The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 7, 1997 · Page 10
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 10

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Salina, Kansas
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Wednesday, May 7, 1997
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Page 10
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WEDNESDAY, MAY 7, 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 Sallna, KS 67402 Fax: (913)827-6363 E-mail: SJLetters® saljournal.com Quote of the day "Yes, we are being bribed with our own money, but .that's a fact. The . 'feds came to town and surrounded us." Rep. Tim Carmody R-Overtand Park, chairman of the House Judicial Committee, on the controversial new child-support enforcement bill the Legislature passed to save $29 million in federal funds. OPINION By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Presumed guilty THE ISSUE Hie Salina Housing Authority and drugs THE ARGUMENT Agency far too quick to jump to conclusions I had rather play tricks with the law of England than with my own conscience," Sherlock Holmes once said to Dr. Watson. But, the great detective was quick to add, "Let us know a little more before we act." It is the least a person can do before he takes the law into his own hands — be sure he has his facts straight. The people who run the Salina Housing Authority are not so precise. And at least one woman got the scare of her life because of it. Because a suspected drug dealer lied about where he lived when police arrested him, the housing authority notified the 26-year-old single mother of a 16-month-old child that she had violated her lease and was in danger of being kicked out onto the street. After the suspect wrongly gave the woman's address as his own, the authority instantly placed the woman in the position of having to do something that scientists say is impossible — proving a negative. In her case, she had to prove that someone did not live with her. How many of us could prove that? This is intolerable. The housing authority has more than a kernel of good intentions at the heart of its policy. It is not fair to the taxpayers, and not fair to the many good people on the authority's waiting list, to use limited resources to house drug dealers and other sorts of criminals. But our society defines "criminals" as those who have been convicted of a crime, not just accused of one. And even if the authority were right to punish those who are only accused of criminal acts — which it is not — it certainly has no business basing its decisions on rumor, hearsay and small- print newspaper accounts taken from forms filled out at the police booking office in the middle of the night. Or does it not occur to anyone that the kind of people who will sell drugs might also lie about things, such as where they live or even what they are named? It is authority policy, it seems, to take the word of the very people it claims to most despise — drug dealers — over the word of its own tenants. Our officials, soaked to the gills on the anti-drug drug, are already far too eager to believe the worst. Now the housing authority has taken it upon itself to declare our criminal justice system too slow and leaky to be the method of sorting the guilty from the innocent. So the authority has set up its own world, where people are guilty until proven innocent, where basic due process is considered an unaffordable luxury, where bureaucrats concern themselves with their tenants' lifestyle and seek to forbid any "nonsense." This is not wise management of scarce public resources. This is an unhealthy desire to judge and control the lives of other people, people who are vulnerable because they are poor. The people who run the Salina Housing Authority should know more before they act. Or they should find something else to do. LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL SJLetters @ saljournal .com Today's society leaves a bitter taste In response to the letter published in the Journal on April 29 concerning the contents of the • Shriners Circus: Boo! Welcome to the 20th century. That, my good citizen, is just a bitter taste from the rirn of the glass of society. Have you turned on a cartoon lately? Just takes two to three minutes before Tom is trying to murder poor little Jerry. The entire theme to the Roadrunner is murder. At least you can link these two cartoons to food chain. How about Popeye constantly battling Brutus for the smooches of Olive Oil? Next let's not forget all these new X-Men cartoons and the new Superman. Soaps are on starting at 11 and ending around 4 daily. They contain plenty of scenes eligible for the Playboy Channel. How many parents actually shuffle the little tykes out of the room when two lovers are embraced with no clothes on. Gosh I wonder why teen sex and babies having babies is such a huge problem. Knock Knock. Who is there? No one is there. Sister, brother, let's turn on the TV. Baby sitter has her hands busy and Mama and Papa are both at work. What, what was that you bay? Mama and Papa can't see love P.O. Box 74O, Salina, KS 674O2 in the marriage any more? Papa is leaving? Well, who will help Mama? Turn on the TV. Kids, sit down and be quiet and watch TV while Mama gets supper ready. Maybe after chores are done we can spend that quality needed one- on-one time together. My point is the family unit in society is crumbling around us. TV was once a back burner and a family time to spend together at the end of the day. It is not a safe replacement to child care, yet it has become such a big factor. I personally enjoy "Little House on the Prairie." It is on daily at 5 on channel 8. For those of you who would like to blame George Pyle for all the bad in the Journal, let's just say the Journal is a gathering of news — facts and features and fiction and the right to free speech. You can turn off the TV and you don't have to pick up the paper. If you don't like the way of the world and the direction that even the Shrine Circus performs, then let the change start with you. Hurray for writing a letter. Hurray for caring. Hurray for wanting good for your children. Let the world catch on. But if you want to complain about one, then try changing the rest as well. -- LeANN AUSTIN Salina TV-TORNOFF \Au^mn^ TO-0»ACS/£L GOVERN^ E OF AtA£R|CAMS OF THEIR CHAIRS, /MTERAc.T|fiG» W1TW TWElR IISJVOLA/eD WfTI-l TZ/ElR A T SPEAKING ENGLISH T arcMiurau cnijuan Network's courage a long time coming 'FllfilV pni.QnHp w/a« nrnnrocc Heh, heh, heh. Funny. that most ocen-minded people alread 'Ellen' episode was progress for television, but ABC made it awfully painful I s it too much to ask to treat everyone fairly? Was it too much to ask of ABC to handle the "Ellen" coming-out episode with a lot more tact than it did? Was it too much to ask to have ABC have a lesbian as a main character without hemming * and hawing about it for months before last Wednesday's show? I guess so. I was thrilled when ABC first leaked a rumor that Ellen would come out. Finally, I thought, the major networks are coming to terms with the fact that gays and lesbians not only exist but are everyday, regular people and not some flaming bit character that is there only to snatch a few laughs. This is progress, I thought, human rights .is good, I DAN ENGLAND The Salina Journal Progress for thought. Progress is why African-Americans are no longer using separate water fountains. But then ABC did all sorts of talk shows, and wrung its hands, and checked out lots of opinions, and learned that some people weren't entirely happy about Ellen being gay. Then they ran this ad with Ellen saying, "You heard lots of rumors about me coming out. This is what we meant." And she proceeded to lean forward to the camera so her chest was falling out of her dress. T CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Heh, heh, heh. Funny. But then Ellen's ratings dipped even more, and ABC got a little braver. I know that sentence is cynical. It's supposed to be. So ABC, in treating Ellen's sexuality as something that needed to be hemmed, hawed and hand-wrung over, gave this nation a message. That message said that homosexuals were really, really strange. So strange, in fact, that the network couldn't just decide to have a gay lead in the beginning of the season, hype it to hell, tell the right-wing wacko homophobes to deal with it and then show it during February's sweeps ratings period. (I have no problem with ABC hyping the show. I would expect that February is the earliest we would see such a show because that is the first ratings sweeps period.) MTV gives the lewd, rude and tattooed basketball star Dennis Rodman his own show without blinking. And "The Simpsons," once again proving why it's still the best show on television, had an episode that featured a gay character this season. Funny, but "The Simpsons" didn't have to wring its cartoon hands for three months before that show came out. But ABC treated the whole Ellen affair as if it were inviting Charles Manson to play a preacher. And that's too bad. I watched the show, and I thought it was one of the best TV shows I've seen. It revealed Ellen's sexuality with minor preaching and maximum laughs, poking fun at both liberals and conservatives and every gay stereotype you've heard of. The show also showed that homosexuals were people like you and me. That's something that most open-minded people already knew, but it's something that the right-wingers need to be showed. Over and over. I was glad for the show, and I think it will rank as a ground-breaking moment in TV history, if you want to believe that TV should have a history. It's just too bad we had to wait so long for it to become a reality. I will concede one point to ABC: If society wasn't so hypersensitive about gays and lesbians, then ABC probably wouldn't have felt the need to be so careful. It's too bad that some advertisers are more worried about offending someone than they are about taking a stand. It's also too bad that society gives the advertisers something to worry about. We are three years from 2000, and homosexuality still sparks a paranoia on the level of "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Some ignorant people still believe in the laughable notion that homosexuals are out to convert people or push their lifestyle onto us. That's something else the Ellen show bagged on and deservedly so. You have your militants in every group, but the gay friends I have just want to have the same rights as everyone else. So maybe I expect too much from ABC. Maybe I expect too much from society. Maybe I expect too much from you. I expect a network to speak out against gay bashers and stick by its decision to have a gay lead character without being wishy-washy. I expect society to get over its homophobia. I expect you to not be judgmental of others, and that includes respecting the lifestyles that normal, everyday people choose to lead. Now why is that too much to ask? Television reaches an all-time low There is so much garbage on TV, we should try to wean ourselves away from it S everal years ago, I wrote a column about a new show I had seen on television called "Beavis and Butthead." My conclusion was that you should do anything possible to keep your kids away from this show, and others like it. I've changed my attitude a little about TV. I'm thinking we should turn television off for good. Arguably, that will probably never happen over a long period of time in my house, because I'm not sure I have the will power, or the guts, to do it. I'd have to give up sports, and news, and weather. I'd have to talk the kids out of cartoons, videos and movies. And my wife would have to stop watching soaps, Regis and Kathi Lee, and "E.R." I guess I wouldn't have the zapper to mess with anymore, either. But what a concept. Several friends of mine have removed all of the TVs from their homes. I perceive them to be much more intelligent than I. Television has reached an all-time low. The reporting is marginally factual. The sitcoms are rarely humorous and have increasingly questionable themes. The movies shown are inappropriate for full family viewing (or anyone for that matter). And talk shows are mindless junk. Our nation's broadcasters have turned a once thought-provoking and entertaining medium into a 23.5 hour wasteland of pervert- TOM WILBUR For The Salimi Journal ed images, messages of murder, the promotion of sexual abnormalities and cults, a vehicle for increased racial bias and a celebration of graphic violence. We are being brainwashed with a constant barrage of things which are very wrong, illuminated and made to appear right. Homosexuality. Cross-dressing transvestites. Drug addicts. Racial bigots. Brutal and violent criminals. Prostitutes of all kinds. People out to take your money. Politicians who say they don't want your money, and then take it anyway. Video preachers who say they need your money, or they'll die. Militant government bashers. And godless media perspectives. Broadcasters have spray painted and sanitized debris and filth, and re-marketed it as glamorous. But it's still trash, and we're all buying it in bulk. In the book "1984," by George Orwell, we were forewarned about a video tube, mounted in our residences, which would monitor and control our lives. The tube would become a central theme in our daily routine. And was George ever right. It's a human/technological variation upon a computer term called garbage-in, garbage-out. The structural fiber of our well-intentioned value system gets hammered and chipped away by this round-the-clock innundation of trash, and it eventually takes its toll on all of us. No one is immune. I'm comfortable in predicting that at some time in the near future, people may live most of their waking lives in front of a television screen, working and shopping from integrated video screens on the wall. All communication — verbal, written, and electronic — will be beamed or fiber optically transmitted into our living rooms. We already have food delivered to our homes. Maybe Bill Gates will figure out a way for these video computers to bathe us while we lie on the couch. That way, we won't even have to move. Dan England, a fellow Salina Journal columnist, thinks that the show "Ellen" is helping us progress in the area of human rights. I already know that homosexuals are human beings. By Dan's definition, I'm ignorant because I believe homosexuality is wrong, and shouldn't be promoted on television. I certainly don't need the TV show "Ellen" to help enlighten me further. I do agree with Dan that I don't wish to hear Dennis Rodman's opinion on anything. I'm confident that I will not come to know God better on pay-per-view. Richard Simmons isn't going to make me skinny. And missing the next episode of "Suddenly Susan" won't change my life. But reading a new book might. Or working out. Or doing as Mother Teresa suggests and praying a lot. Or re-evaluating my life's goals with a pen, and a blank legal pad. It's a matter of priorities. It's possible that, if I turn the TV off long enough, I might just re-acquaint myself with how my wife feels about me after 23 years together, or her opinion on the education our kids are getting. Or I could spend some extra time with my family. Or maybe I should just take a walk. We're going to experiment in the Wilbur household and try to wean ourselves off TV this summer. Maybe you should participate with us. I'm sure Dan will keep us all posted on how Ellen's doing. • Tom Wilbur is a Salina banker and musician and a member of the Salina Journal Board of Contributing Editors. IESBURY By G.B. TRUDEAU MIK&.f&K. H&UNO6 CHAKMTH& WHKOFF

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