I am writing to convey my concerns for the children in Shirley (Arkansas Times, March 6) and to encourage parents to continue to step forward with complaints of abuse in their schools.
The problems in this school district seem widespread to me. The use of corporal punishment, known as assault with a deadly weapon in any other walk of life, defines this school as backward and punitive. Children are also forced to exercise up and down 17 concrete steps as a form of punishment, and made to scour toilets under the care of custodians. I requested to address the Shirley Board of Education to share my concerns, and to provide factual data. I was told by Jack Robinson that I would not be able to speak in public comments or be placed on the agenda. He told me that this is not a democracy, and that if the public was allowed to participate in board meetings, chaos would be the result. He also told me that the biggest problem in Shirley was the fact that 83 percent of the students were on the free lunch program, and had delinquent parents. He told me that the only love these children get is at school.
I would challenge the parents in Shirley to take a stance in your community. There may be delinquent adults in the Shirley school district, but from my angle, they are running the district.
Breast cancer and abortion
If Leslie Newell Peacock, who wrote about abortions and breast cancer March 13, would read the National Cancer Institute's workshop report, she would learn that scientists agree that early first birth, increased childbearing and breastfeeding significantly reduce risk of breast cancer. So the agency contradicts itself by denying an abortion-breast cancer link.
A first full-term pregnancy provides the only means for maturing 85 percent of the breast lobules into cancer-resistant tissue.
The Institute of Medicine lists abortion as a risk factor for premature birth. Research shows that premature birth before 32 weeks gestation more than doubles the mother's breast cancer risk — an event biologically the same as having an abortion.
As for the argument that consensus science is always right, readers would do well to remember that most doctors were wrong when they opposed Semmelweiss' recommendations urging them to wash their hands before delivering babies and that 100 scientists were wrong when they opposed Einstein's theory of relativity.
Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer
Hoffman Estates, Ill.
Whistling at the concert
I just wanted to express my disappointment/disgust with Lindsey Millar's review of the John Prine show. As someone who really wanted to attend but couldn't afford the ticket, I was anxious to read the review. Instead of a review of the show, what I got was a detailed description of Millar's whistling. When he whistled, how loud he whistled, how many fingers he used to whistle. By his own admission he was drunk and obnoxious, though I don't think he was aware of how obnoxious his actions were. Really, how disrespectful can you be to an artist, thinking that your whistling to the chorus enhances his music? Perhaps it is a good thing I couldn't afford a ticket because my show would have been ruined by Millar's incessant whistling.
Does the Times really endorse their contributors getting drunk and acting a fool at these events? I hope I never have the misfortune of attending a show in which Millar is in attendance and I hope the Times never relies on him for a review in the future.
North Little Rock
(Editor's note: Times arts and entertainment editor Lindsey Millar was as unhappy about the obnoxious, whistling John Prince concertgoers as many others were. His review was satire, written in the voice of the people whose behavior marred the concert for many. Several readers, however, missed the point. Sorry about that.)
The Bush Library
I am completely appalled that the United Methodist Church has allowed the Bush Library and conservative partisan think tank to be built on the SMU campus. Placing this “think tank” at SMU without oversight by the UMC is contrary to what most Methodists stand for: peace in the world, love for their fellow human, helping the poor, tolerance, etc.
Bush has been the most divisive, intolerant, combatant, least compassionate president I have known in my lifetime. I personally like what my small local Methodist church does for society, but have lost all faith in the UMC. I want Methodists to know that they have the option to continue to support their own local church without contributing to the UMC. I plan to write “for my local church only” on my gift envelope each week. I therefore know that my donations will go towards the betterment of mankind and not towards supporting divisive institutions such as SMU or the UMC.