From prison to Oz, readers have their say

October 05, 1997|By GREGORY KANE

Letters from readers can be so enlightening, especially when readers disagree with you. Here are some examples:

"Dear Editor:

"I want to take a minute to comment on Gregory Kane's recent column advocating a Louisiana law that gives the motorist the right to use deadly force during a carjacking. I imagine it would be a pretty good feeling to know that if a man, especially a large one, got too close to my car and made me feel threatened then I could shoot him. Real threat or perceived? Probably wouldn't matter.

"I'd like to add I think we'd all feel a lot better if we extended that law to include threatening men who get too close to us in the ATM line. And one time my wife was made to feel very uncomfortable by a brute of a man at a football game. But I do know that my wife would have felt a lot more comfortable during the second half of the game if she could have shot him at halftime. The more I think about the law, the more I like it.

"Incidentally, has Mr. Kane, by any chance, bumped his head lately?"

There's little chance this writer will need to feel threatened by a large man getting to close to him at an ATM machine or to his car, since he wrote this missive from a place known as the Maryland Correctional Institute at Hagerstown. It seems to me he would have enough to worry about seeing to it that large men don't get too close to him there.

And no, I haven't bumped my head lately, although if I had it would probably be from some car jacker rapping his gun across my skull. The writer knows the kind of person I'm talking about. I have the sneaking suspicion that his cell buddy is a car jacker.

Here's one from a Michelle Griffitte of Baltimore:

"Dear Mr. Kane:

"Your comments regarding the ability of a Black to lead Baltimore City Public Schools in your article 'Based only on race, no black CEO for schools' (9/24/97) are unwarranted and unsubstantial. Your selective memory (whites have also been in charge of this academically bankrupt school system), negative idealism and self-inflicted demeaning reeks of your own insecurities regarding the ability of the Black race in general.

"To the contrary, Blacks can and will lead if the playing field is level (i.e. given the opportunity and equitable resources). To the contrary, Black children can learn if they are prepared to learn. Preparation for learning is achieved when economic hindrances are removed and a family has the means to send the child to school ready to learn. To the contrary, Black teachers can teach Black children if given the same resources that Asians, whites, or any other race receives and/or contributes to its schools.

"Economic policy and equity in funding are the key issues here. If the resources are available and the child comes to school prepared to learn, then anyone can lead the school system especially a Black."

Carrying the ethnocentric banner a bit high there, aren't we, Michelle? I simply suggested -- using those nitwits running Oakland, Calif.'s, school system as an example -- that black leadership of a school system doesn't necessarily lead to academic achievement for black students. My hope is that Baltimore City's school board will forge ahead and select the best candidate regardless of race.

I don't care who the next school CEO is as long as his name is Boyse Mosley, a retired local principal. He is what the school system needs: someone who is tough, innovative and fearless. And the last I checked, Mosley is black. So much for my "insecurities regarding the ability of the Black race in general." It's just that I don't think that being black automatically suggests being competent or superior. That's why I don't capitalize the word "black" when referring to race.

As for that whining about resources and equity in funding, it occurs to me that Caroline County's spending per pupil is about the same as Baltimore's, yet Caroline County's test scores are much higher. And why does a school system need more money before those folks running it know you don't put a kid in an Algebra II class who has failed Algebra I?

This is from a Glen Burnie woman who signed her name as Glinda the Good:

"Dear Mister Kane:

"By the authority vested in me by the GREAT OZ, I hereby proclaim that all 'Peoples of Color' now residing in the United States of America, its Territories and possessions are declared to be direct descendants of Black African Emperors, Kings and Princes.

"All persons previously considered 'nobodies' are now and forever afterward recognized as 'somebodies.' "

Glinda, we have to talk. OK, dear? Much like Lucy Ricardo, you've got some "splaining" to do -- especially about that name of yours.

Pub Date: 10/05/97

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