We need much more than Parnell slogan

Shannyn Moore

Choose Respect.

Gov. Sean Parnell is starring in an ad campaign in which he thanks Alaskans for "choosing respect." Hooray! A bumper sticker! Parades! At long last we're raising awareness on an issue too many Alaskans know far too well. Initially, I applauded the governor's effort. I assumed there would be legislation and funding behind it. You know, something more than just a slogan and state employees carrying signs.

Choose Respect?

A sex trafficking bill passed during the special session. For more than a year before that, the governor had opposed an existing bill to stop sex trafficking in Alaska. Instead, he introduced his own bill. His legislation lacked the language to make it illegal to traffic a victim between Bethel and Anchorage; it only made criminals of perps who crossed state lines. Happily, legislators fixed the bill in the special session and now trafficking within Alaska is outlawed.

How many Alaskans were hurt during that year due to the governor's foolish and hypocritical opposition? We'll never know, but if it was only one girl, it was one too many.

What one other law has the governor pushed to curb domestic violence and sex crimes? Let me see -- I'm thinking. Thinking. Still thinking.

Choose Respect?

For all the parades and ad spots, what are we really getting? Seventy-six of Alaska's rural communities with more than 50 residents have no law enforcement. Bush Alaskans are often hours, sometimes days, from a trooper's help, yet few of them have Village Public Safety Officers.

So if you're raped or beaten in one of those villages by someone who didn't get the "respect" memo, by the time an officer gets to you there will likely be little if any evidence. What about your safety while you wait? Well, you do have the gov's moral support.

Alaska, with billions of dollars in the bank, isn't adding more than a dozen safety officers a year. Why? We live in a state where some of our most vulnerable citizens can't expect routine police protection. And not because we can't afford it.

Choose Respect?

Do we think rapists are deterred by slogans? They aren't deterred by the shame of getting caught, the threat of prison or the risk of being on a sex-offender registry for the rest of their lives.

So what exactly have hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in ads accomplished?

This past week I participated in the Alaskans Against the War on Women rally. Why a rally? Because each of us is morally responsible for holding government accountable and demanding something more than empty, bankrupt sloganeering and resume padding from Gov. Perpetual Candidate.

"I am one of the Alaska statistics," declared the first of many participants who then went on to demand real action.

"I'm a statistic" means "I was raped." It's just easier to say it that way. Fifty-eight percent of Alaska women have experienced sexual abuse. Seventy percent of ALL reported sexual crimes in the country involve children. Last month, Forbes magazine named Anchorage and Fairbanks as Nos. 2 and 3 on a list of the country's most dangerous cities for women.

Choose Respect?

Imagine if our solution to drunk driving was commercials, slogans and parades. Would it have worked? No. We had to make it very, very expensive for offenders and drinking establishments. We also put more cops on the streets. Do people still drink and drive? Yes. But many more take cabs or find designated drivers. And drinking establishments now subsidize cabs for inebriated patrons.

We need a governor with a slogan like this:

Choose Tough Laws and Serious Funding -- and Get Respect.

Village Public Safety Officers should be recruited and trained now, not "by 2019" as the governor trickles them out. The solution to "positions are too hard to fill" is paying officers a living wage. A survey by UAA in 2000 revealed that 20 percent of VPSOs were on food stamps and 60 percent were forced to work second jobs to supplement their incomes. Provide housing.

How about we Choose Respect for the men and women on the front lines in the war against violence. We need forensic nurses trained, funded and mobile. It's hard to convict a perpetrator without evidence.

Ninety percent of crimes in Alaska involve drugs or alcohol. Resources should be available to help those committed to breaking their addictions.

Gov. Parnell, I'm asking you to choose respect for Alaskans by putting our money where your mouth is. We need protection, not propaganda, solutions, not slogans. Choose Respect indeed.

Shannyn Moore can be heard weekdays from 6 to 9 p.m. on KOAN 1020 AM and 95.5 FM radio. Her weekly TV show can be seen Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. statewide on ABC affiliates KYUR Anchorage, KATN Fairbanks and KJUD Juneau.

Shannyn Moore