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Re Max Brantley’s column “Why does Walker sue?” and Ernest Dumas’ “The court needs a report”:

You guys are crazy, just like me! Do you really think they will let you get away with saying the right thing? Do you not realize that you will be unpopular? But I think you both know and believe that saying the right thing is better than being liked by idiots. Smart people will know that you are right and applaud you for your honesty, as I do at this time. You guys are quick, direct and really get to the point! You are what the First Amendment and a free press are really about, doing and saying the right thing, even if others think it is the wrong time, or just wrong. Keep up the good work. If I had a bunch of loose money, I would hire (or kidnap) you guys and we would do a daily paper and news programs on radio and television.

R.S. “Doc” McCullough

Little Rock

Affirmative action

Your Nov. 30 editorial, “Affirmative Action,” commending the student body at the University of Arkansas for improved scholarship is appreciated. It’s the result of sustained effort on the part of the administration to obtain better students. Kudos also to the students for their achievements. Then you had to go and drag the affirmative action issue into the mix by indicating the UA is not giving enough scholarships to low-income and minority candidates.

There is no restriction against these students in competing for academic scholarships and being granted them, as long as they have met the requirements. You indicate that low-income and minority candidates cannot successfully compete on merit because of their backgrounds and you hint that UA should give them access to scholarships anyway. I mean it’s only fair, right? Wrong! Because if they can’t show that they can do the academics necessary for the scholarship, then you will have to award them the grade to keep their scholarships going. You might as well award them degrees on the basis of attendance.

I am a geezer now who came up through the 1960s. I participated in the early years of affirmative action programs in the military and in industry when the program was one of opportunities instead of outcomes. I was glad to do my part. What you apparently want are more scholarships granted to candidates based on their group membership alone.

I have observed individuals from low-income and minority backgrounds overcome barriers to qualify for scholarships. They all had one thing in common. They worked hard and they had the drive to succeed. You folks seem to feel that this is not enough and that the academic barriers should be lowered so all the groups should be rewarded regardless of merit. I wish you had been around when I was trying to be accepted at a college. I might have gotten into Harvard instead of a state university.

S.V. Karlson

Conway

Same-sex marriage

In case you missed it, South Africa recently became the fifth nation to legalize same-sex marriage. The post-apartheid South African Constitution, passed about a decade ago, was the first in the world to explicitly outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. It would seem a country that defined bigotry and intolerance only 10 years ago has not only passed this country, but lapped it as well. Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu, when talking about marriage as an expression of love, said, “If it is so for the heterosexual, what earthly reason have we to say that it is not the case with the homosexual, provided the relationship is exclusive, not promiscuous?”



While that country evolves, this country continues to treat its law-abiding, hard-working, tax-paying gays and lesbians as second-class citizens or, worse, political footballs to appease the fire-and-brimstone crowd. For example, Roman Catholic bishops claim to welcome gay and lesbian people but then tell them to stay in the closet about their orientation and that being gay or lesbian is “disordered.” Another shining example of religious intolerance occurred when the North Carolina Baptist Convention voted to expel congregations that affirm homosexuality period, let alone gay marriage. To quote South African Defense Minister Mosuia Lekota, “The roots of this law lie in many years of struggle. This country cannot afford to be a prison of timeworn prejudices which have no basis in modern society. Let us bequeath to future generations a society which is more democratic and tolerant than the one that was handed down to us.” Truer words have never been spoken or offer more hope for the future.



Joseph Goudsward

Jacksonville

Foreign policy

If we have the courage to maintain our friendships and get the hell out of the way, the Jews will tend to Iran and the Japs will tend to North Korea.

Jim Johnson

Conway

Education crisis

Is it possible that the crisis in education may be caused from too much emphasis being placed on the greatest amount of subject matter that can be presented to students, when the problem is obvious that many, if not most, students are not acquiring the basic skills and knowledge to grasp the subject matter already offered?

Since all students are not likely to be college-bound, why not give students four options: Prepare to enter college by “hitting the books” hard enough that they will qualify for college without remediation of the subject matter they should have mastered in high school, even grammar school; prepare them for vocational training; ready them for military training; or offer training in a civilian conservation corps similar to that of the ’30s and ’40s.

Summer tutoring might work for those who need help preparing for college. Pre-vocational training or testing could help to ascertain whatever skills or propensity a student has for a vocation. Required summer pre-military training might teach some much-needed discipline and the value and benefits of a “structured” life.

Go back to teaching the “basic three,” along with citizenship, economics, government, conservation, life skills (such as unisex home economics and vocational training classes), including the basic skills that every person needs to know in order to cope with daily living.

Teaching to tests; making nurses, computer specialists, and secretaries of teachers; and trying to make every student fit the same “cookie cutter” mold has not worked. Every child has a different capability. A serving tray of “educational goodies” is of no value unless digested.

Marilyn Fish Bryan

Taylor

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