To the Editor:
Dear Ventura County,
The Girl Scout troops of Santa Paula and Fillmore are looking for ladies who were once Girl Scouts. To earn our silver badges we need to interact with the media. We have decided to make a book. In order to make it we must have stories. If you have a Girl Scout story and possibly a picture we could keep we would appreciate it if you would let us use your story/picture. We will try to place this book in the train depot and/or museum.
Sincerely, the Santa Paula and Fillmore troops
Please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org By Aug 1, 2013.
To the Editor:
The following is a letter on the flag incident at the high school that I am submitting for your consideration:
Over the past couple of months there have been several letters in the Gazette and the Star regarding the actions of one of our Fillmore High School teachers, Jennifer Fitzpatrick, who dropped an American flag on floor of her classroom last spring, in the presence of her students, and stepped on it. Besides reading the letters, I have spoken to or corresponded with a number of people concerning the incident (including with Mrs. Fitzpatrick). Several arguments have been made in attempts to justify her actions, including the following:
1) It was her right under the First Amendment (freedom of speech) to do what she did,
2) Her contract under the teachers' union gives her academic freedom (including, evidently, the right to step on the flag, in class, if she chooses),
3) Her students chose our nation's flag as a topic for discussion, so she dropped the flag on the floor and stepped on it to teach them how the First Amendment protects that right.
4) Since she is a professional teacher, what she did was OK,
5) Since other violations of the flag code have occurred at the school (like the flag touching the ground when it is lowered), her stepping on the flag in class is no big deal.
Actually, it is a big deal. Intentionally dropping our nation's flag on the ground or floor and stepping on it is a universally recognized show of disrespect for our flag and for our country. There is no justification for a public school teacher, teaching in a public school classroom, doing this. If a classroom discussion includes First Amendment rights regarding the flag, one would think that a public school teacher would point out that desecration of our flag, while protected under the Bill of Rights, is not something that good citizens do. One would think that she would encourage her students to be good citizens and to respect our flag, because it's the symbol of our country, the greatest country on earth - not drop our flag on the floor and step on it.
The issue is not whether or not as an individual citizen Mrs. Fitzpatrick has the right to step on the flag. She also has the right under the First Amendment to use vulgar language and to view pornographic films - but not as a public school teacher, in class. Some words and actions are simply wrong, and intentionally dropping our flag on the floor and stepping on it is one of them. What kind of lesson does this teach her students? That you can show disrespect for our flag at will, because it's your right, regardless of who you offend? I would suggest a different sort of lesson. Why not hand out pictures in class of the Marines and Navy corpsman raising the flag on Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima? Why not explain why they raised it - to give moral support to the Marines and corpsmen fighting and dying on the island? Why not tell her students that those men risked their lives to raise that flag, and that only three of the six men who raised it made it off Iwo Jima alive? Why not have her students write a paper on that? On what may have been going through those men's minds, and on what went through the minds of the men below, as they saw their flag flying proudly in the breeze.
Many people in town are offended by Mrs. Fitzpatrick's actions, including the men at our local VFW chapter. A number of them witnessed casualties in combat - men killed and wounded fighting under our flag. Yet there has been not one word of apology from Mrs. Fitzpatrick. What's more important, her "rights" or their feelings? Her offense is only compounded by the fact that four Fillmore men, killed fighting in Viet Nam, are memorialized by plaques on the high school lawn. The school memorializes its fallen dead, while one of its teachers steps on the flag they fought and died for. What a lesson to be teaching our children.
If you find stepping on our flag unacceptable, you should let Mrs. Fitzpatrick, the high school principal, school district officials, and the school board members know. It's your school. You have a say in what's taught and done there. Hopefully, if enough people speak up, Mrs. Fitzpatrick will understand that she should apologize for what she has done.
Pastor Leslie R. Lanier
To the Editor:
To our Son and Daughter,
Yes. Another letter. We are sending you off to a university that promotes the idea that "You have your truth and I have mine." Relativism seems to be what many college campuses are promoting in the classrooms, at the student center, and in the dorms. We believe it is, as they say, "the new stupid."So bare with us as we expound on the idea that, âthe tree comes to meâand not the other way around.
The tree tells me what it is and how I can legitimately us it. If I am drunk and say the tree is a big green ostrich with no feet, that would be ridiculous because what I claim as truth has nothing to do with what is actually there. The rock bottom validity to anything is, âWhere is your evidence?â And, once you have that evidence, be honest before the data.
You can change those words, âthe tree comes to meâ to almost anything. The rock comes to me: It tells me what it is and how I can legitimately use it. It has mass, weight, electrical charges, and it just sits thereâŠ inert. Caramel candy. Same thing. But it tells me I can eat one and not the other.
The Apple. The apple tells me what it is and how I can legitimately use it. All the properties of a rock but it can take in food, grow, and reproduce which is something no rock can do. Therefore it is objectively wrong to lob food around a cafeteria as if it had no more inert worth than a snowball.
A koala bear, a kitty cat, or a horse. These also tell me what they are and how they can be legitimately used. All the qualities of a rock and an apple, but they can feel, move around, sense danger. Another quantum step up. Therefore it is wrong to pour alcohol on a live koala bear, cat, or horse and set it ablaze the way you can a Creme Brule.
Mary, Susie, Peter, Joey. A human tells me what it is and how I can legitimately use it. All of the qualities of a rock, an apple, or a koala bearâŠ but it's the only species we know which is self reflective, can anticipate the not yet real, like death. Another quantum step up. Humans are the only entities we know who suffer from conscience. No tiger goes into a village, gobbles up someone's child, mother, or neighbor, and then lumbers back into the woods moaning, âI did it again! I have got to get into counseling.â Humans doâŠ at least good humans do. That's how you tell the difference.
We have heard it said, âDo not force your religious laws on me.â Yet, it is objectively wrong to treat or use human beings as if they had no more inherent value than a dog or a cabbage or stepping stone. That is called natural law not religious law. In the story of Cain and Able, it was wrong for Cain to kill his brother even though the Ten Commandments were thousands of years from publication. Laws have been made, and are being made for self centered people who resist the invitation to be more than mere animals. It was wrong back then to kill his brother because of the inconvenience his life caused. It is still wrong today. Truly, what is the difference between Cane (in Genesis) and a doctor (in L.A.) who performs abortions? As Mother Teresa said, âIf abortion is not wrong, nothing is.â
My opinion is as good as anyone elseâs. Nope. Not unless you've got the evidence and reasoning. Your opinion is not as good as Einsteinâs.
Your father and I have been called âold fashioned or old schoolâ and have been told âmorality changes from age to age and culture to culture.â Not unless being human changes from age to age. If so, than Aristotle, Plato, Shakespeare, and Dickens have nothing significant to tell us about being human and libraries are a horrific waste of money.
Society decides what is moral. A student at Berkley, majoring in conflict resolution, actually insisted this. If it is true, then that Berkley student must claim that it was evil to hide Jews during Nazi Germany. Because society said so. The humanity of Jews, like the humanity of any human conceived in this world, is an objective fact and not something we get to vote on.
Carl Sagan writes: âThe incompleteness of our understanding humbles us.â Not quite thoroughly enough, it seems.
So, âThe tree comes to me.â Write those words up on your dorm-room wall. Carry them in your wallet. Say them aloud during your ethics class and chew on them during your philosophy class.
And please. Be honest and courageous before the data. Giving your education anything less, you will be cheating yourself and those whom you love.
Excerpts from William J. O'Malley