The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 27, 1996 · Page 12
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 12

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Saturday, January 27, 1996
Page 12
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B2 SATURDAY. JANUARY 27, 1996 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 Sallna, KS 67402 Fax: (913) 827-6363 E-mail: SalJournal © Quote of the day "I feel guilty about cheating on my taxes and here's some money. If I still can't sleep, I'll send more." Unknown tax cheat In a letter to the IRS OPINION By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Darrell Wilson kept the peace THE ISSUE Sheriff Darrell Wilson's retirement THE ARGUMENT He leaves a legacy of calin professionalism I t would be very sad indeed if the thing Saline County Sheriff Darrell Wilson were to be remembered for was the huge new county jail. It was Wilson's drive, determination and credibility that got the thing built. And it was needed. But Wilson was as sick as anyone about the fact that it was necessary. Real success in law enforcement, he knows, would be an empty jail, not one bulging at the seams. Wilson announced Wednesday that he would not seek re-election this year, ending a dozen years in office and more than 30 years carrying a badge. While Wilson has earned his retirement, you won't find too many people who are happy to see him go — too many law-abiding people, anyway. Our sheriff was never the flashy sort. He wore well. Most important, he made the people of Saline County feel safe. That was his job, and he knew that the way to do it was not with powerful weapons, door-crashing tactics or even ever-larger prisons, but with his own firm but friendly presence that left everybody feeling that the important work was being done. "Professional" is how others in the law-enforcement field describe him. Another way to think of Wilson would be with a term not much used anymore. Wilson has always been a peace officer. His has always been a steady head and hand that kept the peace. • Whether he was dealing with bean- counting county commissioners, other law enforcement agencies or criminals holding hostages at knife-point, his goal was always a peaceful resolution of the situation. It was a goal he usually met. Wilson has projected a balance of purpose and serenity that allowed us to go about our business, without having to worry too much about those who broke the law, or those who enforce it. What the retiring sheriff will leave us is public faith in the institution of local law enforcement. That is more important than any stack of bricks and bars. It will also be much harder to hold on to. T UNCOMMON SENSE Form vs. substance CAL THOMAS Los Angeles Times Syndicate President Clinton had the form; Sen. Dole had the substance H ad President Clinton not chosen a career, he could just as easily have become a television evangelist. In his State of the Union address, the President was in the role of Jimmy Swaggart, preaching virtue while practicing deceit. Clinton called for smaller government — after he and Mrs. Clinton tried to "reform" the world's best health care system and make it the biggest government program in history. He called for more personal responsibility — but he gave us Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, an out-of- control proponent of condoms in high school, mas- * turbation and legalized drugs. He hailed a decline in teen pregnancy — but has been the most ardently pro-abortion president in history, not even wishing to restrict the procedure in the very last moments before birth. He praised the military — but pushed for homosexuals in the ranks, which many believe undermines that institution. He again called for a balanced budget — but won't sign any of the legislation Congress sends him that would achieve that goal because his pollsters tell him it's better politically to shut down the government and blame the impasse on the Republicans. Even as he pronounced the era of big government to be over, he called for still more government, elevating it to a "partnership" level with the family. This is what Mrs. Clinton must mean by "village" in her book. Bill Clinton looked and sounded good, but his numerous flip-flops on countless issues and the return of the character question leave all but the most politically disen- -ttLUaiKroN WE'RE GONNKSlTHERE. UNfltlUE SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT The truth about teen-agers Author Jane Pratt gathers the unvarnished facts about teen-agers' problems S ex for the first time is scary, awkward, even disappointing — anything but romantic. It's a lot like being a teen-ager. I remember waking jip every day, counting my freckles and pimples in the mirror in disgust, spending more than an hour trying to curl my hair like Farrah Fawcett's. I'd get into fights with my parents about wearing make-up. But I was too tall for any of the boys in school to notice me anyway. Jane Pratt, the, 33-year-old author — and for purposes of full-disclosure, my friend — is someone who has never forgotten how troubling it is to be a teen. She started SASSY, the ultra- hip teen magazine, when she was only 24 and went on to host * two youth-oriented TV-talk shows — on the Fox and Lifetime channels. Pratt is sort of everyone's cool older sister — mine included, even though we aren't all that far apart in age. She's got good advice, but lends an ear first. That's why I wish there'd been a book such as "For Real: The Uncensored Truth about America's Teenagers" (Hyperion) —"which Pratt has written.with journalist Kelli Pryor — when I was a kid. T TORY NOTIONS TABITHA SOREN The New York Times Syndication It might have helped me realize, for example, that other girls also wished their parents would get divorced instead of always fighting. Or that they dreaded shopping for shoes because their feet were the size of canoes. Simply put I would have felt less alone. And I can't think of anything better than that for a teen-ager — or a person of any age, for that matter. I also would have learned that a lot of kids had problems much more serious than mine. For example, Jon, one of the teens who tells his story in the book, told his parents he was gay and got kicked put of the house. Gabriel, a Mexican-American boy, could only survive in. his neighborhood by joining a gang. "For Real" is a handbook to guide teen-agers through the lamest times of puberty. Pratt weaves in excerpts from her teen-age diary — "Why am I so screwy?" Maybe I should move to China where they don't canonize models" — with confessions about her sometimes irresponsible experiences mixing Quaaludes and alcohol. She describes the peer pressure involved in a race to lose her virginity and how petrified she was to be caught without make-up. The profiles in the book include a Jewish skinhead from California, a Mormon girl, a Native-American guy named Kyle Two Horses and,a successful young actress, Ashlee Levitch; The topics include substance abuse, body- image problems, drug addiction, religion and, of course, sex. Such stories make you realize that teens who aren't straight-A goody-two-shoes nerds or rebellious young delinquents — the two ex- tremes the media loves to hype — have a wealth of experience to share. ("And by the way, can't you blow-dry your' hair and think about helping flood'victims at" the same time?" Pratt wonders.) : Perhaps this book is particularly crucial for teens of the '90s who have to deal with a range of issues at a much younger age than my generation did. Take Amber, for example. In the chapter "Amber's Boy Box," she describes her sexual experiences with a surfer in Hawaii. At age 14" she discussed having sex with him, but decid-,. ed not to because the Hawaiian condoms on the market seemed too much like novelty items. That she even seriously contemplated sleeping with a stranger on the beach — although she was conscientious enough to abstain from unsafe sex — is revealing. I The dialogue and reflection — as opposed to whining angst and melodrama — show that being a teen is not just some little "phase you 1 grow out of." • "For Real" does not omit the emotional pit*" falls of a picturesque childhood. £ Kathleen Doxey, a Southern belle, described r her high school experience, which was sugarcoated by the presence of her boyfriend Mark.. When he Was on his way to college she suddenly became worried about having no friends. The couple, without her parents' knowledge, got "pre-engaged" to seal their bond. The book also includes resources, outlets and a list of contacts for children who relate all-too-well to any of the problems and seek further information or counseling. Clothes can make the student — behave gaged viewer wondering again about his sincerity. By contrast, Senate Majority leader Bob Dole — who may have been short on form — delivered a speech that had substance. Facing the most serious charge directed against him by opponents — that he never met a principle he couldn't compromise — Dole spoke of having "starkly different philosophies of government" from the president "and profoundly different visions of America." In his best line, Dole said "every political movement, and every public official, must locate a place in his heart where compromise ends — a core of conviction where we keep our conscience." Dole indicated he had reached the end of bending and yielding and is now ready to stand and fight. Dole spoke of America having "reached the defining moment" in the debate about government as surrogate parent and personal redeemer. He seemed to be saying it's now time to choose, once and for aD, between a Lyndon Johnson view of the world (in which government will do it all for us, even if we don't want to do much for ourselves) and a Ronald Reagan view of the world (in which expensive and pervasive government hasn't been the solution but the problem). That's a good campaign theme. Offer two visions of America and what they will mean not only to adults but to our children, grandchildren and countless others yet to be born. Dole's next step should be to write on a card the four or five specific principles he would never compromise. They would be his personal "contract with America." On the reverse side, he could put President Clinton's vision for America. Dole should pass out these cards where he speaks and mail them to people. He could then ask voters to take the card into the voting booth, read both sides and select the future they want to deliver to posterity. On State of the Union night, Bill Clinton used his considerable personal skills to hide reality. Bob Dole told the truth. School uniform program fights off the attack of a zealous civil libertarian P HOENIX — "Hormones," is his answer. The question put to the concise Ramon Leyba is this: What makes a school full of teen-agers turbulent? There were 1,174 of that species — falling head over heels into eternal love at 8 a.m. and falling just as emphatically out * of love by noon — at Phoenix Preparatory Academy, when Leyba, who is principal, instituted, after consultation with the community, a policy requiring the wearing of a school uniform. The policy was accepted by 1,172 students and their parents. The two who objected found, or perhaps were found by, a lawyer who may have the Southwest's most serious case of a civil liberties fetish. He decided the school uniform policy * was the thin end of the wedge of fascism, or at least a rape of the First Amendment — clothes as speech — and a threat to the full blossoming of that delicate flower, the soul of the teen-ager. He began litigating and fulminating, vowing "guerrilla warfare" leading to victory "by getting the media worked up, by getting the time of your administrators used up." He said "there aren't enough National Guard troops in GEORGE F. WILL The Washington Post the state" to deal with his war. •' The war is over. As this is written, a judge is preparing to make permanent the temporary restraining order that tells the lawyer's clients, who refuse to wear the uniform, to keep off the Academy's campus and transfer to a public school that does not require uniforms. Justice sometimes prevails, even when a court is involved. The Academy, now in its fourth year, is a diamond in a lead setting. It is a sparkling, gated middle school in .the shadow of downtown commercial towers, but mostly surrounded by what nowadays is called a challenging urban environment. In a less delicate age such environments were called slums. The school's name, which suggests a tony private school, was chosen to inspirit this public school, which has a mission that requires spirit. Its . mission is to educate a student body that is 92 percent minorities and that is drawn from a sprawling district large enough to be enlivened by 15 teen-age gangs — guns and hormones. Leyba wanted his school to be an island of order for his students, 80 percent of whom cite neighborhood violence as a cause of stress. He and other school officials thought uniforms would help. They thought uniforms would improve the climate for learning by eliminating "label competition" and other peer pressure concerning clothing; by eliminating gang clothing and enabling security personnel to identify trespassers; by instilling school spirit and pride; and by equalizing at least one sphere of life for children from different socioeconomic set- DOONESBURY tings. (At a California school that requires uniforms, a teacher told a visitor to a classroom that one student was the child of a wealthy . movie producer, another lived in a shelter for the homeless. The visitor was asked if he could tell which was which. He could not.) Phoenix school officials knew that when r uniforms were required in elementary and . middle schools in Long Beach, Calif., in the 1994-95 school year, attendance and test scores improved, incidents of students fighting decreased 50 percent, student crimes decreased : ; 36 percent and student suspensions decreased 32 percent. Parents like the Academy's uni- ~ forms (white tops with collars and without, . printed messages; blue bottoms) because they' ' usually save clothing budgets and prevent 7 ... a.m. arguments about appropriate dress. The anti-fascist lawyer was abetted by the local American Civil Liberties Union, but was' stymied by one of the Academy's constitutional subtleties: Students are allowed to wear but- 1 ' 1 tons bearing political, religious and other messages. This means that not only is the uniform. policy "content neutral," a student who can no".' longer wear America's foremost literary'; genre, the T-shirt, emblazoned with a message" praising Jesus or Charles Barkley, cannot claim to be utterly oppressed. The day the judge issued the temporary re-. straining order, the lawyer filed for $2 million" in damages for his clients. It cost the school \ district about $70,000 in legal fees to fend off 1 the lawyer. It is a measure of the condition of contemporary America that it is considered a' bargain when a victory for common sense costs only $70,000. By G.B. TRUDEAU QFTENIHAV£7DPO5£: UKB TH&A6AIN5TA PlAIN BACHXOP. THSN A BUBBLE fiMCHIN& IS TVRNEPQN... >..' 0® ° 0 6> LATER, A FORE6ROUNPMATTZ" PAINTING OF M£ & CR£A7ER IN THE. FINAL-TOON, THB TWO HOLPON! ARENTYOU SPOILING 7HEMA6IC?

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