It was so incredibly disheartening to hear about the horrific rape that occurred last week on Hopkinsville's rail trail.
First and most importantly, my sympathies to the victim and her family. No one should have to go through that. I cannot imagine how you must feel, but I know it must be beyond description.
I'd dedicate every word of this to you if I thought any of it might help. I can only write that there isn't a person with a heart among us who isn't rooting for you. I wish your wounds, both physical and mental, to be healed, and I hope that you see, or will come to, that you are more than the sum of the things that happen to you. This doesn't define who you are.
Far less importantly, I knew this was the crime that the leeches of progress would quickly latch onto. Sore losers often find predicting disaster when they don't get their way to be a tolerable method of coping. These people will find anything negative to justify their opinion, to get to say they were right.
We've heard it already. The emails have come to our newsroom, and I've heard it on the street. Things like "the rail trail should have never been built," "why did we build that useless path in the ghetto," and "I knew something bad was gonna happen there, why'd they waste my taxpayer dollars on it?"
See, in the past, these naysayers have been left suckling a mostly dry teat. Every petty crime elicited the same response, but a lack of police reports on the pathways, especially compared to the rest of the city, didn't convince these possessors of moral cowardice of anything.
But only because you can't convince anyone who is ignorant on purpose.
I haven't used it near as much as I should (you knew that from the picture huh?), but every time I go to that trail I see a cop. I see cameras. I see people walking together with their kids, their families. I've seen and judged it safe.
It doesn't matter to those ignorant few that our rail trail, if they pay attention, is demonstrably just as or more safe than anywhere else in this city. Public records will prove it, even if you don't believe the utter lack of police reports. Our community has seen it and judged it safe.
It doesn't matter that national studies, dozens on dozens of them, have shown that rail trails across the country are just as safe or more so than any other part of any given city. We've seen it judged safe on a countrywide level.
What matters is they have the crime they were waiting for, and now they'll pounce. It's a shameful display that reflects nothing about the trail, and only a sincere lack of integrity from the person behind the argument.
Crime happens everywhere. We will never put a stop to it. It happens in parking lots, malls, fast food joints, and in our homes. We have never stooped to suggesting we shouldn't build those things, or those things were a waste of money because something bad happened there.
So, to all those people who just couldn't wait to dump on the rail trail, I can only say one thing:
Shame on you.
To everyone else, don't let fear sensationalized by people like that deter you from living your life. Yes, practice safety precautions on the rail trail, but also everywhere you go. There is nowhere where crime is non-existent.
There will be more crime on the rail trail just like there's going to be more crime at our schools, but we haven't stopped sending our kids. Just like there will be more crime at Walmart, but you still shop there. Just like there will be more crime on the street you live on, but you haven't moved away.
We can't let sore losers dictate where we go. We cannot let fear rule our life, and that's this week's small victory.
Jesse Jones is the editor of The Eagle Post, a member of Paxton Media Group. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.