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July 15, 2008

Inbox — July 15, 2008

Letters to the Editor

CHEAP CHAPEL SHOTS 

Beavis and Butthead should not be reviewing churches (regarding the “Church Hoppers” column in the July 2 LEO Weekly). If you cannot summarize (or even stay awake through) a reasonably literate sermon, don’t go to Presbyterian churches. As for the cheap shot about the pastor “high-fiving” a youngish-looking visitor — well, he high-fives staid adults as well, who are mature enough not to be offended. It seems clear your reporters had preconceptions about that “kind” of church and pastor; the high-five was not “hoity-toity” enough.

Give me a “progressive” church like Second Presbyterian, where ignorant would-be reviewers stumble out clinging to simple preconceptions, but folks who want to think through biblical texts carefully and individually are welcome to come back.

Chris Iosso, Louisville

BULLY PROBLEMS

Thank you for shedding light on the problem of bullying in schools (LEO Weekly, July 2). The problem is pervasive and has escalated to an alarming level of violence, especially among girls, in the past few years. The problem is complex, and the remedies will require the best efforts of schools, parents and lawmakers to be truly effective.

The problem is not, however, surprising when one examines the culture surrounding youth today. Our national leaders (think Karl Rove) to local and state officials (e.g. Kentucky Senate Majority Leader David Williams) have gained success employing techniques used by bullies. Consider the flagrant intimidation in the NBA, the number of problems solved on large and small screens each day using violence, and the video games where the biggest and scariest always come out on top. And look around at the incidence of violence in homes and neighborhoods. Consider, too, how often coaches, cops and teachers model intimidation as a way of getting what they want. The message is always the same.

An effective approach to this problem will require schools to provide programs that will teach potential victims the skills needed to deal with bullies; the bullies’ ways to get what they need without resorting to intimidation and violence; faculty and staff how to recognize and deal with the problem at the classroom level; and parents how to recognize signs of depression that often go along with victimization. The first step, as always, is admitting we have a problem.

Charlie Baker, Louisville

 

FACING THE BULLY

It’s all harassment. There are varying degrees of harassment and different types. Some are more gruesome than others. But I agree with (attorney) Vanessa Cantley — what is happening to these kids is just another form of child abuse, which is a very intense harassment. I was a kid once, and I do know what it feels like to be picked on and ridiculed for the way you look and talk. The scars I carry are nothing compared to today’s playground pains. 

Part of the problem is a difference in the way things are handled on a rural school level vs. urban school level. It’s sad to me that neighboring Oldham County has not addressed these harassment issues as seriously as they should — especially involving children so young, when at a time in their lives, the lessons on how to treat other human beings need to be reinforced the most. Rural, small communities have a tendency to just sweep some issues under the rug, which in turn leads to a helpless cycle: Something happens, but no one is really listening, and so nothing is really resolved. So how can kids go for help if they know nothing will change or it will just make things worse for them? What should be happening with these situations anywhere in the United States is that they should be brought into full attention until questions are answered and those responsible are held accountable. 

I remember a time, which seems so long ago now, that if I did something wrong or hurt someone’s feelings, I was made accountable. In the present day, some kids literally get away with murder, and others who are being hurt have little or no support. But this is a big problem because it’s everyone’s problem. If this continues to go unchecked, the newer generations that will replace us one day will have no clue what tolerance and respect really means. I say start raising children with a bit of the “old-school tough” mixed with some “new-school care” and see what happens.

Tiffy Lafferty, Louisville

NOT SO WEIRD

I must point out that you really missed the point in News of the Weird (LEO Weekly, June 25) with the one about autism and the guy with Asperger’s syndrome. The advocate mentioned in the piece was 100 percent correct in his assessment of people with AS, which my son has. People with AS do, like he said, “process differently,” and social interaction can present varying degrees of difficulty. The point of the piece seemed to be to make light of the advocate’s efforts to foster understanding of autistic people by making fun of his nonchalant descriptions of the autistic as not being very “neurotypical.” 

It went on to say that medical professionals consider autism a “potentially devastating affliction.” While this may be true, it is not necessarily true with an AS person. You may have the image of “Rain Man” or the kid from “Mercury Rising” in your head, and that would be wrong. AS people do process very differently. They may have fewer friends, shorter attention spans, less tolerance for crowds and noise, and many common social situations may befuddle them. My son has improved in all areas, as many AS people can, and no one could tell they have AS unless they volunteer this information. They are not “Rain Man,” by any means. The only error made in the piece was the treatment of the advocate and his efforts, and the ridicule of his accurate efforts to describe people with his mild form of autism.

Tinsley G. Happel, Louisville

 

DON’T FEAR IT, FIGHT IT

In 1776, there was a war for independence that was fought with bullets. We were fighting for our freedom from an adversary that was far across the sea, but not far from our hearts. Now, a war is beginning to rage, not against an adversary across an ocean, but from those who exist in our homes. They exist in our televisions, they exist in our minds, they exist in our communities. Consciousness and knowledge will be our new projectiles of death, no longer bullets. Only for so long can people be taken advantage of and wait idly by. Every day we are played like harps from hell. We wake up. Gas might be 5 cents more per gallon. A couple hundred more people might have been killed in Iraq (soldiers or civilians, Iraqi or American, it doesn’t make a difference). How much longer are we going to stand for it?

What is the difference between now and 1776? In 1776, people had guts. There was no fear because it wasn’t necessarily guaranteed that you were going to eat every day. Also, in 1776, we were united around a common purpose. Today, we have been divided and conquered by issues that have no true importance whatsoever, be they gay marriage, Republican vs. Democrat, immigration and the like. Until we release our egos, our lower selves, how can we expect to ever accomplish anything? The “issues” I mentioned above merely act as consciousness dampeners. They only act upon our selfish “I’m important” selves.

I had a man of unbelievable intellect (also an escapee of Nazi Germany and a gifted inventor, at that) the other day tell me that I am a sad, scared little boy. He also mentioned, as a sideline, that I won’t be able to make anything of my life while embracing these ideologies of fear. The same holds true for our nation. We are scared. We are stupid. How did we allow ourselves to sink to this low point? We will not be able to rescue ourselves (yes, rescue ... we are in trouble) until we let go of that fear. We have to stand up for ourselves. We have to start now. It is almost too late.

Dan Box, Louisville