More Jackson County Opinions...

January 30, 2002


Column
By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
January 30, 2002

A letter to Tim Thomas
Dear Tim,
You better believe I read your stuff. (Look up stuff. Pass over the negative, demeaning definitions. Zero in on the positive, uplifting ones. Like you said, there is a fine line. Your stuff is on the high side).
Yeah, I caught my name, buried down there in the middle of your Jan. 9 column.
I could not be prouder. (Thatıs a word?) Nothing makes an old writer happier than to be mentioned in a young writerıs work.
If itıs complimentary, fine. If itıs critical, fine. Makes no difference. Like the late, great Eugene Talmadge, Hermanıs daddy, used to say, ³I donıt care what they are saying about me, just so they are saying something.² To be ignored is the ultimate downer.
But Iım not just proud that you called my name. (A thin line separates calling, talking and writing, and sometimes I use them interchangeably. Is that OK?)
I am also proud of you.
Why? Because you are a good writer, destined to become a great writer.
Why? Because you have the wisdom to let the second greatest book in the world help you.
Iıve suspected that for some time. I knew for sure when you explained to me the fine line between ³fanatic² and ³lunatic.² You really do use the dictionary.
Iıve used the words fanatic and lunatic, and had no clear idea what I was saying—either calling, talking or writing. Now I can be more precise when I employ them. Thanks, Tim.
And welcome to the cause of semantics. As we get more people involved in this historical and psychological study and classification of changes in the signification of words or forms viewed as factors in linguistic development, the smarter theyıll be.
Why, theyıll even be able to read and understand the stuff George Will writes.
Did you see his column, ³Enron reminds that capitalism needs government,² in the Jan. 16 Atlanta Journal-Constitution?
Let me run the first sentence by you: ³Washington—narcissistic and even solipsistic, as usual—thinks Enronıs collapse is primarily a Washington, meaning a political, story.² (And you thought my explanation of semantics was fuzzy. Whoa! Not my explanation. The dictionaryıs.)
Forget that Washington is neither narcissistic nor solipsistic and it doesnıt think. Some people who live and work there are—and do. But I digress.
The tragedy is that a lot of people who consider themselves fairly intelligent didnıt get past that first sentence. They bogged down at ³narcissistic² and ³solipsistic² and turned back to Sports.
Had they looked up those words in the dictionary, they would be more intelligent than they were before, and they probably would have finished Willıs informative and thought-provoking column.
(It is not true that I am putting people down, or questioning their intelligence. In my usual loving, compassionate way, Iım just encouraging them to grow their vocabularies and enjoy the untold pleasures and benefits that accrue.)
Itıs a shame, Tim, that so many of our readers are so lazy, tired, fatigued, exhausted or dead (thereıs a fine line) that certain words turn them off.
Is it our responsibility to dumb our stuff down to their level? Or should we throw some multi-syllable, hard-to-understand words out there and hope they look Œem up in the dictionary?
There are no hard-to-understand words if you understand their meanings, just as there are no hard exams if you know the answers.
It used to hurt me deeply if I used a word any of my readers didnıt understand. Iım on an entirely new mission today. Now I feel like Iıve failed if I donıt use at least one word in every column that sends someone scurrying for the dictionary.
That is why I have a soft spot in my heart for Tom Bryan and John McDuffie. As far as I know, they are the only two who ever scurried. They followed my suggestion and looked up ³stuff.²
Tim, the cause we have embarked upon is more important than you may think. The literacy of the nation is at stake here.
Educators at local, county, state and national levels are trying to teach students to read before they graduate from high school. It is a tremendous task. They need our help.
So long as parents and grandparents are too lazy, tired, fatigued, exhausted or dead to improve their own reading skills, and pass those skills on to their kids and grandkids, I donıt see much improvement in our literacy levels.
There are a few kids out there who learned to read before they entered kindergarten. Their parents and grandparents read. They looked up unfamiliar words in the dictionary. They read to their kids and grandkids. They taught the younguns to read. And somewhere along the way they turned off the TV and introduced them to the dictionary.
You are a good writer, Tim, destined to become a great one. And you are a good teacher. Thanks for explaining the fine line that separates the fanatics and the lunatics.
Your faithful reader and student,
Virgil
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

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Column
By:Charlie Broadwell
The Jackson Herald
January 30, 2002

Legislators have no tolerance for zero tolerance
Iım glad to hear that the Georgia Senate is finally doing something about their zero tolerance rules.
I first noticed these rules several years ago when signs were erected in front of schools claiming the campuses to be zero tolerance.
I thought this was fine at first. I figured they were talking about drugs — narcotics, or the illegal forms of drugs. And yes, they meant illegal drugs. But the truth is they were managing to nail students who were using Tylenol and other over-the-counter remedies.
Please tell me what a student can do wrong with a bottle of Tylenol. Could taking a couple of pills to get rid of a headache cause them to flunk out of class? Could they sell individual capsules for outrageous prices to other students? Or even worse, could they obtain a large enough bottle to unmercifully flog another student or faculty member during an adolescent fit of rage?
No. The rules have grown to be so stupid over time. The rules themselves were fine until they started coming down hard on over-the-counter drugs and other items that could be considered drugs by an administrator with a wild imagination (breath mints). These administrators who have discretion over such things tend to make outrageous decisions when dealing with things such as Tylenol, aspirin or even refreshing breath mints.
Oh and letıs not forget about the student in Gwinnett County who was suspended after joking that her grape juice was wine. I think the student was in seventh grade, so it sounds like the kind of humor someone of that age would be using. The Gwinnett County School system must be quite proud of itself.
Please donıt assume Iım coming down hard on all administrators. Iım sure somewhere out there, there have to be one or two with at least some common sense.
Then there is the other half of Œzero toleranceı — weapons. If you were in the classroom, and you had the intent of inflicting severe suffering on someone, you wouldnıt need to pull out a gun, knife or Tweety Bird key chain. You could just use your pencil or pen to stab them in the throat.
Maybe they should replace pencils and pens with something much safer. Such as mud. Students could use their fingers to write their homework on paper using the mud.
Wait, that would never work. A mob of angry students could hold down an innocent student and force mud in their face, blocking their oxygen supply. What a sad, mean world we live in.
Along with pens and pencils, books should be eliminated. I have been unfortunate enough to be hit hard on top of the head with a large textbook. If someone struck an elderly teacher in the head with a large English (now Language Arts) book, it could cause great bodily injury and perhaps death.
Even computers can be considered weapons. A mouse alone can be quite deadly. It has that strong cord thatıs just long enough to wrap around a personıs neck. Youıd think schools would want to revert back to early 1980s technology to prevent such an incident.
I wonıt even mention what can be done with a keyboard. I will leave it up to your imagination to determine what horrendous devastation can be unleashed with the tool of destruction commonly referred to as a ³keyboard.²
Itıs such a shame that schools are filled with the very things they are trying to ban. These things are so harmful to students around the country that Iım surprised weıre not putting more young people into the ground from mouse attacks due to Tylenol deals gone wrong. Iım glad administrators around the state are helping to eliminate these potential schoolhouse scourgings.
All the Georgia Legislature is doing is asking school systems to use ³common sense.² I laugh at the thought of a world in which school systems use common sense, because maybe then, the world would be closer to perfect.
I doubt it will change much, if at all. The administrators who get high off their power trips will continue to do so, until all of them are individually exposed by the media. It seems as though every time the media gets ahold of one of these knee-jerk fascists (a reactionary or dictatorial person), they quickly resign and in comes another idiot.
Maybe these zombies (one who looks or behaves like an automaton) will listen to the Georgia Legislature, but I doubt they will.
Charlie Broadwell is a reporter for MainStreet News Inc. His email is charliecfh@hotmail.com.

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