Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: Jan. 6

High school dancing

Why even listen to teenagers?

As a member of the Society of Generational Tyranny and Oppression Toward Teenagers, I take strong offense at Mr. Ott’s so-called “editorial” (“Children and teens can teach adults much,” Dec. 30). I didn’t survive to become an adult just to turn around and “listen” to teenagers! Besides, if I and other adults cannot oppress them now, how are they going to learn to get along in American society? We at SOGTAOTT firmly believe that by keeping teenagers from thinking for and expressing themselves, frankly, we are doing them a favor.

Wait a minute — grinding is the only kind of dance done at Vashon High School, you say? And some kids don’t attend already because they don’t like it? Some kids intentionally become intoxicated to feel good about attending? Hmm, maybe we at the SOGTAOTT were hasty in forming our opinion. 

In a student-led survey, 16 out of 359 VHS students felt that their dance partner’s actions towards them were “disturbing or unwelcome” and 22 out of 359 found grinding to be “offensive and inappropriate”? Well then, that is different. We at SOGTAOTT now consider that perhaps all VHS students should be sent to dances as part of a graduation requirement. 

Grinding is a violation of both VHS conduct rules and school board policy that has not been enforced since it began? And the district is already out on a legal limb because of negligence and negative incidents at dances in the past?   

We at SOGTAOTT have many oppressive opinions and also believe that women in this country, unless harassed, will not understand how to function in American society. We want those rules changed and for rhythmic genital grinding to be not only acceptable during dances but also during school hours. The sooner teenagers, women and others are oppressed, the better off we will all be.

— Kelly Wright

A ‘compromise’ made no sense

Chris Ott’s op-ed piece in the Dec. 30 issue of The Beachcomber was an inconsiderate attack on the parents and school administrators who have banned the dance called “grinding.” His feeling is that the decision to ban grinding was made without adequate communication with the small subset of pro-grinding students, and therefore a fair “compromise” was not possible.

I attended the meeting and did not hear any parent speak in favor of grinding, which is defined by Wikipedia as a “type of close partner dance where two or more partners rub their bodies (especially their genitalia) against each other in a sexually suggestive manner.” Specifically, this is what was banned, in addition to the touching of one’s own or another’s genitalia, which has led to sexual harassment suits in some states. What is there to compromise on?

Mr. Ott accuses many fine people of “tyranny” and states that he has been “working, playing, singing, and yes, dancing with teenagers ... for more than a decade” — presumably through his theater work. But I doubt his dancing with teens included grind dancing, for obvious reasons.

In closing, Mr. Ott has presented himself as some sort of hip, wiser-than-thou adult spokesman for maligned youth, a “teen whisperer,” if you will. I found his piece to be patronizing and as offensive as grind dancing.

­— Guy Stricherz

Fisher Pond

Natural processes threaten it

As the recent beautiful but freezing weather proved once again, Fisher Pond is a special place and a great asset to Vashon. Whether skating on it or sitting by it on a summer’s day or watching the changing light of an evening, it is a jewel-like oasis.

In case you don’t know, a man by the name of Bill Fisher gave 90 acres, including the pond, to the Vashon Maury Island Land Trust in 1999. He had worked for the local phone company and acquired his holdings piece by piece. The land trust and the Vashon Park District used Bill’s gift as leverage to create a 145-acre preserve.

Bill wanted the pond preserved “for the critters.” He also wanted his former property to be preserved forever in its “natural state.” As strange as it may seem, these are conflicting goals when it comes to the pond.

It is in the natural life of a pond to fill up with decomposed matter and debris. The muck at the bottom encourages the growth of algae and weeds. Eventually ponds become swamps, then marshes, then dry prairies. 

Once a pond dies it is no longer habitat for all “the critters” — from microscopic creatures to frogs and turtles, insects, birds, small mammals and on and on.

The land trust now faces a very difficult decision: Should it keep Fisher Pond “natural” and let it die, or should it preserve the pond for all the creatures, including us? 

I am hoping that you, the community, will “vote” to keep the pond alive by letting the land trust know that you support that side of Bill’s wishes and not get bound up in sorting out what is natural! Bill died in 2002, so he can’t say which fate he would choose. For the critters, please choose life.

— Jill Janow

Driving on Vashon

Writer should learn the rules

Last week a letter to the editor complained about Islanders’ poor driving habits in what seemed to be an attempt to shift discussion away from the obnoxious character of a new sign screaming for our attention. The author voiced special concern about drivers who cross the double yellow line to turn left into the Thriftway parking lot and advocated the issuance of tickets and/or classes to educate drivers as to the meaning of double yellow lines.

RCW 46.61.125 and RCW  46.61.130 proscribe driving on the left of double yellow lines, but their focus is primarily on passing.  Both statues include the following sentence:  “The foregoing limitations shall not apply … to the driver of a vehicle turning left into or from an alley, private road or driveway.” The exceptions which are thereby created clearly permit the behavior she finds so objectionable.

At times, behaviors that violate privately held beliefs based upon a misunderstanding of Washington’s Traffic Code are envisioned as being “illegal.”

Much of what often seems wrong about the way other people drive is the result of a failure to appreciate and subscribe to a common understanding of our traffic laws. Here, the author goes on to suggest that if people refuse to obey the laws as she understands them, then the ultimate solution should be a three- color light at Vashon’s main intersection. 

Of course, anyone who considers a three- color light as a safer alternative to a four-way stop has not spent enough time observing such intersections where far too many drivers rapidly accelerate in order to “beat the light” that is about to change to red. No rocket surgeon is required to instruct us as to the peril this would represent to other drivers and especially to pedestrians in the vicinity of Vashon’s main intersection.

— Rick Frye

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