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Feb. 7, 1997

By Mac McKinnon

Book burning crusade

won't change history

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The speech police never seem to rest.

There was a report on NBC-TV's Dateline news program Sunday night about
parents wanting to eliminate certain books from required reading lists
for schools.

Among those books are Huckleberry Finn, Of Mice & Men and the list goes
on and on, containing the titles of many classics.

Some of the parents are concerned that many of the books are too
sexually explicit and promote areas that are in violation of their
morals. Other books are opposed because they are not politically correct.

Huckleberry Finn, written by Mark Twain, is one book that seems to
inspire the most objections, mainly because of the use of the "N" word.
There seems to be a big split among teaching professionals in this area
as some believe words that are offensive to others should be eliminated
and/or ignored while others believe these are a valuable area of our

I have never believed in using the "N" word nor any other racial slurs.
But we can't ignore the fact that at one time in our history, that's the
way it was. As we are all taught, the study of history enables us to
avoid repeating mistakes of the past.

How can we know and understand how different races, cultures and ethnic
groups feel about certain issues unless we know what has happened in
history? I know of one time I stepped into a problem not knowing that a
certain term would offend someone until a friend from South Carolina
informed me that the term I used was offensive.

I was calling a great big guy who was on my crash rescue team "boy"
because he was a big guy, not because he was African-American. This was
back when I was real young. Never having been around African-Americans,
I wasn't aware this was a negative term. My use was simply because he
was so much bigger than any of the rest of us. I considered him a friend
and would never have used a term that would have hurt his feelings.

After I was informed that the term was not a good one, I never did it
again and apoligized to the man. He said he realized I didn't understand
and that was the end of the issue.

My point is that many people fall into the same trap not knowing what
might be considered offensive to others. The same applies in other areas
of life, as ignorance is not bliss, such as in knowing that bad things
exist in the world.

One example given on the television news program was a book about a man
who drank his life away and chased women relentlessly. Aren't people
smart enough to know that's not the way to live a life after having read
about it? Another was a book about other cultures and how people in that
culture came to America and worked their way to success.

I thought we had gotten away from book burnings of colonial years,
although from time to time such things still happen. In order to
understand how things happen in this world, we need to understand that
there are bad things in this world. I wish that wasn't the case but
that's not reality.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mac McKinnon is editor and publisher of the Pecos
Enterprise. His column appears on Friday.


Price of whole house

less than rehab work

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We've got some serious questions about a home rehabilitation grant
program that has been going on in Reeves County. These concerns have
been also been voiced by a number of people in the community.

This came about after questions were raised when a state official came
here to look into problems with the program in completing renovation of
houses under the project.

We all want to see people helped and provided with a decent place to
live. The intent of the program is obviously good.

However, the expenditure of $340,000 to renovate 13 homes seems
excessive considering the value of real estate in this area. If all 13
homes had been done, which they weren't as we understand, it would have
been in excess of $26,000 per house.

As realtors and people with rent houses and those who are trying to
sell houses can tell you, probably more than 50 per cent of the homes in
Reeves County can be bought for less than that much. One person
estimated that there is an excess of really nice houses in the $17,000
range. It would only take less than $2,000 to make them accessible for
those who are handicapped (doors, steps, bathrooms, etc.)

We realize that in other areas where real estate is high the
expenditure of this amount of money on a house is reasonable. In this
area, it isn't.

Some people tend to look on state and federal money as free. That money
is not free. It comes from our pockets in the form of tax money and fees
paid for government services.

State and federal officials should look at these programs along with
local officials to avoid waste, even in the name of helping people.
There are better ways to give help without wasting money.


Simpson verdict renders justice

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The wait is over, finally, and there is at last a small sense of

The civil jury in Santa Monica Superior Court contradicted the
not-guilty verdict handed down by the jury that heard the criminal case
against O.J. Simpson. ...

Before anyone shouts ``double jeopardy,'' remember that this was a
civil case about money, not a murder trial. No criminal sanctions could
be imposed. ...

The verdict in the civil trial certainly will restart the debate over
the influence of race. ...

But even as we talk through these difficult issues, many Americans felt
a sigh of relief that a jury found O.J. Simpson responsible for the two
deaths and awarded $8.5 million in compensatory damages against him.

He will not spend the rest of his life in prison. But he will live the
rest of his life with the stigma that he was found liable for these
deaths in a court of law.

-- Daily News of Los Angeles


Jury system still alive and well

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... Though the Goldmans and Browns will never stop grieving for their
loved ones, part of their ordeal is over. The broader impact of these
murders lingers. ... The yearlong criminal trial ... and the
4½-month-long civil trial have been about the enduring racial and
economic divides in this country; about our national fascination with
celebrities and crime, and worries about the jury system.

The wrongful death claim itself ... an effort to seek in court the
retribution (the Goldman and Brown families) they feel they were denied
in the criminal trial. ...

The civil jury also heard testimony from Simpson himself, who insisted
over and over he did not commit the murders. But Simpson may have proved
to be his own worst enemy by saying he didn't beat his wife, despite
police reports and photographic evidence to the contrary. ...

For all the obvious racial implications of Simpson I and Simpson II, we
prefer to believe that fundamentally it was the case, not race, that
made the difference. ... It could just be that the many pronouncements
of a terminally ill U.S. jury system were premature indeed.
--Los Angeles Times

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Copyright 1997 by Pecos Enterprise
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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