Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How Safe Is It to Travel to...

Last month, I ventured to Kabul, Afghanistan and returned unharmed. I was not the target of a kidnapping, mugging or suicide car bombing (but there was at least one car bombing during my visit). True, I stayed cautious and aware during the trip, but I knew I was (relatively) safe.

Returning to the States I read about the Fort Myers High School (Florida) band not being able to travel to London and perform in a New Year's parade because London is not safe from terrorists (!!!). WHAT?!?!?!?

Lee County Schools Superintendent James Browder is the overly protective decision maker for this trip. Makes me wonder, has he traveled outside of the United States? Has he traveled outside of Lee County? Is he aware that 9/11 terrorists were trained in his backyard of neighboring Sarasota County (at a flight school in Venice, to be exact)? Did this cause him to ban field trips to Sarasota? I don't recall hearing about that, if he did.

The Brits have been slightly agitated by Mr. Browder's remarks but in true British diplomacy, the parade organizers drafted a press release and showed it to a Florida newspaper (The News-Press) on Friday, March 31, 2006. According to cbs2chicago.com:

"...the statement warns British travelers about Fort Myers' crime and homicide rates, Lee County's record number of traffic deaths in 2005 and that the entire area is prone to catastrophic hurricanes."

(Should I remind them they forgot to include shark-infested waters and lightening strikes?)

The release was to be distributed to the British media on Monday, April 3, 2006. Read the TimesOnline.co.uk here - quite entertaining.

Apparently, this did not persuade the superintendent's decision. Being ever-so-persistent, today I read that parade organizers have offered to FLY to Ft. Myers and plead their case in front of the School Board - that London is safe, etc. WHY?!?!? If I were the parade organizers, I would drop it and move on, my friends!

A bit of a compromise has been reached: as long as 80% of the parents of the 140-some students consent to the trip, the band will go marching on in London.

Is this really about terrorism? Or is there another reason why school board officials don't want their students traveling to London?

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