Misplaced Compassion for Murderer

* When I had completely read the article ("Latinos Say 6 Youths 'Railroaded,' " March 10) regarding the Latino community outrage over police, prosecution and media portrayals in the Steven Woods murder case being unfair, I too was outraged.

I am disgusted that people who commit heinous acts of violence are, through some twisted logic, portrayed as victims.

In the Menendez trial, the defense did not deny that Lyle and Erik executed their parents with shotguns, (but) they defend the action by stating that they are victims of parental abuse. In the Woods case, Latino leaders claim that the (Anglo) youths came looking for trouble, and that is justification for a 17-year-old being impaled through the skull with a paint roller. Something is dreadfully wrong here.

Having experienced true racism (being judged purely on the color of my skin), I believe that racism is an intolerable act that can leave deep emotional scars, and we must continue the work we have already done to erase it from the American culture.

However miserable it might be, I would always choose to be the target of racism (rather) than the target of murder.

The truth is that one 17-year-old boy is dead and the boy who caused the death is alive. It doesn't matter what race either boy is or was, if we want to show compassion for the murderer, we must be insensitive to the murdered. It's as simple as that!

We can't have it both ways, so we must choose who will receive our compassion, the murdered or the murderer.

RICHARD A. BARTKUS

Mission Viejo

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