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About That Speech



I rarely write letters to the editors of newspapers but Dan Johnson's "apology" ("Media Maven," July 25 and this week's "Blog Jammin'," page 10) has prompted a response.

I find his arrogance appalling. His using his giving back to the community as an excuse is in fact inexcusable. I give back in my own small way and do not expect to be awarded for bad behavior because I do so. His accusations of intolerance are amazing to me, for all those reasons stated by other letter writers.

He made a mistake, he needed to own it immediately. He should have removed himself from the school board and then the community would have moved on. He did not in any way take responsibility for his actions, only attempted an apology before a meeting and blames everyone else for his error in judgment. These are not attributes I want my children to think are OK for anyone, be they someone with money or with none.

If the board does not remove him, you can be sure I will make every effort to make sure he is not re-elected should he choose to run again.

Arrogance, self-importance and an utter lack of responsibility for one's own actions are not what I want in someone who is on a school governing board. Mr. Johnson is no better than anyone else no matter how "much" he "gives" to our community and should be treated the same as you or I would have been under than same circumstances.

Jana Genelly, Arcata


David McCullough Jr.'s speech that Dan Johnson plagiarized for Arcata High School's commencement speech was very popular on the right a couple of years ago because it addressed the coddling that many see as rampant in education specifically and society more generally. Isn't it ironic then that the school board has decided to change its own policies instead of levying any penalty on Mr. Johnson?

Note that in the board trustees' statement on July 26, the only response to the plagiarism is to "appreciate" Mr. Johnson's apology and to only lightly chastise him for the tardiness of his apology. In a just world (or county), Mr. Johnson would have been dismissed instead of adding any more bureaucratic hoops for the board to jump through. We don't need more bureaucracy to police elected representatives to behave appropriately, we need elected representatives that know how to behave.

And to reply directly to Mr. Johnson: Don't play the victim. This is not about your intelligence, we both know you are very "smart" as evidenced by your successful business career. This is about right and wrong and paying attention (not "good and evil" by the way). As Mr. McCullough advised his audience in the same speech, we all should "develop and protect a moral sensibility and demonstrate the character to apply it." Did you use that sentence in your speech?

Jon Yalcinkaya, Eureka


Talk about "Much Ado About Nothing" (Shakespeare). The current flap regarding Northern Humboldt Union High School District trustee Dan Johnson's graduation speech, and all the negative ink it has caused, leaves me disappointed in what some people really value and think is important. Kathleen Marshall ("Mailbox," July 25) claims that she expected the district to understand "the seriousness of the issue."

"As I see it, the public is rightfully outraged," she writes. Damn right, I'm outraged! Pray tell, who was harmed, in any way, by Mr. Johnson's very innocent omission, as opposed by commission, of the authorship of some of his graduation remarks? Who would clamor for his resignation based on this bit of inane trivia?

It appears that Marcy Burstiner agrees with Ms. Marshall. She would have the public believe that "plagiarism is serious, ... is a job-ender, ... is a no-no" and is a deadly sin, breaking the Seventh Commandment. Jesus is reported to have said, in so many words, "those without sin, cast the first stone." (John 8:7.)

Were the contents of his words acceptable, even if plagiarized? Some liked the speech, others didn't, for various reasons. Opinions are like belly-buttons. Everybody has one. In my opinion, Dan Johnson is a good person, eager to give back to his community by his service as a trustee, and supportive of many worthy efforts, including Arcata youths, HSU softball, and others, selflessly using his time, talent and money to better our community.

Ms. Burstiner attempts to cast an ugly innuendo that his membership to the board is somehow tainted. His persistence to serve should be applauded rather than degraded. As he admits, he is not a college grad, nor is he perfect. Give the guy a break or cast the first stone.

Art Jones, Blue Lake

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