Letters to the Editor

Religious freedom, segregated schools, motorcycle helmets

Religious freedom

I used to think religious freedom meant the freedom to worship in the church of your choice. In Kansas, apparently it means something quite different.

Christians in positions of power believe it means they have the freedom to discriminate against people who do not subscribe to their beliefs. Therefore, they will do all they can to circumvent the First Amendment and Christianize our government with their own special vision of what Christians’ lives should be.

Personally, I wish religious freedom meant a government free of religion as the Founding Fathers intended.

I would not characterize Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and his chosen legislators as mere conservatives. They are radicals who threaten to undo many of the basic principles that made this nation great.

Armand Way Topeka Segregated schools

I commend University of Kansas Library Dean Lorraine J. Haricombe and KU field archivist for African American Collections Deborah L. Dandridge for an engaging symposium on the legacy of the Brown v. Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court decision, which turns 60 this month.

We learned that throngs of parents that many bused black children faced at newly integrated schools formed one front in a resistance to Brown. A separate group filed lawsuits and fought for vouchers to fund separate schools, scholars said.

Society underestimated segregation’s resolve. Presenter Theodore Shaw, former director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, with regret, called Brown “hallowed, but hollow.” His hometown of New York also is home to the nation’s most segregated schools.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries, an Ohio State University history professor, said, “There are links and connections from our segregated past to current movements for vouchers and charter schools.”

Does this mean every suburbanite is a Gov. George Wallace devotee? No. Most simply wanted a nice, new home.

But a stubborn segment wanted no part of desegregation, and now we essentially have apartheid schools.

The symposium informed and inspired. But I also left sober about our society’s need to embrace our shared history — and each other.

Mark E. McCormick Wichita Steve Rose column

In demonizing the Koch brothers, Steve Rose, in his April 27 column, “Koch brothers are remaking GOP in their image,” had to reach back 34 years to find fault with David Koch as a Libertarian Party candidate. At the same time, Rose notes that ideas previously considered “wacky” are now mainstream, including privatization of Social Security and Medicare, mistrust of the intelligence agencies, home schooling, etc.

These trends and ideas have come into vogue because Social Security and Medicare are in deep financial trouble, the intelligence agencies have been shown to be adept at monitoring the communications of U.S. citizens but missed plans for a Benghazi terror attack and then lied about it for political reasons, and public education is not working in many areas, especially in big cities.

Could it be that Rose, rather than supporting his demonization of the Kochs, has cited factors that refute his own argument about them?

Jim O’Connell Shawnee Motorcycle helmets

If the Missouri legislature thinks a person’s constitutional rights are violated by requiring motorcyclists and their passengers to wear helmets, then should it be concluded that if one sustains a traumatic head injury Missouri citizens must support that person as long as he or she lives and that this support is my constitutional citizen’s obligation?

Nancy M. Ehrlich Independence Traffic enforcement

I just found out that my vehicle insurance is increasing by $36 a month. When I called the company, I was told that car insurance rates in Missouri as a whole are going up because of so many uninsured drivers.

Now, I understand that you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, but it is clear to me that the costs of uninsured drivers could be somewhat decreased by traffic enforcement.

I will point out that the numbers of drivers in Missouri who apparently have no knowledge of the rules of the road such as obeying traffic signals, speed limits (what’s that?) and so forth are in the distinct majority while very few Missouri drivers even stop at stop signs or lights.

And where is the enforcement? For heaven’s sake, if it is OK to disregard signals and signs then the state could save a lot of money by not replacing them.

If there is value in having signals and signs, then perhaps the state could start enforcing speed limits and stop signs everywhere, not just on certain roads and streets. Make some money.

Cindy Taylor Lone Jack Reckless behavior

I am utterly outraged that several area residents have been killed recently as the result of police chases. This must stop.

Apprehending an alleged criminal at high speed is nothing but an accident waiting to happen. The real crime is the killing of my innocent fellow citizens, and I want it to end.

There is no good justification for collateral damage in the policing of our metropolitan area.

Rosie Schmidt Kansas City Russian spy ship

Leadership is as leadership does. John F. Kennedy was president when Russia sent warships to a base in Cuba. Kennedy ordered a naval presence.

Russian warships turned tail. Kennedy continued presidential business.

Last month under Barack Obama’s presidency, Russia sent spy ships to gather intelligence off the U.S. coast for weeks. Obama defended their right to do it.

Russian spy ships continue, with prideful impunity. Obama goes fundraising again. Leadership is as leadership does.

Len Stephens Maryville, Mo. Time for amendment

It has been 22 years since the last amendment was ratified. Being a 17-year-old, I’ve never seen an addition made to the Constitution.

Times have changed since 1992. To put things in perspective, 1992 was the year of Miley Cyrus’ birth and the year Bill Clinton was elected president.

I believe the 28th amendment is on its way. An amendment can be proposed by either a two-thirds majority or a constitutional convention.

Gay marriage might be just the subject. Today’s up-and-coming generation is much more accepting of differences than previous generations. Society wasn’t accepting of gays when people were much more traditional — embracing family values.

Society today, however, is not so traditional. The “perfect” family has all but vanished, with divorce rates skyrocketing since the 1950s and 1960s, and homosexual individuals coming out more frequently and asking for same-sex marriage.

America no longer has a reason to say no. We’ve changed.

By the time the Class of 2015 can vote, I don’t see why there wouldn’t be enough support across the states to legalize gay marriage nationally.

The question is whether young adults have the initiative to bring the change.

Isaac Knopf Kanas City Chivalry’s demise

Chivalry is dead, and it’s about time. With the current stress on equal status between males and females, life is easier.

The idea of treating women with additional respect based on gender is archaic.

It’s a dog-eat-dog world. The playing field is leveling out, and men no longer need to give special thought to the safety and well-being of women beyond the normal concern for another human being.

Because females want to be just another person, I can skip opening doors, giving up my seat on a train, stopping to fix a flat or submitting to an aggressive move to get a closer parking spot at the grocery store.

I don’t have to let women off the elevator first, shovel snow or buy dinner. Dutch treat is the name of the game.

Valentine’s Day will be cheaper. Christmas and birthdays, too.

Yes, it’s a good idea. But sometimes, what you get is not what you want.

Is the loss of special status as a woman worth being simply female?

Rob Mikaloff De Soto