The Constitution governs high schoolers, too

Regarding "Tangled up in blue: new strands in hair wars," (June 12): You quote Jesse Doyle, the student who got his school administration to back down from its stance of giving him detention for dyeing his hair bright blue, as saying, "It's like beating the system." But the system embodied in the Bill of Rights was designed to protect his expression. Mr. Doyle and those like him are actually defending the "system" from those who would recklessly trample on students' civil rights in an overzealous effort to promote their own agenda.

Students don't shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate. Families like the Doyles have suffered abuse, insult, and inconvenience for challenging school policies and defending their right to individual expression. I congratulate them on their success on breaking through this block in the right of self-expression. They are, indeed, not beating the system, but fighting for it.
Harry M. Hays
Signal Mountain, Tenn.

Deflating the Al Qaeda myth

I commend "Debunk the myth of Al Qaeda" (May 23, Opinion). In this time of fear arising from the horrendous attacks of Sept. 11, thoughtful pieces on the nature of the enemy are all too rare. Descriptions by the government and media of terrorist agendas "affiliated with Al Qaeda" usually give no indication of how the reporter knows of the affiliation or whether it has been confirmed. These reports obscure our perceptions of terrorist capabilities to attack us at home or abroad, and fail to provide a proper picture of the need for US response or action.

This practice encourages unfocused and unhelpful anxiety, and makes it easier for the government to deny those allegedly involved in terrorism such fundamental American rights as due process: to be denied the right to having a lawyer and other necessary means to challenge accusations or to seek review of the appropriateness of their governmental detention by an impartial civilian court. We cannot allow ourselves to lose our liberty in order to save it.
Daniel G. McIntosh
Los Angeles

I do not agree that Al Qaeda's "size and reach have been blown out of proportion." Media reports on the danger of Al Qaeda have actually helped people to take this terrorist group seriously.

The founder of Al Qaeda built it in a very systematic manner. Consider Osama bin Laden's forethought in making adequate provisions for funds – important for any organization to flourish – by flowing his terrorist coffers through a variety of his business interests.

Another thing the media have done by bringing to light the "size and reach" of Al Qaeda is to help to disabuse impressionable young minds who might have previously seen these groups as embodiments of adventure and machohood. If this false impression was not being conceived, why would an American like John Walker Lindh embrace Islam and join the Taliban? This ominous portrayal of Al Qaeda and its style of functioning has exposed what these fundamentalists are worshipping – and it's not mercy and peace.
Sreenivasan Raju Aiyer New Delhi

A nice break from war coverage

Regarding "Dads and daughters – a special relationship" (June 12, Homefront): Great interview on author Joe Kelly and the special bond he maintains with his daughters. Articles like these are breaths of fresh air. When our political leaders are pursuing Al Qaeda and the newspapers and networks are following these lead stories day in and day out, an article like this, hitting on things that touch us on a day-to-day basis, are refreshing. Thank you for the experience.
Munira Majmundar
Irving, Texas

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