DEAR "WONDERFUL KIDS" in room 9 at Bow Lake Elementary: In 1969, my sixth-grade English teacher had us write an essay on drugs. Being something of a budding hippie, I wrote what was, to my 12-year-old ego, an epic treatise, including lyrics from the Beatles, Cream, etc., and florid descriptions of what I had HEARD the drug experience was like. My teacher's reaction was to imperiously toss my essay back to me with the command to do it over. As you can imagine, this contributed greatly to my lifelong contempt for "The Establishment."
From your letters in The Stranger [Letters, Dec 6, in response to the comic "How D'Ya Smoke Pot and Stay Out of Jail?" by Ellen Forney, Sept 27], it is clear that [The Establishment] is alive and well. Was there a single one of you who dared go against the premise Mr. Dodge plainly established? It is painfully obvious that Mr. Dodge has a personal ax to grind, and he used his students as the whetstone. As Ellen Forney pointed out, he had NO business bringing The Stranger into a sixth-grade classroom. It makes me sad to see that your attitudes, despite plentiful information, are no different than my English teacher's back in the day. If the next generation is as full of "concerned" students and "future football stars" (who CARES?), then god help us.
You ain't as smart as YOU think you are, kiddies.
Maggie Bloodstone, Seattle
EDITORS: I would like to point out that nowhere in your magazine does it say "This paper is for adults only." I pick it up sometimes at a local cafe where kids of all sorts and ages hang out. I suspect you are aware of this. I am a 27-year-old taxpaying citizen who does not support the use of illegal substances by any age group. I understand and appreciate [marijuana's] medicinal qualities, but your comic was obviously written in [an] effort to support the recreational use. If it wasn't, perhaps you should have sought publication in a medical journal. I applaud the teacher for bringing the comic to the attention of his class. I do not support the double standard which usually states to youngsters, "Do as I say, not as I do." How condescending.
EDITORS: Mr. Dodge, what were you thinking?!?! Do the parents at Bow Lake know that you are sharing an adult paper with your sixth-graders? As the parent of two children and a reader of The Stranger, I'd be livid if my children's teacher shared an adult paper with my children. Are our tax dollars going to forward your personal agenda at the expense of exposing children to adult literature clearly not intended for an underage audience? The question your students should be asking is, "Why is our teacher sharing an adult paper with his 12-year-old students, and how did this bozo get licensed in the first place?" Good grief.
Anonymous, via e-mail
EDITORS: No, Strangers aren't for kids, nor is pot. Neither sex, nor alcohol, nor tobacco is kids' stuff, either. Did the irate youngsters count ads for cigarettes (responsible for more deaths in a week than terrorists kill in a year)? [Did] anyone note the alcohol references (when used excessively or irresponsibly, a force which also claims lives with its impacts)? The Stranger's regularly featured items are many times more addictive or dangerous than Cannabis sativa [or] indica. Do D.A.R.E.-inspired educators bring Oui magazine to school to demonstrate in a civics lesson?
The kids are all right when they criticize the need people have to be sneaky and break laws to grow or use the plant, but the group is wrong when they blame the people who just want to use marijuana without interference. Did the class discuss the implications of a recent regulation adopted by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to consider all products containing hemp oil (such as soaps, foods, and lotions) illegal, and to forbid the sale of these products? Maybe letters to governmental representatives on an issue related to such dangerous, overreaching legislation would be appropriate use of class time.
Jim, via e-mail
EDITORS: I usually hate the "letters about letters" scenarios, but since I couldn't find any e-mail info to respond to Mr. Dodge and his students directly, I figured I'd do it here.
I won't expand on the inappropriateness of his choice of curriculum material for his sixth-graders. I mean, I appreciate the typically thought-provoking issues that I read each week in The Stranger, but for God's sake--consider the source. Would one also use Soldier of Fortune to debate gun control laws or Penthouse Forum to explore issues of sexuality (not to compare The Stranger with High Times, of course) with a group of 11-year-olds?
My primary issue is the fact that in Mr. Dodge's attempt to get his students to produce insightful, clearly written letters pertaining to the article on drug use, he failed (and embarrassed himself and his students) miserably. Mr. Dodge needs to pay closer attention to the Washington State writing standards [i.e., the Essential Academic Learning Requirements] and use them in practice--everyone else does. To send pointless, unorganized, and error-riddled letters to a public forum (and have the balls to even credit his own school) is sloppy and does a huge disservice to his students and the reputation that our public schools are striving to strengthen. For the record, the letters he manipulated--I mean, "coached"--his students into writing were at about the same level that my third-graders are writing. Sorry, kids--for what it's worth, I think it's great that you took direction and did what you were told.
Sorry to rip you one here, Mr. Dodge, but if you were a teacher in my building, I'd staple a letter of reprimand to your forehead.
The Principal From Hell (note capitals to denote a title)
TO THE EDITOR: I'd like to respond to the letters from Jason J. Dodge and his sixth-grade class about Ellen Forney's comic feature, "How D'Ya Smoke Pot and Stay Out of Jail?" Mr. Dodge asked why anyone would write an article supporting the use of illegal drugs, and stated that he felt it was an unproductive use of free speech and press.
Actually, Mr. Dodge, Ms. Forney's article was a very productive use of our Constitutionally granted rights. This article challenges our nation's laws. Forney essentially takes the position that our drug laws are unjust, and provides information such as what sorts of intimidating tactics the police use against these harmless lawbreakers, how police can unfairly profile a person based on his or her style of dress, what one's rights are, etc. Forney states in the first sentence, "Millions of Americans smoke marijuana despite the specter of fanatical drug laws...." Are the drug laws fanatical? That's always open to debate in a free country, isn't it? I get the feeling there wasn't much of an opposing viewpoint in your class debate. What sixth-grader would challenge a teacher's viewpoint on drug use? Perhaps your sixth-grade class is not the place to question drug laws, but if you can't question the fairness of the laws, then why even debate this issue in a sixth-grade class? Seems to me that you've used this article/comic as another chance to drill the old "Say No to Drugs" propaganda into the kids' heads without delving into the dark tangled jungle of complexity that is the real world (I wonder how many parents and teachers involved in your students' lives are setting the wonderful example of a perfectly legal alcohol addiction?). How very responsible of you. Without questioning the issue that Forney raises on the fairness of drug laws, you're missing the point.
Ariel Bordeaux, via e-mail
EDITORS: I just wanted to let you know that, as an active member (and activist) of the leather/kink community, I find it refreshing to see not only your wonderful Alternative ads, but now a column dedicated to what I love [The Control Tower]. And Mistress Matisse is the perfect person to be doing this! Thanks so much.
Allena Gabosch, Executive Director, The Wet Spot, Seattle's Sex-Positive Community Center
DEAR STRANGER: Thank you for listing us in your calendar of upcoming shows. Unfortunately, you got the spelling of our name wrong. Our name is Crystal Radio, not "Krystal Radio," as you so glibly published. While we are all in favor of creative illiteracy in the name of rock and roll, ("The Beatles," "Led Zeppelin," "Outkast"), this principle does not apply to our moniker. God bless you and the fine work you do.