District is working to stop bullying
As a Williamsville North High parent, I attended the PTSA meeting on Oct. 3 and was left disappointed by the manner in which The News recounted the event to readers.
Generally speaking, the roughly 100 people in attendance (not 150 as was reported) were split. Many were concerned, as the reporter wrote, about their perception of bullying in the school and the district's current efforts to address the problem. But an equal number -- especially several students -- spoke eloquently and passionately about teachers, other school personnel and students all working together to respond to existing concerns. This was largely absent from the reporting, other than a brief mention at the end of the piece.
If one were to go to the Williamsville School District website and read the Wellness Report, one could find the many ways the district works with the students to become responsible, respectful citizens.
I think The News owes its readers an opportunity to fully understand the community's response to this issue. A casual reader could only assume that the tone of the meeting was largely negative. This was not the case.
We need to make bullying a crime
According to the dictionary, a bully is "a person who is habitually cruel to smaller or weaker people." Some say we need to teach kids compassion, understanding and tolerance. This is teaching that should come from their home. Unfortunately, many parents do not do their job. The only way these kids will learn is by a taste of their own medicine. Make bullying a crime.
Some pointing fingers are bullies themselves
A tragedy such as the loss of a child to suicide should launch a community into action together. Instead, much to my personal and professional dismay, Jamey Rodemeyer's untimely death has led to just the opposite. In my humble opinion, it has led to a different kind of bullying amongst the media and community at large. The pointed and unfounded accusations directed at specific professionals in the Williamsville School District being made by some of the media, some of the general public and even some of my friends are in and of itself exactly what they are fighting against -- they are being bullies!
The media and the public, including myself, do not know any of the particulars regarding Jamey's situation; nor should we. However, many are using the limited information they have to draw erroneous conclusions that are leading to very hateful language directed at a group of hard-working professionals and students. Let us not lose sight of the fact that the great majority of teachers, counselors, students and parents in Williamsville and other districts exemplify the type of characteristics needed to promptly and properly address those who exhibit bullying types of behavior.
I implore people to take a step back and get their emotions in check during this very sensitive time. Empathize with the grieving family and friends of Jamey while working together to look into ways to help prevent such a tragedy from taking place again. We all have a lot to learn. This includes the media, parents, professionals, school districts and students. Let us work together, before we have more tragedies on our hands as a result of some adults acting in ways that they state are so appalling to them in the first place.
Heather D.M. Everett
Middle school counselor
Start teaching tolerance early
It's great that Williamsville North is taking action to address educating its students about tolerance. What everyone seems to be missing here is that the behavior started long before high school. Heim Middle and Elementary schools need to start tolerance programs, too.
Take swift action to combat problem
Amherst should be ashamed. The recent disclosure of continued harassment of Alyssa Rodemeyer by bullies at Williamsville North, even weeks after her brother's death, shows the lack of remorse and continuation of the problem. Even after police had begun their now monthlong investigation, the bullying obviously continued.
Also, given that Jamey was only in the high school a few weeks, the question has to arise about his harassment in the middle school as well. By not yet pursuing action against the original bullies, the school district, the police and the town are condoning it. And the results are obvious.
Is this how Amherst wants to be known by the nation, as a place where a 14-year-old can be literally harassed to death, with no ramifications? I hope not. I congratulate the school district on its recent suspension of (only) one of Alyssa's cruel abusers, but what about the original perpetrators? Swift action is obviously required.
Billboard promotes a form of bullying
Imagine my curiosity when I was driving on the I-190 and noticed a rather large, unattractive billboard that read "Mark Grisanti, You're Next." Later that evening, I checked out the website listed on the billboard and not surprisingly discovered it is a site dedicated to the opposition of same-sex marriage. I hoped this kind of negative thinking would have dissipated over time. Sadly, that is not the case.
Tragically, it is this very mentality that contributed to the bullying endured by Jamey Rodemeyer. How will bullying ever go away when a faction of our society, some of which includes our elected politicians, holds these beliefs? Isn't this one of the largest and most blatant forms of bullying when some of our elected officials and the people who support them use their beliefs to create an atmosphere filled with hatred and bias? Is this the New York State that boasts being a liberal, democratic "blue" state? I think not.
Regardless of his stance on same-sex marriage, I voted for Grisanti during the last election. His vote on the same-sex marriage bill will only strengthen my desire to vote for him again during his next election. The same-sex marriage law allows two people to be joined happily, or in some cases unhappily, in marriage. Who are we as a society or even as individuals to deny that?
Don't attack Grisanti for doing right thing
The I-190 billboard meant as a warning to Sen. Mark Grisanti reflects not only the current style of American political discourse but the idiocy of voter priorities.
I am an unaffiliated voter, which means that I don't have the right to vote in any but the general elections, at which time, in most cases, I am forced to either vote for no one or to hold my nose and vote for either the Republican stooge or the Democratic stooge.
When Grisanti took a stand in opposition to the Republicans who thought they owned him, it occurred to me that, though he identifies with the party of religious fundamentalists and protectors of the wealthy, he may actually have some character. We need more politicians like him to refuse to merely rubber-stamp the party line, whether Democrat or Republican, if we are ever to solve the very serious problems of this area and this nation.
Anyone who thinks that gay marriage is one of those "very serious problems," whether he is a voter or the politician who panders to him, should be shown for the fool or the bigot that he is. Too many who pretend to be Christians employ the most obscure quotations from their holy books to justify their bigotry. Small wonder that, having fed to their children a steady diet of intolerance and disdain for the rest of us (whom they consider sinners or infidels), they have taught their children to bully homosexuals in our schools.
John W. Nelson
Where is accountability in crash that killed two?
A horrible event occurred recently when a 74-year-old woman crashed into a cheeseburger restaurant and killed two people and injured two others. This family merely decided to go out to dinner, a normal occasion. Yet the Amherst Police Department has issued only a traffic ticket to this woman. Deplorable! Where is the accountability? Didn't the police ever hear of the section of penal law known as criminally negligent homicide, a class E felony? It is just perfect for a case like this. Chances are the woman would be sentenced only to community service or probation, but at least there would be some accountability. Further, it may have also served as an example to others to be careful and apply your brake instead of your gas pedal!
But don't follow that course and make the person responsible for her own actions. Instead, make the property owner responsible by enacting a resolution requiring him to install barricades in front of his establishment.
This should remind us of the former district attorney who let a mother go free without seeking a charge of criminally negligent homicide when she caused the death of her infant child because she forgot her in the back seat of her vehicle on a sweltering day and went to work.
What we should do in such cases when there is such societal permissiveness is contact our police department and demand proper criminal prosecution. If that doesn't do any good, as in this case, contact our very competent district attorney, Frank Sedita, and ask him to seek proper charges.
I've spent much of my practice defending clients in criminal proceedings, and there are many cases that cry out for justice -- and this is also one wherein we must think of the poor victims.
Richard D. Grisanti
Put aside politics, work for the people
It's clear that Washington is paralyzed by politics. Partisanship is trumping the people's business like never before, and I'm angry. There are so many issues to resolve for the economy, energy policy and immigration, yet our politicians offer no more than ideological rhetoric. It's as if neither side is willing to let the other side score a victory -- so we all lose. It's important to put aside labels, and do the people's work.
My hope is that the members of the supercommittee will prove that they can rise above the fray and do what's right for the American people. Our government needs to send a message to the world that it is capable of putting politics aside for the greater good and for our long-term economic security. I'm working hard to teach our son to have emotional intelligence, as well as to put aside labels. If he's making strides, certainly the grown adults in Washington can do the same. We can only hope.
Brad K. Mazon
Public works program is good only in theory
I am surprised that News editorials continue to suggest that President Obama should simply do what FDR did during the Great Depression, i.e., have the federal government hire the unemployed to work on public works projects like road repair. It is a great idea in concept, but I doubt it could be implemented. A lot has changed since the 1930s. For example, there is not much call for untrained manual laborers.
Do we really want to have unemployed office staff operating multimillion-dollar pieces of automated road equipment? Are today's unemployed workers willing to leave their families for weeks on end and live in camps while they work in other locations, like the CCC workers did in the '30s? And what about labor union agreements?