Friday, December 10, 2010

Lives of Our Leaders: The Pardoner's Tale

Thank God, it looks like indecent exposure charges have finally been dropped against Jim Morrison. It’s only taken 40 years, and of course he’s dead, but perhaps the decision by the State of Florida will affect the case California has been pursuing against Roman Polanski for almost as many years. Which brings to mind the question of the first pardons of the Obama presidency. For example, Ronald Lee Foster of Beaver Falls, PA, who was sentenced in 1963 to one year of probation for mutilating coins, was pardoned along with Russell James Dixon of Clayton, GA, sentenced to two years’ probation in 1960 for a liquor law violation. It is apparent that the President dug deep in finding mercy for hardened criminals like Foster and Dixon. Fox News quoted White House spokesman Ron Cherlin as saying, "The president was moved by the strength of the applicants' post-conviction efforts at atonement, as well as their superior citizenship and individual achievements in the years since their convictions." One wonders about the kinds of rehabilitation programs provided for coin mutilators, and one also wonders about the nature of these heinous crimes. Are there people who actually torture coins? Is there coin slavery and prostitution in which coins from foreign lands are lured with the prospect of big-time collectors who will prize them like coins that come from ancient Rome, only to find when they arrive that they are simply pocketed and buffeted around inside of some indifferent purse? Are there twelve-step programs for coin mutilators in which those who have mutilated coins can actually make amends both to the issuing authorities and to the coins themselves. For instance, if one mutilates a 1983 D nickel (indicating the coin was minted in Denver), will one attempt to write a letter asking forgiveness of the municipality, together with its mayor and city council at the time the coin was pressed?

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