Letters to the editor: Feb. 23

February 23, 2014 

Gay rights, gun rights

A federal judge has ruled that Kentucky's laws and constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage are invalid because "the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal protection of the law from state to state, so Kentucky cannot deny people their fundamental rights, such as the right to marriage..."

If this ruling is legitimate, why does the federal government allow states to trample all over the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

If the ruling of U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II is legitimate, why is it deemed illegal for a Kentucky resident to carry a concealed weapon in New York, even though he has a Kentucky Concealed Deadly Weapon License? This amendment says I have the right to bear arms. It doesn't say I have the right to bear arms only in states which agree with the Second Amendment.

If we are going to disallow a particular state law which is contradictory to U.S. law, then any and all state laws which are contradictory to the U.S. Constitution should be disallowed, but this would not fit into the mind-set of the Obama regime, would it?

J. D. Miniard

Nicholasville


McConnell echoes ugly past

As reported by John Cheves on the front page of the Feb. 13 Herald-Leader, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II got it exactly right: "No one has offered any evidence that recognizing same-sex marriages will harm opposite-sex marriages, individually or collectively. One's belief to the contrary, however sincerely held, cannot alone justify denying a selected group their constitutional rights." Heyburn correctly understands and appropriately applies the intent of the First Amendment.

As reported by Sam Youngman on page two of the same Herald Leader, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell got it exactly wrong: "I will . . . fight to make sure that Kentuckians . . . never have a definition (of marriage) forced on us by interests outside our state." McConnell stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the constitutional authority of a federal judge. Despite McConnell's rhetoric, no federal judge represents "interests outside our state."

If McConnell genuinely fears "interests outside our state," he will no doubt return the millions of dollars in political donations that "interests outside our state" have so generously contributed to his re-election campaign.

McConnell's words betray his real agenda, which is bigotry. When the senator speaks of "interests outside our state," he echoes a phrase that racists used in an earlier generation: "outside agitators."

I am reminded of the lyrics of the song If Dirt Were Dollars written by Don Henley: "Quoting from the scriptures with patriotic tears, we got the same old men with the same old fears."

David Chumney

Georgetown


Stumbo's bill penalizing wealthy unconstitutional

House Speaker Greg Stumbo has introduced a bill to penalize candidates for constitutional office who contribute, or whose families contribute, $500,000 to their campaigns (or $1 million if candidates for governor or lieutenant governor). It would raise contribution limits on, and only on, non-self-funding candidates, setting up a discriminatory scheme of contribution limits for different candidates for the same office. For one, this is hypocritical: the speaker had no problem with Bruce Lunsford pumping millions of dollars of his own money into the 2007 Lunsford-Stumbo gubernatorial slate. Unfortunately, this is also a violation of Stumbo's oath as a legislator to "support the Constitution of the United States."

In Davis v. Federal Election Commission (2008), the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal "millionaire's amendment" that raised contribution limits for (only) non-self-funding candidates if a candidate contributed more than $350,000 to his own campaign. Unambiguously, the court stated that "this scheme impermissibly burdens [the candidate's] First Amendment right to spend his own money for campaign speech." The court noted that contribution limits purportedly exist to eliminate corruption or the appearance of corruption, but that "reliance on personal funds reduces the threat of corruption."

As an attorney, Stumbo should be aware of this (widely publicized) ruling. Either he is attempting to legislate away constitutional rights without engaging in the merest due diligence or, worse, is knowingly and cynically violating an oath he took before God and the commonwealth.

Legislators who take their oaths seriously should reject this proposal.

Michael G. Adams

Louisville


Beliefs highly poisonous

Is our society still in such a state of "religious correctness" that we find it taboo to criticize any religious practices no matter how ludicrous said practices may be? The recent death of a Kentucky preacher from a rattlesnake bite may be sad to some but I for one must question the sanity of him and others who choose to risk death by handling deadly rattlesnakes in some absurd religious ceremony.

I can't help but wonder, are there innocent children ever in the vicinity of these rattlesnakes? If so the adults responsible for putting these children in harm's way should be brought up on child endangerment charges. Are the local authorities doing anything to put a stop to these deadly snake-handling ceremonies?

What if these people next choose to throw themselves in front of speeding buses as a form of god worship? Maybe a game of "pass the gun around Russian roulette" would please their god.

Here's the problem: When people believe they are following the orders of invisible deities anything can happen. From handling rattlesnakes to crashing planes into buildings the belief in invisible gods many times can be a very dangerous delusion.

Phil Greer

Frankfort


Glass Rupp bad idea

I fully support fiscally responsible economic development efforts for Lexington and many of the ideas proposed, such as returning Town Branch to the surface, seem to be very positive toward making downtown a more attractive destination.

Parts of the Rupp Arena plan, however, completely baffle me. The notion of a glass facade seems particularly absurd. Has anyone considered the additional cost of heating and cooling a glass enclosed building?

Even more ludicrous is the statement made repeatedly by the consultants (and others) that the glass facade will enable those outside to "share in the excitement of the activity inside."

Seriously? This is a comment obviously made by folks who are always on the inside. If you're on the outside, you're not thrilled about the wonderful event inside. You're disappointed that you can't be in there to enjoy it. This is not a positive — it's a negative.

It's important to remember that the mission of consultants is to justify the action that the people hiring them already want to take. Have you ever heard of a consultant coming back and saying "This is a dumb idea. It's not cost effective. Leave things as they are"? No, you haven't.

I encourage the decision-makers to go back to the think tank and revisit this absurdity.

Tom Little

Lexington


Totalitarian tilt

A Feb. 16 letter writer argued it is "presumptuous of [Kentucky] lawmakers to assume that keeping a child is the best decision for every woman, no matter age or circumstances." Larger issues than "presumptuousness" are involved here.

If we apply strictly utilitarian principles to "keeping" human beings around, meaning in this case not killing unborn children for convenience, there are a lot of candidates for elimination. The philosopher George Parkin Grant pointed out in 1985 that this way of thinking was a "cup of poison" for liberalism. In fact, he said, it is the very antithesis of liberalism.

Western civilization in its highest state of moral development decreed that individual persons not be allowed to make decisions about who lives and who dies. The basic principle was that innocent human beings intrinsically deserve legal protection in their lives.

In the case of this "keeping a child" calculation, our Supreme Court has decreed that these helpless individuals are not human as defined by our Constitution. This reasoning is awfully close to the thinking of totalitarians like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. When we begin to keep company with such people, we need to reassess our basic principles.

On the basis of conservation alone, never mind any other consideration, we ought as a society to be less profligate with human life. Wendell Berry reminds us that we need to be affectionate toward each other and less selfishly adversarial. This should especially be the case between adults and helpless, unborn children.

Paul David Nelson

Lexington


Hemp makes sense

It's encouraging to read in Sen. Rand Paul's Feb. 6 column that American farmers may finally grow hemp — just like communist Chinese farmers. I've been purchasing products made with hemp for many years, which is all imported and I would prefer to purchase those products made with hemp grown by American farmers. A sane or moral argument to prohibit American farmers from cultivating hemp doesn't exist.

Stan White

Dillon, Colo.


Stop UK demolitions Calling all University of Kentucky alumni: UK has plans to demolish numerous campus buildings, including the Hamilton House (circa 1880), Holmes Hall, Jewell Hall, Donovan Hall, Boyd Hall, Keeneland Hall and the Wenner-Gren Research Laboratory.

Other endangered buildings include the Ligon House, Mathews House and Garden, Carnahan House, Blazer Hall and the Kirwan-Blanding complex.

Razing older buildings, rather than renovating them, perpetuates our throw-away society, wastes natural resources and strains landfills. In addition, the new dorms are being built by an out-of-state developer.

UK has not adequately maintained and updated its older dorms, so now many students don't want to live in them. Other top universities are committed to renovating and preserving their historic buildings. In 2009, after public outcry, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro reversed its decision to raze seven dorms that were built around 1920. In fact, the university turned negative press into positive international recognition by creating a presentation titled, "Tear it down. No, save that building!: The UNCG Quad Residence Hall Renovation Project."

Those alumni who do not want large portions of the UK campus to become unrecognizable need to express their opinions to President Eli Capilouto, UK Public Relations, the UK Board of Trustees, Gov. Steve Beshear and state legislators, whose contact information can be found online. UNCG listened; perhaps UK will also.

Amanda Domeck Dreckman

Crestwood


Tough calls at UK

Our community is fortunate to have informed people like architect Graham Pohl interested in design and preservation. As for the controversy over demolition and construction of student housing at the University of Kentucky, the case for preserving the Wenner-Gren Research Laboratory on Rose Street is persuasive. This attractive 1940 building is unique on the campus. Nearby Donovan Hall is outmoded, unattractive and considered unacceptable by some potential students.

Also persuasive is the case for preserving the small but diverse open space at South Limestone and Washington, but two adjacent houses are isolated and unattractive and the ground can be better used by UK's law school.

Demolition of the 1880s house on South Limestone is regrettable but it's quite isolated and across the street from numerous businesses including McDonald's.

Nearby Holmes Hall is outdated; UK needs to do better for its students and reduce pressure on those of us who live near campus by providing attractive, modern dormitories. Housing quality is a real issue for prospective students. I recently discussed attending UK with a highly qualified daughter of a successful Eastern Kentucky lawyer. She'd been to a UK sports camp and said she would not attend because of the dormitories. I told her modern dorms will be completed when she reaches college; she's going to UK. Our chances of keeping such young people in Kentucky are obviously enhanced when they choose UK.

Calls like these are difficult; preservation is important, but so is attracting good students to our community.

Paul F. Guthrie

Lexington

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