Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor

FORUM ON EDUCATION & ACADEMICS

According to Angela Maynard Sewall [“Be Careful What You Ask For…, Winter 2000], the reason why it is unlikely that all students will score at the 99th percentile is because students have different skills, abilities, and interests. Does the author know what percentile is? Only in Lake Woebegone are all the children above average! She says that asking for something (for schools) is concomitant with getting it. Surely she doesn’t mean that. Does she have a dictionary?

Allan Halderman

Tucson, Arizona

THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF FAMILY

After reading the Letters to the Editor [“Violence,” Fall 2000], I wanted to let the editor know that some of us do appreciate the inclusion of Glenn Stanton’s article, “The Spiritual Significance of Family,” in the Summer 2000 issue. In spite of the apparently negative view of this article as reflected in the Letters section, there are rational, educated members of Phi Kappa Phi who do hold to a Christian world view and appreciate the editor’s attempt at giving a balanced view to the issue of “Marriage and Family” by including Mr. Stanton’s article.

Cathy Jenkins

Tyrone, GA

INTIMATE VIOLENCE: PARADOXES OF ROMANCE, CONFLICT, AND CONTROL

In her article “Intimate Violence,” Sally A. Lloyd [“Violence,” Fall 2000] attempts to perpetuate the stereotypical, but inaccurate, malebashing myth propounded by radical feminists that domestic violence is exclusively male. For instance, she states that “women’s use of violence most typically is self-defensive.” No evidence was offered for such a rash statement, simply because it is not true. It is considered acceptable in our society for females to physically assault males, and the attitude is that any complaint by a male that he has been assaulted is due, either to his lack of manliness (he just can’t take it), or else his initiation of violence into the situation. In fact, women who murder their husbands are frequently not punished, or only leniently so, because they claim self-defense. Any man who kills his wife, then uses such a defense, is not considered credible and is simply ridiculed. Women are seen in public places slapping their husbands, and the attitude is that he must have deserved it. Jokes are even made about wives striking their husbands with rolling pins. Men who would do such violence to their wives would be considered terrible people.

In fact, in many courtrooms, men are hauled up on charges of assaulting their wives or girlfriends in cases in which it is clearly the testimony of both the man and the woman that the female struck first. In many other cases, the man has been subjected to continual verbal abuse; when he finally strikes back, he is considered the lone aggressor. However, not only are the females rarely arrested and tried, but they are generally considered innocent victims of abuse. It seems it is always considered to be the man’s fault, regardless of the circumstances. This is clearly illustrated by a case several years ago in Missouri. A woman had chased her husband down the street, in full view of neighbors, swinging a ball bat. When she finally cornered him, he raised his hand to fend off the blows. In doing so, he struck his wife on the cheek. The female county prosecutor ignored the woman’s violence, and tried the man for spousal abuse. Though he was clearly the victim in this case, he was found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison. This same female prosecutor, on another occasion, when her husband had been arrested for public drunkenness or gambling, publicly stated that she “could kill him.” Though a man who made such a public statement concerning his wife would have found his political career over immediately, this woman is now a statewide office-holder.

I think we need to consider the agenda of women who write articles of this nature. They often are, as in this case, not interested in the facts, but in how to create impressions to serve their own purposes.

Gary D. Tebbets

Fort Scott. Kansas

TEACHING KIDS TO KILL

The day after I received the Fall 2000 edition of Phi Kappa Phi Journal which focused on violence [“Violence,” Vol. 80, No. 4] and featured the article “Teaching Kids to Kill” [by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman], I received a copy of the Justice Departments juvenile crime statistics for 1999. According to the Justice Department teen homicide is down 68 percent from 1993, putting it at its lowest level since 1966. Aggravated assault, according to the report, is down 24 percent from 1994 and is at its lowest level since 1989. And rape is down 31 percent since 1991 to the lowest level since 1980.

According to Vincent Schiraldi of the justice Policy Institute, juveniles are committing fewer crimes than they have in thirty years. At the same time, the report could be interpreted to suggest that Columbine and other recent teen mass murders are truly anomalies, and not the norm.

Considering the nature of the data from the 1999 report, do we need to reassess our evaluation of the causes of teen violence and the degree to which that violence permeates juvenile society?

Oscar Patterson III, Ph.D.

Jacksonville, FL

VIOLENCE The Fall 2000 issue of National Forum [“Violence”] was one of the most interesting and relevant issues I can remember for a long while. While the other articles on violence were also absorbing, the two that particularly struck me were the ones by Grossman [“Teaching Kids to Kill”] on video games and by Hamilton [“The Market for Television Violence”] on television. It is appalling that many video games today use killing as their main tool to accomplish the game’s goal, and we owe great debt to Grossman for pointing out that these games actually train kids to kill, just as the military does. And Hamilton”s “Top 5 Reasons Why TV Violence is not a Problem” were most illuminating as a form of rationalizing by TV executives. There is an obvious response to #4, that “Images on Television Do Not Influence Behavior,” that Hamilton omitted. It is “Oh? Then WHY advertise?”

What violent video games and television have in common is that they impact more people’s lives than any of the other topics addressed in National Forum. Furthermore, these are within the reach of the ordinary citizen to actually do something about. Besides supporting appropriate legislation, all of us could refuse to watch these shows, could contact advertisers to express our displeasure at their sponsorship, could refuse to buy our children violent video games, and so on. If these endure and continue to cause suffering and even death, we will have no one but ourselves to blame.

Mike Cahill

Duncanville, Texas

WHEN GUN CONTROL COSTS LIVES

It is unfortunate in this day and age of great wisdom and scientific breakthroughs that we still have individuals promoting weapons and their usage. It seems to me that is all Dr. Lott did in his article “When Gun Control Costs Lives” [“Violence,” Fall 2000]. I would hope those in the future, who are blessed enough to be able to use their minds, will do so by speaking out against gun ownership and use. If we are the species in charge of this planet, we need to use our time to promote peace and a better and more civilized way of life, not one that is held back by primitive actions. We should move ahead and not backwards.

Christopher L. Vowels

Warrensburg, Missouri

By way of full disclosure, I am a professional educator, gun owner, shooter, lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, and my wife and I have Concealed-Carry Handgun Permits valid in two states. That having been said, I strongly commend you for including Professor Lott’s essay (“When Gun Control Costs Lives,” National Forum, Vol. 80 No. 4). I have followed Professor Lott’s research for several years and, as a social scientist, find his conclusions difficult to ignore.

The fact is that the most dangerous cities in our nation, for example Washington, DC, and New York City, have the most stringent gun control laws and to the extent that Concealed Carry Permits are available, they are impossible for a non-resident to obtain. I can get in my automobile and drive across the United States without worrying that my driver’s license may or may not be legal in any state; we should have the same provision for concealed handgun permits. I would go more happily into these urban areas if I had the comfort of my Walther or Glock concealed on my person.

There are many antigun forces at work in our country. They will ignore or attempt to discount Professor Lott’s research findings and conclusions. I think his essay should be required reading for everyone.

George E. Uhlig

Mobile, Alabama

As a dedicated gun control advocate, I was shocked beyond belief to see an article by John R. Lott, Jr. in your fall issue dedicated to gun violence issues [“Violence,” Fall 2000, No. 80, vol. 41. The other articles about gun violence prevention were superb, and I commend you for publishing them. John R. Lott, Jr., however, is a different matter.

John R. Lott is the chief gun lobby junk science advocate. Far too many other researchers to mention here have disputed his findings. I would only point out one glaring piece of pseudo science. In the section entitled, “Some Telling Statistics” Mr. Lott makes a statement that “Americans use guns defensively about two million times per year” [p. 29] – five times as frequently as the 430,000 times guns were used to commit crimes in 1997.

If there were actually the case, then his book entitled, More Guns, Less Crime, would make statistical sense. However, this statement is simply untrue.

It seems there isn’t a single, yes I said not a single police report on a single one of these so called two million differences that occurred in 1997. When pressed, John Lott has been unable to produce evidence of a single one of the two million self-defenses. However, there are police reports that can be verified for the 430,000 crimes committed with guns in 1997.

Am I to believe that of all the good law-abiding gun-toting, SUV-driving American males with guns to protect their families and their property, not a single one of these folks reported to the police an attempt on his family’s life or an attempt to steal their property? Pretty hard to believe, isn’t it?

Mr. Lott’s position is since the uncontrolled distribution of some 223 firearms has created a few problems, the solution is simply to distribute even more guns. The title of his book alone must have raised some red flags about its underlying credibility. However, it appears no one from the National Forum bothered to check his credibility before publishing his material.

And you folks want to distribute additional copies of this issue as a valuable educations resource.

Please do not!

Arthur C. Hayhoe

Wesley Chapel, Florida

FORUM ON EDUCATION & ACADEMICS

Paul Trout (“Forum on Education & Academics,” National Forum, Fall 2000, Volume 80 Number 4, p. 3) discussed shame in education. I offer an example of a person who was shamed yet overcame his difficulties and contributed something grand.

A few days after reading the shame column, I was thumbing through a book I bought on 22 April 2000, Peter C. Lemon’s Beyond the Medal: A Journey from Their Hearts to Yours, (Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, Colorado, 205 pp., 1997). This book is a collection of vignettes written by individual living Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. When I opened the book randomly I came to the several pages concerning Second Lieutenant Robert S. Scott, U.S. Army. At the top of his first paragraph “Garfield Junior High School in Berkeley, California” caught my eye and remembering the shaming column I began to read with great anticipation. Bob was shamed in a civics class in 1927 in the abovementioned school. He plagiarized a best friend’s “wellorganized” report concerning a field trip to local government offices. Bob was confronted and admitted his guilt. He wrote that, “He was embarrassed and ashamed in the presence of my whole class.” It sounds as though Bob had other problems along the way of life. Bob mentioned that he wished that he had had instructors who cared enough to have given him a critical evaluation, such as a good “chewing out” along the way.

Bob is a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. He won it during World War II for “deeds one day,” 29 July 1943. He did what he did because he “wanted others to respect him and judge him as a man and because he felt that he should be able to do exactly what he would be ordering others to do.”

The key point to all this is that no one can decide which individual is smart, strong, right, or better or worse than anyone else. Only generalizations about statistical samples and populations are valid. Shaming is not a good tool to use on anyone. Looking back today as an adult at my experiences in this regard I sometimes wonder if it were the instructor or I who had the problems. Each human being brings unique gifts to our human existence. No one knows where or when a specific person will contribute something to our existence. This is the uncertainty of the human existence and is statistical/probabilistic. Each person when interacting with others should treat them with respect and acknowledge the fact that you don’t know what gifts a person can exhibit at any time or place. Each individual should strive to give others encouragement, be a mentor, and provide a good role model. Perhaps “a good chewing out” to give a person direction is warranted at times, but care should be taken not to discourage or shame the other. I trust we all as Phi Kappa Phi members will exert some influence in all our daily interactions with others.

James Alan DeYoung

Alexandria, Virginia

Copyright National Forum: Phi Kappa Phi Journal Winter 2001

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved