What others say: Focus on Munoz’s letters misses the point

  • Sunday, September 4, 2016 9:06pm
  • Opinion

Rep. Cathy Muñoz has been the subject of much criticism as of late. Now, she deserves a little praise.

In an Aug. 21 editorial, the Juneau Empire asked the Mendenhall Valley Republican to disavow two letters written on behalf of felons involved in child sex abuse cases. This week, Muñoz did just that by issuing a public apology.

“(The letters) unintentionally caused pain to victims of sexual abuse and for that, I sincerely apologize,” she wrote.

It takes courage to admit when you’re wrong, and that’s especially true when making amends to an entire community. This is the course we asked Muñoz to take when her letters of support for Mary Chessica Hauge and Thomas Jack Jr. became known. The silver lining, if there is one, is that Muñoz now says she’s recommitting herself toward helping victims of sexual abuse.

“This experience has strengthened my resolve to help create safe havens for victims to come forward …,” she said.

Commenters on the Empire’s Facebook page aren’t accepting the apology. Some of them believe it is hollow. Only Muñoz knows for sure.

We’re willing to accept it.

The reason for the apology isn’t as important as the result. Muñoz admitted a mistake and says she has learned from it. We’ll take her at her word. There’s no point in demanding a public apology only to criticize that apology when it’s given.

If what constituents seek is perfection in their elected leaders, they will always be in for a letdown. People stumble and pick themselves back up. That’s how we learn and grow, and that’s what we’re seeing now in Muñoz’s public apology.

The letters are certainly cause for concern, but Muñoz isn’t the chief issue here. The rate of sexual abuse and assault in Alaska — particularly against children — is the issue here.

Muñoz’s original letters were a symptom of the statewide mental ignorance that has allowed sexual abuse and assault to become such a problem.

Do not forget that 14 other people wrote letters in support of Mary Chessica Hauge and Thomas Jack Jr. We have not yet seen recantations from these people. There are thousands more Alaskans who didn’t write letters but have ideas similar to those of the letter-writers. They are willing to overlook the evil and improper actions of friends.

Muñoz has accomplished a great deal during her time in office, but if she makes a solid effort to solve Alaska’s problem of abuse, that may be her greatest achievement.

We, like Muñoz, must realize that there is no excuse for abuse. Good actions do not excuse evil deeds.

The first step is admitting there is a problem. Muñoz did that. Others must make that step, too.

— Juneau Empire,

Sept. 2

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