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Sunday, April 24, 2005

Responding to Letters

--posted by Tony Garcia on 4/24/2005

There was an unusually large batch of foolish letters in the Strib Sunday that warrant response. Sit back and brace yourself.

First target of enlightenment is Joyce Denn of Woodbury:
Social Security has virtually eliminated poverty among the elderly, thus giving younger generations the freedom to pursue their dreams without the financial burden of caring for destitute parents. It is not just the elderly, and their families, who benefit from Social Security; widows, orphans and the disabled have been allowed to live in dignity. It sounds like a success story to me.

The idea that Social Security has "eliminated poverty among the elderly" is simply ignorant. The fact is that many people falsely believe that SSI is supposed to be the bulk of a person's retirement. The reality is that the program was intended to be just like all other types of insurance: a partial aide in case a gamble on circumstances actually occurs. (For example, auto insurance is to cover you in the event of an unlikely occurance like an automobile accident.) Because of the mistaken belief too many people rely on SSI as their retirement.

Two things should happen...(1) the retirement age for SSI returns to the level that FDR had it at: 5 years above the average life expectancy. (2) a person gets what they put in.

I think the fact that 65% of those 65 years of age or older have SSI as more than half of their income1 is proof of what an abysmal failure the Supplemental Security Income program has been. Too many are relying on it. Toughlove, baby, kill the program and we will all be forced to take care of ourselves.

Next up: Emilia Allen of Edina who is among many to comment on the 2 lime-light searching little girls in Winona.
Her letter is long and completely off. The key portion is this:
The self-possession that the two are displaying, and encouraging in others through their actions, will help end the dangerous and sexist belief that any action -- other than an explicit invitation -- gives men permission to treat women as sexual objects.

Bzzz...sorry, wrong answer.

The "self-possession" may be a good thing for adults but it has no place in the schools. Contrary to what the left thinks, the schools are not for indoctrinating kids into any, repeat any beliefs. Schools are not for the kids to "discover themselves" nor "display" their discoveries. Schools are for one thing: learning the essential fundamentals to better equip them with life and further education. Those are reading, writing, mathematics, history (unbiased and xenophobic, please), civics, grammar & spelling and perhaps a 2nd or 3rd language. That is it. No 'activism' or 'education funding protests' or 'homosexuality awareness' or ' awareness'. None of that belongs in the classroom and the 2 girls in Winona WITH their buttons do not belong in the class room either.

Besides, the whole ordeal has proven that the girls missed the point of their "self-revelations". 1) She watched the Vagina Monologues, which if I understand it the show is an in-your-face violence against women awareness. (Although I'm confused how a soliloquy by a nude woman dousing herself in
chocolate syrup is 'violence awareness'). 2) She wears the button to school. A smart girl that she supposedly
is ought to know that this would be an issue with administrators. This means she did this NOT for women's violence issues but for attention (and to be a contrairian).

So, even if the Vagina Monologues are effective for raising awarenes about violence against women, this girl missed the point. Now, to me that damages her free speech cliam because all her button is worth to her is vulgarity or disruption. The latter has already been ruled on by the Supreme Court as not protected in the schools.

As much as people hate him, Scalia was 100% right when he said that you do not know yourself if you do not understand your rights.

I think that my point about these girls making their buttons about themselves is emphasized by Erin Appel of Minneapolis: "I can understand that a phrase like "I [heart] My Vagina" could be startling if taken out of context, but in the context of the play and the V-Day Movement, it is a declaration of freedom from violence."

You are right, Erin, and the fact that these buttons are about "Freedom of Speech" just cements my claim that these girls missed the point of the show.

Richard Mills of Eagan nails this issues on the head: "Schools, like many businesses, have dress codes and they are far from unreasonable. They are meant to create as little distraction as possible among easily distracted adolescents."

Mark Griffin of White Bear Lake also has a great point:
"You want to actually test the limits of free speech in this case? Get some young men to put a Hustler-esque porn picture on a button and wear it to school with the words "I Love Your Vagina" on it.

Even money says that the champions of feminist free speech would instantly metamorphose into the most puritanical shrews since Cotton Mather2 and demand that the boys be expelled for their sexist sins.

Finally, Mitch from Shot In The Dark poses a fascinating question on this whole topic. "If you wear that button in school, and people feel uncomfortable about it...it's "free speech". If you wear that same button at work, and someone feels uncomfortable, it's...sexual harassment3. Why?"

Whew...these things get so long. It is a lot of work trying to enlighten the misguided world. ;)

1 Economic Policy Institute; Economic snapshot for November 18, 2004.
2 Biography about Cotton Mather from Wikipedia Encyclopedia
3 Penn State's explanaation of Sexual Harassment


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