The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas on June 19, 2006 · Page 4
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The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas · Page 4

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Monday, June 19, 2006
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A4 THE HAYS DAILY NEWS OPINION MONDAY, JUNE 19,2006 Sacred youth A merica's high school students smoke less than they did in the 1990s. Fewer drink or have sex. But that's where the good news ends. Every two years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveys teenagers for its National Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The CDC announced its 2005 results recently. More than a third of the nation's teens smoked in 1995 — about 35 percent. That number peaked two years later at 36.4 percent, eventually dropping to 22 percent in 2003. Then it stopped falling. When asked in 2005 if they'd smoked within the last 30 days, 23 percent of students said yes. Similarly, more than half the teens surveyed in 1995 said they'd had sex. That number tumbled to about 46 percent in 2001, but that's where it remained, inching close to 47 percent in the 2005 survey. Marijuana and cocaine use also remained virtually unchanged in 2005. So did the number of teens who'd carried weapons within the last month or attempted suicide in the previous year. America decided at the beginning of this decade that academically, it would leave no child behind. Perhaps it's a coincidence, but about that same time, the physical, emotional and social well-being of the nation's teenagers stopped improving. As a country, it's time to focus our attention again on the health and well- being of our children, not just their grades. Editorial by The Hutchlnson News Shaken faith L ike just about everything he does, Kansas Education Commissioner Bob Corkins' decision to create a new division in the department and hire two new deputy commissioners is stirring controversy. First, according to Kansas Board of Education member Sue Gamble, it is unheard of for the commissioner to announce the hirings and reorganization plans before they are approved by the board. Second, according to Board Member Bill Wagnon, the establishment of a new School Innovation Division would add unnecessary bureaucracy and costs to the department's operation. Both seem like legitimate complaints that should concern Corkins, who was hired by and works for the State Board of Education. It seems only appropriate to get board approval before reorganizing the department, hiring key people and creating a new top-level position. Does the education department really need a new School Innovation Division? Corkins said the division would look for successful school programs and determine whether similar pro- grams could be used in other schools, It seems that every division of the education department already would be doing that job in their particular area — in a way that would be more efficient and constructive than channeling such efforts through a separate division. There also are concerns about what other department functions might have to be cut back to provide funding for the new division. Wagnon and Gamble are right that these are questions that should have been discussed with and resolved by the state board before they were announced by Corkins. However, the reality at this point is that Corkins really has almost no reason to concern himself with the criticisms of Wagnon and Gamble. Although the two board members frequently find themselves at odds with Corkins, the commissioner has a solid majority of support on the board that will support most plans he pursues. The public's confidence, however, may be shaken once again by the continuing controversy surrounding Corkins and the state board. Editorial by the Lawrence Journal-World. The,editorials represent the opinion and institutional volce.of The Hays DaUy News but am signed by the author for the reader's information. Guest editorials are from other newspapers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Hays Daily News. Other content on this page represents the views of the signed columnist, cartoonist or letter-writer. The Opinion Page Is Intended to be a community forum. Guest editorials and syndicated columnists are selected to present a variety of opinion. Man lived to educate us about racial violence Seventy-six years ago, thousands of people came to lynch James Cameron. In this, he was not unique. An estimated 4,700 Americans — the vast majority of them black men — suffered that fate in the years between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. Here's what makes Cameron different: he survived. The rope was around his neck and the mob howled for his blood, but he survived. He is believed to be the only person ever to do so. James Cameron died Sunday at the age of 92 after years of failing health. I met him in 1994 when I went to Milwaukee to do a story on his book, "A Time of Terror," and he told me about that awful night in August 1930. How police arrested him for a crime he had not committed: the murder of a white man. How they literally stomped him into signing a confession he was not allowed to read. How the dead man's bloody shirt was hoisted to a flagpole outside the jailhouse and all day long, a mob gathered beneath. How a false rumor spread that Cameron and two others had raped the dead man's girlfriend. How the mob attacked the jail after dark, taking sledgehammers to the door until their hands were dripping blood. How they beat one man, Thomas Shipp, to death. How they rammed a crowbar through another, Abram Smith. How they wrapped Shipp's body in a Klan robe and strung both corpses up in a tree. How they came for Cameron, beat him senseless and snugged a rope around his neck. How he was delivered by a miracle. Cameron says a voice — it has never been independently identified, but he always said It was God — told the crowd he had committed no crime. And just like that, they let him go. After the interview, I drove down to Marion, the tiny north-central Indiana town where it happened. At that point, the lynching was 64 years past. Yet people changed when you brought it up. Eyes turned inward. Hands trembled. Old people snapped at you. The crime haunted that place like ghosts, hung over it like smoke. As 93-year-old Jack Edwards, who was mayor in 1930, told me. "We're ashamed of it. It'll never be erased." In 1988, Cameron founded what he called America's Black Holocaust Mu- LNMri seum — a Milwaukee institution dedicated to commemorating the years of racial violence. An obituary last week in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the museum has never attracted the number of visitors Cameron had hoped. Small wonder. Black or white, these are passages we find too raw and painful and "close" for remembering. Easier to turn away, spare our delicate sensibilities. As it happens, I had intended to use today's column to respond to remarks from some of my readers about a different hate crime. Recently, J wrote about the case of a white man in New York City who had beaten a black man with a baseball bat while yelling racial slurs. Because of the slurs, prosecutors argued the white man should face enhanced penalties under hate crime statutes. Some of you had a problem with that and, indeed, with the entire concept of hate crimes, You argued that a beating is a beating is a beating and the penalties ought not differ based on who is beaten or why. I can appreciate why that reasoning seems to make sense. But it's built upon a fallacy: that a hate crime is just like any other crime except for motivation. James Cameron's life and near death tell us differently. Your average crime victimizes only the victim and his or her family and friends. A hate crime terrorizes an entire people. An entire place. So you can't tell me that what happened to Shipp and Smith was only murder. Or that what happened to Cameron was only assault. Or thqt the person who burns a cross on a lawn is guilty only of trespass or the one who spray paints swastikas on a synagogue wall has committed only vandalism. For 76 years, James Cameron told us otherwise. The ghosts of Marion still do. Leonard Pitts la a columnist for The Miami Herald. I9on»rdplttt9mlndtprtng.com Take a seat, click it and listen up Recently, Walter Williams and others have stated their disapproval of seat belt laws. "Government intrusion into private life" is a catch-phrase that appeals not only to anarchists and libertarians, but to Democrats, Republicans and, often enough, to me. The government does regulate certain risky behaviors, and most of us could find examples of such laws we'd personally find justifiable. The law has criteria that usually must be met if individuals are to be "allowed" to expose themselves to serious risk. A person must be capable of understanding the risk. The young, and those with certain mental limitations, are presumed to lack this capacity. The legal age threshold is usually quite arbitrary — some 15-year-olds display more "mature" judgment than others twice their age. Setting ages of eligibility for driving, voting, drinking, smoking, consenting to surgery, etc. relies on traditions more than objective markers, and is patently inconsistent. A person must be aware of the nature and extent of the risk — "informed consent." This also is difficult to measure or determine. Surgeons and parachute instructors routinely obtain signed consent forms or liability waivers, but in court these have limited value. It's too easy to show that a person misconstrued the meaning of certain terms; that the instruction provided was cursory, incomplete or employed overly technical language; or that the person signed without taking the time to read the entire document. Education is notoriously fickle. We don't just pour facts out of a mentor's pitcher to be dutifully absorbed and assimilated by attentive sponges. Many factors influence whether the lesson "takes" or not — levels of education, of Jin Hauxwell UCAlVllCES interest, of relevance. Lack of interest can lead us to ignore the newspaper article or TV discussion containing the information we'd need to really understand topics such as global warming, second-hand smoke, the effect of small doses of alcohol on reaction time, etc. More tellingly, we tend to trust our own personal experiences more than advice the "experts" offer. If you've never experienced a serious vehicle accident, and have successfully survived driving without a seatbelt so far, there's an understandable temptation to trivialize the issue. If we really knew that driving in a certain place at a certain time would get us maimed or killed, most of us would avoid it. We're aware it's possible, but we don't believe it's likely; nobody expects the accident, by definition. Who does "really" know about what can happen to unrestrained people in car and truck wrecks? Anyone who reads the paper can see that a majority of wreck fatalities involve being ejected from the vehicle. But talk to a Highway Patrol trooper, the EMTs, the trauma doctors and nurses — they know. And with few exceptions, they support mandatory seat-belt usage. They've been the ones to tell frightened parents that their little girl, one of the twins, was partially ejected in a simple rollover, her head crushed into jelly. We have a standard reply when they ask "can we see her?" The answer is "it's better if you remember her the way she was." They've searched the fields around an abandoned pickup, discovered overturned in a ditch. Maybe the driver went looking for a farm house? Then the wrecker pulls the truck onto its wheels, to reveal the body where the cab top had come to rest, intestines squeezed out of their natural portal like bloody gray toothpaste. I've seen those things, and counseled the family, or the EMTs, or even the troopers afterward. This is the last criterion: will an Individual's behavior harm someone else? It's true that unbelted passengers can go ballistic in a crash, injuring not only themselves but also any properly restrained occupants. That's just the start of it. Here's part of a letter one of my medical students sent me several years ago. He'd managed to avoid hitting some deer at night but ran back to assist another vehicle that had flipped. "A guy lying in the road was bleeding bad from his nose, mouth and head. I ripped off my shirt to stop the bleeding. People were going crazy everywhere. He had massive swelling around his eyes, and breathing was irregular. I stayed with him about 20 minutes, trying to keep him warm until the chopper arrived. They took him to a trauma center, but he didn't make it. He'd been in the back seat without a belt; the three others were belted, and they were fine." If you've been delayed by chaos along the road, seen someone's life dram away through your hands, survived a crash that killed your passenger, viewed the expense of mobilizing an ambulance, helicopter and trauma team, had nightmares of the whole thing for weeks after, then you know that seat belts are everybody's business — and a legitimate concern of the law. Jon Hauxwell, MD, is a retired family physician who grew up in Stockton and now lives outside Hays. hauxwell6ruraltel.net. Reader Forum Concealed carry offers scary scenarios for most Americans I don't really know if I should do this. I am not one to write editorial opinions. But here goes. I am not in favor of concealed weapons, or conspicuous ones either for that matter. My experience with weapons has been minimal. After enlisting in the Army in 1965 with about 30 to 35 other Ellis County men, we had basic training in weapons. I did about average or slightly above. At permanent stations, the Army used mostly my civilian skills of building maintenance and design, with occasional military skills, Those occasional uses raised my awareness of questionable weapons carefulness. When I returned to civilian life, I reentered college and signed up for National Guard to supplement G.I. school bill pay, I never attended a meeting — just lost interest in military, like probably most discharged young men. There were other things I wanted to learn, constructive, rather than destructive, things. One thing I don't like about weapons is their remoteness. You shoot a gun and the destruction, damage, pain or death takes place at some distance away. Think what it would be like to have It happen A community is best served when residents are willing to discuss issues publicly. You can be part of the discussion by participating in the Reader Forum. Please limit your submissions to 600 words. They will be edited for length and clarity. They must be signed and In* right next to you, or to you. Some years ago, I worked as a security guard in Arizona while teaching part-time. There were several opportunities to advance with better pay. This would have necessitated carrying a gun, There were a number of us, mostly World War II and Korean era veterans, who declined. We just did not want to be in a situation of aiming a weapon at something living. There is no satisfaction, pleasure or sense of accomplishment from doing something as simple as squeezing a trigger resulting in disintegration, pain or death. The only hunting I might do now is with a camera. As a security guard, I was surprised and discouraged by the type of people who wanted, or seemed to want, armed assignments. Most of them had limited education. A security guard uniform and weapon seemed highly enabling or exciting to them. Their conversations were full of laughter and jokes about shooting, hunting or carrying a gun on the job. Makes me nervous to be around people who get their jollies that way. The concealed weapons legislation might make It possible to allow knee jerk or impulsive reaction to imagined threat or sudden incidents. I also worry about those who are a communist or Muslim or whatever be- elude a name, address and daytime telephone number for verification. We reserve the right not to print a submission. We do not accept for publication on the editorial page pqems, consumer complaints, business testimonials or hind every tree. There might have been some value or effectiveness in writing this in a stronger language, but this much should be noted: not everyone likes guns. The only birdies I want to shoot anymore are out in a pasture with strategically located nine or 18 holes. Omer Knoll Palco Photographs improperly set the stage for wrongdoing Once again, on June 15, The Hays Daily News, on A3, published a photo of a lonely jogger(s), identified the sometimes isolated route taken and even the approximate time of day of the jog. Identifying the girls by name could put them at greater risk, considering the recent "fake cop" traffic stops in the area. God forbid someone in The Hays Daily News circulation area is fondling fantasies of evil-doing, but there have been several stranger abduction/murders In the 30 some years I have lived in this area. The picture and attendant caption could be summarized as ^'MapQuest for Predators." Please stop this irresponsible practice. Carla T. White McCracken group letters. Mail them to Reader Forum, The Hays Dally News, 507 Main, Mays K8 67601 .You also can send them by e-mail alreaderfor U m«djllyn»w»,n»t Please include an address and daytime telephone number.

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