Roy Exum: We Must ‘Fail Better’

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Hardly a day had passed from the time the head of Chattanooga’s Violence Reduction Initiative was arrested on alcohol and drug charges before a 40-year-old mother was murdered in the same city. The man suspected in the killing is obviously a violent man and past police records show he would have surely benefited from such a program before using a gun to determine his future.
Richard Bennett, who was awaiting approval on a $329,000 contract with the city before finding himself in the center of a tawdry mess inside a minivan, is a sore disappointment but instead of throwing up our hands and declaring our initiative as laughable – the chagrin triggered by a numbing number of shootings since its inception – let’s be smarter than all of that.
Samuel Beckett, the late Irish poet, told us precisely what to do in a line from his book, Worstward Ho: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Quite simply, we must forge on. There will be more disappointments and more embarrassments as we “fail better” because, sadly, there is no alternative route. Some voices yell to lock ‘em all up and throw away the key but those are foolish – our jails are overcrowded and crime continues in our streets.
The first person we ought to save is Richard Bennett. If the allegations are true, it will be a good while before he can assume a position of public trust but we must recognize neither of the counts he is charged with is a felony. I have no idea of his past – that’s part of the court’s duty – but he has more recently demonstrated his ability to help deter crime in our city.
We shouldn’t let one night of stupid ruin him, or allow his behavior to sidetrack the Violence Reduction Initiative in any way. When Paul Smith, the city’s public safety coordinator, was the principal at Howard School he famously gave some “second chances” and, while Bennett will pay dearly for his embarrassment, let’s give him the same kind of chance the initiative is offering others to straighten up.
At the same time, we get a stronger grip on some of the characters who flaunt the initiative’s efforts. The suspect in Sunday morning’s murder was arrested on Nov. 13, 2013, with an illegal handgun stuffed down his pants and marijuana in his pocket. On Feb. 14 of this year he was arrested again on criminal trespass. How is it that somebody like this guy is still on the loose?
The hard part of the Violence Reduction Initiative is making sure it has sharp teeth. It’s all warm -and -fuzzy to offer another chance and have people go to a lot of trouble finding jobs and housing but it is another thing altogether when one of the worst commits further crime. We need to come down hard on the initiative’s failures in order to show its strengths.
At the same time, I believe we ought to get tougher on anyone who is caught carrying a gun without a permit. I’m a strong advocate of the right to bear arms and have a permit to prove it but I am also of the belief anyone caught carrying a gun illegally should pay heavily. Any law enforcement officer will tell you that criminals don’t have permits because they’ll get caught.
For the record, the state of Tennessee issued 192,613 handgun carry permits in 2013, this according to new figures released by the Tennessee Department of Safety. Males obtained 133,780 permits and 58,833 were acquired by women. In 2012 Tennessee issued a total of 114,031 permits, 81,677 to men and 32,354 to women.
Do you notice the increase, especially among women? But the figure you fail to see is that in just the last two years about 325,000 permits have been issued in Tennessee and each handgun, whether the dreamers want to admit it or not, represents an individual’s Violence Reduction Initiative.
People are fearful. That should not be, and that is precisely why we must strive to “fail better.”

Some Get It Wrong On Christians, The Inquisition And The Crusades

Some in the media, along with our President, have recently been accusing those who led the Crusades of being the worst mass murderers in history.  Conservative estimates cite approximately 1.7 million who were killed in the Crusades over a period of 200 years.  That would be 6,000 deaths a year.  As for the Inquisition, a total of about 3,000 were judged and sentenced ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Old Hickory’ Is Toast

There is a group of women in New York, all savvy and a bit stealthy, who are plotting to kick Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, to the curb. They claim “Old Hickory” is a lout and that he is personally responsible for the embarrassing T-shirts that read, “Sure, you can trust the government … just ask an Indian” ($14.99, Amazon) Their plan is to take ... (click for more)

New Attorneys Have Not Decided On Whether To Seek Mental Evaluation For Hixson Woman Facing Possible Death Penalty

New attorneys for a Hixson woman facing a possible death penalty in Catoosa County, Ga., said they have not decided whether to seek a mental evaluation of Catherine Joann Goins. Police said she lured a 30-year-old woman to a friend's house and killed her in order to steal her newborn. After District Attorney Herbert "Buzz" Franklin opted for the death penalty, two attorneys ... (click for more)

Mobile, Ala., Firm Alerted To Send Tug To Cart Off Eyesore Casey Barge

Bankruptcy Trustee Jerry Farinash said Thursday afternoon that a Mobile, Ala., firm has been told to start work on removing the Casey barge from the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga. He said Coast Guard officials inspected the barge earlier Thursday and "seemed pleased with the condition it is in." The attorney said the Coast Guard will make a re-inspection just before ... (click for more)

Hannah Wood Leads Red Bank To Two Tournament Wins

Friday was a pretty good day for the Red Bank Lionettes softball team. Hosting a six-team tournament, the Lionettes won two games on the opening day, holding off Lookout Valley by a 6-4 final in the first one before winning by a more comfortable 11-3 margin over Sequatchie County in the second one. Hannah Wood was the sparkplug in both as she had three hits twice and was the ... (click for more)

Manning Makes $3 Million Leadership Grant To UT

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.  – Five-time National Football League Most Valuable Player   Peyton Manning   and his wife, Ashley, announced Friday a $3 million leadership commitment to the University of Tennessee. This gift commitment will benefit both the Tennessee football program and the   Peyton Manning   Scholarship Endowment. This commitment ... (click for more)