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Opinion

The controversy of making a mountain out of an Indian mound just won't go away. The place name “Nikwasi Mound” is a combination of Cherokee and English words denoting an earthwork, that is believed to have been made by a third group of people who predate us all, known as the Mississippian Culture. There is no evidence indicating that any of their direct descendants are living among us today, but the squabble continues over squatters rights concerning the Mound. Patterns of world history hold true on a local level. Waves of different groups of people, from the Mississippians to the Floridians have and will continue to occupy the land. Yes, the Cherokee utilized the Mound when they came into our area, including erecting a council house on top. It's unknown if they used force to gain access to what is now modern-day Macon County. White people did use force to secure land and have also utilized the Mound, most recently, as a experimental herbicidal laboratory.

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These days, it is far too easy to rattle off the outrageous examples of zero tolerance policy run amok in our nation’s schools. A 14-year-old student arrested for texting in class. Three middle school aged boys in Florida thrown to the ground by police officers wielding rifles, who then arrested them for goofing off on the roof of the school. A 9-year-old boy suspended for allegedly pointing a toy at a classmate and saying “bang, bang.” Two 6-year-old students in Maryland suspended for using their fingers as imaginary guns in a schoolyard game of cops and robbers. A 17-year-old charged with a felony for keeping his tackle box in his car parked on school property, potentially derailing his chances of entering the Air Force.

Thus, it’s tempting, when hearing about the 7-year-old suspended for chewing his Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun to chalk it up to an isolated example of school officials lacking in common sense. However, these incidents are far from isolated. They are part of a concerted, top-down approach to creating a generation of obedient worker-bees content to be directed, distracted and kept in line.

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The Naval Shipyard shooting has reignited the controversy over guns in society. Once again, people are pondering over what went wrong. Many have asked why the behavior of this shooter and others has failed to raise red flags that might have alerted authorities and prevented the tragedies.

The shooting incidents should indeed raise red flags but not from troubled individuals but over America in general. Something is terribly wrong with a nation which produces these crazed people who so wantonly take innocent life. Something needs to be done.

But to put all the responsibility on the authorities doesn’t make sense. The sad reality is that there are far too many Americans with mental problems that no authority can possibly keep tabs on them. Even if the red flags went up before such incidents, it is unclear what steps could be taken. Most of these individuals had not broken the law prior to their outbursts and cannot be arrested. They still manage to function in society so they cannot be committed to asylums. Many times the future shooters are off the social radar all together. They are out in society, schools and public places like ticking time bombs waiting to go off.

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During a recent drive to Black Mountain, I noticed a roadside sign that indicated that they were a “Certified Entrepreneurial Community (CEC).” This jogged my memory that I had seen the same sign in Franklin. The wheels (in my head) started spinning. How does a community get certified as anything? I understand the processes for certifying individuals or even businesses, but an entire community? This particular “certification” for business savviness, is provided by a non-profit company, in conjunction with local government. The quasi-governmental process of certification is not free of course. Non-profits may not make a “profit,” but they certainly are in the business of taking in money with a little help from their bureaucratic friends.

The idea of uber-certifications is intriguing. Not-for-profit status is the way to go, since otherwise, someone might get the idea that your “certifications” are being sold. The possibilities abound - just fill in the blank of “Certified _______ Community.” Happy, humorous, friendly, funky, etc. There would, of course, be an extensive vetting process with the appropriate paperwork to fill out and the ubiquitous references to “public/private cooperation.” Most of all, a cool, official looking sign would proudly be available for display.

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