The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 25, 1998 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Monday, May 25, 1998
Page 4
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•A4 MONDAY. MAY 25, 1998 THE SALINA JOURNAL OPINION George B. Pyle editorial page editor * Opinions * expressed on ; this page are * those of the .identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Salina, KS 67402 s Fax: * (785) 827-6363 r. E-mail: * SJLetters® Quote of the day ' ''Twentyyears ago ' -we wouldn't have *'- thought twice about letting kids sit on our laps at campfires or making sure their "^ shoulders had !* sunscreen on \* them." ' Pat Hammond American Camping Association official, on the ways summer camps have changed By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Speaking in tongues THE ISSUE Republicans and Hispanics THEARGUMBVT Domenici recognizes the real world F or leaders of a political party to shift gears from an assault on a culture to an outreach to it, once they recognize that members of that culture are voting in increasing numbers, might be considered cynical. Or it might be democracy in action. Leaders of the Republican Party are starting to notice that they are perceived, rightly or wrongly, as being anti-immigrant. Their support for measures that ban government assistance for immigrants, legal or illegal, and leadership in the effort to make English the "official" language of the United States are starting to backfire among the growing population of Hispanic Americans. Not that Hispanic Americans don't want to speak English. Most of them do, and certainly want their children to speak English so they can climb the ladder of American success. That is why a ballot initiative in California to abandon the old method of bilingual education in favor of a brief and intensive English immersion method has the support of most Hispanics in that state. Still, Republicans seem to have gone out of their way in recent years to dis Hispanic culture and language. Which is odd, given the natural base of support Republicans might expect from anti- Castro Cubans and from the entrepreneurial immigrants from throughout Latin America. Enter Sen. Pete Domenici — Republican of, appropriately, New Mexico — with an idea that artfully splits the political difference by being inclusive rather than hostile. Domenici calls his approach "English Plus." It is a resolution by which Congress would declare, symbolically, that English is the unifying language, not only of America but of much of the world. But, Domenici's resolution goes on to say, improving America's understanding of Spanish will help not only its Hispanic immigrants but also our nation's relations with the Spanish- speaking world. Any resistance by Americans to the Spanish tongue is not only rude but self- destructive. It limits our ability to talk with and, perhaps more importantly, sell stuff to Hispanic Americans and Latin America. An American company clinging to English in its marketing efforts would be making the same mistake American automakers insisted on making for years — trying to sell the Japanese cars that had the steering wheel on the wrong side. Knowledge of other languages, other cultures, rounds out the life of an individual as surely as it increases the market for any product. The point of Domenici's wise resolution is to stop trying to shape the world to the will of one language and recognize that the world will open itself to those who bother to learn and respect other languages and other cultures. • I • SEN. SAM BROWNBACK: 141 Hart Senate Office Building, :! Washington, D.C. 20510; Phone: (202) 224-6521; Fax: (202) ; * 228-1265; E-mail: ' r • SEN. PAT ROBERTS: 302 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510; Phone: (202) 224-4774; Fax: (202) 224-3514; E-mail: ' • REP. JERRY MORAN: 1217 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515; Phone: (202) 225-2715; Fax: (202) 225-5124; E-mail: • PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C. 20500; Phone: (202) 456-1414; Fax: (202) 456-2883; E-mail: LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL : More should take driver safety class '. How long has it been since you saw a car with an uninformed driver pull out from a street onto '. Crawford or Iron in front of oncoming traffic and make a left turn into the right lane? :' Well, after all, that's where he wanted to be. ;- That's not only illegal, but not 1 yery smart. If someone hits him, • he becomes furious — but he's re• sponsible. Furthermore, when his '. insurance company gets word of ' the accident, his insurance rate is • sure to climb. '. The American Association of • Retired Persons has, for the past • five years, offered defensive dri: ving classes caU 55 ALIVE Mature ; Driving. These classes are taught • by five trained volunteers here in Salina who contribute some 15 to 16 hours per class each time they The Ou.ter-Ne.-t TVllS 15 A NO, IT'S A V MATTER OP k T JOURNAL Nice guy Bill Gates, we hardly knew ye Under the gun of Justice, Microsoft strangely adopts the methods of Big Tobacco T he antic appearances as a TV pitchman for Big Bertha golf clubs didn't charm. The sober photo ops in inner-city classrooms didn't impress. The cuddly interviews with Barbara Walters, Regis and Kathie Lee wore thin. Say farewell to Bill Gates, Mr. Nice Guy. We hardly knew ye. Having failed to quiet the antitrust hounds by giving its leader an image transplant repositioning him as the regular billionaire next door, Microsoft is now turning to hardball. With exquisitely perverse timing, it is taking a new P.R. leaf directly from the playbook of the most despised industry in America, Big Tobacco. This bizarre scheme was revealed last month by The Los Angeles Times, which obtained confidential documents outlining a plan for a stealth media blitz in which flattering articles, letters to the editor and opinion pieces would be commissioned and planted "by Microsoft's top media handlers" but be presented "as spontaneous testimonials", to the attorneys general in the dozen states that may join the feds' scrutiny of Gates' allegedly predatory business practices. The phony grass-roots campaign — as T ESSAY FRANK RICH The New York Times 0 Microsoft's own Web magazine, Slate, has since labeled it — is nothing if not a retread of familiar tobacco tactics. As far back as the '60s, cigarette companies were caught having paid for an ostensibly scientific article in True magazine disputing the connection between smoking and cancer. The '90s have given us the National Smokers Alliance, a loud smokers' rights group that tries to intimidate anti- smoking legislators by bragging of its "grassroots" organization of "more than 3 million members"; it was exposed this year (also by The L.A. Times) to be bankrolled largely by Philip Morris rather than by spontaneous throngs of dues-paying citizens insisting on their right to smoke themselves to death. Embarrassing as it is that Microsoft has considered mimicking Big Tobacco's P.R. stunts, the company is also toying with an even more lethal tobacco habit — lying. When initially contacted by The L.A. Times about the stealth plan, Microsoft's spokesman pleaded ignorance — even though his name was on the documents the paper had obtained. Later he "amended his remarks," as it was politely put, and acknowledged attending a meeting at which the plan had been discussed only three days earlier. There is a fundamental difference between Microsoft, whatever one thinks of its alleged monopolistic ambitions, and Big Tobacco. Gates' company helps drive an industry that is not only creating wealth but revolutionizing the quality of life and work for many Americans — mostly for the better. The tobacco industry, while also creating wealth, is an addictive-drug-and-death merchant that all too literally saps national strength rather than adding to it. ! Why would Microsoft, a gem of American capitalism, sink to a pariah industry's scuzzy level of corporate behavior? The only conceivable answer is arrogance. Rather than make the case for Microsoft on its merits, Gates and his handlers seem possessed by the belief that the public and public 9ffi- cials alike can easily be bamboozled by spin. Perhaps — but not so easily as in the past. If we have anything to thank Big Tobacco for, it is for sowing public skepticism about the propaganda campaigns of all corporate giants. Having been caught in so many lies — whether about nicotine addiction or its marketing of cigarettes to kids — Big Tobacco has fallen so low it can't even buy politicians anymore (if the politicians want to be re-elected, that is). When it started a costly campaign last week to derail Congress' proposed tobacco settlement, whining in newspaper ads that the deal might drive it "out of business," Americans just laughed and turned the page. Such is Big Tobacco's credibility today that even were it to run ads admitting a direct link between smoking and cancer, consumers would dismiss it as a trick. Microsoft, which only discovered public relations since feeling the Justice Department's heat, has taken just a small step down this cynical road of dissembling, but a step it still is. And self-destructive at that: phony "grassroots" campaigns reinforce rather than counter Microsoft's troubled image as a power-mad bully that will stop at nothing to snuff out competitors. Bill Gates, golf-playing love muffin, was a phony too, but at least he was good for a laugh. Privacy is the same as freedom P.O. Box 740, Salina, KS 67402 prepare for, plan and present this eight hour course. These safety- conscious Salinans feel doing this is worth the time and effort. However, I sometimes wonder if I'm using my time wisely when only 10 students (a normal class should have up to 35 enrolled) participate. Another class will possibly be offered sometime this summer. I suggest people read your newspaper, listen to Salina radio stations, and watch Access TV for an announcement. If they don't see or hear one, I hope they will take responsibility to call these numbers to ask for information about AARP's 55 ALIVE Defensive Driving Course for anyone with a valid's driver's license: 827-6123 or 827-5233 — JEAN SCRIBNER Salina • Jean Scribner is the AARP 55 ALIVE state coordinator. Prisoners have no expectation ' of privacy but, in America, the rest of us should W ASHINGTON — When Monica Lewinsky telephoned Linda Tripp, the White House intern had what the law calls "a reasonable expectation of privacy" — a right to assume she was not being surreptitiously recorded. That means Tripp's secret taping was not only faithless (and in certain jurisdictions, unlawful) but profoundly unethical. She diminished her friend's personal freedom. Turn now to the recording of Webster Hubbell's jailhouse telephone conversations with his wife. That felon had no rea- riwNew York Times sonable expectation of privacy on that phone; on the contrary, a large sign in English and Spanish made clear that anything the prisoner said could be recorded and used against him. We punish criminals by taking away their freedom and most of their privacy. They retain a shred, through use of an unmonitored line to consult with lawyers, but their punishment is the denial of freedom. That's why I, a privacy nut even before having been wiretapped a generation ago, had no problem with congressional revelation of the White House squeeze being put on Hubbell to WILLIAM SAFIRE make sure her hushed-up husband rolled over one more time. As for Hubbell's so-called exculpatory comments not released at first, they were examples of what FBI agents call "tickling the wire" — when someone, knowing he is overheard, tosses in self-serving statements. Turn now to example No. 3: the release by the Pentagon of information to a reporter showing that Linda Tripp did not reveal on her clearance forms that she had been arrested and released after a prank at the age of 19. Although the Clinton witness-intimidation brigade may have triggered the original query, I do not believe that the White House leaned on the Pentagon to confirm the reporter's story. Ken Bacon, the defense official responsible, tells me "I made a mistake, given the Privacy Act, and should have taken it to the lawyers." But a wrong was done. Defense Secretary William Cohen ordered his inspector general to investigate. Those responsible should be reprimanded, the victim should receive a public apology, and Cohen should make it clear that no such leakage will be tolerated. Multiply that intrusion by 900 and you have Filegate. That unprecedented raid on FBI files by the former tavern bouncer hired by the Clintons was ostensibly to "vet" personnel, but more likely it snooped into the private lives of former White House employees. When the log of requisitions for these FBI dossiers on Republicans showed six months torn out, the ensuing uproar caused the conflicted attorney general to refer this wholesale invasion of privacy to Independent Counsel DOONESBURY Ken Starr. ; '; His investigation has languished for-two years, even as we have seen Clinton private operatives digging up dirt from non-FBI sources. But no indictments or exoneration's have come from Starr. All those whose reasoft- able expectation of privacy was denied see dereliction of prosecutorial duty. Carry this reasonable expectation into your own home. Suppose you use your credit card t'o pay for a porno flick; you don't expect this to make you a target for late-night calls from every smut peddler who buys your number from the plastic list. Or suppose you are surfing the Internet; you don't want your curiosity monitored by a cyberstalker who makes you a target of telemarketers. • '_ The GOP is missing the boat on this libertarian concern; for a year the House teleconi- munications chairman, Billy Tauzin, has been blocking the ranking Democrat Ed Markey.'s bill to give Net users the ability to detect and block cyberstalking. Vice President Al Gore sees the appeal in protecting the Internet generation from unwanted commercial snooping, and is calling a low-peak "privacy summit." But Gore's in a policy bind: If he supports encryption, which is the name of the electronic privacy game, he infuriates FBI datatappers. So he waffles. We must demand that government set .the example in snoopery restraint. If Americans allow ourselves to lose our expectation of privacy, we would then lose our privacy itself — and the essence of our personal freedom is that right to be let alone. By G.B. TRUDEAU PiVS, yOU GOT&CH, CHAR- ISM A7IC, IONELY WJN6MBM PAP, HOW COULPAU, UHOKNOUS? OF OUR SCHOOL , YOUKNCW?

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