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Our readers write — letters to the editor

Our readers write — letters to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 9:13 pm

  Education Week being observed

To The Editor:

This week, Nov.16-22, marks the 87th anniversary of the celebration of American Education Week by the National Education Association (NEA), Tennessee Education Association (TEA), Obion County Education Associ-ation (OCEA) and others. The purpose of this celebration is to spotlight the different people who are critical in building great public schools for the nation’s 50 million K-12 students. This year’s theme is “Great Public Schools: a Basic Right and Our Responsibility.”

Numerous groups work to ensure our students here in the Obion County School System are given the opportunity to succeed. It is a good time to remember that involved parents, caring teachers, committed education support professionals and dedicated substitute teachers all make a difference in a child’s learning.

The leadership provided by the members of the Obion County Board of Education, David Huss, director of schools, and the Central Office staff insures that our system continues to be recognized throughout the state for its excellence. The recently-released state report card is one example of the many means by which we can measure the success we see year after year.

Our county commissioners have seen to it that we have excellent facilities, as well as the necessary funding to be successful. Obion County businesses are there time after time helping support special projects. Every taxpayer in Obion County has invested in the success of our schools and our children.

So, this week, whether you’re a supporter of a Ridgemont Mustang, a Hillcrest Cougar, a Lake Road General, a Black Oak Eagle, a South Fulton Red Devil or an Obion County Central Rebel, take time to be thankful for the wonderful educational opportunities that our children have. Take time to say a personal thank you to any individual you know has made a difference in the lives of our children.

I consider myself fortunate to teach in the Obion County system. I would personally like to thank all those who have been mentioned. Together, I believe, we are indeed changing lives, shaping  minds and building character one student at a time.

Peggy Kendall


Students’ ‘art’

display sickening


To The Editor:

As a first-time letter writer, what I saw on our evening television news was not only emotionally sickening but made me physically sick, as well. 

It seems that the art department at the University of Tennessee at Martin had on display (that was a classroom assignment) a shredded American flag, a copy of our U.S. Constitution that had a hole burned in the center of it and plastic toy soldiers laid down. And, if this wasn’t bad enough, a separate display had a shredded Holy Bible in it. And all of this was the day after Veterans Day. 

This was so disturbing to me, one who was in the military and whose son is serving (for nine years now), as I write this letter that I called Knoxville to speak to the university president, John Peterson, to see if they were aware of this so-called art. I spoke with the head of staff and they were not. I insisted on talking to someone in charge, so when they connected me to Martin. The chancellor, Dr. Tom Rakes, was not available either, so they had the professor of the art department call me. He did, and I asked him how this was art. He told me that the assignment was things that happened this past year and some students suggested this. He said that this was meant to create conversation and not any anti-American position.

I asked him how he could allow the students to desecrate the American flag, the U.S. Constitution and the Holy Bible. He informed me that the students were exercising their right to freedom of expression. Yeah right! When you rip up the two things that our rights were built from, that people have fought and died for and are still fighting and dying for, don’t hide behind them. 

I did not know that a major university offered a course in “How to be an Idiot,” but I guess you learn something new every day.

To the university, I cannot believe that you “didn’t know” about this since it was in your fine arts building. A local church group from South Fulton went in protest and they had taken it down. 

To the students, if your position is anti-war, that’s fine, but you didn’t have to shred the flag and burn the constitution. I have yet to figure out how shredding the Bible fit in to war. Your parents must be proud of you.

To the professor, I don’t know if there are any legal issues, but you should never have allowed this to happen. What I do know is that UT will never get a dime from me and I hope that other Americans who love this country as much as I do will stand up and say that this type of “so-called” art is not art — it’s idiots who think they can hide behind their rights after they desecrate them.

God bless America.

Richard Lyon


Rewarding inept

wrong approach


To The Editor:

I think Americans have had enough of incompetence being rewarded while the hardest working among us struggle to make a living for ourselves and our families. In any healthy business, productivity is rewarded and unproductive actions, policies and decisions are either discarded or redesigned and those responsible are not rewarded but dismissed to make way for increased profits and growth that can be seen by having conscientious workers on the payroll. Pulling your own weight used to be what we thought having a job was all about. Sadly, many companies have become accustomed to listening to their favorite radio station — WII-FM (What’s In It For Me?).

So why is it that in government circles the trend lately seems to be to reward the inept and the wasteful, unproductive companies at the expense of the rest of us? It is time a message is sent to Washington that we have had enough.

Sadly, our votes for the past couple of years have been to re-enforce this destructive practice of wasteful spending and self-gratification. And it will likely continue until we say, “Enough already!” saying it both with our voices and our vote.

It is time that productivity be once again rewarded and slothfulness be no longer acceptable. Businesses that make unwise business decisions need to fail, even though it would be costly to many. But until we reinstate smart business practices that bring companies the one thing that keeps them in business — profits — companies will continue to seek a handout from the government instead of looking inwardly to figure out what the root of their problems are so they can be addressed and eliminated.

Try this idea on for size: With the automotive industry seeking financial assistance from the American people for millions of dollars on top of the billions we already have agreed to distribute to AIG and others, maybe there should be some incentives which will bring out the best in companies and result in their best benefiting for us as Americans and taxpayers.

In the spirit of competition and to eliminate the counterproductive spirit of handouts and lack of fiscal responsibility, let’s have a national contest — open ONLY to American-based companies, who need not be automotive companies to compete because we know that solutions often come from different industries as they are not concretely set in their ineffective ways.

The rules and the rewards are simple: The first company who invents a cost-effective automobile that can get 100 miles per gallon will receive a substantial financial bonus package on behalf of a grateful nation. They will be heralded as examples of the best of what makes this country great. Public examples will be made of them as role models for the possible. It is time companies were rewarded for their ingenuity and productivity rather than their ineptness.

A similar contest could be set up to counter other problems such as the environment challenges, health care shortcomings and other pressing problems. What we reward gets repeated. Reward incompetence and you’ll get more of it. Reward productivity, ingenuity, innovation and effectiveness, and you’ll get more of that.

It is our choice. We need to choose for America’s continued greatness through helping Americans  once again to find the greatness that lies within them, though hidden. It is still there and if it is recognized and appreciated, America can rise above any crisis and she’ll do it as she always has, on the shoulders of responsible people. No leader is successful if the people he/she leads are failures. Successes at the grassroots level elevates all those above.

Reward the activities we desire to see more of and not the ones that we do not want or need, and this can be once again a country “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Glen Spicer



Students express 

ideas, opinions

To The Editor:

My name is Jennifer Churchwell. I am a 2002 graduate of Union City High School, a 2008 graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin and I am currently a graduate student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

At UT Martin, I minored in Art History. I had Dr. Carol Eckert as a professor for many classes. She is one of the most interesting, informative and inspiring professors I have ever had. If I did not learn anything else from her, I learned this: good art stirs emotions, and those emotions may be positive or negative. I believe this is the message she was trying to teach. Some of her students were trying to express their feelings about contemporary topics, such as the war in Iraq and organized religion, and created their work with those emotions in mind. Although I understand why some people were offended and outraged, they must realize that the classroom is a place to freely express ideas and opinions, how differing they may be. Only in a place of higher learning can this be accomplished.

I believe that what The Messenger and (staff reporter) Mr. (John) Brannon have sensationalized is a prime example of yellow journalism. Not only was it biased, but also irresponsible. What started out as a learning assignment is being portrayed as a holy war against the troops. Freedoms of speech, religion and from persecution are what are soldiers, past and present, have fought and died for, and I feel very fortunate to live in this great country. But if I am to say someone else does not have those freedoms because they have different beliefs or opinions than I do, then I am a hypocrite.

Jennifer Churchwell

Published in The Messenger 11.19.08

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