Violence, of all kinds, an integral part of America's DNA
Syndicated writer Cal Thomas claims in a June 3 column that no one could believe Thomas Jefferson would think the First Amendment would protect the violence of video games.
A quick look back to the lifetime of Thomas Jefferson (1743--1826) reveals he owned enslaved Africans. Whether or not he personally used or approved violent means of controlling them, he was certainly aware that violence was an accepted method to keep the unruly or runaways in line.
Rape, a crime of violence, was implicit in this culture. Flogging was an accepted method of discipline in the American navy and army. Even in the Civil War, branding was punishment for deserters. Americans on both sides of the war treated each other's prisoners with nothing less than barbarism.
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School masters used a stick or switch to keep juvenile charges in line. In some states, a husband was allowed to beat his wife, as long as the object used was no bigger in diameter than his thumb. Corporal punishment of children was expected.
And up until the 1930s, entire families brought picnics to watch lynchings. Postcards were printed and sold as "souvenirs."
This country was gestated and born in violence. In my own lifetime, the cowboy and Indian cultural archetype permeated television. The gun culture is deeply etched in the American psyche.
To now claim that single-parent households in the inner city are the source of violence in American life would be close to funny, except that gullible readers actually take this yellow journalist seriously.
A new revenue source
While Kentucky has spent years trying to figure out what to do about revenue lost to neighboring states with casinos, we've overlooked a simple way to give our economy a huge boost: legalize same-sex marriage.
After New York state legalized same-sex marriage recently, estimates of the economic benefits were in the hundreds of millions, much of it coming from couples traveling from other states.
None of the seven states that border Kentucky have legalized same-sex marriage, so the economic benefits would be huge.
The polling data is clear. The younger generations overwhelmingly support legalizing same-sex marriage. It is just a matter of time before preventing same-sex marriage is as antiquated as whites-only drinking fountains.
Kentucky needs to get a jump start on the future so our state is the one that benefits from this huge economic opportunity.
Send them Gitmo
Your June 19 editorial states that the recently captured terror suspects can be tried here. Yes, they can be tried here, but why?
Maybe the paper's office on Midland Avenue would be a good spot.
These are enemy POWs caught by the federal government. These people were here because of the inability of that government to do its job. Send 'em to Guantanamo which has the proper security facilities and where they can be incarcerated for the rest of their natural lives.
Justice at work
First it was Dominque Strauss-Kahn. Now it's Casey Anthony. Why, it's enough to make you believe in the presumption of innocence.
Power of nonviolence
On July 4, the Herald Leader published the Declaration of Independence. It filled a whole page. I read it from beginning to end and underlined some of the 20-plus reasons our forefathers broke away from England.
It is strange how many of those same reasons and conditions exist today. It seems we are coming full circle. It seems these trends have been going on for centuries.
I believe it is time for people to truly awaken, not to violence. Violence solves nothing. We should speak our voice as a single unit, even if it means to vote for no one in the coming presidential election. That would definitely send a powerful message.
Mahatma Gandhi did it right when all the people of India sat down. Progress came to a screaming halt. England went home.
Without a shot fired, India won.
I respect a letter writer's position on physician-assisted suicide in response to my June 10 commentary. Her passion for the sanctity of life is laudable.
However she appears to have read my column with more emotion than reason, and she has misrepresented my perspectives.
It did not characterize Dr. Jack Kevorkian's actions as "commendable." Rather, I criticized the late doctor for his antics that diverted informed discussion about this critical topic of discourse.
The writer's claim that residents of Holland "where assisted suicide is no longer prosecuted, do not feel safe to enter a hospital as patients, not knowing whether the physician will heal them or kill them" is speculative at best.
Voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide have been legal in the Netherlands since 2002, but the process is highly regulated. It is limited to patients who are terminally ill and suffering greatly, and who have personally requested assistance in dying on at least two separate occasions.
This evidence suggests the process has not led to involuntary death, euthanasia for social reasons or widespread fear of doctors and hospitals.
Further, the writer attacked my column as somehow supporting legalized abortion, which I never mentioned. While abortion and suicide are both life-and-death issues, they are otherwise unrelated. A fetus has no choice. Some would argue a person suffering from a painful terminal illness should have a choice.
I hope that future debate over physician-assisted suicide will be based on rational reflection rather than clouded by misinformation and other inflammatory issues.
John M. Shotwell
With all that has been going on in statehouses and courthouses around the country, a quote from the late great comedian George Carlin comes to mind:
"The real reason that we can't have the Ten Commandments in a courthouse: You cannot post 'Thou shalt not steal,' 'Thou shalt not commit adultery,' and 'Thou shalt not lie' in a building full of lawyers, judges, and politicians. It creates a hostile work environment."
Poor traffic management
I went to see the fireworks downtown and expected to have to deal with traffic on the way home. What I was not expecting was the mess I became trapped in once I got there.
Northbound traffic came to a complete halt. It took 20 minutes just to get within viewing distance of the baseball stadium.
There, I finally saw what was causing an inexcusable inconvenience: the lights at the intersection were only letting Broadway traffic through at the rate of two or three cars at a time, but they were staying green for minutes at a time to allow traffic out of the stadium.
Those drivers in the stadium couldn't have been waiting for more than 10 minutes in their cars. Meanwhile, I had been waiting more than twice that, and I hadn't even arrived at the intersection yet.
The absolute worst part was that police officers were directing traffic. The lights were not malfunctioning or under the direction of some misinformed traffic computer. They were under the control of human beings who could see the gridlock caused by giving preferential treatment to stadium traffic.
Allowing a private event at the stadium to bring public traffic to a complete halt is simply wrong. I pay my taxes, too. Just because I didn't spend $30 to watch fireworks in the stadium does not mean that I should have to wait half an hour on a public road, while others in a private parking lot don't share the inconvenience.
Cartoon on target
I love Joel Pett's July 6 cartoon depicting fireworks-weary dogs signing an anti-fireworks petition. It might even be funny if it were not true.
My dog and many dogs in our neighborhood have spent a terrifying week, thanks to the fireworks. I know there was a new fireworks law signed by our governor in April permitting louder and bigger fireworks. Of all the things our legislature and governor could spend their time on, surely they could have found something more important than allowing more fireworks to be legalized.
Kim L. Curtsinger
Change fireworks law back
I have a complaint about the new Kentucky laws that allow all types of fireworks.
I like fireworks as much as the next person; however for those who choose to stay home and not participate in the festivities, we don't appreciate being subjected to this for weeks ahead.
The noise upsets our small children and pets.
On the night of July 4, I felt bombarded from all sides even when I was trying to sleep. Also, with our dry weather, these large fireworks are dangerous and are now being set off in neighborhoods near homes and trees.
The law does restrict use within 200 feet of any building, vehicle or other person. I'm sure that was violated many times over.
On my way to work the following morning, I noticed lots of litter in the street left over from the fireworks in our neighborhood. Will the city enforce the litter restriction?
Perturbed about new fireworks law
Everyone was so perturbed about the new fireworks law. The large booms were going until all hours. I have dogs, and they just shook and shook. They were scared awful.
Please change the fireworks law back to where it was. People need to have more respect for their neighbors and pets.