Legislating antihate would stifle free speech

Your April 25 article "A bid to legislate love splits a New England town," concerning the refusal of the town of Hamilton, Mass., to adopt a "No Place For Hate" proclamation brought a breath of fresh air to a cloyingly annoying politically correct world.

In recent years, far too many individuals in this country have assumed that one of the roles of government is to change the social attitudes of the people.

Yet, the First Amendment plainly implies that the government has no business trying to dictate the thoughts and beliefs of the people.

Freedom of speech is irrelevant if the government can use its powers to dictate what people should think, before they speak.

The promotion of the ideal, "No Place For Hate" – no matter how important it may seem to most of us – is an example of government gone too far into the areas of life that are the responsibility of churches, parents, social clubs, neighbors, and other similar parts of our society at large.
Mike Childress
Rugby, N.D.

What harm could possibly come to your citizens or your community, in general, from endorsing Hamilton, Mass. as a "No Place For Hate"? It sounds like the teens featured in the article have their hearts and minds in the right place.

It might serve the adults well to step back, take a deep breath, and search deep down inside for the right answer. The teens are on the right track.
Steve Hariss
Brownwood, Texas

Rabin's work wasn't end-all for peace

Regarding the April 23 opinion piece "The hard work called peace": Helena Meyer-Knapp claims that, in order to find peace in the Middle East, "The political power will have to shift into the hands of people who believe deeply that peace is absolutely essential.... Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin [was] the last Israeli leader fully to believe this."

Since Mr. Rabin's death, many have portrayed him as the courageous peacemaker who would have been willing to make the compromises necessary to end the conflict. However, in his own statements, he refused to countenance many of the concessions offered by his successors, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak, particularly with regard to Jerusalem and Israeli security concerns in the Jordan Valley.

Rabin was very courageous to initiate the Oslo process, but he was reluctant to place his trust in Yasser Arafat (or to shake his hand). His courage lay precisely in overcoming his distrust for the sake of peace.

Of his successors, Mr. Peres is one of Israel's most dedicated doves, and Mr. Barak offered unprecedented concessions at Camp David. There is reason to doubt whether Rabin would have gone so far.
Jeremy Ginsburg
Efrat, Israel

Russia's woes go beyond demography

Regarding the April 18 article, "Russia's population decline spells trouble": No one would dispute the tragedy of increasing mortality rates among males in Russia.

However, as a recent RAND report pointed out, mortality in Russia is up mostly among middle-age males, with most of the premature death occurring among those suffering from alcohol and drug-related problems.

Let's be honest: Few economists would predict economic demise based on a loss of such a segment of the workforce, particularly when so many highly educated young Russians are unemployed.

Instead, one might expect this trend to free up jobs for younger, more technically savvy workers.
Richard Cincotta
Arlington, Va.

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