LETTER- Meanness here to stay

In his July 27 letter ["We just weren't mean"] justifying his decision to have 70-year-old Rich Collins arrested for handing out political campaign leaflets in the Shopper's World parking lot, Charles T. Lebo only succeeds in proving John Whitehead's point in his July 6 essay ]"Police state: Has common sense taken leave"?]: we have in fact turned into a culture of meanness.

Point in fact: what should have been handled with a simple warning was instead handled in the absolute worst way with law enforcement officials being called to handcuff and haul the university professor downtown simply because he wanted to make a point about his Constitutional rights being violated.

It is this exact mindset that considers such an extreme reaction on the part of law enforcement officials to be appropriate that fosters the kind of climate in which senior citizens are treated like violent criminals, and students who run afoul of their schools' zero-tolerance policies for possession of Scope mouthwash and rubber bands are treated like hardened criminals.

As Whitehead points out, what happened to Rich Collins is not limited to Charlottesville. On a daily basis, average Americans are subjected to over-zealous treatment by individuals when less severe options are readily available.

Until common sense and compassion are restored to their proper place in decision-making, we will be stuck with a culture of meanness.

Nisha N. MohammedMedia Coordinator, The Rutherford Institute