Letters to the Editor

Letters: Readers discuss a UMKC protest, hate speech and Notre Dame’s resonance

Campus freedom

I am weary of the arrogance of our so-called educators, especially at the college level. How dare they pick sides in any student activity? How dare they allow a faction to determine who can and cannot speak on “their” campus?

It happened in Columbia, and now in Kansas City. (April 13, 4A, “Protester at UMKC event arrested, but did the speaker want that?”) And who knows how many other schools around the country that we never hear about are seeing the same kinds of incidents?

Education is about teaching and freedom of expression without fear of retaliation. Any leader of any college or university should be summarily fired if any group is not allowed to express opinions on any subject, short of causing anarchy.

Edward Barnes

Prairie Village

It’s just hatred

I am saddened by legislators using an appropriate response by the University of Missouri-Kansas City to a campus issue to attack the university’s values of inclusivity, which are based on Midwestern values of hospitality. (April 18, 4A, “UM System president defends UMKC chancellor”)

There is no “rising tide of intolerance.” There is a level of enlightenment, education and social consciousness that exceeds that of some leaders. State Sen. Jason Holsman was the one voice of reason.

Withholding or reducing educational funding while disguising that as questioning commitment to free speech is like blowtorching the yard to prevent weeds. Our legislators must recognize that free speech that promotes hate, while not in itself a crime, is only one action away from illegal hate crimes. Exercising free speech even in the defense of perpetrators of hate includes responsibility for the results.

Dousing a speaker with scented oil is inappropriate, but not as odoriferous and vile as the smell of hate.

As a longtime neighborhood activist, clergy and professional counselor, I have observed and experienced firsthand the results of hate speech. As a local, state, federal and UMKC adviser, my advice to those critiquing the chancellor is do your homework on the results of hate.

Transgender people suffer enough. Act to protect them.

Keith E. Spare

Kansas City

Backhanded honor

While traveling this winter and spring, I have noticed how some other cities have renamed streets in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home to the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide, they chose to rename a small section of County Road 47 as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. But after just over a mile, it reverts to its original, anachronistic name — Watermelon Road — as it crosses out of town and continues to the northeast.

What Kansas City is doing is certainly a much more respectful and meaningful tribute, even if the wrong street may have been chosen.

Larry Helsel


It’s not nothing

Dana Summers’ Tuesday “Off the Easel” cartoon depicts a child who is incredulous that Tiger Woods’ Masters competitors didn’t receive “participation trophies.” (16A)

What Summers fails to note in his cartoon is that while not all the golfers at the Masters receive awards, they are certainly rewarded. The minimum payout for making the cut this year was more than $32,000.

Corey Simmonds

Roeland Park

A modern warning

According to a story earlier this week on The Star’s website, none of the U.S. Supreme Court justices uttered a certain four-letter word in open court recently. (April 15, KansasCity.com. “In F--- fashion brand case, justices avoid saying word”) Instead, most of the justices found creative ways to tiptoe all around a phonetic equivalent of the F-word that is at issue in a case they are considering: whether the government should protect a trademark on the acronym for a clothing company called Friends U Can’t Trust.

What The Star did not mention was that this clothing brand name, founded in 1990, predates the commercial internet. Thus what was an obscure, edgy brand nearly 30 years ago is now a basic warning we should all heed about the internet today: Don’t get friends you can’t trust.

Clyde Waltermate


Bigger than us

The images of Notre Dame Cathedral burning stopped us in our tracks. Parisians knelt and prayed, regardless of whether they had prayed for years. The world, too, paused and prayed.

We hoped against hope for the treasures, both of art and spirituality, to be saved. Firefighters risked flames to rescue the Crown of Thorns.

The universal affection for this cathedral was overwhelming. Why? In a time when everything seems disposable and everyone seems vulnerable, this treasure of France, of the sacred, of art, of humanity preserved touches us all. In our hearts, we long for something bigger than ourselves, something holy, something timeless.

Notre Dame will be rebuilt. May our collective souls and desire for all that is good and just be renewed as well.

Lisa Schultes