Our View: A lack of compassion

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The Austin Sadvar case, as we opined last week, is about prosecutorial discretion.

We chose not to focus on the racial aspects of the case because the editorial position we took examined whether there are better ways to deal with schoolyard fights than to criminally prosecute children.

District Attorney Bonnie Roesink obviously feels that this particular case warrants her time and attention. Why else would she pursue it when she has a heavy caseload of drug offenders to prosecute?

Whether this case boils down to a personal conflict between the district attorney and Austin Sadvar's parents, as some people think, is not relevant to the points asserted here.

Some people have used the Sadvar case to spew forth an anti-immigrant rhetoric that we find tasteless and disturbing. There have been comments that the alleged victim in the case "had it coming" -- not simply because he allegedly was provoking Austin Sadvar, but because he spoke Spanish. In essence, they are saying Sadvar was justified in responding with force because the alleged victim was Hispanic and not showing the proper respect for America.

The Sadvars have gone on record saying that their son is not a racist and has Hispanic friends. This editorial is not directed at them, but at the people who believe the misguided notion that Austin Sadvar was somehow standing up for his country.

"People come to this country, legal or not, and think they own this country. Well let me tell you -- someone puts down America in front of me, there's going to be trouble!" wrote the author of a letter to the editor we chose not to publish.

Another writer inquired whether the alleged victim's family was here legally.

What difference does it make? Do these people think being an immigrant in America means you have to play by other people's rules? The last time we checked, America was still the land of freedom. We're supposed to be a country that believes in protecting people's right to say anything they want about this country -- good, bad or indifferent. We may not like what we hear, but that doesn't give us the right to single people out based on their nation of origin or the language they speak.

Again, we wouldn't expect a 12-year-old child to appreciate the nuances of the First Amendment. But we're extremely disappointed to hear adults making Austin Sadvar a heroic figure for putting an immigrant in his place.

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