Letters to the Editor

Readers' views

Protecting freedom of conscience

Imagine for a moment that you were forced to participate in a murder. Or worse yet, that you were forced to commit this murder.

Hyperbole? Perhaps, but without effective federal regulations in place to protect basic human dignity and the freedom of individual conscience, thousands of health-care professionals and health-care institutions could be faced with equally terrifying realities.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is in the process of finalizing statutory provisions which will protect the rights of health-care entities, both individuals and institutions, to refuse to perform services to which they may object for religious, moral, ethical or other reasons.

This would mean that people of good conscience who would object to performing or assisting in abortions, sterilizations or assisted suicides would be protected from discrimination. Similarly, health-care institutions could not be forced to make their facilities available or to provide their personnel for carrying out abortions, sterilizations or assisted suicides.

Recently a board member from Planned Parenthood wrote a letter attempting to spread fear and mislead individuals with regard to the proposed statutory provisions. Don't be fooled.

The only thing to fear would be a health-care system which does not acknowledge or protect the freedom of conscience and relies instead on coercion to enforce compliance with unjust laws. In such a case where basic human dignity is not respected, our entire society would be at risk.

Tom Dowler


Silenced by need

Why is it that seemingly everyone who has a vocal opinion on Eastern Kentucky coal-mining practices resides outside the area in question? Because those living in the area depend on these practices for their very survival and well being.

They depend on them also for the opportunity to continue to live in their very own hometowns.

The fact that Eastern Kentucky is the poorest part of the state should lend credence to the fact that these jobs are desperately needed by those willing to work. Compensation and safety are more often than not up to today's standards.

Granted, being an employee of a coal company is a choice, but it is only one of a few diminishing opportunities for many to remain home and continue to be an active part of the community in which they were raised.

Coin H. Goss


Never forget

I searched the Nov. 22 Herald-Leader for an article relating to the 45th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I believe that everyone who is old enough to remember that fateful day will remember where/what/when they were as the news came across and impacted every citizen of this country.

I remember distinctly where I was at about 2:15 p.m. when my principal, George Overstreet, came to my door at the middle school in Versailles to deliver the horrible news. School was due to dismiss, and "assassination" was not a word that sixth-graders knew. I gave them a very short lesson, and they left for home.

This paper blew it or simply forgot to remember what your older, devoted readers hold dear and will remember forever. Shame.

Or have the American people become so complacent that our feelings for all things vital and important are on the back burner, a non-issue, unimportant or so far back in the minds of folks that all we now see is disagreement, hate and resentment?

My glass is half-full. Please, Lexington, be positive and find your glass half-full also.

Jan Dobson


UK and race

As an African-American student enrolled in the Bluegrass Community and Technical College, I was very disturbed that an effigy of Barack Obama was found hanging at the University of Kentucky.

I really expected this typical childish behavior nowhere other than UK. Why? Just last year the words "die nigger" were slapped across a young man's door at UK. Was there any discovery in solving that mystery? No. Basically, actions were taken to just silence the media and future disagreements.

My point of view is not to be thrilled to see two young men punished for hanging the effigy but to ask why would they do such a thing? I agree with Patrice K. Muhammad, editor of Lexington's Key News Journal, who said: "It will never stop until the university makes an honest commitment to creating real diversity by allowing progressive African-Americans to become involved in the decision-making structure of that campus."

I planned to transfer to UK for my pre-nursing major. This makes me want to reconsider. How does this university plan to recruit black minorities with this crisis on hand? This isn't begging for sympathy but remorse. When will it ever stop?

I do not look with hatred upon the two young men charged with hanging the effigy. They do not disgust or intimidate me; they encourage me. They help me realize it is not adolescent behavior but the society and state itself. In the end, John McCain won Kentucky. Majority counts. (Look at who is president now.)

Quinness Railey


Accept marriage vote

In her Nov. 23 column, Merlene Davis observed that, by a 52 percent to 48 percent vote, Californians rejected a proposal to authorize same-sex unions as marriage. Davis allows, "I'm having a few problems with that."

I must have missed it, but I don't recall Davis writing in condemnation of the vote. She only has "a few problems" when the vote doesn't agree with her position. Democracy is great as long as your views prevail.

As long as conduct doesn't infringe on others, folks pretty much have leave to engage in conduct of their choice, even though some may find it deviant or disgusting.

Whether you ascribe to the Garden of Eden or to the primal-ooze account of mankind's beginning, the definition of marriage has been unchanged.

Dave Rosenbaum


Post historic code

The Bush Supreme Court has held that one of several sectarian versions of a biblical Ten Commandments can be displayed on public property if magically secularized by the aura of surrounding historical monuments.

The subterfuge ostensibly sidesteps the First Amendment prohibition against government establishment of religion. Summum's "Seven Aphorisms" are derived from the same biblical story and thus equally historical, and they convey a less sectarian moral message.

The original intent of the free-speech clause of the First Amendment requires equal protection for both the most popular and reasonable alternative views. A consistent Supreme Court must rule in favor of Summum. For once, it appears the Bush administration got something right. Similar cases in Kentucky should be re-examined if a new precedent is agreed upon by the Supreme Court.

Hazard Douglas