Because I am a woman who seemingly has nothing better to do than cruise Central Arkansas (most likely in search of a shopping mall) with a cell phone happily glued to my ear, I may not have a full grasp on the argument in William Carlyle’s recent letter to the editor.
After all (much like the ubiquitous male businessman who chooses to move his office into an enclosed bucket seat on the freeway), I’m too busy hurtling through traffic and across two lanes without using my blinker to worry about the state of driver’s ed in Arkansas. I would venture to remind Mr. Carlyle (who clearly dashed off his letter in an impulsive red-faced fit of anger) that there are drivers in Arkansas who are every bit as fed up with the state of driver’s miseducation in this state, and that many of these irate drivers are mothers of young children and the worrying wives of commuters.
If you can manage to ignore Carlyle’s inane generalizations and sexist attitude directed toward “moronic cell phone users, mostly women, who spend entire journeys exchanging mindless drivel with their equally half-witted friends and relatives,” he makes some valid points. A “quick trip around the town square” at the age of 16 does not a good driver make; it is for this reason that a renewal of an Arkansas driver’s license must be contingent on passing the requisite written test and a refresher cruise of the ol’ square.
In addition, drivers in this state are reckless and idiotic for one reason: They get away with it, and they continue to get away with it. Last week I found myself driving the interstate between Russellville and North Little Rock three times during the busiest hours of the day. The only highway officer I encountered during any of my journeys to the Big City was the lone officer tending an accident likely caused by a careless motorist. Too bad there were no State Police around when the little white Dodge Neon spontaneously switched lanes and forced my family and me into the grass. Another unpopular idea: The state of Arkansas might consider budgeting in a few extra police officers to monitor the traffic and avoid the instances of officers called to the scene of an accident.
In your recent editorial concerning John Roberts, who has been nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States, you sought to blacken him by his association with the Federalist Society. I disagree with you concerning Judge Roberts, but that is not the point of this letter. In the process of your editorial, you unfairly tarnished the Federalist Society, terming it the “Ku Klux Klan of legal societies” and asserting that it “is committed to the principle that people have too many rights. Especially people who aren’t white, male and Christian.”
The Federalist Society is an organization of lawyers and law students and is open to all, regardless of race, sex or religion. Most, no doubt, voted for President Bush last November, but there is no political test, either. In general, the members of the society tend to be conservative or libertarian. We do not wear sheets. We sponsor debate on the issues, rather than one-sided rhetoric. For example, at the one national conference of the Federalist Society that I have attended, the national president of the ACLU was one of the speakers.
I am certain that you will want to correct your unfair and inaccurate description of a perfectly respectable organization. After all, we can hardly hope to build a more civil society by hurling epithets instead of engaging in reasoned debate.
Philip D. Oliver
Byron M. Eiseman Distinguished Professor of Tax Law
Defending Clerk O’Brien
As a longtime enthusiastic reader of the Arkansas Times, it is very difficult for me to comprehend the position taken by your fine newspaper regarding some of the efforts made by Pulaski County Clerk Pat O’Brien to improve his office’s level of service to that community.
When you first criticized O’Brien for using an essay as a tool in evaluating his employees, I, frankly, could not fathom that criticism coming from anyone in the written word business. It seemed to me at the time to be the right thing to do in combination with other measures
Now, you’re back to bashing him for attempting to set some guidelines for personal hygiene. What I find particularly offensive is the editorial writer’s “next thing you know” demagogic trick, suggesting that Mr. O’Brien might “assume the duty” of inspecting employees’ undergarments and underarms daily. That is so beneath you!
It may be regrettable, but it is often true that personnel policy guidelines are what is needed. What is obvious to some isn’t always obvious to everybody.
I’ll never forget a wonderful speech given by Dale Bumpers at Hendrix College more than a decade ago. In it, the giant of the U.S. Senate stated some of the high standards (along the same lines) he held for those who would endeavor to work for him serving the people of Arkansas. While those standards might have seemed Draconian to some in the audience, I remember being inspired by his words. And I remember feeling doubly proud to be a Democrat.
There may be some of Dale in Mr. O’Brien. We will never achieve all that we can without high standards from public servants. It is only logical that people in public service examine and take responsibility for the people that they employ, as O’Brien is attempting to do.
Since Frank Broyles wants all the Hog home games in Fayetteville, instead of demolishing Ray Winder Field, I agree with the suggestion to make it into a minor league museum and use the field for Little League games. Demolish War Memorial Stadium instead, and there build the new elephant exhibit the Zoo so badly needs.
Everybody’s happy — Broyles gets what he wants, baseball fans preserve one of the oldest minor-league parks in the country, the Zoo gets more badly-needed space for exhibits and parking, and Hog fans get the opportunity to make road trips to Fayetteville for every “home” game.
The bonuses: 1) no more torn-up fairways on the golf course following Hog games, so Little Rock taxpayers get a beautiful mid-town course that’s cheaper to maintain, and 2) LRPD has fewer drunk drivers to contend with.
I believe your readers will find this a modest, yet eminently sensible proposal.
Mark W. Riley