A civil affair
The excerpt from a Los Angeles Times editorial in Monday’s Star supported the dismissal of a civil lawsuit against the founder of a neo-Nazi website on the basis of our right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. (9A, “Short Take: Don’t cut back on free speech”)
I, too, believe free speech rights should be protected. However, I understand the protection is from criminal prosecution — meaning government efforts to shut down the free flow of ideas and opinions by imposing penalties. But I do not believe the First Amendment allows us to avoid all responsibility for what we say.
The suit brought by Tanya Gersh is a civil one. She and members of her family have been targeted by hate mail and threatened repeatedly with death. She has a right to sue for damages. It is up to a judge or jury to decide whether she deserves to recover them.
So they don’t hide
Our forefathers thought that news about our states’ and federal government’s actions were important enough to garner protection in the U.S. Postal Act of 1792. They knew that reporting gaffes would occur.
In describing the rights of Americans, Winifred Gallagher wrote in her book “How the Post Office Created America”: “The Post Office Act of 1792, designed to inform and bind the people, also established their right to secure, private correspondence and unfettered access to news, opinions, and ideas, no matter how contrarian.”
Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Tyler, who later became our 10th president, wrote: “No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying … that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press.”
My dad, uncle, father-in-law and their friends hunkered in foxholes during World War II so that citizens of countries, including our own, could have the right to question their governments’ actions. Subsequent generations have done the same with the expectation that they, and their own children’s children, would have that same right.
The Star’s Saturday editorial said: “Campaign funds must always be used for campaign expenses, period. Mike Sanders forgot that fact.” (10A)
Au contraire. Sanders didn’t forget campaign funds must always be used for campaign expenses. He ignored that fact.
Lemuel E. Kimes
I was dismayed by Steve Rose’s most recent column. (Jan. 27, 11A, “Could Trump drag down the Yoder campaign?”) He incorrectly characterizes all Democratic candidates for Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District with a single damning brush: “weak, and for the most part, extremely liberal.” Has Rose done no homework?
The Democratic frontrunner, Tom Niermann, is a very strong candidate, with reasonable, moderate views that reflect the opinions of the vast majority of voters in the 3rd District.
Niermann has proved to be a strong fundraiser, breaking the record for challengers, both Democrat and Republican, in this district. He has built an exceptionally strong campaign, with major endorsements and more than 120 local leaders signing on as “Women For Tom Niermann.”
He is a thoughtful, reasonable member of the middle class, with strong Kansas ties. (He was born and raised in Wichita and has lived in Prairie Village for 17 years.) His campaign includes both moderate Republicans and progressive Democrats.
If Steve Rose had read Niermann’s personal history and issue positions — clearly stated on his website — he would have seen he is neither weak nor a “Bernie liberal.”
I can only surmise that Rose uncharacteristically failed to do his homework. Hopefully, the voters will do theirs.
There has been much discussion about the tragic shooting death of the suicidal teen in Overland Park. (Jan. 26, 1A, “Questionable tactic used in Overland Park shooting”) The discussion has centered on the legality of police shooting at a moving vehicle.
To me it rests on common sense. This was an innocent 17-year-old who needed help. If this had been a hardened criminal, we would not be having this discussion.
Our police have a very difficult and dangerous job and need to always be on the ready for the what-if. In this case, I would understand a gun being used to disable the auto driven by the teen.
Yes, I understand that I was not there, but it seems an officer would have had time to exit the driveway.
My heart goes out to everyone involved.