Readers Respond

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Letters to the Pilot

BVU protesters showed a healthy spirit of activism

To The Editor:

I'd like to extend a "congrats" to the College Democrats, College Republicans, TimeOut and those who joined them outside of Iowa Congressman Steven King's office this past Tuesday. College Democrats and TimeOut teamed up to protest King's co-sponsorship of a bill defining marriage as something between a man and a woman, and the College Republicans appeared to show King that not all Buena Vista University students were against his actions.

While I'll admit I'm highly supportive of the view that all Americans should be allowed to marry whomever they wish, I applaud the actions of all for standing up for their viewpoints. It takes courage to take a public stand for a cause and doing so isn't without its risks. Hate mail, ridicule and familial unhappiness with your actions (especially if widely publicized in the media) are all possible consequences for doing so. In spite of these possible consequences, these 30 students prepared signs, teamed up and weathered the rain to make their stances known.

We've entered a time in history, perhaps unmatched, where the voices of a few can have the impact of the Harlem Boys Choir. Just think: in the last month, a few extremist conservatives have been able to make the battle of a single family into a nationwide controversy. And, despite a majority that supported such actions, this minority was able to compel our national Congress that Terri's feeding tube should not be removed and convince it to pass a bill allowing another review of her case.

Just think: over the last several years, the minority television viewing audience has been able to transform the Super Bowl half-time from an entertaining performance that is looked forward to for months to a lifeless presentation that left many sleeping while Patriots player Adam Vinatieri kicked a 22-yarder with 8:40 left. Detroit News writer Mekeisha Madden summed up the appearance (if you can even give it the prestige of being called that) best when she said, "The Super Bowl halftime show SHOULD be something viewers anticipate, not an opportunity to finally check the batteries in their home's smoke detectors." Thanks, minority viewers, for enabling us all to live a little more safely. Except, of course, the FCC. I'm sure its executives enjoyed the show.

Cases of a dedicated minority beating out the dispersed majority are becoming more and more common...

If you haven't yet found your "cause-I-would-protest-for," keep looking. With all the crazy, shocking and interesting causes out there, there has to be something you'd be willing to stand out in the cold, freezing rain for eight hours without stopping for lunch or a bathroom break for. Whether you support Speedos in baseball, "cry collars" for kids or reindeer suits for dogs, I encourage you to stand up for your cause. Your voice, your stance, your efforts can make a difference.

Better yet, work that voice, take that stance and make those efforts with the help of a few similar others. Take the hint from the success of the Terri Schiavo protesters...

If all else fails to inspire you to take the risk of activism (and to drag your friends in along with you), take some advice from a Madagascar proverb: "Cross the river in a crowd, and the crocodile won't eat you."

- Jennifer Schon, Buena Vista University student

Take fear out of courtrooms

To The Editor:

Ever since I studied law at Iowa State University under Dr. Neil Harl I have known that justice is never served through intimidation. Unfortunately this is exactly what we see in our courts today and it has spilled over into violence as recently witnessed by the murder of a Judge and two others.

If security in the courtroom is to be enhanced one way might be for the judiciary to take a hard look at the general atmosphere of the courtroom itself. Today, as in medieval times, we see the defendant or defendants, often in chains and poorly dressed, in front of a towering intimidating Judge dressed in a black robe. The Judge has the appearance of a virtuous monster behind a hardwood desk with a globe light standing on each corner. If serving justice is the intent of any court why not allow the Judge to be casually dressed? What would be wrong with relieving the Judge of his elevated platform? Today, most people are either afraid of the Courtroom or view it with distrust. Is it any wonder we find some defendants who snap and turn to violence?

- Lyle D. Spencer, Goldfield

One week for the 'Nam vets

To The Editor:

The Veterans of Foreign Wars is designating May 1-7 as Vietnam Veterans Recognition Week.

More than 3,403,000 American military personnel served in Vietnam and in Southeast Asia during the war. The service of our armed forces reflected the true dedication they held to America, to freedom and to human rights. Vietnam veterans, will tell you they fought for one reason: freedom.

Vietnam veterans often bore the brunt of a nation angry and divided by the war. Despite being treated with disrespect and derision upon returning home, and slighted by a nation that appreciated victory more than honorable service, Vietnam veterans proudly knew they fought the good fight, and their cause was a just one.

Vietnam veterans can be proud of their legacy, especially the vow they made to ensure that future generations of veterans will always receive the assistance and appreciation they earned.

Notwithstanding the stereotype sometimes depicted by Hollywood and in the media, the majority of those who served in Vietnam returned home and put the war behind them. All in all, they made a decision to make a difference, to do what they could to make the world better. They deserve nothing but respect and admiration for their dedication to service and country.

- Phillip O. Walsh, Commander, 8th District VFW of Iowa