- The Washington Times - Friday, June 21, 2002

Iowa GOP is not purging conservatives

I read with interest "GOP right in Iowa fearful of 'purge'" (Nation, Wednesday. Fear of a so-called purge is being generated by a simple amendment to the Republican Party of Iowa State Constitution, which reads as follows:
"Effective January 1, 2003: No member of the Republican State Central Committee shall receive remuneration of any kind from a political campaign, or candidate-oriented 'political action committee' and no member of the Republican State Central Committee shall publicly endorse a candidate in a contested primary, or caucus campaign."
Strangely, I do not see any language within this proposed amendment that targets conservatives or any group. It merely spells out the behavior expected of those persons elected in good faith to serve on the State Central Committee. Should anyone elected in good faith to serve on this committee wish not to abide by this amendment, he is welcome to resign his campaign policy-making position and actively join any campaign in any capacity.
It needs to be noted that many political activists in Iowa believe this amendment enhances and strengthens political campaigns and those candidates who are finally elected to serve our state and nation. It simply puts in print the long practice by Iowa's Republican Central Committee of not becoming actively involved in challenged primary positions or with presidential candidates in Iowa's caucus.

CARMEN HALVERSON
Cedar Falls, Iowa

Is it fair to double-charge 'jumbo' jet travelers?

The news in Wednesday's front-page story ("Southwest will charge large fliers extra fare") is heartening indeed.
For too long airliners have forced passengers who are thin and light to subsidize those who weigh much more. Finally, passengers will begin to pay according to the fuel and carrier costs they incur. If more airliners follow suit, the status of heavier people will be elevated to where it belongs in air travel: pound-for-pound equality. After all, this is the norm in air transport for goods and packages.
There is a potentially good side effect of this policy: the incentive for those struggling with weight-loss plans to keep slimming. Perfectly sensible, I think.

MICHAEL C. ALLEN
Madeira Beach, Fla.Three cheers for Southwest Airlines. If a person is too large to fit into one seat, he has no right to have his girth spill over into another seat causing his neighbor discomfort. Some large people are extremely large. Speaking from personal experience, there is nothing quite so disgusting as having a weight-challenged individual sitting next to you, their extra poundage spilling into your seat.
If such people feel they are entitled to a portion of my seat, it is right that they are charged extra. In fact, since they are using a portion of my seat, I should be entitled to a discount on my fare. If they don't want to pay the extra fair, they should walk to wherever they are going. The exercise would do them some good, too.

ELBRIDGE CONDEE
Fort Worth, Texas As a person with jumbo hips, I am appalled by Southwest Airlines' discriminatory new policy.
I can't wait to see the uproar when some clerk at the gate demands a person pay double charges. What will happen then? Deny boarding for the seat already purchased? What if it is a nonrefundable ticket? What if the person can prove he was "subjectively" singled out when others of the same size were not?
Southwest's attorneys will be mighty busy working out those claims.
All that is required to overturn this guideline is for folks like me (jumbo hips and all) to boycott Southwest. If 61 percent of the population is overweight, Southwest soon will be flying half-empty planes and handing out pink slips to the person who came up with this ridiculous idea.

BRENDA BAROZZI
New York


How about making Arabic men with one-way, first-class tickets and no luggage, who neither eat, drink nor talk, pay extra because of the discomfort they might cause other passengers? But no, that would be discrimination.
The failure to institute a useful form of discrimination highlights Southwest Airlines' double standard in extorting more money from the last remaining group that is fair game for comedy, parody and tragedy.
Of course, given airplane food (an oxymoron), tarmac delays, recycled cabin air, out-sourced mechanics and million-dollar lobbyists, Southwest's anti-fat people policy obviously is intended to improve passenger safety and comfort. Right.

DENISE KEENEY BODEY
Bethlehem, Pa.

Leftist commencement speakers highlight academe's bias

Thank you for running Marc Levin's thoughtful yet disturbing piece on commencement speeches ("Politically correct cum laude," Op-Ed, Wednesday). As a woman of color (or black, if you will), it truly breaks my heart how the likes of Bell Hooks and Lani Guinier are given such a lofty forum for their leftist politics. It is a shame how gutless and cowardly the deans and presidents of Smith College, Southwestern University and other major academic institutions are acting by refusing to invite commencement speakers with a conservative perspective, especially those with minority designation (e.g., instead of Ms. Hooks and Ms. Guinier, how about Thomas Sowell or John McWhorter?).
The bias shown in selecting commencement speakers illustrates the hypocrisy of the academic left, which tirelessly harps on fairness and equality, yet is loath to put either into practice.

LATONYA Y. BETHEA
Spring Valley, Calif.

PG schools' discrimination policy is 'no laughing matter' — or else

On June 16, The Washington Times reported on the pending vote by the Maryland State Board of Education to prohibit the harassment of gay students in Maryland schools ("Parents object to move to protect gay students," Metro). The story named three school districts in the state that have policies in place to protect gay students. The districts identified in your report were Montgomery, Howard and Anne Arundel.
I would like to inform you that Prince George's County public schools have had a policy that prohibits all discrimination, including discrimination against students on the basis of sexual orientation, for almost 10 years now. This policy, which was approved by Prince George's Board of Education, has become a model in Maryland from which other school systems have designed their own anti-discrimination policies.
The Equity Assurance Office is charged with the implementation of this policy, which is spelled out in a booklet called Administrative Procedure 4170. The Equity Assurance Office also designed a training guide that it uses to conduct training workshops for all administrative, teaching and support staff members throughout the system. In addition to training on this policy, the Equity Assurance Office is also responsible for conducting investigations of harassment and discrimination filed by students and staff throughout the system.
We believe that a well-structured procedure on training and investigation by this office has created a safer learning and working environment for our students and staff members. I have forwarded to you a copy of our policy on discrimination and harassment, our training guide and other pamphlets, including Sexual Harassment in Schools: It's Illegal, It's Not a Joke, It's Not Flirting, It's No Laughing Matter, It's Against School Policy and our policy on bullying.
Thanks to our process of training, and enforcement, the Equity Assurance Office has observed a significant drop in the number of reported incidents of harassment and discrimination against students and staff throughout our system ever since the policy has been in place.

PHILIP TAZI
Equity Specialist
Equity Assurance Office
Prince George's County Public Schools
Oxon Hill


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