Emotional responses

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The specter of drugs tends to interfere with our ability to be sensible about serious social problems. The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the right of the Juneau, Alaska, school system to suspend a student for saying something about drugs that the school officials found to be offensive.

The cost will be a reduction in dialogue between students and their instructors.

The Sun Journal article July 20 about parents in South Carolina who were sentenced to five years in jail for giving cocaine to their young children gives the impression that society is protecting the children. Most of us would agree that giving cocaine to young children is a bad idea, but incarcerating their parents has a downside, as well.

In his recent book, “Homeland Insecurity,” Michael Petit, past commissioner of the Maine Department of Human Services, describes the horrors children face who have incarcerated parents.

There is no easy fix for issues such as free speech or inadequate parenting. To emotionally respond as we do when drugs and the well-being of children are involved has long-term consequences which far outweigh the costs of listening to what young people have to say in the classroom, or providing the supports people need to adequately parent their children.

James Tierney, Auburn

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