Archive for May, 2010

The controversy over California High School students wearing T-shirts bearing the image of their national flag is not likely to go away anytime soon. I am predicting now it will eventually go to the United States Supreme Court. Maybe not soon, but eventually.

Read the realted article by Daniel Goldberg at  http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/291670

I don’t think it should, or more specifically, I don’t think it should have to. I am hopeful it can be resolved on the local level and soon. Afterall, the rights to freedom of expession and speech have already been decided, right? I would have thought…perhaps when I was much younger and niave…that this would not be an issue.

The above I could have comfortably (that is, confidently from my personal beliefs and values system) written this in defense of kids freely choosing to wear a T-shirt emblazoned with an image of the Mexican (or any other country) flag. I do believe this.

In fact, during a visit to Chicago some years ago, I visited a downtown T-shirt shop that sold T-shirts portraying the flags of virtually all countries of the world. I purchased several, represnting the countries I had visited: Canada, Germany, Portugal, Great Britian, Spain, the Netherlands, Jamaica, Bahamas, and Mexico. (Since then I have been privileged to travel to South Korea as well. I think I’d like to have that T-shirt, too.)

I did not buy a US flag T-shirt there. In fact, I am sure it didn’t even occur to me.

But I am not writing about the students who chose freely to display their heritage and pride in their family’s culture and origins in Mexico. It is the small group of boys who wore their United States of America flag T-shirts. Was it antagonistic to do so? Was it antagonistic to do so on that day – celebrated there (as here in Denver) as “Cinco de Mayo”? Was it simply insensitive? Was it provocative or even dangerous? Was it inappropriate? Was it in defiance of school policy?

Was it illegal? Was it unconstitutional?

I am not an attorney, let alone an expert on constitutional law. But I do have my gut reaction. Whatever it is…am I right? Do I know what is right? Is it even possible to know what is right? And why, by the way, should my confidence be shaken over such things? And should it be this hard, I wonder?

In our society, we will see more and more the fascinating phenomenon where in black is identified as white, and up is called down, yellow has become the new green, and red just gets in our way. Rules of the road – perhaps of a civil and self-controlled society – are irritating ideas, not rules of an orderly and cooperative society, based on many things, including trust, where we agree – ultimately – to be bound and protected by a single prevailing, guiding document: The United States Constitution.

It is an oddity to me that in this country, students can get in trouble for displaying their country’s flag – whatever country that may be. I am waiting for the day when I am told I am the oddity for seeing it that way.

Ask A Hoosier.com would like to know what you think.

– – – Michael Conner is an author, a Watch Officer at the Missile Defense Agency in Colorado Springs, CO, and a retired US Air Force Intelligence Analyst and Space and Missile Operations Officer. Culminating a career of 23 years as a reservist, he most recently served as a Crew Commander with Headquarters, Air Force Space Command at Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs. He has worked in the aviation industry as a civilian, and holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver.

( Photo credit: YouTube screenshot/NBC)

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The painful issue of a stuffy airliner sitting on the tarmac, passengers languishing with little-to-no relief, stuck in their seats, while the plane waits for…. what?.. we usually do not know…weather somewhere, an available gate on the other end, repairs. etc., remains open like a fresh wound for air travelers.

The newest rules hammered out between the airlines and Congress go something like this*:
1. You’re stuck with sitting there for a minimum of two hours.
2. If you reach the two hour mark, you still have to stay, but the airline is required to provide food and water. I don’t know if fresh air, leg-stretching, clean or clean-smelling lavatories, or doses of renewed patience are required to be provided. Prob’ly not.
3. At three hours they are required to either return the aircraft to the gate or otherwise allow passengers to “deplane”.
4. If you go berserk anytime within the three hours? That option costs $27,500.

This – I think – is a real improvement from the “no rules” system previous, but I am still not satisfied. (Half-apologies to my good friend Greg who flies for American…but only half…). We have all heard of the torturous conditions and extreme frustrations on-board sweltering airplanes in recent years. I don’t want any part of that. (Actually, I have had part in it, including several flights that have transited St. Louis – my personal air travel hell location, and I do not want to go through it again.)

First, when I pay for an airline ticket, I assume I am paying the fair and fully-agreed-upon price – the price the airline and I agreed on. So in my mind I paid 100% to get 100%. That ticket might be viewed as a contract. After all, it is in writing. Actually, I think there’s a ton of stuff written on that ticket – and elsewhere – that I have never read and will probably never read, that holds me completely responsible for my undertaking, including that irritating little detail about possible delays. “You signed it, you paid for it, you agreed to it. You have to suck it up and accept it.” It is a contract indeed.

But still, this two or three hour thing. That’s too long for me. And I believe it’s too long for the vast majority of travelers. What I feel like getting is no more than forty-five minutes, then it’s off the plane. What I think ought to be acceptable is no more than one hour, then let me off.

What do you think?

…And finally: Wouldn’t it be nice if my life was otherwise so well put together this was the only thing I had to complain about? As painful as this problem is, it could be worse.

* I could have any details inaccurate – please offer a correction if you believe it is warranted.

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