Last Saturday, I received a letter marked "FROM AMERICA." I was immediately suspicious... suspicious of someone claiming to speak for all citizens, especially with the too-familiar patriotic anointment. One might see a similarity in the frequent writings to the Beacon by Ray LoPresto - each signed with "we"- as in, "In God We Trust."
After reading "FROM AMERICA," I presumed the writer was displeased with my criticism of government mandating children make weekly pledges. Last week, another writer argued, "we need a little more honor and respect in this country" and "you are never going to please everyone" - as if popularity should make government coercion of children acceptable. Others noted children have always had the freedom to dissent. And that is true. And by dissenting, they might well preserve their freedom of conscience, for even children sense the hypocrisy of mandated loyalty. However, there is another truth... that when you step away from the comfort of a crowd, you are subjected to risk. No school can assure (or even reliably suggest), as the law requires, that dissenting students are "respected." Nor can a community... though neither ought to condone fueling the mob.
The letter "FROM AMERICA" might attest to this risk... only the naive, in any case, would suggest the risk is imagined. (Note: I have removed some parts of the letter for brevity):
"Hey Kenny, I noticed your cleanup sign a couple years ago and got curious about what a freethinker is. After some investigating I found out that you are just another insane hate group. I read some of your hate mail in the local paper. The locals have nothing good to say about you and wish you would "shut the f*** up." My buddies and I decided to leave you some presents on your part of the highway. Not only do we leave trucker bombs, we left other neat things for you. Watch where you step you piece of s***.