A West Fork boy and the pledge 

A West Fork boy and the pledge

Somewhere Thomas Jefferson smiles ... and me. I've lived in Seattle since serving 4 years in the Navy Intelligence group in Japan '69 thru '73. I was born and raised in McGehee, Arkansas.

Nothing has made me more proud of my state than David Koon's Nov. 5 article about Will Phillips of West Fork and his decision not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. This is one very brave and intelligent young man.

If you have the opportunity, please let him know that we're all very proud of him. The world recognizes what he is doing even when he's walking those cruel hallways in school and some kids have no idea.

And thank you for doing such a good article ... well done, David Koon.

Jim Massey



Thank you for your article, “A Boy and His Flag.” I and so many others appreciate and applaud your use of the power of your pen to highlight that the current issue over same-sex marriage is not about whether two people of the same sex may marry, but it's about equality for all Americans.

This dispute dismays me on a daily basis and I think it was important that you called attention to the kind of support homosexuals in our country need right now. Albeit intelligent beyond his years, the boy is clearly able to handle issue identification and successfully pinpoint the true issues in controversy.

John F. Harrington Jr.



I myself am not gay, but I do have many gay friends here in the UK and I too am also appalled by the current degree of inequality and oppression that my fellow human beings undergo purely because of their life choices. I think your coverage of Will Phillips' courageous stand against this kind of behavior is a vitally important step forwards in the ongoing battle of human-rights and the pursuit of equality for all, irrelevant of skin, gender, race or sexuality.

What you, and more importantly he, have clearly shown is that, through the eyes of an incredibly intelligent and self aware 10-year-old, difference is not grounds for exclusion. Perhaps if we could all turn back the clock to that state of child-like innocence, we would be able to see that the suffering and pain our world insists on putting on our fellow kin is but a barrier made of fear, guilt and repression.

Daniel Kings

 Malvern, Worcestershire, United Kingdom


I would like to show my support for the amazing stance that Will has made, as well as the article that you have written. I am a 21-year-old student at Oberlin College studying psychology with a concentration in peace and conflict studies but have a major interest in politics, law and simply bettering our world. The stance that Will took was not only an expression of our freedom of speech but more importantly, a major expression of support for the equal rights movement. Being part of the “young” generation, it inspires me beyond words that Will had (and has) the courage to stand up, not only to the teacher but also his peers, for something that he believes in. It is stories such as these that give us the motivation to push for a better United States and ultimately a better world.

Mr. and Mrs. Phillips, you have an amazing son.

Mr. Koon, Thank you for writing this inspiring article and making this “boy's” story heard.

Will, you have a better grasp on life than many adults will ever have.

I would like to thank all of you for inspiring me and “making my day”!

Joshua Brancazio

Oberlin College

The jail nightmare

Thank you for Mara Leveritt's important and educational article on our incarceration nightmare. She eloquently and graphically reminds us of the insanity of mass incarceration, bringing it home to Arkansas.

I just returned from speaking at a national conference on corrections, health and family in California. There the talk focused on the extreme state of the California correctional system, with prisoners stacked on top of each other in cafeterias, breathing one another's breath. In contrast, Bryan Fisher, the commissioner of New York state's Department of Correction, presented on what has happened with the repeal of the dreadful Rockefeller drug laws in his state. The result is the closing of many NY prisons, the emptying of the beds that were occupied by the non-violent drug offenders. Think of the savings. And the greater likelihood of more successful outcomes for drug-addicted offenders who will go to treatment centers equipped to treat addiction as an illness, without the cost or the stigma of incarceration, a stigma that cannot be shaken in a lifetime.

I believe our governor has it so right when he speaks of community alternatives, a rational and effective approach to addiction. And we know that criminality can be addressed without the overuse of incarceration; restorative justice has wonderful outcomes, without the stigma, the cost, the punitive nature, promoting responsibility and authentic reparation between offender and victim or victim's family. That our state resists these practices, both for adults and juveniles, will always disturb me.

Dee Ann Newell

Little Rock




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