Court right to weigh intent about Commandments
A recent commentary by a local history professor impugned the U.S. Supreme Court's McCreary decision on the grounds that it was split. But these days, few rulings are unanimous.
The writer also saw a problem with the fact that a different decision was reached in a Texas case. But that doesn't necessarily mean the McCreary outcome is the wrong one.
The issue was not the constitutionality of religion but the neutrality of government. In contending that strict neutrality would preclude saying "God" in a public forum, dissenting Justice Anthony Scalia was distorting the issue. People invoke God in the public forum daily without risking legal action.
The idea that the court violated precedent and acted as "thought police," ruling not on actions but on intentions, is another distortion.
The law has long held that determination of intent is not only legitimate but vital. It's the difference between manslaughter and murder.
The evaluation of the counties' intent was made by an established standard, requiring questions about motives be answered from the perspective of a reasonable observer.
Grievous as the unintended consequences of this case have been, there is no need to demonize the American Civil Liberties Union, whose purpose is to enforce the Bill of Rights for everyone.
And there is no reason to denigrate the efforts of people who simply want to defend their way of life.
But we all need to realize such a defense must be made privately and not as an apparent position of any branch of government.
It is so disappointing to read the views of Ted Wesley Hamilton on the subject of treatment for drug addiction, especially the treatment of opiate addiction ("State can't fight drug abuse without more treatment efforts," July 5).
As a doctor with more than 20 years of experience in a methadone treatment center, I find his characterization of doctors working with patients suffering from opiate addiction as simply outrageous.
More important, he sees methadone clinics as "dosing" patients rather than treating them, even though he does mention their counseling meetings.
Still more painful is both his lack of understanding for the need of long-term treatment of opiate addiction and the importance of finding a proper dose of methadone to eliminate withdrawal problems, a dose that allows a patient to feel normal.
What most patients in a methadone clinic are seeking is not "staying high all day" but simply to feel normal, a feeling many of them have not experienced for years.
Philip Paris, M.D.
Cuts for Congress
For what it's worth, I would like to offer the following U.S. Senate and House cuts:
■ Salaries by 10 percent, 25 percent for first-term members. (If 60 percent of the constituency approves, allow them their full salaries.)
■ Pensions by 10 percent.
■ Overseas travel by 50 percent.
■ Speaking engagements by 50 percent.
■ Pensions, unless they've completed a third term in the House or second term in the Senate.
■ Postal mailings by 25 percent.
■ Washington staff by 30 percent.
■ Office space expenses by 30 percent.
■ Field office staff and expenses by 50 percent.
■ Transportation by 30 percent.
■ Advertising by 50 percent.
■ Phone and computer costs by 30 percent.
Also, lawmakers should submit an annual expenses and savings report to constituents, the Office of Management and Budget and the General Accounting Office.
They should present an annual list of contacts by lobbyists, special interest groups, and business representatives, and a report on how the member aided constitutents and improved the district. Term limits: three for both the House and Senate,
Medicare and Medicaid should be major issues in the 2012 elections. There needs to be a comprehensive, civilized debate to thoroughly hash out how our country can continue to make the two vital social programs work.
The results of that debate and the election will show what kind of people we are — a compassionate nation or a survival of the fittest nation.
Compassion unites us; selfishness divides us. The money is always there. It is the will to do the right thing that's lacking.
The test for determining America's greatness and prospects for survival is centered around how well we, individually and collectively, meet the needs of the most vulnerable among us.
Paul L. Whiteley Sr.
Poor left behind
There is a new religion in this country. It is called Hitlerism. Religious leaders are telling their flocks how to vote. Their flocks succumb to this way of thinking. This is called massive hypnosis.
There are some people in this country who need to be taking in the beauty of the whole forest instead of dwelling on some little old dying pin oak tree.
Sometimes we poor people believe we would be better off if we had been aborted.
No wonder we poor people are of little faith with two-faced people controlling us. Maybe we would register and vote if we had something better to look forward to.
On June 25, the Herald-Leader had three articles that caught my attention and must be addressed.
1. Tax-exempt non-profit entities and religion-associated entities should have never been allowed.
When the colonial governments ceased the employment of clergymen, the governments should have demanded the religious community pay taxes, just as other business.
To allow religion tax-exempt status is the same as saying the United States is a theocracy.
Moreover, I learned recently there is a tax-exempt organization that funds the illegal Jewish settlements in Palestine. Our government is allowing the violation of every dictate of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
2. Circumcision: Do the people of San Francisco have no greater problems to worry about than male circumcision? Circumcision should not be about religion, but about health.
3. Osama bin Laden: Wow. The liars in Washington continue to fabricate stories to keep Americans upset at Muslims. Islam is not the problem. Israel and the majority of the U.S. Congress are the international terrorists.
Billy Ray Wilson