The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 5, 1997 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

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Sunday, October 5, 1997
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A4 SUNDAY, OCTOBER 5, 1997 THE SALINA JOURNAL 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 Fax: (785) 827-6363 E-mail: ; SJLetters® saljournal.com Quote of the day i ; "Iblew it." George Bush In a diary entry > shortly after his ,1988 selection of Dan Quayle as his running mate, . according to a new book, ', ; "George Bush, The Life of a Lone Star Yankee," t>y historian Herbert S. Parmet. OPINION By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal By any other name 7HEI880E Dealing with juvenile crime THE ARGUMENT Children are still children, law or no law C ongress could, in its infinite wisdom, pass a law that said your old dachshund was really a horse. It still would not be a good idea to enter ol' Pooch in the Kentucky Derby. With about that much logic, Congress is considering, along with many states, laws that would declare juvenile offenders to be adults. Violent juveniles are a threat, as we have seen in several stunning news accounts in just the last week. But all the laws in the world won't alter the fact that a child is still a child. Worse, the approach that seems to be gaining favor with many sound-bite hungry lawmakers would do more to increase crime than to reduce it. There is cause to fear the rage and apparent soullessness of many young people left to the streets or, worse, television for their moral upbringing. Laws that would have juveniles tried in adult courts, confined in adult jails, held to adult standards of behavior, are designed to address that fear. But such laws will not help. To place young lawbreakers in the same facilities as adult criminals will not make them better adults. It will make them better criminals. Our prisons are graduate schools of crime and mayhem. They always have been and they always will be. Even the inmates who are going to their AA meetings,, earning their GEDs and racking up good-time points are also learning to live by the law of the jungle, where might makes right and differences are settled for keeps. Send a child, even one who has done something dastardly, into such a system, and we should not be surprised when the man who comes out is even more dangerous and less trustworthy. Worse, some lawmakers would allow juveniles to be held in adult jails even before they have been convicted of any-, thing, or even when they are benig held only as so-called "status offenders," who committed no crime more severe than truancy or running away from home. When we know that prevention works better than punishment, and when juvenile crime is actually down by 9 percent, it is clear that any move to treat juvenile offenders as adults is for the benefit of politicians, not people. Congress can pass laws all day long. State legislatures can work long into the night. Children are still children. Or will our lawmakers also provide that 12-year-olds who can demonstrate some special level of maturity can get a driver's license, the right to vote, or a drink? Of course not. You could get the government to let your poodle run in the Grand National Steeplechase. But, if little Fifi comes out alive, don't be surprised if she's developed quite an attitude. The dark side THEHSK Violence as a solution THEARGUMBVT If it is wrong, it is wrong L uke Woodham thought killing people would solve his problems. "Murder is not weak and slow- witted," 16-year-old Luke wrote before killing two students at his high school in Pearl, Miss., "murder is gutsy and daring." For carrying out such a sentiment, Woodham is facing a life-without-parole prison term. After the murders — after it was too late — people who knew young Luke said he was an unhappy, unattractive friendless boy who was often insulted, pushed and abused by fellow students. The fact that he was well-behaved and good at his school work didn't help. He just took it, and took it, and took it, until he snapped. When the psychiatrist attempts to explain to Luke why what he did was wrong, he would be wise not to mention that the United States is the only nation in the so-called civilized world that officially believes that killing people solves problems. Wednesday, a Texas man became the 57th person in America put to death by state law this year. At the current rate, our natiw will break the old record for legal murder in a year, surpassing the 65 death warrants carried out in 1957. The logic that states use to kill people who offend them is identical — identical — to the logic that moved Luke Woodham to open fire in a high school. For knowing that, he will spend the rest of his life in prison. T TORY NOTIONS The more muddled we are, the better A great many Americans are omelets of a surprising assortment of ingredients W ASHINGTON — An enormous number of people — perhaps you — are descended, albeit very indirectly, from Charlemagne. And an enormous number are descended from Charlemagne's groom. Trace your pedigree back far enough, you may find that you ~~ ~* are an omelet of surprising ingredients. Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, Jesse Owens and Roy Campanella each had a white parent. Martin Luther King (who had an Irish grandmother, and some Indian ancestry), W.E.B. Du Bois and Malcolm X had some Caucasian ancestry. The NAACP estimates that 70 percent of those who identify themselves as African-American are of — r-^ —* mixed racial heritage. And then there is Tiger Woods, who calls himself "Cablinasian — Caucasian, black, Indian, Asian. Bear such things in mind as the Office of Management and Budget decides whether to make a small but consequential change in the census form. The 1790 census classified Americans in three categories — free white male, free white female, slave. In 1850 "free colored" was added. Then came mulatto, octoroon and quadroon (one-eighth and one-quarter black). In 1890 Chinese and Japanese were included as distinct races. Today there are five categories — white, black, Asian-Pacific Islander, American Indian-Native Alaskan and other. Now there is a rapidly spreading belief that the "other" category is unsatisfactory, because T SUNDAY FUNNIES GEORGE F. WILL Tlie Washington Post it does not contribute to an accurate snapshot of the population, and it offends sensibilities: Why should a child of a white-black marriage be required to identify with one parent, or as an "other"? So OMB is considering adding a sixth category — "multiracial." This would serve the accuracy of the census in a nation experiencing a rapid surge in interracial marriages, which increased about 550 percent between 1960 and 1990. The number of children in interracial families rose from 500,000 in 1970 to 2 million in 1990. Between 1960 and 1990 the percentage of African-American marriages involving a white spouse more than tripled, from 1.7 percent to 6 percent. Sixty-five percent of Japanese-Americans marry someone of another race. The multiracial category would serve civic health by undermining the obsession with race and ethnicity that fuels identity politics. Such politics proceed on the assumption that individuals are defined by their membership in this or that raciaj or ethnic group, often a group that cultivates its sense of solidarity by nurturing its grievances/The multiracial category is opposed by many who have a stake in today's racial spoils. system, and thus favor maintaining the categories that help Balkanize America. It is estimated — probably too conservatively — that 10 percent of blacks would check a "multiracial" box on the census form. As more and more people accurately identify themselves as "multiracial," the artificial clarity of identity politics will blur. The more blurring the better, because it will impede application of the principle of categorical representation — the principle that people of a particular group can only be understood, empathized with and represented by members of that group. Today some native Hawaiians want out of the Asian-Pacific Islander category, and some I Indian and native Alaskans do not want ttt| native Hawaiians included in their categorr j Some Creoles, Americans of Middle Easte descent (there are 2 million of them), and of ers want their own categories. Such elbc" throwing prickliness is one consequence: government making membership in distinjji grievance-groups advantageous. £ Race and ethnicity are not fixed, eastt definable scientific categories. The law one regarded the Irish "race" as nonwhite. TodajJ; ethnicity and race can be, to some degree, i ters of choice. Many Hispanics regard panicity" as an attribute of race, others more inclined to identify themselves as panic when it is not presented as a i gory. • £J OMB's decision will follow last week's ife; port from the Commission on Immigration S<? form, which recommends a "new America^ ization movement" emphasizing the melding of individuals rather than the accommodation* of groups. It argues that national unity shoulfi be built upon a shared belief in constitutioiM values, and that the nation "admits imnj> grants as individuals" and must "emphasjjp! the rights of individuals over those of groupsjl Today the government concocts "race-con* scious remedies" such as racial preference^ for conditions it disapproves. This encouragSg Americans to aggregate into groups jockeyiftg for social space. £* Perhaps it would be best to promote thjj desegregation of Americans by abolishing t$i| existing five census categories, rather than adding a sixth. £jj} However, the "multiracial" category coujjd speed the dilution of racial consciousness. On# criticism of this category is that "multiracial does not denote a protected class under the l$«f and therefore gathering data about those wjje think of themselves as "multiracial" serves jj^J statutory purpose. ** To which the sensible response is: good. %# Baby Boomers discover the joys of golf And if you don't play golf these days, you could find yourself 'out of the loop' Y ou've surely noticed that a big golf craze is sweeping the nation, as aging Baby Boomers discover the benefits of participating in a sport where the most physically demanding activity is ordering putters by mail. It has reached the point where, if you don't play golf, your career can suffer. I know mine has. In my newspaper office, the two senior editors — let's call them "Tom Shroder" and "Bill Rose" — regularly go off together during business hours to play golf. I'm sure that while they're out on the "links" whacking their "bogeys," they discuss important business matters and formulate newspaper policies in conversations like this: TOM: Bill, before I attempt to "shank" this "birdie," I'd like to know your "gut feeling" on the use of quotation marks in the newspaper. BILL: Tom, I feel they are overused. TOM: I agree. Let's formulate a policy on that. BILL: And then let's try on evening gowns. TOM: Yes! We'll accessorize with brooches! I'm not saying "Tom" and "Bill" discuss exactly these topics. I'm merely saying that, because I don't play golf, I don't know what they discuss, and so I'm "out of the loop." Perhaps you're "in the same boat." Perhaps you'd like to learn about golf, so that when your colleagues talk about it, you can join in and be "one of the persons." That's why today's topic is Basic Questions About Golf, starting with the question that beginners ask most often: Q. Has anybody ever used a 9-iron to kill emus? A. Alert reader Marjorie Dishron sent me a fascinating column written last February by Ron Henry Strait, outdoor writer for The San Antonio Express-News; the column concerns a DAVE BARRY The Miami Herald man named Wes Linthicum, who heads an informal group called the Texas Christian Hunters Association, which each year feeds the homeless using donated meat. An area emu farmer offered to give the group a bunch of emus, which are very large, ostrich-like birds. The problem was that the birds were alive, and, as the old folk saying goes, "You can't feed large ostrich-like birds to the homeless if they (the birds) are walking aroundi" The members of the Texas Christian Hunters Association didn't have guns with them, and nobody wanted to strangle the emus manually. According to the column, the problem was solved when: "... someone recalled that emus have a tendency to closely examine an object that is dropped on the ground. That's when Linthicum got out his 9-iron ..." I called Linthicum, and he told me, after some hemming and hawing, that although the story he'd related to columnist Strait was essentially correct, the golf-club part was not 100 percent accurate in the sense of being true. Linthicum also made these points: (1) If you are ever offered a gift of live emus, you would be wise to turn it down, because "those things have feet like something out of Jurassic Park"; (2) If it gets printed in the newspaper that you dispatched emus with a 9-iron, eyen for a good cause, you're going to hear from some extremely angry animal-rights people; and (3) If a person, for whatever reason, did have to dispatch an emu with a golfing implement, it would make more sense to use a wood than an iron. Speaking of Jurassic Park, another question often asked by beginning golfers is: Q. What happens if a snake eats my balls? A. Don't worry! The snake will be fine, provided that it gets proper medical care. I base this statement on an article from the July 5, 1996, Harrisburg (Pa.) Patriot-News, written by Danielle Hollister and alertly sent in by Dave Barrows, headlined SURGERY GETS SNAKE UP TO PAR. The story states that Sandy and Jeff Paul, who raise chickens, sometimes "put golf balls in their hens' nests to encourage the hens to stay put and lay eggs." One day they noticed a five-foot pft snake near their home with three distima lumps in its middle, and they realized that tftf snake had swallowed their golf balls. So th;e,¥ grabbed their 9-iron and ... »$ No, seriously, according to the Patriot-New$ article, the Pauls contacted a veterinarian} who successfully removed the golf balls. Tf snake, which the Pauls named "Spalding came through the operation OK and has accepted to law school. No, I'm kidding about that last part. But I'm not kidding about our final common golf ques ; tion, which is: i Q. If I do not wish to stand around on a golf course listening to a bunch of business clients! drone on about their "mulligans," can I hirq somebody to 'play golf with them for me? i A. Yes! Alert dentist Steve Carstensen senj me a flier for a new Seattle outfit called Golf In Action ("We'll Play For You When You Can't"). The idea is, you pay a golfer to take! your clients out and play with them, thereby (to quote the flier) "giving you the freedom to continue your important daily business, needs." I called Golfln Action and spoke with the founder, Sheila Locke, who told me thai her idea has gotten a good public response, al) though a lot of the calls are from people whq want to join her staff and get paid to play golf; Me, I love the idea of paying somebody tq play golf with your clients, and I'm thinking! Why not take it further? Why not pay somej body to have meetings with your clients, and, take your clients to dinner, and smoke cigars, and drink brandy with your clients, and then throw up on your clients' shoes because yoq hate brandy and cigars? This company coulc} be called: Businesspersons In Action. ) So those are your golf basics. Good luck out on the "links," and be sure to say "hi" to mjf editors, "Tom" and "Bill," who will be easy to spot because they get stuck in the sand traps with those high heels. , • Dave welcomes your comments, complaints\ news tips and greetings, no matter how rude! Mail them to: Dave Barry, Miami Herald, I Her] aid Plaza, Miami, Fla. 33132. - -*

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