Letters for June 7 to 13, 2007

Bullish on Bulldogs

It should be about altruism:I am the mother of a special-needs son. The Bulldogs organization allowed my son to make friends who were nonjudgmental, accepting, and compassionate (¨The Bad News Bulldogs,¨ Thomas Francis, May 24). My son was able to be in a comfort zone where he could join in activities and play special Olympic sports and feel a part of the camaraderie. His self-esteem blossomed. My son was recently introduced to Thomas Francis, whom I assumed had come to the Bulldogs wanting to help coach volleyball because he wanted to make a difference in these very special athletes´ lives. My son warmed up to him slowly because, being very intuitive and used to being scrutinized by many, he wanted to make sure Tom was there for the right reasons. I later learned he was not!

I knew he wrote for a tabloid, and he had mentioned that he would like to write an article about his experience. But I had no idea what he was thinking until the article was published. I was appalled. I had no idea that he volunteered only to accomplish a task in his own life and used these very special individuals for his own gratification. His article is unacceptable. He went over the line by critiquing each athlete´s disability. He pulled them apart and made these very worthy athletes seem less valued than a typical individual.

These members have a gift of compassion, pride, and integrity that all of society should have, and they are called ¨special¨ because anyone who meets these very gifted individuals leaves with a sense of amazement and admiration. They are nonjudgmental and honest with their feelings. The article Tom wrote told nothing of these attributes. I am not sure what Tom learned from his experience, but I am sure I would not want to invite him back to coach.

Sue Cohen

Coral Springs

Special-needs athletes put the pros to shame:I read the article and loved it. I felt like I was there. I wasn´t at volleyball, but I have gone to Special Olympics basketball, bowling, and swimming. My 17-year-old ADHD daughter is an Olympian. I agree that on the outside, you really can tell sometimes who is an athlete and who isn´t. As you coach them and deal with their idiosyncrasies, the truth comes out. The Bulldogs are just one example, but what you encountered is not uncommon. In the end, these athletes (not fair to call them all kids) take pride in what they do sometimes more than their pro counterparts, who are paid multimillions to be mediocre. Think about this: Where else other than baseball can you be good a third of the time and be paid a king´s ransom?

Kudos to you for coaching. I was just a proud dad watching from the sidelines.

Ed Blumenthal

Via the Internet

Inquiring minds give Coach Tom the edge:First, a caveat: I didn´t want to read the piece, and I never saw The Ringer intentionally. I think the movie must have been a guy thing. That being said, I enjoyed your tale of triumph over apathy. As you implied, perseverance sometimes pays off, and I´m glad I fought through to the end. Starting in the middle of the story, so to speak, grabbed my attention and made me want to know more; it´s a good technique. So... are you going to coach the team next year? Inquiring minds want to know.

Lindsay Koehler

Via the Internet

The Case for Heroism

Cowardice can mean just following orders: The issue of ¨Camilo´s Retreat¨ is notabout cowardice (Letters, May 24 and May 31). It is about one man´s struggle to remove himself from warfare: ¨Do I put myself in a live fire situation where I endanger my comrades all ostensibly fighting for their survival because I refuse to kill upon command? Even though I see crutches and plastic toys in the front yard, do I still unload a clip from my BAR into the house because Sgt. Braindead says to?¨ Everyone understands the self-defense mechanism. But volunteering to stand in the middle of a government-produced shooting gallery and ¨self-defending¨ is morally corrupt, even if the pay is good and they cover tuition. Camilo Mejía has chosen humiliation (judgment under military law, prison and its ¨pleasures¨ of wasted years, social ostracism, and a lifetime of impugned honor) to retain his personal integrity, even though he did it messily. The types whose letters New Times prints on this topic are a dime a dozen and represent America´s stupid lust for ¨bombs bursting in air¨ our foremost business. Mejía´s only reward will be from those of us who respect prisoners of conscience. We´ve been there. Thanks, Camilo.

Robert Dollar

Miami

You vant me to do vat?Is Camilo Mejía a coward? Three letter writers in the past two weeks (and who knows how many readers) say ¨yes.¨ They can´t read his mind. And they cite no empirical evidence (such as quotes or pants-shitting). So for them, refusal to fight must mean cowardice. I ask them to do a thought experiment: Sgt. Schultz of the Nazi German Army in, say, Lithuania in 1944 decides he can no longer kill and invade and occupy. He deserts and goes back home to Munich. Is he a hero or a coward? Or (more difficult) to whom is he a hero and to whom a coward? Most of us here in South Florida would say he´s a hero. If you believe the Iraq War is illegal and immoral (as I do), you will consider Mejía a hero.

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