Letters: Student’s speech has a lot of people talking

Posted Tuesday, Jun. 18, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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I find it interesting that Bud Kennedy, as a member of the press, would argue against free speech and that a high school principal would be accused of threatening a valedictorian for exercising it. (See: “Joshua valedictorian finished his speech, but he’s still talking,” Friday)

Only the best and the brightest become valedictorian, and appointment to a military academy further validates the duty and service character aspects of this young man.

I would suggest his peers and their families have the right to hear an uncensored perspective from this product of the Joshua community and school system. They may wish that a hundred more students of his character and work ethic would walk across that stage.

I would want my school administrators principled enough or bold enough to allow the diversity protected by law to proceed in these public ceremonies. It would also be refreshing for the press and our school administrators to acknowledge the impact of faith on the lives of their readers and the students they serve respectively.

This is not a new concept in our nation as I notice that “In God We Trust” still adorns our coinage.

— George E. Wirtz, River Oaks

Having spent nearly 20 years as editor of Bible study materials, I have some thoughts on Remington Reimer’s graduation speech.

First, putting appreciation for his parents and upbringing along with a statement of faith is not an appropriate mixture of sentiments.

But even more important is the fact that his expression of faith was really a political statement — as witnessed by his own comments about his original speech being a “government-approved speech.”

Making a statement in opposition is not appropriate as a confession of faith. In fact, nowhere in the New Testament have I ever encountered Jesus making such a political statement, or his followers.

I am sorry that Remington has been pulled into a political and legal firestorm which I do not believe he anticipated.

— Velma Stevens, Benbrook

Reimer hopefully will learn two valuable lessons about public speaking.

First, ethical and effective speakers adhere to the occasion: in this case, a high school graduation where he was the commencement speaker.

Commencement speeches are supposed to congratulate those completing their coursework and then offer a productive vision for the graduates. Commencement speeches are not occasions that call for sermons where we pronounce our faith. That is not why the audience is present.

Second, ethical and productive speakers know that it is the audience that matters, not themselves. Public speaking should not be self-aggrandizement exercises in front of a captive audience.

No one is suggesting that Reimer is not entitled to his faith, nor should he be discouraged from testifying at the appropriate times and places. This, however, was neither the time nor the place.

He has no grounds to play the victim card, and when he does it only undermines his argument.

Let’s hope he learns from this misstep and those adults surrounding him offer better advice in the future. The Naval Academy will expect him to mature quickly. There is no time to waste.

— Michael Putnam, Fort Worth

I do not equate the Joshua valedictorian’s act of defiance on a scale anywhere close to the Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden scenarios.

What strikes me as similar in these situations is the glaring narcissism: I want what I want when I want it.

This is a potentially dangerous flaw for anyone embarking on military service where following the chain of command is the order of the day.

— Susan Beyer Spencer, Roanoke

In response to Reimer’s adamant defense of his position to disregard the rules and speak his mind, I suspect that both he and his defenders would strenuously object to a speech praising Allah or Buddha (or take your pick of religions).

Somehow, if the activity is related to Christianity, it becomes acceptable — indeed, warranted — as determined by the young man, to pursue his own agenda.

I have to wonder if Reimer would decide, should he be at the helm of a nuclear submarine upon graduation from the Naval Academy, that it is entirely within his right to disregard the rules and perhaps launch a missile against some godless heathens somewhere.

— Greg Taylor, Fort Worth

In regard to the young fellow in Joshua who seems intent on making a name for himself by defying authority and refusing to follow orders, one wonders how successful his career at the Naval Academy is likely to be.

— Delmar H. Dolbier, Fort Worth

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