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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of October 9 - 15, 2002

Opinion Columns

A distinction, but no difference, in deaths

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

Terrorism is in the eye of the victim.

The several thousand people who died innocently in the World Trade Center were called victims of terrorism.

But the men, women and a child cut down by a sniper’s gunfire in the Maryland and District of Columbia areas in the past week probably will be classified as victims of homicidal assaults or murder, not terrorism.

It’s a distinction without much of a difference. Sudden, violent death from ambush by a sniper or suicide bombers is ghastly in any event, and acts of terror.

As President Bush tries to make his case for power to launch a pre-emptive strike on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to disarm a terrorist of murderous weapons, it’s worth remembering that homegrown "terrorists" with guns this year will kill perhaps three times as many as those who died in the WTC towers.

If U.S. intelligence experts can measure the threat of Saddam Hussein and set the stage to disarm him, could domestic law enforcement intelligence experts concentrate on developing ways to measure the threat at home posed by some gun owners and the terrible toll they take on life and find ways to disarm them before they kill?

Americans continue to be the world’s most heavily armed people with 192 million firearms, including 65 million handguns, in the industrialized world’s most violent culture.

Surely homegrown crime that takes thousands of lives every year is deserving of as much all-out measures as the threat from a tyrant on the other side of the world.

A reader admonishes me for singling out Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo for breaking his term limit pledge to run for a third term, and overlooking others.

Research turns up more—Republican Congressmen Scott McInnis, of Colorado, now serving a fifth term after promising to serve only two; J.C. Watts, of Oklahoma, re-elected to a fourth term but who is now leaving Congress, and George Nethercutt, of Washington, now a fourth termer, and Democrat Martin Sheehan, of Massachusetts, now in his fifth term.

Betraying voters is an equal opportunity offense across party lines.

While at it: what possesses politicians to claim they’re "family values" candidates when in fact their lurid personal lives contradict their campaign messages?

Two come to mind.

Democratic Gov. Paul Patton of Kentucky, 65, finally admits he had a two-year affair with a 40-year-old nursing home operator. And U.S. Sen. Tim Hutchinson, 54, an Arkansas Republican, dumped his wife of 29 years to marry a 38-year-old member of his staff.

Auditors caught cooking the books explain away their behavior as "accounting errors": how long before "family values" politicians caught philandering use the excuse of "marital errors?"




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