Internet tollbooths nurture creativity

Regarding "Tollbooths of the mind" (June 27, Opinion): As the author laments the erecting of advertising "tollbooths" on the Internet and the rise of electronic publishing, he fails to recognize the practical realities facing the inventors he idealizes. In the "overreaching" 1990s, common people developed an unbelievable number of new products, methods for doing business, and websites with rich content.

Where are those people now? Some made a fortune, to be sure, but most are gone because their great new ideas did not make enough money to support their creators. Revenue-producing banner ads, as much as we dislike them, are the bread and butter for many inventors who need to eat as well as create.

The Internet has become the equivalent of Thomas Jefferson's leaflet: an inexpensive way to circulate ideas and generate thought. The "tollbooths" are not a limit on intellectual freedom, but the very heart of preserving it.
Robert D. Ming
Boston, Mass.

'Wild' animal-rights tactics work

Regarding "Tame the dialogue on animal rights" (July 1, Opinion): Content to eat chicken, Tristan Jones criticizes animal advocates for "shock strategies" that he claims have made animal suffering a humdrum subject.

Politely saying, "Be kind to animals, because ... " has never and will never work, because animals don't vote. Nor would it even be heard in today's sound-bite world. More has been done for animals in the past 20 years than in the past 200.

The in-your-face tactics of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have led animal advocates to many stunning victories, including: an end to car manufacturers' use of animals in crash tests; nearly 600 cosmetics companies eliminating product-testing on animals; and, thanks to PETA's "Unhappy Meals" campaign outside McDonald's restaurants, McDonald's pledge to improve farm-animal welfare worldwide, which has since led to similar concessions from major grocery chains.

Animals in the meat industry will still suffer horrifically, but they will suffer less.
Carla Bennett
Norfolk Va.People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

The time has come for the media to do some real reporting on this issue and tell us the truth about the treatment of animals in modern industrial facilities.

You can be sure that the animal advocates will support this approach, and industry will fight it tooth and nail.
Mariann Sullivan
New York

Monotheism and patriotism

In, "A blurred church-state line?" (July 2, Editorial) you assert that the pledge is "neutral" in its treatment of religion.

As a Buddhist, I do not believe in this "God" that monotheists believe in; my non-theistic religion (like atheism and pantheism) does not incorporate a belief in any sort of supreme creator deity, let alone one who intervenes in human affairs.

Belief in "God" is indeed a "particular expression of faith," as you term it. The pledge therefore favors one set of religious sects over others.
David da Silva Cornell
Miami Beach, Fla.

Michael Newdow, the parent who recently won his case against the pledge, and his daughter always had the right to dissent and abstain from participation in the pledge. What Mr. Newdow sought and, for the moment at least, obtained, was the right to compel others to share in his dissent. Rather than having the courage to respectfully abstain from the ceremony, he sought redress through the court system to compel everyone else to permanently abstain from it.
Jon M. Zieger
Seattle, Wash.

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