Letters to the Editor, Feb. 24, 2012

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Don’t judge tattoos

Steve Doyle’s column (“On Valentine’s Day, there’s no love lost for tattoos,” Feb. 15) has not only offended me but many of my friends. I personally have three tattoos. I am not ashamed, and I do not and never will regret getting them.

I believe that his article was very biased and a stereotypical way of looking at someone. My tattoos mean a great deal to me. One is a tribute to my daughter, one represents my husband and his Naval career and the most recent one was a Valentine’s Day gift to represent my late grandfather. He was a man I respect and love more than can be explained.

I feel that if a tattoo has a purpose and makes someone happy, then more power to him or her. Tattoos are no longer the badge of rebellion they once were. They are a sign of art. The last time I checked, art is a freedom of speech, whether it is on a canvas or on your body.

Tattoos are one thing I will take to my grave proudly. Having tattoos does not make me a delinquent, thug or under educated. Art is about self-expression and creativity. Some  people hang their art. I chose to wear mine.

Many of my friends have tattoos. I do not judge, them and I will not judge them if they have one or 20 or none. Like they say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” You can’t judge a person by his or her cover.

When I walk around nobody can see my tattoos unless I choose to show them. If I do show them, many people stop and talk to me and want to know the story behind them.

Others do give me dirty looks as though I destroyed my body, but they have no effect on me. I stand strong in my decisions, and they have no right to judge.

Doyle says tattoos are crimes against humans, so why doesn’t really write about those crimes, like robbery, rape and more. This is by no means is a crime. We make this choice.

I am tired of being judged by people who cannot be open-minded. Doyle should keep his opinions to himself rather than publishing them in a newspaper that he has no business running. I do not appreciate being called an “ink-stained wretch.” If you don’t have any tattoos, then you have no clue as to why a person would have them.

Finally, if I recall correctly from my Bible study, Christ himself was tattooed for us by the piercing of his hands and his feet. I am very thankful for that. So if Doyle wants to call Christ an “ink-stained wretch” then he is more of a dinosaur, old fogy and jerk than I thought.

If you have tattoos, then welcome to the new generation. If not, give it some thought. I promise it’s not so bad.

Stephanie Ledford



EDITOR’S NOTE: “Ink-stained wretch” is a euphemism for a journalist.


Insufficient training

I did not know Trey Williams. I do not know either officer involved in the death of that young man. I do know one thing for certain. Williams death was due to insufficient training.

When I designed a masters degree in conflict management, I hired a faculty member to teach “crisis negotiations.” Why? I recognized that police regularly are involved in crisis situations – from low-level to high-level. I wanted to offer state, county, municipal and local police a solid course to help them deescalate and reduce tensions before using deadly force.

I have reviewed the two police training books in my personal library that faculty member used in that course. The books are written for police in hostage and barricade situations.

Such situations typically involve firearms already brandished, if not used. The books teach police how not to use deadly force, despite the high-pressure crisis.

The goals are to deescalate emotions, control situations, and to preserve life, of all involved. There are hundreds of skills to persuade gun-brandishing hostage-takers, or barricaded persons threatening suicide, to surrender peacefully.

Included in training are “cultural factors” – such as the races of the persons involved. A “command” given by one person of one race to a person of another race has a different effect than one given by and to persons of the same race.

Escalating voice loudness, aggressive tone, facial expressions, too-early use of commands instead of “friendly talk,” used by police all affect emotions of suspects and perpetrators.

My friend who taught that course now is the director of the Behavioral Unit at the FBI Training Center in Quantico, Va. I have not contacted him about Trey Williams’s death, because I already know what he would say.

Trey may not have been a lamb, but he is silenced now forever. Proper training, full training, would have led to patience, time, “friendly talk,” discussion, questions, counter-questions and reducing the emotional content of the exchange. According to proper training, if another black officer had been called to the scene, Trey likely would be with us today.

We may not be able to afford the police we have. We may not be able to afford hiring black or native Spanish-speaking police. Yet the very lives of innocent people are at risk when police – of any race – are untrained, or under-trained, on how to control already-escalated situations, or, on how to avoid escalating something into a needless tragic death.

John Willis



Food check-out week

The cost of food in America remains affordable. American consumers spend, on average, just more than 10 percent of their disposable incomes for food, according to the USDA Economic Research Service. That means the average household will have earned enough disposable income – that portion of income available for spending or saving – to pay for its annual food supply in about seven weeks.

Our Shelby County Farm Bureau board of directors and women’s committee will be promoting that this week during “Food Check-Out Week.” Each director is asked to donate non-perishable food items or give money to purchase more canned goods. Our local board treasury is also donating $100 to purchase canned goods, and all of this is donated to our food pantry for needy families.

Katherine Tingle, co-chair

Shelby County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee, Shelbyville