Wise Up, Pawlick
Thursday, October 18, 2001
Did the Salinas High School principal censor the yearbook? "I don''t know what that means," the Weekly quoted him saying in "Principal to a Fault" (Sept. 27). It''s time to learn-especially for a leader who wants Distinguished School status.
Begin with the dictionary. Then read the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Tinker v. the Des Moines, Iowa, School District. In that case the US Supreme Court ruling stated that students do not give up their First Amendment rights when they enter the schoolhouse door. That includes Salinas High School''s door.
No issue is more important than freedom of expression, the basis for a free society and the greatest preventative against rebellion-such as an alternative newspaper on campus.
While I condemn Pawlick''s attempts to control words and pictures, I commend the Weekly for publishing the articles, Nina Russo for showing principle in exposing the superintendent, to parents and guardians who sued the administrators, and to re-assigned yearbook adviser Cynthia Hess for working at her own risk for her students'' rights.
Now for a disclaimer and one correction. I am the father of the attorney suing the district, but this letter was my idea. As a Salinas High journalist of 1948-50, I know that today''s oppressive atmosphere was nonexistent then. Former student Jody Lasda said "...(Pawlick) thinks we''re in 1952," but I say he acts like Big Brother in 1984.
If George W. Bush and the other Washington politicians are telling the truth when they say that the US is opposed to terrorism and those who promote terrorism or harbor terrorists, then there is definitely reason for celebration since, according our country''s own policy, many of our practices will have to change for the better.
The U.S. roughly defines terrorism as using force against civilians for political or religious purposes. Thus, if Bush is telling the truth, we''ll be shutting down the odious School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga., which has trained 60,000 Latin American soldiers to terrorize civilians, including some of the most notorious human rights abusers in the world. We''ll have to stop aiding the Colombian military, which kills citizens who disagree with its agenda. Hopefully we''ll apply diplomatic means of bringing ourselves to justice for Clinton''s bombing of the Sudanese pharmaceutical plant, the targeting of civilian infrastructure in Iraq and Serbia resulting in thousands of civilian deaths, and the cruel sanctions against Iraq which continue to kill 5,000 Iraqi children a month. That''s equivalent to a Twin Towers atrocity every month!
Vicious as these deeds are, I''m definitely against bombing Washington, just as I am against bombing Afghanistan for Al Qaeda''s atrocities. Let the World Court and the UN Security Council (without a US veto option) deliberate on these deeds and what should be done to make the world safe from all terrorists. And let us establish a truth commission, as was done in Guatemala, El Salvador, and South Africa, so that our real history can at last be publicly acknowledged. Only then will a US president have credibility when he says, "We oppose terrorism."
Please Play Nice
Most folks, I think, are aware that in recent years there has been an enormous increase in this country of rudeness and lack of civility towards others, as evidenced by loud rap music played by passing cars, the finger gesture by even young ladies, on up to the extreme example of road rage. It appears that the Weekly is contributing to this trend by condoning some of the language of your writers in Letters to The Editor. For example, in the Sept. 27 issue, Squid is taken to task by being called "jerk," and the writer assumes that Squid would spit on the flag! In the same issue M. Mann calls Mr. Monning a "counter-culture dinosaur," among other names.
My point is simple: why not encourage civility by simply editing out such slurs in the letters you print? Ask writers to not attack others'' opinions by attacking the writer; ask letter writers to employ simple courtesy if they disagree with someone''s ideas. I don''t believe that you consciously encourage personal attacks by letter writers. Surely we can disagree without being nasty. I urge you to encourage politeness and civility in your Letters page.
Give Us a Piece of Your Mind
Send to: Letters to the Editor, 668 Williams Ave., Seaside, 93955, fax to 394-2909 or email it to email@example.com.