News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Red Raider band twirler ban shatters dreams


We read the article on the Austin High cheerleading controversy with keen interest. At least those girls were given the opportunity to try out for the cheerleading squad. If these girls had been taking baton lessons since kindergarten and their dream was to twirl at Decatur High School, they would not be afforded the same opportunity. Although majorettes have been a part of the Red Raider band for years, the current band director states they are a thing of the past.

There are several Decatur girls who have to abandon their dreams, even though they may be talented twirlers. Some people are not supportive of these girls' aspirations because they have their own agendas. This has been a painful lesson for the girls.

Decatur's band director is extremely talented. We imagine his passion was probably the trumpet when he was in school. He is fortunate that caring teachers allowed him the opportunity to polish his talent on numerous fields and stages. All of us are fortunate there are many teachers who sacrifice so much to support, motivate and guide students' endeavors. He is an accomplished musician and has done an outstanding job directing Decatur's band. The Red Raider band's performance is becoming awesome.

After Austin's band performed at the 2005 season rivalry football game, Decatur's drum major held up a baton like the ones the Austin drum majors use, faced the crowd, showed them the baton, shook her head "no" and threw the baton on the ground. At the time, we weren't sure what to make of this, but now we realize it may have been a symbolic way to say Decatur has thrown away batons.

Jenny Hartselle


Illegal aliens a cancer, must be sent back home


With the debate concerning illegal immigrants being a national issue, I read with interest your recent story about the Hispanics who have fought in the U.S. military.

The debated issue is not about legal Hispanics serving in the military or doing whatever vocation they seek in this country, but the illegal status of many of Hispanics.

The fact that a Hispanic who served honorably in the military has illegal family members facing deportation might seem harsh, yet our country is made of laws and those laws are for a reason. If illegals are here in this county, state, or nation, then they need to go back to Mexico. Period.

Mexico does not allow illegal Americans in its country for any reason. It understands that illegals are like a cancer to society, and we need to realize that as well.

Our education and medical services are being used heavily by illegals and it must stop.

Either we are a nation of laws or we are not. Does not the word "illegal" mean anything to our law enforcement people?

Legal Hispanics who have served with honor in the military are deserving of our support and our thanks.

Illegals are a totally different matter.

Robert Jaques


Alabama enacts laws to prevent animal abuse


The Alabama Legislature and Gov. Bob Riley should be commended for enacting crucial laws to prevent animal cruelty. During the 2006 legislative session, the Legislature passed laws to help reduce pet overpopulation, to make barbaric hog-dog fighting illegal, and to prohibit the trophy shooting of trapped animals at canned hunts and over the Internet.

Every year thousands of healthy dogs and cats are euthanized because there are not enough good homes for them. By passing a law requiring the spaying and neutering of dogs and cats in shelters, the Alabama Legislature and governor have sought out effective solutions to pet overpopulation.

Additionally, hog-dog fighting is a cruel form of animal fighting, pitting a trained attack dog against a feral pig for the purposes of entertainment and gambling. Alabama became the third state to outlaw this barbaric practice. Canned hunts allow paying customers to shoot and kill animals in fenced enclosures with no chance to escape, while Internet hunting involves shooting and killing these animals from a remote location via pay-per-view slaughter. Alabama lawmakers rightly put an end to these inhumane and unsportsmanlike activities in 2006.

The anti-cruelty laws of a state are a reflection of our basic values and attitudes toward animals, and this collection of bills is a measurable step forward for Alabama. The Humane Society of the United States, on behalf of our more than 92,000 members and supporters within the state, commends lawmakers in Alabama for passing this raft of legislation to protect animals from cruelty and abuse.

Michael Markarian

Executive vice president for external affairs

The Humane Society of the United States

Washington, D.C.

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