Too Many Ideas to Write About
Untermyer Park in Yonkers
David Berkowitz/Son of Sam
What to Write About?
Quick! If you were going to write a newspaper column today what would you write about?
My guess is that your answer encompasses one of three possibilities: You have nothing to write about and could not care less; you have a subject of particular interest -- like taxes, abortion or bureaucrats -- that you often wish you could shout about from the rooftops; or, you have so many topics you feel strongly about that you just can't pinpoint one.
Personally, I feel strongly about a whole range of subjects that are fair game for a column. When I learned that this space was available, I volunteered to come up with something of interest to our readers before deadline.
Early Prisoner Release?
My first thought was to inquire into the wisdom of (Connecticut) Gov. (Lowell P.) Weicker for the way prison inmates are credited for good behavior, allowing convicts to be released earlier than is now the case; to question why we give convicted criminals harsh sentences and immediately soften their terms through "good behavior" and parole to a degree that is laughable.
Then it occurred to me that a better column might be one about that absurd and, I believe, unconstitutional idea endorsed by one state community to allow police to give drivers a ticket for good driving. While this might seem like a nice thing to do if one's mind isn't in gear, the idea fizzles when one realizes that this gives police the right to stop anyone, at any time, without a shred of evidence of wrongdoing; all they need say is, "He appeared to be driving safely."
Then again it occurred to me that I could write about the way I feel about the jury system. I could relate how my peers generally have intelligence, knowledge and opinions -- even prejudices -- but, under the jury system we live under, the "peers" selected must be automatons who have no strong opinions and little knowledge -- about anything.
In earlier treatises, I think I've already mentioned the abuses of power by prosecutors and judges who, through plea bargaining and inappropriate sentencing, punish some criminals too severely and others not harshly enough. Justice should be swift and sure rather than slow and uneven. No column needed on that!
Postal Service Mismanagement
Another column I considered doing is about the U.S. Postal Service and its myriad problems, notably the string of senseless killings from Son of Sam (David Berkowitz, who lived only a few blocks from where I grew up in Yonkers, N.Y.) to the most recent abomination in Dearborn, Mich. While violence is always inexcusable and cannot be condoned by anyone, runaway mismanagement at post offices throughout the country contribute to the stress and, sometimes, rage that push distraught workers over the edge.
Or, I could write a column about the rash of new radio shows that are bringing popular music back to the airwaves after decades of the cacophonies of rock 'n roll, heavy metal, etc. While I love listening to the great old music, the young disc jockeys still don't get it. I don't listen to these stations for nostalgia; I listen because I like the music.
The heck with it; I don't think I'll write a column today.
I wrote this column for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on June 26, 1993.