To deny any their Freedom of Speech in any form is unconstitutional, be it in the name of censorship for the good of others, protection of another's feelings or in the guise of (demanding) respect, unconstitutional acts should never be accepted.
   The current news buzz in Alabama that is making headlines is the Governor's intent to introduce legislation "that would require the state's 740,000 public school students to address teachers and other adults on school property by the courtesy titles of "sir" and "ma'am." (Birmingham News, 1-19-00). This seems to be an attempt to re-establish slavery in the South by forcing a person to do something that is not required by federal law. Centuries ago, when African-Americans were under slavery, it was required that we underlined our servitude to our "masters" and "mistresses" by attaching "obedience tags" in our verbal reply to the "masters" and "mistresses"; then came the Civil War, re-organizing, NAACP, the Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, several socially infused federal laws, the Civil Rights Movement, high profile black activists, the Black Power Movement and today-African-American Acknowledgement! There is absolutely no way I would ever support something as regressive as the abovementioned intent of the Governor of Alabama.
   There are many problems plaguing Alabama: according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, next to San Francisco, Birmingham ranks #2 in workplace discrimination lawsuits filed in 1999, nepotism, favoritism and incompetence in the workplace are also on the rise, the controversial occupational tax which is laden with pork projects, the Jefferson County school system is over $5 million in debt and the entire atmosphere in Alabama is oppressive; any attempt to ignore or sugar-coat these escalating problems is near criminal, slavery was sugar-coated and glamorized by early Hollywood, i.e. "Gone with the Wind", which in turn created a form of acceptable racism by portraying blacks in inferior and insulting positions. (Today, the NAACP challenged Hollywood to produce more complimentary shows and include more blacks and minorities in behind-the-scene/professional positions.)
   I strongly suggest that the elected members of my Alabama government reform, re-organize and rectify these, (and more), major problems that are not complimentary and near anti-Civil Rights in order to truly be committed to progress.
Gabrielle Lin
19 January 2000