Madison County Opinion...

 April 5, 2000


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
April 5, 2000

Frankly Speaking

We the people must stop the Left Wing Conspiracy
Is this a great country or what? No matter how hard the Left Wing Conspiracy of big government and their allies in the liberal media try, they cannot keep we the people marching in line with their ideas. Here are some recent examples:
The Left Wing Conspiracy is trying hard to bypass the U.S. Constitution and impose limits on our right to keep and use firearms. Recently, they pressured a major manufacturer of firearms to agree to a set of absurd conditions that would not only interfere with the possession of guns, but also make the guns they allow us to keep be practically worthless in an emergency situation. The response from the public was dramatic.
Many distributors and marketers of guns have announced that they will no longer carry Smith & Wesson models. Owners and managers of competing companies have spoken out against Smith & Wesson. One competitor sent a letter of thanks to them, saying that he expects his company to pick up many former Smith & Wesson customers.
The Left Wing Conspiracy is engaged in an effort to wipe out all evidence of Southern Culture. (We traditional Southerners are the prime opponent of Leftist propaganda). As a part of this effort the NAACP (National Association of Always Complaining People) has organized a boycott of South Carolina, trying to force them to remove a Confederate flag from the state house in Columbia. The liberal media is not reporting it, but tourism is setting records in South Carolina. Currently, the state's tax revenues are at record high levels. A recent visitor to Charleston reported the streets so crowded he had trouble moving from place to place.
The politically correct element of the Lift Wing Conspiracy raised hell over comments by Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker about people he did not like. They forced the team to send him to a shrink and threatened a boycott unless he is traded. The people of this country have made their opinions known about this issue by giving Rocker a standing ovation every time he takes the field.
Finally, the Left Wing Conspiracy has again ignored the Constitution by using the census as a way of gathering detailed information about us. They want to use this information in their efforts to limit and control our freedoms. We the people responded by the millions to this intrusion into our privacy by answering only the questions allowed by the Constitution, or not returning the questionnaire. Nationally, almost half the homes have not returned the census forms. Here in Madison County, the latest figures show only 32 percent have complied. Now, a Southern-based legal foundation has taken legal action to force the Census Bureau to comply with constitutional limits.
Big government is being heavily criticized on a daily basis on talk shows and in newer, less well known media. Both categories are growing in popularity. At the same time, national media, especially the network news programs, are losing circulation rapidly. Third party political movements are growing as well. The Libertarian Party alone has increased its membership by 400 percent in recent years. More and more local elections are going to third party or independent candidates.
In many ways, we the people are making our objections to the Left Wing Conspiracy known. It might be wise for the politicians, bureaucrats and media types to stop telling us what they want us to do, and asking what we want them to do. The answer is simple: just leave us alone!
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.


Letter
The Madison County Journal
April 5, 2000

Says teacher is wrong about who is to blame for educational problems
Dear editor:
This letter is written in response to one recently written by a teacher. (By Martha Duncan, The Madison County Journal, March 15)
She deplores a general immorality in society, and notes that the students are aware of such. May I point out that the students are also aware that in some classes, they may know more about the subject than the teacher knows. They are further cognizant that cheating is allowed in some classes, that some teachers will accept plagiarized work, that some teachers will give higher grades than are deserved and that some teachers will give tests and assignments that are ridiculously simple and easy. They know this and they talk and laugh about it. So, as she seems to imply, it is not some general immorality in society which has caused the sorriness in the schools, but, conversely, when schools indicate to students that they can be rewarded for poor or inefficient performance, this is an attitude which the student takes into society, to the detriment of society.
She regrets that students are overstimulated by "mind candy." I take her meaning as being that students are so bombarded by representations that are facile and fallacious, they have difficulty concentrating upon or comprehending anything that is thought-provoking. But what of schools who bestow fallacious honors upon graduates, in order to give them a facile sense of self-esteem, thereby issuing "mind candy" diplomas to students who have a problem with reading competently, who have trouble writing correctly, a farce designed to give administrators and teachers the appearance of having been competent and correct in their instruction of these summa cum laudes, who, if they go on to college, will probably have to take remedial courses?
She bemoans a lack of Christian values in the schools, saying that Christianity has become "like those weird, drugged-up hippies of the 70s." She does not explain this analogy, and, indeed, in a letter which uses cliché, which resorts to vague generalities, which employs questionable diction, which rambles over a catalog of societal ills, the gist of her contention can be construed as saying that teachers should not be faulted for the poor quality of the schools, but the onus of that guilt should be placed upon everybody else.
In effect, she ascribes the poor performance of the schools to mind-benumbed students, to indifferent parents, to unconcerned citizens. But why should the students not be mind-benumbed when teachers decline or fail to challenge them to use their minds? Why should parents not be indifferent when they know you're going to pass the students whether they learn an adequate amount or not? Why should citizens be concerned when often if the school is traditionally inept in its educational procedure, it is often run by persons who came through such a system, and either deliberately, because they are comfortable with the status quo, they are not going to bring about any improvement in the school, or inadvertently, because they lack the capacity to know any better, they are not going to effect any measures of reform?
Georgia schools rank nationally next to last in the quality of students' academic achievement. The reason for this lies not with underachieving students, nor with uncaring parents, nor with venal citizens, as the letter writer seems wont to claim, but the reason for Georgia's poor showing, especially in those schools where students score below a national average, is directly attributable to superintendents and principals who, in order to please and placate parents, put pressure on teachers to mollycoddle and baby the students along, some schools even resorting to placing emphasis on athletics and extracurricular activities to divert attention away from their deficiency in academics, while school personnel refuse to accept any responsibility, and in unison chorus the tired old mantra, "We only give the community the school it wants."
If you need an example of a school which fits what I have said, such is all too evident in Morgan County. However, if you travel to or through Morgan County, let me advise you that you might want to do the driving, or sit in the back, as opposed to riding shotgun. If you ride shotgun, someone may accuse you of being threatening to them.
Sincerely,
Donald Harris
Athens

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Column
By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
April 5, 2000

The 'real' court of public opinion
Where can you learn what everybody thinks about just about everything, get a good idea of who is going to win the elections (both locally and nationally) and receive marriage and parent counseling all for the price of a cut, style, color and maybe a perm?
Why the local beauty shop, of course.
Politicians may think they run the world, but that's just a myth - everything really important is decided in beauty parlors.
I visit my cousin's shop on a regular basis, not only to have my hair cut, but to receive inspiration and instruction on how to conduct my life (and get the latest scoop).
It's amazing what will come out of someone's mouth when they sit in that chair. You may not know the woman's name, but by the time she gets a new hairdo you may know intimate details about her that her husband doesn't even know.
But my cousin is a real pro; she just takes it all in stride. No matter what shocking thing she might hear, her scissors keep up a steady "snip, snip, snip."
Good beauticians have to be so much more than just someone who "does hair." They have to be counselors, psychotherapists and confidantes.
I have left a beauty shop amazed at the things I have said in the presence of total strangers - and of the things they have said in front of me. And don't get me wrong - the guys who come in are just as bad, or worse, than the women.
It's also easy to see how things sometimes get distorted because, women especially, can maintain several conversations at once and between sticking your head under the sink for a wash and then under the dryer, vital information can be missed or misconstrued.
For example, I once heard a woman's name mentioned just as I went under the hood of the hair dryer. I couldn't really hear anything about what was being said, but the talk appeared interesting. (I've never been good at reading lips.)
Less than five minutes later I emerged right in the middle of a conversation about lesbians.
Shocked, I remarked that I could not believe the woman whose name I had heard was a lesbian. I was met with stunned silence, shocked looks and then laughter. Turns out the woman was married and they had been discussing the fact that she was pregnant, while another conversation somehow started up about lesbians.
That should make us all wonder just what people might have heard or "thought they heard" about us. Had I made no comment that day, I would have left with an unintentional, but very mistaken idea about someone.
A beauty parlor is where folks apparently feel they can really let their hair down, making it a true "court of public opinion."
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.


Letter
The Madison County Journal
April 5, 2000

Disagrees with Linder's proposal on sales tax
Dear Editor:
Your readers share their U.S. Representative, John Linder, with us here in Athens. He is pressing for a national sales tax and the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee is meeting April 11 on just that one single topic. It is time for us to let the committee know how we feel about it, specifically that we oppose:
·taxing current tax-free death benefits between beloved baby boomers.
·taxing Roth IRA benefits (government promised these to be tax-free: a sales tax would be double-taxation).
·everyone being in a 30 percent (including Georgia's sales tax) tax bracket, even those making as little as $10,000 per year.
·people's already low tax-free benefits being tightened by 30 percent or more.
·a crippled economy, with people buying used (not new) goods to save that 30 percent sales tax. And on it goes.
Rep. John Lewis and Rep. Mae Collins are on the April 11 committee. Let them know how you feel. Better, on the Internet, go to www.congress.gov/linder_survey.htm and complete his survey addressing this and many other issues.
A 30 percent sales tax in Georgia is a horrible idea.
Sincerely,
Rick Waters
Athens


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