Letters to the Editor
Caring is not a phase
In response to “Flaming Youth” (Autumn 02), by Kate Kaplan ’72
“A good war”—What is this woman on about?!?! Would it be “a good war” (Afghanistan) if she were attacked, her home, family, neighbors and country torn apart for a bottomless, greedy need for wasting energy/oil by a psychopathic leader ready to risk a world war for his own male ego boost? Does Ms. Kaplan know any history about the wars going on in Afghanistan over the last 20 years, including the very dubious role of the US in that?
I can’t believe that this article has actually been published. It mocks SLC education and the symbol of peace, as well as the meaning of peace. She is projecting her own “dumb” principles and ideals of youth on the rest of us. I personally cared 13 years ago at SLC about peace (and was well-informed), and I continue to care now. Caring about truth and justice and human rights is not a phase one goes through. Maybe she should talk to Charles Norchi (“Work In Progress,” Autumn 02), also a lawyer, who seems to have been able to integrate more successfully with humanity!
I found Ms. Kaplan’s article condescending, insulting, ignorant and actually threatening. What was her motive in writing such superficial nostalgia? I hope I am not alone in being affronted by this chatty little piece of “journalism”!
Anne Levine ’88
Kate Kaplan replies, “As a matter of fact, my country was attacked by a psychopath, a number of them, not only willing to risk world war but apparently actively seeking it.”
Prison/Release: Another view
In response to letter to the editor “Advocating for the Victim,” by Peggy Ann Leahy (Autumn ’02)
One year ago, my well-educated, white-collar husband was accused of committing a crime. Since he was drunk and is an alcoholic (something that came to his awareness as a result of this incident), he doesn’t remember anything about the events. As a result of his actions, he is serving time in a county, rather than a state, facility and I’ve become a single working mother who has had to scramble to find childcare for my heretofore home-schooled three-year-old.
As a mother, I am very sympathetic to Peggy Leahy’s feelings about taxpayer-supported college degrees for prisoners. And for prisoners that commit murder, rape and other heinous crimes, I concur with Leahy’s feelings. My heart goes out to her family.
But let’s remember that not all prisoners are “ax-murderers.” Some may actually be remorseful and learn from their mistakes. And that’s what some crimes, like my husband’s, are . . . mistakes—usually in judgment and conscience. It is unjust and unfair to judge all criminals—or any other group of people—as a group, with no respect for individuals within the group. That is a perspective that Sarah Lawrence taught me.
Studies have shown that although prison reform has resulted in facilities that are more hygienic, they are less humane. Residents are deprived of things like light (all windows are opaque), fresh air (the building is sealed), and anything other than concrete, steel and linoleum to touch. They are given television with cable service. But there is no quiet space in my husband’s facility. The cable TV is under majority rule, so cheap sitcoms and loud music are on day and night.
If this is the feeling-less, mindless, peace-less environment we make for prisoners, why are we as a culture surprised that they repeat their feeling-less and mindless crimes after their release?
For all the vicious people, like Leahy’s nanny, that are (and deserve to be) in prison, let’s remember that there are hundreds in local jails, serving time for lesser crimes, who deserve the opportunity to change the course of their lives. Like it or not, prison inmates are a part of our society; and condemning a whole section of society to rot in jail, with no opportunity to make a different life for themselves, is heartless. After meeting some of my husband’s fellow inmates, this “do-gooder”doesn’t think we should just make a blanket judgment about the individuals in our prison system.
Alumna, name withheld by request
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