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Botox Band-Aids
by Daniel Sargis
12 February 2004Justice

There is nothing unique about the way the legal system treated Joseph P. Smith.  The American culture has morphed into a stagnancy of tough talk, Botox Band-Aids, crocodile tears and unaccountability.

Mea Culpa...or Justin Timberlake’s version, "I know it's been a rough week on everybody, and, um, what occurred was unintentional, completely regrettable, and I apologize if you guys were offended."  Hey Justin, you cretinsky, apologies are proffered for the same reason you don’t chew food with your mouth open...it’s called personal development.

More to the point than the people who find your boorish behavior repulsive should be the internal desire not to insult your entire genetic tree with a lack of breeding.  If however, like so many, you were hatched in a spider hole, your begrudging insincerity is...well, just begrudging insincerity.  Your ass is in a jam and you’ll do anything to keep pursuing your selfish ends unabated.

And speaking of asses in a jam, there’s always the saga of Timberlake’s pathologically pure soul mate, Joseph P. Smith.  Smith is the video star who dragged off 11-year-old Carlie Brucia in Sarasota, Florida.  He is now charged in her kidnapping and murder.  Talk about a forgiving world:

1.  April 26, 1993: Smith is charged with aggravated battery after he hits a 21-year-old woman in the face with a motorcycle helmet outside a Sarasota bar.
2.  Sept. 29, 1993: Smith pleads no contest to aggravated battery and loitering. A judge withholds adjudication, meaning Smith is not convicted of the crime. He gets probation.
3.  Nov. 24, 1994: Smith arrested on a domestic battery charge after confrontation with first wife. Charges dismissed.
4.  July 1, 1997: Smith is arrested carrying a serrated, 5-inch knife concealed in his waistband outside a Kash 'N Karry grocery store. A month later, he pleads no contest to weapons charge. A judge convicts him. Smith gets probation.
5.  Nov. 7, 1997: Smith is charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, and battery on allegations he tried to snatch 20-year-old Teri Jo Stinson as she walked alongside a Bradenton road. Stinson, who told cops Smith threatened to cut her, is rescued by a group of tourists who saw the two struggling. Smith argues at trial six months later that he was trying to prevent Stinson from running into the road. A jury acquits him.
6.  March 31, 1999: Smith is charged with possession of six small bundles of heroin, illegal possession of anti-depressants, pain killers and blank prescription forms. He pleads no contest to the drug charges. A jury convicts Smith and he gets 18 months probation.
7.  May 4, 2000: Smith is arrested after he presents a fake prescription for 250 doses of the pain killer Oxycontin at a Sarasota Walgreen's.
8.  Aug. 30, 2000: Smith's probation officer notifies the court of his May 4 arrest, which violated his probation. `Probation officer Marcos Olivari recommended increased probation over the option of 5 years in prison.
9.  Sept. 28, 2000: Smith pleads no contest on the drug charges. He is convicted and sentenced to six months house arrest followed by one year of probation.
10.  Sept. 5, 2001: Smith is arrested after he tried to buy 100 doses of the pain killer Dilaudid at a drive-through pharmacy using fake prescriptions.
11.  Nov. 20, 2001: Smith pleads no contest on the probation violations and the additional drug charges. He is convicted and sentenced to 17 months in state prison.
12.  Jan. 9, 2003: Weeks after his prison release, Smith is charged with possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia.
13.  March 6, 2003: Smith pleads no contest to the drug charges. He is convicted and sentenced to a one-year drug offender program and two years probation.
14.  Aug. 15, 2003: Smith goes on a cocaine binge and becomes suicidal, records say. He is committed by his family and cops. He was released from Manatee Glens rehab center on Aug. 26. ''He subsequently tested positive for cocaine,'' court records show. There's no record his probation officers suspended his probation because of his drug use.

But don’t fear, in true Grammy Awards style (Timberlake was invited to the Grammy’s telecast on the proviso that he issue a one-sentence apology about his simul-rape Super Bowl moment), Sarasota Capt. Jeff Bell promises that Smith, "... will pay the ultimate price."  No doubt that Smith will shortly be compelled to “apologize if you guys were offended.”

Any sense of accountability in this country has been reduced to the bravado of tough talk and the application of Botox Band-Aids.  Gutless officials apply superficial and temporary solutions to critical problems.  When the rubber hits the road, the tough talkers lose their convictions and fold their tents.  Florida’s most immediate reaction to the travesty known as their criminal justice system was for Sarasota school officials to call out the ..."'comfort’ dogs, which are trained to respond to emotionally upset humans, for the students to pet.”

But why just blame gutless officials when any attempt at accountability is countered by heads and spines full of mush?  Convicted California child killer, Kevin Cooper, has become a cause célèbre for Hollywood’s enfants terribles including international luminary Sean Penn.  Commit a quadruple hatchet murder including 10 and 11 year old children, spend twenty years of taxpayer resources in appeals, have every court find “no doubt” about his guilt and call out the Botox squad...he might be innocent.  And there might be frozen Clark Bars on Pluto.

There is nothing unique about Florida’s judicial snafus.  The American culture has morphed into a stagnancy of tough talk, Botox Band-Aids, crocodile tears and unaccountability.  It’s like wrapping rotten meat in a pretty pastry shell.  As the only major White House hopeful who opposes the death penalty, let’s hope that John Kerry can jump into the fray on this one.  After all...he might know something about Botox.

Daniel Sargis, a freelance writer, is a principal in a private investment development company.  His website is dansargis.org

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