adjudicated, are history; his prescribed debt to society is paid. There is, of course, great dispute over whether his case was he said/she said with a couple of younger girls, or whether he was criminally aggressive. At this stage, it doesn't matter what anyone thinks: His case is done.
But his mother, Kim, hasn't let go. And there may yet be teenage boys who will one day owe their freedom to her persistence.
There is, of course, nothing unusual about someone who becomes a crusader on a particular issue. In the newspaper business we are bombarded with fund-raising appeals by people who, after having a family member in some medical straits, become passionate advocates for their particular illness.
In her case, Kim isn't raising money: She's raising heck with lawmakers in Atlanta, fighting for changes in the state's sex-crimes laws.
Specifically, Kim has traveled repeatedly to Atlanta to lobby and to testify regarding reforms in the works that would make the state's laws some of the harshest in the country. Her aim isn't to take the heat off of adult predators, but to try to prevent teens from getting sent off to prison for 25 years for actions that are nothing more than consensual sex between minors.
We know the consequences of the law as it stands. Reggie Rice and Shad Harris are extremely lucky to have escaped adult sanctions for an alcohol-fueled sex party with three girls, and they're just our more recent examples. We've seen time and again how kids can get snared in the strict sex laws.
The focus statewide in recent years has been on how current law causes so many problems with teens. Yet lawmakers, engaging in election-year chest-puffing, are making the sex-crimes law harsher for everyone - and still failing to provide a proper safety net for kids.
Virtually no one disagrees with proposals to make punishment tougher for sexual predators. And just about no one wants teen boys to go to prison for 25 years for having a relationship with a marginally younger girl.
Yet where are the lawmakers fighting to make this distinction? Few and far between. The measure is running through the Legislature like a locomotive, and it won't be long before it's running over high-school boys.
Kim's boy is no longer in danger of being hit. She deserves praise for continuing to work just as hard to keep other boys from being tied to the tracks.
A glitch in time
One of the more popular features in The News-Times is the Time Capsule, which usually appears on Page 2. Each Time Capsule includes an explanation noting when the item originally appeared in the paper.
But people sometimes misread them, and think they're seeing a new story. We've had panicked calls in the past from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, wondering where we got the story that lake-front land was being sold by lottery (the story was nearly 40 years old), or the one about cutbacks at Fort Gordon (from 30 years ago).
The Atlanta paper's Political Insider column noted that even professionals can misread the paper.
It seems that last Thursday, CCN anchor Wolf Blitzer reported that the Georgia Legislature was reopening the fight over the state flag: The state Senate, he said, had just approved a new banner with a Confederate emblem.
Later, Blitzer confessed to a "screw-up": The item from the Columbus paper was 50 years old!
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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