Hello Mr. Gannon,

First of all, thank you for your work on M'Ocean. Although my schedule hasn't allowed me to be involved in many activities, I have enjoyed our newsletter since my move to Rhode Island.

Mr. Weiss' column ("Politically Incendiary") raised some valid points, along with ones that seemed to border on the absurd. My disagreements are as follows:

Thank you for allowing me to vent, O. Daniel Stanley

(Editor: As requested, I forwarded Mr. Stanleyıs letter to Alan Weiss who, not surprisingly, had some responses. I happen to agree with both on parts of some points. Following is some Alan and some me.)

Re proper grammar: Alan originally wrote that those who use poor grammer strike him as either "uneducated or lazy," as well as "inferior." Stanley objects; Weiss says proper grammar implies that one is
educated and likely to be superior in other ways. Insist on improved performance, don't lower the bar, he says. As a former English major and a writer, I have to admit that I find poor grammar a little jarring, but ulitmately I'm more interested in the content of what people have to say--at a city council meeting, for example. Common sense can shine through poor vocabulary and bad syntax, although facility with the language certainly helps you to say what you mean.

Re broken homes, etc. as the true causes of inequality: Weiss replies that slavery's been over for 150 years and it's another case of lowering the standards. In my opinion, many more hundreds of years of slavery, followed by institutionalized racism and Jim Crow, have done serious damage to Black culture in general and the family in particular. Not to mention that black skin is still a barrier to acceptance in many (most) areas of our national fabric. The charlatans who make a living off this, the lazy who milk the system, the criminals who employ it as a defense for defenseless acts notwithsatanding, white America still needs to open up and extend assistance in the meantime. The main reason why black Americans have continued to struggle while other ethnic groups overcome their immigrant blues and leapfrog them into the American dream is not laziness, a propensity to drugs and drink, or some innate flaw or deficiency--it's the color of their skin. And, yes, I think it's especially important for those of color to take pains to master the English language.

Re lowering the blood alcohol limit: On one hand, Iım with Alan on this one. I particularly hate laws that are once or twice removed from an actual offense, i.e., not drinking in any public place because some who do might cause trouble, or not carrying an open container in a vehicle because that might lead to drunk driving. (Incidentally, contrary to popular myth, there is no Health Department ban on bare feet in public places.) This is a country, after all, that Taliban-like, banned all alcohol consumtion earlier this century. On the other hand, Puritanism aside, drunk driving is excuseless and a source of tremendous injury and misery in our society. Lowering the limit to .08 doesn't bother me and does not affect the responsible drinker who has a glass or two of wine at dinner. Get the drunks off the road, the real drunks.

But back to Alan again, I sense that this is really a prohibition movement in the guise of responsibility, riding on the backs of the truly aggrivieved, like MADD. The do-gooders (as in for your own good) have already restricted smoking to practically nowhere. Statistically, they've got a much better case against alcohol, a factor in so many social ills--domestic abuse, crime, suicide, and automobile accidents that take innocent lives. But the real agenda of these people, in my opinion, is to inflict their dogmas on everyone--no red meat (no meat at all), a complete ban on alcohol and tobacco, even in one's own home. You know the type: the ones who contract into an asthmatic fit if someone on a televison screen almosts lights up. I don't have a problem with lowering the alcohol limit for driving. But I strongly concur with what Alan Weiss says: "Save me from the self-righteous."

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Last updated: January 27, 2002