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Phil Hudgins

Talking about religion causes ‘discomfort’ to others, column reader says

Every coin has two sides, and so does every story. Today, from reactions to my column published a couple of weeks ago, I will present the other side.
My side was that public school officials in Brawley, Calif., went too far in telling a high school salutatorian, Brooks Hamby, that he could not mention God in his graduation speech. They said references to his religion were “inappropriate.”
I maintained — and still do — that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment allows a student speaker, or a student writer of an assignment, to talk about his or her religion.

Graduation speaker finally gets his say — and he did mention God

Well, they’ve done it again.
They are public school officials, this time top dogs of the Brawley Union School District in Brawley, Calif. What they did was tell a young man — three times, no less — that he couldn’t mention God or Jesus in his high school graduation speech. They said that references to his religion were “inappropriate.”
“I didn’t want to compromise my faith,” 18-year-old Brooks Hamby said. He just wanted to say something that would be meaningful and would leave a lasting positive impact.

Chickens: Arise and scratch out cockamamie excuses for discrimination

Pity the poor chicken. Like Rodney Dangerfield, he or she gets no respect.
At Fernandina Beach, Fla., city fathers and mothers voted down an ordinance that would have allowed backyard chickens on private property, even though the county may let folks take their dogs out to dinner. Of course, the pooches must stay outside with their owners, who’ll be eating on one of those patios or porches designed for diners who enjoy the company of mosquitoes and love bugs.
But can someone take his pet chicken to dinner? Not even mentioned.

Cookies, lemonade and a lesson in giving from a 5-year-old ‘people person’

Eli Penland was paging through a newspaper when he saw a photograph that disturbed him. He’s only 5 years old; he can’t read yet. But he knew something was wrong with the woman in the photo. He went running upstairs to his mother, Traci Penland.
“What happened to her?” he wanted to know, his chinquapin eyes filled with concern.
“Well, Eli,” his mother said, reading the story, “this lady’s house burned down, and she doesn’t have insurance.”
“Maybe we could give her some money,” Eli said.
“We don’t have that much money,” Traci said.

If you want to know how to take life one day at a time, ask Gene Klein

Jill Gabrielle Klein hears it all the time from business executives: “How can we get through this down economy and come out strong at the end?”
Klein has good answers. She’s a professor of marketing at the University of Melbourne in Australia, and she leads seminars for executives all over the world. But when she wants to drive home her point about resilience, she calls on her 86-year-old father, Gene Klein.
Gene Klein is a Holocaust survivor.

‘It’s ordinary people who are the hope of this country’

Charles Kuralt had one of the greatest jobs in the world. You remember Kuralt. He roamed the nation in his CBS motor home, looking for stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Bob Dotson, with NBC, does pretty much the same thing, and he’s written a new book, appropriately titled: “American Story: A Lifetime Search for Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things.”

Corporal punishment is too extreme for some parents to handle

My brother, Kenneth, says his last whipping from Mother came when he was just shy of 16. He had scolded our innocent, little rat terrier, Whitey, and Mother didn’t like his tone of voice.
“Go get the razor strap,” she told him. (Our dad, by the way, called it a razor “strop,” and for years I thought he was mispronouncing the word “strap.” But I didn’t have the nerve to correct him. Turned out, he was right. The razor strop, a flexible strip of leather barbers used to sharpen their straight razors, was an unfortunate gift from an uncle who owned a barber shop.)

A chicken in every pot is just fine, but not in every yard

Joseph Pond’s chickens will have to go.
That’s what the Cobb County, Ga., board of zoning appeals says: You have 45 days, Joe Pond, to get those 11 pet chickens off your half-acre lot. If you had at least two acres, we’d let you keep the chickens.
Joe Pond’s 10-year-old daughter, Madeline, burst into tears when she heard the verdict.
What’s the world coming to?

Alvin York, Tennessee hero of WWI, believed killing was wrong

Alvin C. York didn’t want to go to war.
That’s essentially what he put on his draft card. To the question, “Do you claim exemption from draft (specify grounds)?” he wrote simply, “Yes, Don’t Want to Fight.” His faith said killing was wrong, and he believed it.
His conscientious objector status was denied, however, and York retreated to a mountain in Pall Mall, Tenn., his home all of his 30 years. There he prayed fervently before reporting to Camp Gordon, Georgia, in November of 1917. World War I was in its fourth year.

White author scores a winner writing about black maids in ‘The Help’

What would a white guy who grew up in the South of pre-civil rights days know about how black people felt as they watched “The Help,” a movie just out this month? I grew up in those days, attended white public schools until college, and watched black people endure the indignities of the “separate but equal” era. But I couldn’t get inside their heads, and I wondered how lily-white Kathryn Stockett could.
But she came close in her first novel. And so did the movie.
At least that’s what Myrtle Figueras thinks.

The Florida Keys: Christ of the Deep, Hemingway and sunset weddings

It was one of those rare vacations that just happened, one we hadn’t expected. Our older daughter, Michele, and her family invited us to Key Largo, Fla., where they had rented a place with a pontoon boat on a canal that connects with the bay. We gratefully accepted her invitation.
We saw Jesus on Tuesday. His statue, “Christ of the Deep,” stands in about 25 feet of water in the Atlantic Ocean, about six miles from the Key Largo shore. It weighs about 400 pounds, but the concrete base to which it is attached weighs close to 20,000 pounds.

14-year-old writes letters seeking help, gets one surprising answer

Fourteen-year-old Amanda Crawford is a good student. She makes good grades; she doesn’t cause trouble; she’s respectful of other people. But this past year, life at school in upstate South Carolina has been almost unbearable at times.
So she told her mother, Vickie Crawford, she wanted to ask for help. She wrote four letters: to the president, to a U.S. senator, to a congressman and to a governor.
On Friday, June 3, her mother got a phone call.
“This is Nikki Haley,” the caller said.
Nikki Haley is the governor of South Carolina.

How the stand selling ‘Boiled Penuts’ got its start in South

The red man came to the mountains of Southern Appalachia, historians say, because game was abundant there.
The white man came because the region had fertile soil, beautiful scenery, plenty of water and good boiled peanuts.
I made up the boiled peanuts part, but I bet it’s true. Somebody in the South discovered the art of boiling peanuts just a century or so after Hernando de Soto discovered water in the Mississippi River.

Bad news of Zeta-Jones’ bipolar may be good news for others

It’s good, I guess, that disease is no respecter of fame. An illness stalks alone and seemingly unnoticed until it attacks a famous person — and then everybody is aware of it for a while.
It happened with Ronald Reagan and Alzheimer’s; it happened with Michael J. Fox and Parkinson’s; it happened with Patrick Swayze and cancer and Barbara Walters and heart disease.

Advice to Dr. Oz: Don’t let a few bad health tips discourage you

You’ll excuse me if I’m a bit distracted today, but I just had an appointment with Dr. Oz, and he wanted to talk and talk and talk.
You know Dr. Oz, don’t you? He’s that tall, lean doctor with dark hair who talks really fast, as though he’s not sure about all this health stuff he’s pushing. He’s a good-looking guy, though, and women love his bedside manner, although he’s never been at any of their bedsides except on television.

Ella’s love story: She has been blessed with nice people in her life

Ella Zamojski Tymchuk wasn’t born until 1946, but horrible stories about World War II are burned into her very soul. Fortunately, the salve of love is soothing.
Her whole life, in truth, is a love story that began in Raclawice Sl, Poland, where she grew up. It continues today in Suwanee, Ga., where on March 16, 2011, the day I telephoned her, she was celebrating her 47th year of marriage to Andrew.

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