Blocking access to book is wrong
Let me add my voice to those urging Charles I. Ecker, Carroll County schools superintendent, to lift the ban on the award-winning book for teen readers, The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things ("Official ponders dropping book ban," Dec. 9).
Professionals, including school librarians, in Carroll County are responsible for selecting books for school libraries, and Mr. Ecker should rely on their judgment and experience in choosing books most appropriate for the students.
Educators and authorities on teenage literature have praised this particular book, and by overruling the education professionals and banning it, Mr. Ecker fails the young readers of his county.
Put this book back in the library, Mr. Ecker, and let the students decide if the book is worthwhile.
Charles W. Mitchell
How enlightening it is to learn that 12 people who really read the book The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things decided to retain it in the school's library.
But the schools superintendent, who apparently doesn't take the First Amendment seriously, only skimmed the book before deciding to ban it ("Book banning spurs protest," Dec. 7).
Book doesn't belong in school libraries
Based on the language in Carolyn Mackler's book The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things, Carroll County Schools Superintendent Charles I. Ecker was right to ban it from the shelves of the county's school libraries ("Official ponders dropping book ban," Dec. 9).
I fail to see how anyone's freedoms are impinged upon by the superintendent's actions.
If the students want to read the book, they have the freedom to buy a copy.
If the school librarians have a problem with Mr. Ecker's order, they have the freedom to seek other employment.
Gary A. Smith
Praise the students for fighting the ban
I have not read the book The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things, so I cannot comment on whether it should be reinstated into Carroll County school libraries. I do, however, want to commend the students of Winters Mill High School for standing up for something they believe in.
All too often, the youths of America are ridiculed for being apathetic toward just about everything. So we, as a community, must make sure we encourage civic participation by our students and give them the praise they deserve when they take action.
In this case, instead of just complaining about a situation but taking no action, these students are trying to make a real difference. Even if their petition fails, the real value for the future lies in the process.
Being a good citizen means more than voting every four years. And I sincerely hope that these students, as well as all of America's youths, continue to be engaged in their communities for years to come.
Civic pride ends with city schools
For 25 years, I have lived in Baltimore. I have supported the city in its many endeavors and loved city life in my beloved Baltimore.
However, this new, unproven, unresearched reading curriculum Baltimore has rushed into and poured money into is yet another prime example of why I draw the line of civic pride at the Baltimore city public schools ("Where's the beef, er, stuff?" editorial, Dec. 9).
It's an example of why I teach in Baltimore County and send my son to a private school rather than risk his future with the top-heavy North Avenue gang.
Abuse only shows U.S. can be a bully
Setting aside the fact that the inhumane treatment of prisoners is illegal and morally reprehensible, officials now tell us that statements the U.S. government used to justify our invasion of Iraq, specifically about connections between al-Qaida and Iraq, were fabricated by a prisoner who said he did it to avoid harsh treatment ("Al-Qaida claim is called coerced," Dec. 9).
We need no further evidence of the futility and wrongheadedness of techniques such as torture, indefinite detention and extraordinary rendition.
Their only effect is to prove that our government is a bully - happy to make other nations afraid and unwilling to do any self-examination.
Bush still ignores realities in Iraq
President Bush's speech to the Council on Foreign Relations is another example of the president either intentionally purveying misinformation or showing that his administration is incapable of understanding reality in Iraq ("U.S. efforts beneficial for Iraqis, Bush says," Dec. 8).
Using Najaf and Mosul as examples of "tangible progress" in the reconstruction of Iraq is ludicrous at best.
Both of these areas have been under tight control of local Iraqi authorities. Contrary to the president's assertions, what has happened in those cities is an example of what Iraqis have done for themselves, with little or no help from the United States.
Trying to put a new face on the same-old discredited policies that do not work, along with continued denial of reality, does not make a strategy for victory in Iraq.
Fariborz S. Fatemi