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What are we smoking?

by and


After reading Max Brantley’s column, “Will the minority rule?”, April 6, I’m left wondering. Just how much anti-tobacco smoke has been blown up your ass, or how much Robert Wood Johnson Foundation anti-tobacco money has been shoved in your pockets?

Instead of asking “will the minority rule?”, you would be better to ask will any number of different minorities have any rights if the “anti-(insert any number of issues here)” crowd prevails. What will be next in the name of the government’s right and responsibility to protect people’s health? Perhaps I can have a law passed that prevents restaurants from serving overweight people more than let’s say four ounces of food. Overweight people cost us taxpayers a lot of money, and it is a choice to eat too much. Are you getting the picture on just how ridiculous you anti-smoking people sound?

And, with all respect due your parents, how can you blame a cerebral hemorrhage on cigarette smoking? And, without knowing your mother’s age, if she was in a nursing home it would appear she had lived a fairly long life. And, thank God she could still find a nursing home that allowed her to enjoy one of the few pleasures she still had in life. My own grandmother dipped snuff until it finally “killed” her at age 94 in a nursing home.

One of the most outrageous statements you made was “I don’t understand why an ever smaller percentage of the population is able to force its habit on others.” My God man, who the hell forced you to go somewhere where other people smoke? That’s why we call it a choice! And, if people don’t want to work where smoking is allowed, find another job. If I don’t like the fact that my boss is an idiot and is adversely affecting my health by stressing me out every day, do I have the right to force him to change his management style in the name of a healthier workplace? Of course not.

No one is taking away your right to choose whether or not you want to patronize businesses that allow customers to smoke. You should be ashamed of yourself for thinking, even for a minute, that it is okay to take away another’s right to make that choice for them.
John Vinson
North Little Rock

On suicide
In his April 6 column, Robert McCord referred to an article I wrote for the Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine about the effect of suicide on one’s eternal destiny. The reference came to my attention when a former student emailed me, incredulous that McCord’s description of my views was accurate. I emailed the article to the student. After reading the whole article, a mere 400 words, the student was perplexed that McCord could so misunderstand my intent. So let me set the record straight. I do not think suicide is an unforgivable sin.

Here’s how the article began:

“Can a victim of suicide go to heaven?

“The Bible has little to say about suicide and nowhere explicitly answers this question. So, we should proceed with caution and emphasize that God has not, as far as we know, delegated decisions about eternity to human judges.

“Those who believe that suicide is a quick ticket to hell offer two kinds of arguments.”

I then describe those two arguments and identify significant problems I think they face. So I find it hard to understand why McCord says “he tended to write as though this was all true.” I also find it hard to understand why someone who criticizes another’s opinion will not first take the trouble to understand it. My students know I expect it of them. It’s not too much to expect of each other.
Byron Eubanks

Our leaders
An administration public affairs officer recently cited “the need for leadership to know the tenor or tone of what we expect to be printed or broadcast.” They also need to delete or censor anything which doesn’t agree with administration policy, which seems to be based more on corporate good than the good of the people.

Making use of paid propagandists and censorship to influence the thinking of the masses and having complete control of the three branches of government does not create an enlightened citizenry nor afford a people-representative form of government.
Marilyn Fish Bryan

More on evolution
After reading the March 23 article “Political Suicide,” about educators fearing to mention evolution in Arkansas, I was on the side of “Bob.” I think it needs to be talked about and taught.

I think it’s important that children know that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. That way, when scientists use less than 200 years of history to prove global warming, they’ll realize that attempts to control the planet by what we drive and how we live is much like giving a 90-year-old man an enema because he burped.

I also have no trouble with the teaching of natural selection and survival of the fittest. That will cause children to wonder why we’re trying to save specific organisms. After all, isn’t it normal for some species that don’t adapt to disappear as they have for eons?

And when children are taught about tectonic plates and the dissolution of Pangaea, the ice ages and the massive variations in sea levels, they won’t fear a few feet of erosion or changes in the earth’s temperature.

However, even if I didn’t believe in teaching the theory of evolution, I would oppose censorship in the area of education. God knows we don’t get to talk much about God any more. But since the Bible says He changes not, He may not have evolved enough to last.
Mike Collins

I just want to share my experience in Arkansas higher education that I believe is pertinent to your story about evolution education in Arkansas.

A number of years ago, I was a student at Arkansas State in Jonesboro. One semester, I took an English literature course from a professor who was retiring at the end of the semester. One day in class, he asked how many people were education majors. About half the class raised their hands. What he said next struck me. He said, well, if you want to get a job teaching in Arkansas, you have to go to the same church as the principal.

We learned the following semester just how true his words were when a close relative applied for a teaching position and was overlooked, despite the objections of several teachers, in favor of another applicant who attended the same church as the principal.

If evolution is not being taught, I think a major reason is because of the religious politics at the local level. If this prerequisite for hiring teachers is so commonplace that a university professor feels obligated to warn his students, it is no surprise that evolution is not being taught in Arkansas schools.
Jeff Crook

What is it with you Southerners? Is ignorance a virtue in Arkansas?
Brian Schoenrock, DDS
Galena, Ill.

I stumbled on this article when surfing the web this morning. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I assumed you would have in the U.S. the usual few believers in a flat earth, the earth being at the centre of the universe around which the sun rotates and the believers in “creationism” to explain the meaning of life and the universe and everything. But nothing prepared me for this.

It seems from this article that a majority of people in Arkansas believe in the creationist “theory” as science.

Is this really true? Or is this a joke of some kind? I checked the date — it isn’t April 1.

Why doesn’t your government pass laws enforcing the teaching of a proper science curriculum instead of this nonsense? Why do they stand by and see the minds of thousands of young people polluted?

Evangelical Christian fundamentalism appears to have taken America (Arkansas anyway) by the throat and is choking it to an intellectual death. It is a phenomenon that I find quite terrifying and quite beyond my understanding. It seems to be a kind of mob insanity.

Any science teacher who denies that the world is billions (or even millions!) of years old is teaching children a preposterous, mind-shrinking falsehood. These people disgrace the honorable profession of teacher. By comparison, real teachers, teachers who respect truth and evidence whether in science or history, have so much more to offer. Today’s children are blessed with the opportunity to open their minds to the shattering wonder of their own existence, the nature of life and its remarkable provenance in a yet more remarkable universe. Teachers who help to open young minds perform a duty which is as near sacred as I will admit. Ignorant, closed-minded, false teachers who stand in their way come as close as I can reckon to committing true sacrilege.

Brian Wilder

Sydney, Australia

Thank you for your article about the absence of evolution education in Arkansas classrooms. I completed my Ph.D. in ecology from the University of California, Davis, in 2004 and moved to Memphis in 2005 to start work as a regional biologist with Ducks Unlimited. In my short time in Memphis, I have been appalled at the lack of environmental education in this city. I began recycling aluminum cans over 25 years ago, and cardboard over 15 years ago yet less than half the people in Memphis can even recycle their newspaper. I don’t even want to think about the status of evolution in the classroom, especially from the state that gave us the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Anyway, I appreciate your article. I have a whole new perspective on Gov. Mike Huckabee - who knew he was such an “articulate” speaker. Please continue to get the word out. It’s outrageous that in 2006 we should be still having this discussion about how evolution is only a theory and creationism deserves equal time.
Ken Kriese
From the Internet

I cannot believe that this ignorance is allowed to persist in this day and age. I am disgusted by this and I would like to know why these schools are still receiving federal money for their school systems. They should be cut off, due to the fact that they are negligent in terms of teaching our children. We are opening our country up to a world market place and we expect our future generations to compete within that market being ignorant. What else are they not teaching? Education terrorists are what they should be called. They are just a bad as the real ones, except they are not exploding things they are imploding them. Sorry for the state of your state.
From the Internet

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