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Thank you, Larry, for highlighting this important issue in your excellent letter. I think your point about the company we keep as a death penalty country is a powerful argument against continuing this form of punishment. As a Catholic, I am very disappointed that the Church leadership in the US, and some other Christian leaders, who have put so much energy into advocating a "culture of life" in opposing abortion and artificial contraception, have given little or no attention to speaking out against the death penalty. Perhaps our new Pope Francis might use his influence to champion this cause.
I see that gun control-related discussions on this site are dominated by men, although I guess that can be said for most discussion threads. Anyway, thank you Michelle and Melanie for adding women's voices to what seems to be a "boys and their toys" topic.
I was not raised in the US, so I continue to be puzzled - no, actually sickened - by this culture of unquestioning obsession with the Second Amendment and solving every problem at the point of a gun. I find it particularly ironic that Americans, from our political leaders right down to "the person in the street", claim incessantly that this is the best country in the world, with a democratic system like no other, a "beacon of freedom for the world", yet so many supporters of unrestricted gun ownership seem to live with the fear that "the tyranny is coming!" and "we can't trust the government!". Well, I have to ask, which is it - the best country in the world (then why do we need so many guns?) or the onset of the next revolution? And if it's the latter, then perhaps the revered Founding Fathers missed something the first time, and if that's the case, and they're not infallible, then why is "the right to bear arms", of all the rights in the Constitution, so especially sacrosanct?
Thank you, Paul, for pointing out the folly of embarking on another war.
I'm shocked at the comments in response that seem to support the use of force or suggest that a war with Iran would be over quickly. Isn't that what the Bush Administration led the people of this country to believe when it launched both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars? It didn't work out that way, did it! We're still dealing with the consequences of those ill-informed decisions.
It's the chest thumping, aggressive, "don't mess with us", "we're the strongest in the world" attitude that has contributed to so much hatred of America, particularly in the Middle East.
I agree with you, Paul - enough is enough.
Mark, where do you get the idea that gun control advocates are against police officers carrying guns? The whole point of pushing for restrictions on high powered assault weapons is that they are designed for use by police officers and the military, NOT by the general population. What possible use does a civilian have for a high-powered weapon other than to do harm?
In fact, I'm glad you brought up police officers. I would be very interested to hear what law enforcement officers think of gun control measures, and whether they would agree that their job would be a whole lot easier if they did not have to wonder, every time they responded to an emergency or pulled a vehicle over, whether they would have to deal with a high-powered weapon in their faces.
I spent most of my life in Australia where there is no such culture of gun ownership, and yes Mark, a certain amount of fear DOES motivate my support of gun control measures - fear of seeing yet another mass shooting like Aurora, and possibly being in the middle of it, just because supporters of gun ownership are so obsessed with the Second Amendment that they are totally unwilling to even TALK about sensible gun control measures. Is it really worth risking another mass shooting?
I find it very frustrating that Rob's argument and the ensuing discussion largely define patriotism only in terms of military service or civilian service for military ends. While I agree that we should recognise the sacrifices made by our troops and their families, and that it is important to honour them for their courageous service, I believe that we can all demonstrate our patriotism every day in non-militaristic ways by being honest, law-abiding, conscientious and civic-minded members of our community.
In the post-9/11 era, peace activists in this country have been vilified and their patriotism questioned, yet how is it unpatriotic to want to prevent or end war and to bring the troops home?
Is it not patriotic to be a volunteer in one's community? Is it not patriotic to be a teacher who educates future leaders, or a health professional who cares for the sick, or a research scientist who is seeking a cure for disease? What about farmers or factory workers or truck drivers who contribute to the country's economy and prosperity? or a member of the clergy who ministers to their congregation and tends to their spiritual needs? or an aid worker who represents their country by sharing their knowledge from the developed world with a needy community in a developing country? Are all of these professions/occupations/vocations not also a form of service to this country? These are only a few examples. I think it's time to broaden the conversation about what constitutes patriotism and to find more peaceful, positive and compassionate solutions to America's problems.
Jerry, if you want to use that line of argument, what would you say to the relatives of Iraqi and Afghani civilians who have died as "collateral damage" at the hands of the US military? And what would you say to the families of innocent Palestinians who have died as a result of Israeli military action, or as a result of Israel's apartheid-style policies - and don't tell me there are no innocent Palestinians!
Do they not matter too? Are they sub-human?
Do we really want to be caught in an endless cycle of hatred, vengeance and violence? And are you saying that the US can still claim moral superiority over its enemies even when it defies international law and its own principles of so-called justice?
Larry, thank you for your excellent letter drawing attention to the important issues of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. I can't understand why it is still operating and what is so difficult about closing it. How can a country that claims it is a "beacon" of freedom and good for the world allow the continued and indefinite detention of prisoners without charge or trial, some of whom were captured in highly questionable circumstances? How is it noble for a people to think only their own citizens deserve a process of justice? GITMO is a microcosm of this country's foreign policy failures, hypocrisy and ignorance about the rest of the world.
Brian, I didn't think there was anyone on the planet who would echo Rush Limbaugh's outrageous statements, so I was shocked to read your posts on this subject. Melanie, thank you for challenging Brian's demeaning comments.
Brian, there are so many arguments that can be made in response to the recent birth control issues and to Rush Limbaugh's sickening statements, but I would just like to make one simple point: do you have a wife or a daughter? If so, how would you feel if a male stranger (particularly an overbearing bully like Rush Limbaugh) made such comments and assumptions about them, or about any other female relative of yours? In fact, how would you feel if somebody called them "a sniveling idiot", like you called Sandra Fluke? Think about that!
Scott Wedel - You write "The bigger issue was the paper failed to have any sort of understandable or consistent policy regarding what are acceptable comments from named or anonymous posters."
I would like to think that those who post on this website are adults who have at least a basic level of education and social training. It ought not to be necessary for the editors of this newspaper to spell out what is courteous and appropriate conversation, but having been on the receiving end of some insulting and patronising comments, I am disappointed that some people (both anonymous and named) seem to believe that good manners are a thing of the past and that bullying and demeaning others is the new normal.
Nevertheless, I do support the new policy of removing the anonymity provision and hope it will go some way towards improving the tone of these exchanges.
Fred, you talk about empathy as if it were a bad word. Empathy is at the heart of Christianity (at least the form of Christianity I know), the very religion that your friends on the right, including Ann Coulter, wear on their sleeve. That is where the hypocrisy lies!
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