An apology, of sorts

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For a few weeks now, a die-hard contingency of readers has called on me to make recompense for a Aug. 10 column I had written about how I felt our city schools’ employees should send their kids to our city’s public schools.

Some of you called me or e-mailed.

Mrs. Ione Mayfield wrote a wham-bam-boozle of a Letter to the Editor about it (which I found delightful; I’m one of those weirdos who enjoys “hate mail.”)

One of you even went so far as to accost me at my parents’ restaurant as I was working, making orders back on the sandwich table.

All of you let me know you thought I had crossed a line with my statements and that some sort of apology was due.

Well… here goes:

“I apologize for any who were offended by my comments in the Aug. 10 McCollumn, ‘Why Isn’t ‘Dear OHS’ Good Enough for You?’. My comments were not meant to demean other school alternatives, and I am sorry they were interpreted as such.”

Sound like a good enough apology for y’all?

Good.

It’s not one, but I hope it sounded enough like one to mollify you.

What I wrote on Aug. 10 was not a condemnation of private or home schools, but an earnest opinion about my feelings on public school teachers and administrators not supporting the system that employs them.

That was my intent as an author – to point out an issue and encourage a healthy discussion.

However, I should have remembered we live in an era where reader interpretation, not authorial intent, reigns supreme.

That is to say, what you imply from my writing means more than what I meant to infer.

Some of you did some good close textual analysis, unearthing hidden inferences I never intended to make.

You took it upon yourselves to reckon that I was vehemently anti-private schooling.

I am not and never have been against private schools, even if I would personally choose to send my hypothetical children to our local public schools.

For you to say otherwise would mean that you obviously don’t know me or my beliefs, and, quite frankly, you don’t, so please stop spreading this vile calumny.

What you implied was not what I actually wrote, and while I’m somewhat angered that my words have been twisted more than a pretzel, I’m at least gratified by the facts that a) you read the piece and b) it caused you to have an emotional reaction.

For a writer, there is no greater compliment than to have something you’ve written invoke emotions from your readers – happy, sad, blistering angry … all are valid and welcomed.

The true aim of the Aug. 10 column was not to shame those teachers and administrators, nor was it a “holy war” on private and Christian education.

It was meant to start a discussion, a dialogue in this community, about an issue that myself and others in the community were aware of but had henceforth not been talked about in the public sphere.

I’ve always been of the perhaps naive belief that there is no problem so great that we cannot solve it through rational, well-thought discussion.

While some of you may have thought the remarks needed an apology, there were an equal number who have given me the old “Atta boy” and the occasional “Give ‘em hell” – proving, I suppose, some readers got what I was writing toward.

How we read a text depends largely on our own specific world views.

We all have different life experiences and beliefs that allows each and every reader to approach a text differently.

I would never be so bull-headed as to believe that my reading of a piece was the final word on the matter, and nor should you, dear readers.

It is only when we come together and make a “stone soup” of all of our beliefs and opinions that we can truly view a piece of writing.

In closing, for those of you who wanted a true apology out of me for that column, I am truly sorry … that you won’t be getting what you asked for.

The best I can give you is the italicized part from earlier in this column, because I’m afraid I’m not sorry – and I probably won’t ever be.

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