The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 4, 1986 · Page 4
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 4

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Saturday, January 4, 1986
Page 4
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Opinion The Salina Journal Saturday, January 4,1986 Page 4 npl Mfiiiiifci T 1 I ne Journal HARRIS RAYL, Editor and Publisher KAY BERENSON, Executive Editor SCOTT SEIRER, News Editor LARRY MATHEWS, Assistant News Editor LORI BRACK, Weekend Editor JIM HAAG, Night Editor MARY JO PROCHAZKA, Associate Editor Safer skies The big headlines on stories of commercial air disasters and the debate about airlines' safety standards overshadow the fact that private plane accidents claim many more lives in the United States each year. That fact was brought home this week when singer Ricky Nelson and six others were killed in a private plane crash on New Year's Eve. A week earlier four people died when a small plane crashed into a shopping mall in California. Nelson, his band and the California victims all became part of 1985's statistics. In 1984, 998 people were killed in non-commercial aviation accidents in the United States. By contrast, fewer than 300 died in commercial airline accidents last year in this country. By coincidence, the Federal Avia- tion Administration announced a new accident prevention program for private planes the day after Nelson's death. The program focuses on improving pilot skills. That's important because more than 80 percent of general aviation accidents are linked to pilot error, the Kansas City Star reports. The three-year program will focus on teaching pilots how to better maintain aircraft, how to avoid midair collisions and stalls and other basics of flight. Such refresher training should not be needed, but the statistics on pilot error in small plane crashes indicate it is. Now that the training will be available, it will be up to pilots to take advantage of it, for the sake of their own safety, that of their passengers and that of innocent bystanders. Jaguarless Pauline Darrah faces 1986 without a Jaguar. Big deal, so do lots of other people. Darrah, however, could be sitting behind the wheel of the $34,000 cartoday. She won the car Wednesday in Kansas City. The car was the prize in a drawing for those who contributed to the Mayor's Christmas Tree Association fund, an annual charity drive for needy families in the area. Darrah turned down the car. She had nothing against Jaguars, she just didn't want it. Nor did she want money instead. She turned down an offer of $25,000 cash in lieu of the auto, an offer proposed by fund officials to entice her to take her winnings. Kansas City Mayor Richard Berk- ley said he was disappointed in her decision not to take the prize, but added, "at the same time it was refreshing in that here was someone whose purpose was to give — not to win any contests. She gave $30 just to help other people." Kansas City officials had drawn other names in the event that the first winner was ineligible. Probably by the time you read this, someone else will have accepted the Jaguar and driven ecstatically off into the sunset behind the wheel. It would be nice to believe, though, that the tale of Pauline Darrah's Jaguarless new year will still be told next Christmas. The small society So much for giving a big party Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Sometimes it probably should. There are a few auld acquaintances most of us have that we never want to see again. The fact that they're auld doesn't necessarily make them good. It's difficult to say why we drop some old friends. Usually it's because our paths have diverged. Our interests are different than they were when we understood each other. We moved apart either physically or mentally and sometimes both. It would be fun if each of us could have a party of the hundred or so people who have meant the most to us as friends in our lives. I'd like to have just the friends, new and old, that I really want to see. I'd exclude everyone else, even if we owed them. No one would be at my party because of any social obligation, business connection or because he or she was married to a friend. It would be an impossible party to have. Some of the people I'd like most to see are married to people I don't ever want to see again. We'd either have to skip a friend or have someone at the party we didn't like. There goes the perfect party. At my dream party, geography would be no bar to an invitation. I'd collect my friends from all the places in the world they've disappeared to. Just as examples, there's one in Columbus, one in Bonn, three in London, two in San Francisco. Ben and Jane are in Vermont and others are scattered around the globe. Return trip tickets would be enclosed with each invitation whether the friends could make the trip or not. Inasmuch as this is only a dream, money is no object. There'd be friends from each of the six parts of my life: Childhood, high school, college, war, neigborhood and business. Even though auld friends are not necessarily the. best friends, there's no doubt that we usually Andy Rooney CHICAGO TRIBUNE NEW YORK NEWS have a special feeling for someone who has shared with us the experiences of a special part of our lives. Many of my friends from one part of my life have never met the friends from another. I have an idea they'd like each other as much as I like them. I suspect the friends each of us chooses have characteristics in common that would lead them to getting along together. There's almost always a trick of thought you share with a friend. You have to have a common way of thinking about things. When you know someone feels the way you feel about basic things in life, it gives you a warm sense of fellow feeling that's hard to beat. None of us, though, can be very specific about why it is we like some people and dislike others. It doesn't pay to analyze a friendship. Something happens between two people who are friends and you can't put your finger on exactly what it is ... nor should you try. The only difficulty I can think about with my dream party is what to do about Don and Fred. I like both of them a lot. They've been important friends in my life. They, unfortunately, detest each other but I couldn't have a dream party without having both of them. I'm at a loss to explain how it is that I could like both Don and Fred with all their virtues and all their shortcomings while they can't stand each other. I guess I'll probably never have my dream party. Too many problems. I'd only make a lot of enemies. X VMME BKK.Slfc. WILE You Wftfc AWtf, NW WfeT Of M&A9<*Mtta$ A^WRr OF W4NW WORLDWIDE INC Our freedom to know may limit our curiosity BOSTON — Mikhail Gorbachev followed the Parade of Roses into my living room. The lead-in, as they say in the entertainment world, was pure Americana, though not without its Cold War symbolism. The Kiwanis Club float, for example, featured two ostriches ducking their heads in the Styrofoam sand. The ostriches were followed by a Noah's Ark Float, and then a Salvation Army entry and finally one featuring two stuntmen balancing precariously, courting disaster, on motorized planes. Still it was a bit jarring when the programming broke from playtime in Pasadena for a few words sponsored by Moscow. And then a few more words from the White House totheU.S.S.R. The post-parade exchange of greetings was one of equal time, though hardly one of equal weight for the two superpowers. The Tele- prompter is Ronald Reagan's star medium. Mikhail Gorbachev may be a great Soviet communicator, in the sense that his wife, Raisa, is a great Soviet fashion plate. This was no show-stopper for the American people. We had already heard the man from Moscow and his message. The exchange came as an interlude, just an interlude, in New Year's Day. A word from the leaders and then back to programming as usual. "All My Children," was in full swing and the main character was suffering from amnesia. But in the Soviet Union, I suspect, the image will have a longer lif e as measured in conversation and public interest. It was far more novel and striking for Soviets sitting before their 100 million TV sets — or however many were in working order on Jan. 1 — to Ellen Goodman WASHINGTON POST see an unedited Ronald Reagan for the first time in prime time. Soviet citizens deal with their government as a mystery, and its motives as a secret. They are forever analyzing tea leaves, even electronic ones: What does it mean that the government allowed Reagan access? They are also eager, in a way that we are not, for every firsthand report. The same Moscovites who stand in line for a rare consumer commodity also treasure every piece of unadulterated information that comes their way. It was in Moscow that I celebrated with two authors when then- book was issued in its first edition of 75,000 copies. Their study of gypsy folklore was a sell-out. If the Soviets are curious about gypsies, they are far more curious about Americans. And far more curious than Americans are about Soviets. Like most visitors to the U.S.S.R., I had my family snapshots passed around a dozen rooms, studied for the silverware, the wallpaper, the quality of the shirts as well as the smiles. In Leningrad, a woman pored over a picture of my mother, refusing to believe they were the same age, and then begged to keep it. I am sure that Soviet viewers last week took stock of Reagan's desk and tie as well as his words. The curiosity about America is just as great in the schools. Soviet children may have only a limited idea about what goes on in California — "that's where they build missiles" — but they know where it is on a map and want to know more. In contrast, only an unusual American child can find the Soviet Republic of Georgia. As a native of Odessa told me, "You think it is all Siberia." Few Soviet citizens are allowed to see for themselves, either by reading or traveling in the West. The government filters and censors. But in the United States, it is private citizens who self-censor Russian language, literature, politics. Offered a smorgasbord of information, we choose from the limited menu. Maybe there is an inverse relationship between information and curiosity. Forbidden fruit? Maybe the notion that our shelves are full of facts dulls our appetite. Our right to know may feed the illusion that we already know. Or know enough. But it is odd. In America, we have to glean what is important from a glut of information; in the Soviet Union, they have to collect it piece by piece from a fairly barren landscape. In America, news is trivialized into entertainment. We assume that the viewer, the citizen, has to be enticed, even entranced into learning. In the Soviet Union, the government anxiously believes that an eager audience exists and then carefully sculpts the news to a narrow party line. How strange that with all their limits and all our freedoms, we both know the same amount about each other. The same small amount. Three cheers for throwing out frivolous lawsuits WASHINGTON — Chief Justice Warren Earl Burger struck a blow for sanity the other day. He persuaded four of his colleagues to join him in levying a $1,000 fine on John Hyde of Hammond, Ind. The summary punishment was imposed for abuse of the judicial process — more specifically, for pursuing a frivolous lawsuit. Three cheers for the chief, and for Justices White, Powell, Rehnquist and O'Connor too! If the word would get around in our litigious society that the patience of judges at some point can be exhausted, we might hope for a break in the nationwide logjam of litigation. Hyde's particular obsession has to do with paper currency. He believes firmly that the founding fathers intended the dollar to be fixed in value by its relation to the Spanish doubloon. The Constitution prohibits the states from making anything but gold and silver legal tender. Surely the same prohibition applies to the federal government. Therefore a $100 bill is not legal tender, and the gentleman brought suit to prove it. His crusade ended abruptly on Nov. 18, when the Supreme Court threw out his suit and hit him with the $1,000 fine. Justice William Brennan, joined by Justices Marshall and Stevens, objected that the majority had acted arbitrarily, but arbitrary actions are nothing new around the high court. It is high time that some brakes were applied to nonsensical litigation. Consider a few examples. In Clearwater, Fla., last March, the father of 17-year-old twin girls sued the Pinellas County School Board. His daughters would have tied for top honors in the graduating class of Seminole High School if the board had given them credit for a class in band. The board unanimously refused. "I'll soom," cried the James Kilpatrick UNIVERSAL PRESS father, and he did. In Santa Rosa, Calif., a 15-year-old girl bought a new red dress to wear to the senior prom. Her 18-year-old date spent several hundred dollars having his Corvette repainted to match the color. Then the school superintendent ruled that the girl, a ninth grader, couldn't attend the prom because ninth graders aren't allowed. The teen-agers' parents sought an injunction to force the school to let the couple attend. The school's insurance adjuster settled for $4,500 to cover dress, paint job and mental anguish. In Bend, Ore., an indignant customer sued McDonald's, the golden arches people, for $1,000 in damages. He contended that the restaurant refused to serve him breakfast at 10:25 a.m., though it advertised breakfast service until 10:30. In Cleveland, an associate professor of political science compiled a study ranking American cities in terms of their "quality of life." He gave the city of Tulsa, Okla., poor marks. The city went into U.S. District Court and sued the professor for $26 million in damages. In Honolulu, a metal-shop teacher at Niu Intermediate School, George Nishimura, laid down some rules for his class. Pupils were to rise when he entered the room and say, "Good morning, Mr. Nishimura." At the end of the class they were again to rise and say, "Aloha, Mr. Nishimura." Thirteen-year-old Brandi S. Bettencourt refused to participate in these courtesies. She said the greetings served only "to stroke the ego of Mr. Nishimura," and she stayed resolutely seated. On Nov. 25 the school suspended her for insubordination. Her stepfather filed suit on Dec. 2. When grievances are real and substantial, and cannot be settled by negotiation or arbitration, an injured party has every right to seek redress in court. That elementary proposition scarcely needs to be defended. But the courts ought not to be used, or abused, _by_ publicity-seeking litigants. The United States has more lawyers per capita — far more lawyers per capita—than any nation in the world, and most of them stay busy. To the extent that they serve to preserve a rule of law, fine! To the extent that 1 they burden the courts' with trivial pursuits,, they do a disservice to their profession. If the $1,000 fine imposed on the Indiana goldbug gives pause to these frivolous folks, maybe our courts will gain time to spend on issues that count. Letters The Journal welcomes letters to the editor but does not promise to print them. The briefer they are the better chance they have. All are subject to condensation and editing. Writer's name must be signed with full address for publication. Letters become the property of The Journal. Doonesbury ASK IF IGW CALL MAGAZ1H5 BACK.AFTBUWWI AGAIN. P(XN61tepl5HES>. \PPEFEKRIH610aMJimETrlAT5IM- PUaTYANPNaN-ACQUIS/TnWSS THATBKAM5 THEIR HAUMARK. YDUKG4R BBRIGHT N5VEK. I5&AM 1H&S. TOA9K SIR. OKfff,W>, UHATA MWHAve anHtue Hei£AKNCP UMUKB. TOW? \

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