Letters Oct Dec 05
Your Published Letters
The revelation that President Bush in 2002 authorized secret spying on citizens without even the least attempt to meet legal requirements appalls me.
This follows imprisonment without any charge, denial of legal representation and no access to any court.
He excuses these direct attacks on our basic liberties by claiming he will keep us safe from terrorists. But with his egregious assault on our Constitution and his shredding of our Bill of Rights, what is left to keep us safe from him?
William L. Peet
Rochester, New York
From the Nov. 26, 2005, edition of The Buffalo (New York) News:
Parental obligation is key to child-rearing
I am writing in reply to the Nov. 19 letter, "Taking God out of equation has led to a moral decline." While it is much easier to place the blame on a scapegoat as vast as the media, parents need to assume some responsibility for their children. Granted, movies and television have become more explicit, however, sensitive television programming normally contains a viewer discretion clause. Also, there are parental controls that parents can use to block out inappropriate programming. The same holds true for the Internet. Sexual permissiveness, pornography and the culture of death are real-world issues, but good parent-child bonding is imperative for raising responsible, decent adults.
The writer refered to God being removed from the public domain. He is embracing the outmoded argument that individuals must subscribe to a supreme being in order to live an ethical existence. Many Atheists live decent, upright lives.
Finally, he stated that the word "freedom" means not being able to do what you want to do, but what you ought to do. Freedom is the cornerstone of American society. This means the individual has the right to choose for himself what is morally and ethically right.
Jeffery L. Termini
Humanist Minister, Humanist Society
Town of Tonawanda (New York)
From the Nov. 21, 2005, edition of The Anderson (South Carolina) Independent Mail:
ACLU defends rights of individuals on both sides of issues
An Oct. 25 letter writer argued for limiting free speech because some may consider certain speech detrimental to the community. He cited the case of Christians who oppose pornography.
Perhaps the writer would also argue to limit the free speech of fundamentalist Christians who state that the Earth is less than 6,000 years old, and that dinosaurs and humans played together. After all, many of us consider the promotion of such scientific illiteracy very harmful.
Fortunately, the ACLU defends the right of individuals to speak openly for and against pornography, as well as for and against various religious beliefs. It is not hard to find countries in which the government decides what speech to ban for the "good" of the people. Rather than lose our precious freedom of speech, we must preserve the right to speak out against speech we find abhorrent.
Member of the ACLU State Board of Directors
Charleston, South Carolina
From the Nov. 15, 2005, edition of The Idaho Statesman:
God is clearly angry at America. After George W. Bush stole the 2000 election, YHWH removed his protection from America (as several in-the-know televangelists loudly proclaimed at the time). This allowed the forces of Allah to successfully attack the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
To further punish Bush, YHWH clouded Bush's mind so he retaliated against the wrong country.
During the 2004 campaign, YHWH reminded Americans that Bush had stolen the 2000 Florida election by causing four hurricanes to smash into Florida. (Remember: Pat Robertson once prayed for hurricanes to smite Florida.)
To further drive home his anger at the stolen election, YHWH took the leader (Rehnquist) of the cabal of Republican activist justices who had selected Bush. (Remember: Pat Robertson recently prayed for YHWH to take a Supreme Court justice.)
Still America did not listen. So YHWH recently caused more hurricanes to smash into Bush's base: the Confederate South.
If Americans want to get right with YHWH, they will fall down on their knees and pray for forgiveness for their error in supporting Bush - and they will promise never to vote Republican again.
From the Nov. 8, 2005, edition of the Washington Times:
School vouchers would fragment America
Nancy Salvato's "Mythology versus school choice" (Forum, Nov 6) conveniently overlooked important considerations.
Millions of Americans in 25 statewide referendums have rejected school vouchers or their analogues by a 2-to-1 margin.
Republican Kansas state Sen. John Vratil correctly observes that private schools accepting public funds would have to play by the same rules as public schools. As most nonpublic schools by far are faith-based institutions that commonly discriminate in admissions, directly or indirectly, along religious, class, ethnic, ability level and other lines and permeate their curricula with sectarian teaching, taxing all citizens to support them would, to a constitutional originalist, be as "sinful and tyrannical" as James Madison, main author of the First Amendment, declared in 1785 in his famous Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments.
School vouchers would fragment our society along creedal, class, ethnic and other lines. Ben Franklin's advice that "we shall either hang together or hang separately" is certainly applicable to the controversy over school vouchers. Aren't there enough divisions in our society?
Incidentally, a 2004 statewide poll by the Baton Rouge Advocate showed that Louisianians in every part of the state opposed vouchers by a 60 percent to 34 percent margin despite the fact that the state's public schools are grossly underfunded.
Americans for Religious Liberty
Silver Spring, Maryland
From the Nov. 5, 2005, edition of the Greenville News (South Carolina):
Even Jesus said prayer is private
An Oct. 24 letter writer was correct when he said, "The establishment clause doesn't say that we must exercise our religion in a closet." It wasn't the establishment clause -- it was Jesus!
Matt. 6.5-6: "When you pray, be not like the hypocrites who love to pray standing in their synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. When you pray, enter the closet, shut the door and pray to your father in secret."
Individuals are free to follow Jesus if they choose, or to act like the hypocrites that Jesus denounces. Government officials, when acting as private citizens, may pray on street corners, in a closet or not at all.
But government officials acting in an official role must not use the power of government to promote or endorse particular religious views. I hope the ACLU continues to defend freedom of conscience for all citizens.
Charleston, South Carolina
The writer is a member of the ACLU state board of directors.
From the October 26, 2005, issue of Education Week:
Public Schools Need Help, Not Destruction
To the Editor:
In his Oct. 12, 2005, letter to the editor, economist John Merrifield recommends "free enterprise" as the answer to Louisiana's school problems. I assume "free enterprise" is code for school vouchers.
We've been through this repeatedly in California (1982, 1993, 2000). Each time, and by even greater margins, voters have rejected vouchers-by 71 percent to 29 percent in 2000-despite the fact that Proposition 13 has seriously damaged our public schools. The same voter rejection of vouchers by large margins has occurred in many other states, from the West Coast to the East Coast, and in states between, including Louisiana.
Public schools are the backbone of our democracy. They need help, not destruction.
From the October 26, 2005, issue of Education Week:
Another Reason to Resist Melding Public, Private
To the Editor:
Regarding your Oct. 12, 2005, front-page article "Catholic Schools Reopening After Katrina:"
One cannot help but notice that, in the two accompanying photographs of students, only one of the dozens shown is African-American. Nearby public schools surely would have many more black faces. This lack of diversity in Catholic schools is one more reason why the Bush administration's intent to favor private schools with $488 million in public funds is not a good idea.
From the October 6, 2005, issue of the Providence, Rhode Island, Journal:
Explain poison ivy!
Kenneth Miller is to be commended for his sophisticated and strong opposition to so-called intelligent design ("Evolving fight over Darwin," news, Sept. 29).
Supporters of ID claim it is a scientific theory, not religious. Maybe we should take them at their word. I can imagine a curriculum with the following questions:
- People are subject to back problems, because our spines developed while our ancestors still moved on four feet; our spines are not well designed for walking upright. What would be the explanation according to ID?
- Antibiotics lose their effectiveness after a few years, because bacteria evolve with resistance to them. What would the ID explanation be?
- What is the ID explanation for poison ivy?
If intelligent design really is scientific, its supporters should be able to explain facts like these.
Peter B. Denison
Somerset, Rhode Island