What, exactly, was the point of this punk's sob story `"How to end up in prison," April 6`? How about some thoughts from the guy whose car he stole and smashed up?

I usually really enjoy your articles, but this one was pretty lame. The last thing I want to read is some reporter being used as some loser's down-on-my-luck mouthpiece.

Ed Heffernan, via the Internet


I have to find fault with this story `"How to end up in prison," April 6`. Is this news? Or a sob story of a tough life lived by thousands of kids, many of whom do not make these choices? This young man was old enough to know right from wrong and to make his own choices in life. In a few months he will be legally an adult. If, at this point in his life, he cannot make better choices about his or his family's future, I can blame no one but him.

I teach high school at an inner-city school. I deal with kids with far worse home lives than his who constantly make better choices about their futures. Once he became a father he should have started acting like it, grown up, stopped blaming his parents for his problems, dealt with the choices he had made in his past and tried to make better choices for his future.

The fact that he got caught is not the worst thing that could have happened. His child will have to grow up with this perpetual child as a role model. If pity is deserved, save it for the child these two children brought into the world.

Lindsey Bard, via the Internet


I can't thank you enough for writing this article `"How to end up in prison," April 6`. It is very powerful and speaks the truth. Too many times the media overlooks what pushes people to do the things that they do. I am not making excuses for criminals, but very often they are just trying to survive or happen to make one bad choice.

I know firsthand the pains of the "system." My brother was sentenced to four years for psychedelic mushrooms. O'Mara sounds like every other lawyer I have ever had to deal with. Thank you again for showing the other side of the coin. He may be a criminal to the outside world, but he is also a father, a brother and a son.

Julia Hartwell, Orlando

Ban the Ben bashing

Just to show you how far your reach extends, I was at an all night hip-hop concert April 1 in Atlanta, which featured several bands from Florida, when one rapper left your paper on my table. Since I have participated in several World Can't Wait/Drive Out the Bush Regime protests, the "Why Ben hates America" letter `Letters, March 30` caught my eye. While I haven't read your Happytown™ criticism of Ben Markeson, I can tell y'all have "fun" playing the provocateur from the way you titled his letter.

Anyone who spends five seconds on WorldCantWait.org encounters the extremely diverse character of this new nationwide movement, from elected U.S. representatives (yes, that includes Georgia's own Cynthia McKinney) to political activists of every stripe, to the most prominent voices in the arts and academia, to all the riffraff like me you might find, let's say, at a rap concert.

Ben's "crime" was that he didn't kiss the Navy vet's ass for the sake of temporary unity. He risked alienating an ally because the flag's presence got under his skin and he explained why to the vet. He ostensibly was not rude, nor did he attempt to exorcise the vet from the protest. That would have been wrong, as the Navy vet had his own honest reasons for being part of the protest. The vet is just as welcome as the millions more like him who have not yet, but must, step forward to actively get down with driving out Bush.

Louis Berne, Atlanta

[email protected]


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