I canít tell you the number of times Iíve had people come up to me and comment on ďthat article you wrote,Ē whether it be days, weeks or months since I actually wrote it.
My typical query at that point? Which one?
And nine times out of ten, itís not an article at all theyíre speaking of. Instead, itís usually this, my weekly column for The Evening Sun.
Therefore, seeing as how there continues to be some confusion as to the difference between an article and a column, I thought Iíd go ahead and clear the smoke before I go on with my thoughts for this absolutely lovely autumn day (sarcasm intended, of course).
Sorry, but I was really enjoying that sunny, 80 degree weather weíve been having.
Anyway, itís quite simple, really. Newspaper articles equal reporting of the facts ... columns, my personal opinion.
Which is why, of course, I have a tendency to receive either applause or condemnation (insert damnation, if you wish) on a week to week basis for this, my weekly column.
As for this week, you ask? Well, opinions are like ... mmm ... opposable thumbs, when it comes to most people. As in, most everyone has them, whether theyíre misguided or not.
As for this particular opinion piece, well, misguided is the name of the game, so to speak.
Picture it ... youíre in court, about to be sentenced to years in prison (state prison, no less). The judge looks down upon you Ė his eyes and tone of voice as serious as serious can be Ė and he tells you, in no uncertain terms, exactly how you should behave if he decides to grant you that coveted little slice of freedom that is furlough.
And to be honest, thereís really not that much to it.
Donít drink alcohol (soda, milk and juice are OK though), smoke pot (otherwise known as reefer, ganga, Mary Jane, grass, weed or, the clinical term, marijuana) or partake in any controlled substances (heroin, crack, cocaine, meth, opium, Vicodin and the like) and, guess what? Youíll be just fine when you reappear in court for sentencing. And that more than kind, five year sentence youíre about to accept? Well, sure, itís not going to be a walk in the park by any means, yet itís certainly better than ten, twenty or thirty years behind bars. Right?
But no, as we see more and more these days, it seems people simply canít help themselves. Case in point, the recent string of convicts who, generously granted a temporary leave to ďspend time with familyĒ or ďget their affairs in order,Ē have gone right ahead and done one of either two things ... dabble in drugs or commit another crime.
Which begs the question, just exactly what are these people thinking?
Itís as if the instructions they receive, just prior to their release, go in one ear and out the other. And itís not rocket science, either Ė just stay off the drugs and booze, and behave like a normal, rational, law-abiding citizen for a week or two.
Thatís not so difficult, is it? At least it shouldnít be, particularly when you weigh the consequences.
Plead guilty to five years in state prison versus the ten or twenty you could receive if convicted by a trial jury. Check.
Ask the judge for a week to prepare for the aforementioned five years, spend some time with your kids and other family. Check.
Immediately go out and smoke, shoot or snort some dope. Check.
Go back to court, plead that you didnít know smoking marijuana, shooting heroin or robbing the local gas station were against the rules. Check.
Off to state prison for ten, rather than five, years. Big check.
Yet thatís how it works these days, unfortunately, and far too often. And I find it hard to feel any pity whatsoever for these people. Their behavior is, well, downright idiotic. All Iím saying is this ... after a few weeks covering the police/fire/ems/court beat for our hometown daily, thereís one thing Iím absolutely sure of ... the men and women of our local law enforcement and judicial system (not to mention fire and emergency services) werenít born yesterday. Theyíre dedicated, hard-working and intelligent. And personally, I donít see why anyone in their right mind would think they could pull a fast one on any of the above.
Do the crime, chances are youíre going to do the time. Itís that simple. And if the judge is kind enough to grant you that furlough, well, try your best to think things through before you take that harmless little toke, down that shot of Jack Danielís or light up the crack pipe just for old timeís sake.
At that point, you have to ask yourself, is it really worth it?
Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunbrian.