Letters for June 26

·18 min read

Too many parents worked up over kids learning about prejudice in U.S. history

Consistent with the "thought" processes that find a way to admire a cheating, lying, bigoted, ignorant, chauvinistic, unprincipled, self-serving, narcissistic, xenophobic sexual predator — the current focus on education reveals much about a certain segment of our population. A loud group of easily bamboozled "concerned parents" has fallen in line with those who seek to control those parents’ priorities.

As they seek to limit what their children encounter in school, are they hoping their kids will hold on to whatever biases, prejudices and fears prevail in their homes? Do they fear they will lose stature if their children learn to think for themselves? Are they concerned that their children might learn the truth about their country’s history? These parents seem to believe that a clear-eyed, honest appraisal of U.S. history will cause the entire nation to crumble.

Are they afraid that their children may come to look upon anyone different as worthy of respect? Their fear convinces them that their fragile security can be maintained only through suppression of the facts about the nature of humankind. They seem to believe that there must be no crack in the solidity of the notion that whites are superior to anybody and everybody else, or that straight is the only respectable way to be, or that sharing resources with the needy makes them needier.

Doesn’t this inevitably mean that facts are seen to be too dangerous for children? That children must be protected from perilous ideas like equality, justice and fairness? That our democracy works best when only the "right people" make the decisions? That diversity is lovely as long as everyone is the same? That "our best days are behind us" and that we must fear a future that is not exactly like the past?

So what must be the meaning of education to the parents who are so frightened now? Education must be — to them — a process of self-congratulation on what was achieved in the past or what we like to think was achieved. Education in their eyes must be a process of ratifying the preferred biases of the existing home/community. In their view, education should limit the future, ensuring that the past is neither questioned, strained nor broken. The education they want is one which perpetuates the status quo.

And that is horrifying to anyone who sees education as the foundation of our democracy. New generations should advance our understandings, not freeze them in place. Our species must be able to build upon the past, not limit ourselves to it. It’s the difference between looking hopefully to the possibility of a better future and clinging in terror to a receding past.

Debby Baugh, Springfield

Dear hand-held phone users. Shut up!

We have all experienced it. We are sitting with our family in a nice restaurant; or having a cup of Joe at our favorite coffee shop; or waiting in line at the grocery store; or watching a film at the movie theater; or in the bleachers rooting for our home team; or riding on the bus, train or airplane; or working out at the gym; or walkng down the hiking trail; or boating on a quiet stream; and someone's phone rings, and that jerk — usually a younger person, though not always — then commences to have a long and loud one-way conversation with the caller.

For some bizarre reason, Americans have decided that any and all kinds of business and personal phone calls should now be conducted in public, anywhere and at any time. "I have cancer!" "My wife just had a hysterectomy!" "I'm having an affair, and he gave me VD!" "I've got to declare bankruptcy!" "Where can I buy some dope?" "No, I didn't tell the IRS about our deal!" "I lost my job!" "Don't tell my probation officer!"

These are the actual kinds of conversations I could not avoid overhearing during the last year or two. People have no shame and no manners anymore when it comes to talking on their phones. Sometimes when the conduct becomes egregious, I have gently asked these bigmouths to either tone it down or step outside to take the call, and instead of apologizing, these meatheads actually become angry at being asked to do the right thing.

This rude conduct has become so prevalent that many bars and restaurants in big cities have declared themselves "quiet establishments" and require that customers turn off their phones when entering, and some businesses even lock up customers' phones in tiny wall safes for the duration of their drinks and meals. The president of Baltimore (Md.) Community College — one of the east coast's largest schools, prohibits any hand-held phones in classrooms or anywhere on campus, citing such disruptions as detrimental to learning and a violation of plain-old good manners. And I agree.

We now live in a nation where ordinary politeness is obviously in ever-shorter supply, so when your phone rings in public, just shut up! And we'll all be glad you did.

Larry Rottmann, Springfield

Gun control conflicts with people's constitutional right to self-defense

The recent spike in mass shootings is horrendous. And many of them could have been prevented had law enforcement and the courts done their jobs. The Uvalde shooter was released from a mental health facility because they couldn’t identify a specific target for his violent behavior. So I guess it was okay to release him because he was only a credible threat to the general population? Consider the following cases:

Felon Rams Truck Into Ex’s House Repeatedly Before Being Fatally Shot by Armed Citizen-The Police Tribune

Clearwater Woman Fatally Shoots Man Who Broke Into Her Bedroom – FOX 10 Phoenix

Two Teens – 15 and 16- Break Into Home and Assault Resident. Homeowner Uses Handgun to Shoot Intruders Dead – Young Conservatives

Pregnant Woman Uses AR-15 To Protect Husband, Daughter From Home Invasion-Daily Caller

Oklahoma Man Uses AR-15 to Kill Three Teen Home Intruders-NBC News

Oklahoma Girl Shoots Home Intruder: 12-Year-Old Uses Family's Gun To Protect Self, Home-HuffPost

15-Year-Old Defends Home Against Burglars, Shoots One Of Them With Father’s AR-15-Fox News

Philadelphia carjackers shot by legally armed drivers 3 separate times so far in 2022-Fox News

Multiply this by a minimum of 160 times and that’s how many times EACH DAY a citizen defends themselves and family with a firearm. Up to an estimated high of 680 more times EACH DAY. How many of these intended victims do you want to get raped, assaulted, or murdered? How many of these violent criminals do you want to empower to rob, rape, and assault peaceful citizens?

Gun control laws violate the people’s NATURAL RIGHT to effective self-defense. Tell me, which of these intended victims do you want handed over to violent criminals?

States honor the PRIVILEGE of driving with out-of-state driver’s licenses under Article IV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution, the Full Faith and Credit Clause. How much more so should the Constitutionally protected NATURAL RIGHT to keep and bear arms for personal and national defense be honored? How much more so should citizens not disqualified for violent crime convictions be automatically allowed to purchase and carry a firearm?

Michael Dobony, Springfield

Overturning Roe v. Wade will leave only rich people with abortion access

A curious set of circumstances face the country and the far right media propaganda machine composed of Fox News, Newsmax, One America Network and the multitude of radio pundits who have promoted “replacement theory” in their goal of making America as white and racist as they possibly can. With the likely overturning of Roe v. Wade, what exactly does this propaganda machine think will happen? The answer is obvious. There will be many more black, Hispanic and poor white children born to mothers who already have children and feel they cannot afford another child. Abortions for rich white people will still be available. The simple fact is that a majority of the public does not want to see abortion banned, especially rich Republican politicians, their rich Republican donors and all those other country club types who know full well that they want the right to quietly and discreetly get abortions for their families and children who may go astray and find themselves pregnant and in need of an abortion. The children of wealthy people don’t always refrain from having unprotected sex and they wind up pregnant just like those who are not so financially blessed. It has been drilled into their heads, however, that a pregnancy and childbirth could ruin their lives and might not look so good on their résumés for getting into some Ivy League school or help their goals for career advancement. Rich people will always be able to get abortions, and every politician in Washington knows that.

So what is the result if Roe is overturned? What those mothers should do is dump those children off at local anti-abortion churches and at the homes of the justices of the Supreme Court who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. Let them raise the children, then we would see the actual implementation of replacement theory that the right wing propaganda machine so laments.

James R. Fossard, Springfield

Trump ruined his reputation with stolen election claims and Jan. 6

If only Donald Trump would have exhausted his legal challenges about the election results in year 2020 and honorably accepted the results and allowed a peaceful transfer of power, he would have had an excellent chance of a successful run for president again in 2024. Even if his like-minded fans and the RNC chair support him he has issues to overcome, the main one being his altered state of reality.

He is asking for his comrades to defend his honor as witnesses testify about what transpired prior to the election and after in January 2021. The truth is that Donald Trump destroyed his own honor. He chose not to do the right thing. He alone, by his own actions, smeared his name and respectability.

As the committee presents their findings to prove that Trump conspired to defraud, Trump maintains his defense that he believes the election was stolen. If the GOP party select him as their presidential candidate, the GOP will lose again because there are more decent people in this country than there are radical Trump believers. They wait silently until it comes time to vote.

What Donald Trump fails to grasp is that congressional legislators were traumatized and the police endured a hellacious attack to protect them. On Jan. 6, the capital police were severely injured, some permanently, and four policemen and a woman rioter died. They want justice. The assault wasn’t caused by a lack of preparedness. The Trumpsters should stop trying to deflect the issue by pointing a finger at someone else.

Take a look at Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas for the next conservative presidential candidate.

Norma Salchow, Springfield

Red Flag Laws will hurt those that need them the most

Suicide rates among our country’s most valued heroes grow every year. First responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. Our veterans are four times more likely to commit suicide than be killed in combat. There are hotlines and programs to help deal with the effects of job stress and PTSD, but the stigma of asking for help by those who help others the most is strong and hard to overcome.

I supervised staff many times during my 29-year corrections career and was well versed in the programs such as the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments and short-term counseling to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems.

What I saw was a program that was used too little and was mistrusted by employees. The program designed to help was actually used against many employees as a way to document problems affecting their work. If problems continued and discipline or dismissal occurred, EAP letters were often brought forward as evidence to document when the employee’s problems began. If the employee was up for promotion, the supervisor’s knowledge of EAP use brought the employee’s self-discipline and ability to lead others into question.

Was the program designed this way? No, it was an honest effort to help those who needed it most. But, the result is that many staff will not step forward to ask for EAP help for fear of losing their job or their promotion, or for just being perceived as weak in occupations that expect them to “run towards the emergency.”

A bipartisan group of senators, including Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, have agreed to a framework of legislation that would include federal funding to encourage states to pass so-called “Red Flag” laws.

These “Red-Flag” laws would allow a court to take firearms away from someone in “crisis” for an unspecified amount of time. Many of our first responders and veterans have a hard time asking for help. They consider themselves “self-sufficient,” and asking for help is hard for them. These same men and women have spent their lives utilizing guns as an integral part of their careers. Many are mandated or choose to carry off-duty for the defense of their home or others. The thought of losing their gun rights will effectively prevent them from even considering reaching out for help and possibly being “red-flagged,” and no longer being allowed to work in their profession or defend their home.

Senator Roy Blunt, I ask that you remove your support from this bill. Lack of mental health care is often a contributor to these school shootings, so let’s focus on how to help those with mental health needs before we put more laws in place that make it harder for those who do ask for help.

Michael Cantrell, Wasola

Support Sen. Blunt on gun legislation

The League of Women Voters of Southwest Missouri affirms the following statement released on June 20 by the League of Women Voters of the United States.

“Today we are pleased to see a bipartisan group of senators working together to pass legislation that will serve and protect the American people. We commend those senators who have upheld their oath of office by working across party lines to find common ground on an issue the American public overwhelmingly supports. We know that comprehensive legislative reform must still be passed to reduce gun violence and increase public safety for our nation. This agreement, which would be the most historic gun safety measure in the last 30 years, is good progress towards this goal and will save lives. In the wake of the recent gun violence, we urge the Senate to move forward with this legislation to ensure that the horrific mass shootings of our children and our communities come to an end.”

The League of Women Voters of Southwest Missouri recognizes the proposed gun reforms will not be comprehensive safety measures, but they will certainly save lives.

Our own senator, Roy Blunt, has said he will support the proposal and has put significant effort into shoring up mental health care as one way of stemming gun violence.

This is especially important because over 50 percent of gun deaths each year are suicides. These might be prevented if more readily accessible mental health options were available. Similarly, improved mental health services in schools might prevent some of the horrendous gun violence perpetrated by teenagers and young adults. Gaps in mental health services and easy access to guns create lethal situations that must be addressed.

The League of Women Voters of Southwest Missouri supports Sen. Blunt’s stance.

However, we are concerned that 48 Missouri legislators, including several from southwest Missouri, are pressuring Sen. Blunt to change his mind. This backlash comes despite multiple polls that show the majority of Americans favor common sense improvements in our gun regulations. This includes people of all political persuasions, as well as law-abiding gun owners.

Please reach out to Sen. Blunt to support his stance on reducing gun violence. Call him at his Springfield office, 417-877-7814, or email him at https://www.blunt.senate.gov/contact/contact-roy

Jill Prewitt Smull, Sherry Buchanan, co-presidents, League of Women Voters of Southwest Missouri

Even when kids are killed, GOP won't take serious action on gun violence

Shooting stars? That is how mass shooters see themselves. The GOP insists mass shootings are "an act of lone deranged criminals" when the U.S. has numerous mass shootings per week. The insanity lies with partisan voters who keep electing NRA-owned GOP politicians, doing the same thing while expecting different results.

After 30 years of GOP excuses and lame solutions, voters are finally demanding change. Telling endangered children to turn out the lights and hide is not a solution to gun violence. Guns kill people and easy access facilitates it.

Two Uvalde children were decapitated by the AR-15 gunfire. One young girl could only be identified by her green high-top shoes.

Three days after Uvalde, the NRA held their annual "leadership" forum in Houston, with Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott (video) as speakers. The ink was still wet on Abbott's age-drop gun bill when the Uvalde shooter bought his AR-15 on his 18th birthday.

The GOP refuses to raise the age to 21 because 18-year-olds have weapons in the military. That almost sounds legitimate until you realize that more children die each year from gun violence than solders do in the armed services.

Missouri ranks in the top 10 for highest children's firearm deaths. Josh Hawley, eager to raise his fist to support Trump's attempted coup on January 6, refuses to lift a finger to pass meaningful gun laws. His suggestion of stricter sentencing for violent offenders is cold comfort for grieving Uvalde parents.

The truth is 89 percent of Americans support mandatory, all-inclusive background checks and red flag laws, while 69 percent support bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Once again, it is starkly apparent the GOP does not represent the people. It is all about power and "greed over people" — GOP.

Jan Lancaster, Springfield

Missouri needs a young, dynamic leader to represent them in the Senate

It’s only six weeks to the August 2 primary election. Missouri needs a strong candidate to replace U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, who has faithfully and energetically served the Missouri citizens for over 20 years in the U.S. House and Senate. Roy has always been in leadership.

Senate candidates Representative Vicky Hartzler and Representative Billy Long have both served 10 years and are well-known, but mostly in their House districts. They both are my friends and I have supported their previous election campaigns.

Our nation is still struggling with huge issues, including soaring spending without public and bipartisan review but predictable record inflation. Immigration/border control is in complete collapse. Energy policy has been converted from abundance to folly. The uncontrolled opioid drug war with 100,000 deaths in a recent year now exceeds almost twice the toll of the Vietnam War! We pray the COVID pandemic is fading, but our health costs and health leadership remain controversial or confused.

Do Republican voters want to try to replace Roy Blunt and his leadership model with a retiring member of the U.S. House, as both Hartzler and Long are now in their 60s?

I am one of many who believe we need a younger candidate with new energy and ideas to challenge the status quo of D.C. and the swamp that dominates it all. Senate candidate Eric Schmitt is an activist attorney general. He is well-informed on many issues and has eight years of state legislative experience. Eric has been elected to a statewide office twice, once as state treasurer and most recently as attorney general. Eric Schmitt is a leader and a winner.

Roy Holand, M.D., former Missouri state representative, Springfield

Thank you, Sen. Blunt, for leading the way on school and community safety

It is an unfortunate reality that acts of mass violence continue to cause irreputable harm across our country. Recently, we have watched parents and families face their worst fears in incidents in Uvalde, Texas; Buffalo, New York; and others. As associations of the largest groups of local elected officials in Missouri, we are on the front line and see the need for greater access to high quality mental health services — these services are especially needed before individuals find themselves in crisis.

It was reported last week that Senator Roy Blunt has been working on and supporting a new, bipartisan framework that brings mental health access front and center in preventing these acts of mass violence. Senator Blunt has long been a champion for community-based mental health in his roles as chair and ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee for Labor, Health and Education, and his involvement in this framework reflects his commitment to this issue.

The framework for this new safety bill includes investment in both school-based and community-based programs for mental health, violence prevention and training. Even this week, as we faced a violent threat against schools in the Kansas City area, it is obvious that these resources cannot come to our state soon enough.

We know that access to mental health care is not the panacea for preventing all acts of mass violence. However, this is an incredible, bipartisan step forward by Congress — and we could not have gotten here without Senator Blunt’s longstanding leadership in this area.

Senator Blunt, thank you for demonstrating leadership and courage for our state and our nation. This bipartisan framework will help keep our schools and communities safe, and we applaud you for your commitment to working for Missourians.

Steve Hobbs, executive director, Missouri Association of Counties

Melissa Randol, executive director, Missouri School Boards’ Association

Richard Sheets, executive director, Missouri Municipal League

This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Letters for June 26