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Monday, September 10, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Letters to the Editor

"Excuse me, but who is in charge in the schools?"

Cellphone message

Solution is simple: Take the privilege away from everyone

Editor, The Times:

School administrators are wringing their hands about what to do with students abusing cellphones during the school day ["Back to school: Cellphone dilemma," Times, page one, Sept. 4].

The solution to this problem should be simple. If students are not responsible enough to follow the guidelines established by the school district, the privilege of being able to bring a cellphone to school should be taken away from everyone. This would require students to police their peers.

Of course, this would require the districts, not each individual school, to step up to the plate and establish a comprehensive policy regarding cellphone use and then stick to the policy.

Parents, the excuse that you aren't able to get in touch with your kids or are paying for a monthly plan that isn't being fully used ... please listen to yourselves. Shame on you; you should be interested in cooperating with your child's school and his/her teachers to create an environment conducive to learning.

Our teachers don't need another roadblock preventing them from doing their job — teaching.

— Deanna Richards, Port Ludlow

Who is in charge?

Excuse me, but who is in charge in the schools? The teachers and the administration? Or the kids?

Simple solution: Leave cellphones on a table as students walk into the classroom and pick them up on the way out. This solves the problems of parents not being able to get in touch with their kids and of disruptions in class, besides leaving time to text message or whatever between classes and at lunch.

— Hollie Bamford, Alexandria, Va.

Aoid the problem

Reading "Cellphone dilemma," it strikes me that school districts, like a mom treating her toddler's sniffles, have overlooked the best solution: Avoid the disease in the first place — in this case, by simply confiscating the phones. Because school kids need cellphones during class about as much as a 2-year-old needs a cold.

— Kathleen Ferguson, Marlborough, Mass.

Get the job done

A student without a cellphone is like a soldier without a makeup bag. Some items help to get the job done; some hinder. It's time to leave the hindrances behind and focus on getting the job done!

— Mare Sullivan, Kirkland

Photos on the ferry

Logic over the side

Seattle Times Editor at Large Michael R. Fancher defends The Times' decision to publish photographs of persons who have done nothing illegal ["Publishing photo of 2 men on ferry: a question of right vs. right," Inside The Times, Sept. 2].

In an argument that defies logic, Fancher, unable to admit The Times made a mistake, especially in light of the P-I's decision not to publish the photos, claims the poor Times had to make a "tough choice" between two "rights." This argument is not even specious; it is simply spurious.

The willingness of Americans to report the legal behavior of their neighbors to the police is more dangerous to democracy than all the terrorist bombs in the world. Robert L. Jamieson Jr., in a recent column in the Post-Intelligencer, best described these misguided citizens as "Orwellian lackeys."

Ben Franklin is often quoted as having written, "Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for temporary security, deserve neither." But in a country that has allowed the suspension of habeas corpus and whose students refuse to sign a paraphrased version of "The Bill of Rights" as being "too radical," I fear the terrorists have already won.

— Allen Davis, Carnation

What's vitally important

I was dismayed that at the request of the FBI, The Times decided to publish photographs of people not charged with any crime but only suspected of "exhibiting unusual behavior."

Preventing violence on the ferries is important to everyone's safety, and that's why it's appropriate for the FBI to investigate potential threats. But keeping journalism independent of government is also vitally important to everyone's safety, and that's why it's inappropriate for The Times to agree to act as an arm of law enforcement.

If we are to have real democracy, we need a vital media to evaluate, report on and hold accountable the work of the government. Even when the press thinks the government is doing good work, the press must never do the government's job, because the press has its own job to do.

The federal government, which employs plenty of full-time investigators and also runs the postal service, is quite capable of communicating directly with the people. In the future, please do not act as its agent.

— Alexandra Bradbury, Portland, Ore.

A darker picture

Responsibly, The Seattle Times published the pictures of two men who acted suspiciously on several Washington state ferries. Public safety must override any other factor in America.

Unconcerned with American safety, Islamic talk-show host Aziz Junejo called The Times' publication of the pictures "careless" ["FBI asks: Who are the men in this photo from ferry?" Local News, Aug. 22]. Furthermore, he said publication of the photos enraged some in the Muslim community.

It seems the Muslim community has experienced only a benevolent American society that can be easily intimidated because of America's sense of fairness.

However, the Muslim community would be better served to understand the public reaction to the Muslim "rage" if a ferry is attacked by Muslim terrorists. (The experts believe such an attack is possible.)

If Americans are killed on a ferry, Junejo and his raging brethren will experience the American public's rage to their sorrow!

— Don Wilbur, Seattle

Harping on the ferry

Ban the bureaucrats

I am writing to express my outrage over Washington State Ferries' decision to make it impossible for David Michael to continue to play his harp on the Port Townsend ferry run ["Harpist isn't playing on ferry anymore," Local News, Sept. 4].

Although I have never heard Michael perform, it is plain to see that instead of the rules serving us, we are now serving the rules. How sad.

These petty bureaucrats in Washington State Ferries should be barred from making policy decisions in the future, as it is obvious they lack a sense of proportion and have clearly forgotten whom they are supposed to be serving.

— Robert Mark Kneisler, Renton

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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