If you give people a voice, they won't want to take up arms

In response to the Jan. 27 article, "Is democracy empowering Islamists?": When groups feel powerless in the existing political process, they consider taking up arms to force their viewpoints.

As mentioned in the article, once democracy provides all people some voice and all major groups can be heard, only then will groups like Hamas resist dependence upon armed struggle.

Such groups must be coaxed along such a path, as was the IRA, and not bullied or denied.

To the extent that members of Hamas participate peacefully in the democratic political process, they should be respected and rewarded.
Michael Gill

Intelligence gained isn't worth liberty lost

I write in response to the Jan. 24 article, "National security vs. whistleblowing." As a member of the Armed Forces, I am sworn to defend the Constitution. Shouldn't our elected officials be held to that standard as well? It seems to me that by choosing to compromise our liberties we give up more than we gain.

The American colonies went to war with England in protestation of the king's abuses of power, yet we Americans allow our own government today to take liberties away without a whimper. Terrorism succeeds when it forces us to compromise our most precious principles.

The information gained from wiretapping our citizens without proper due process is not worth the loss of our principles. Intimidating would-be whistleblowers under the guise of national security only surrenders to the atmosphere of fear which the terrorist intentionally seeks to create. Congress has provided a process for legally taking such actions, and our government should be held to it.

It may be understandable that in extreme cases a president must be able to act quickly, but acting without judicial check or congressional review should not be the norm. Otherwise the efforts of those of us out on the front lines are belittled because we're defending only a restricted version of the Constitution, or someone's personal interpretation of it. And that is not "government of the people, by the people, and for the people."
Mark Keller
Bagram, Afghanistan

There's good reason to skip the movies

Regarding the Dec. 23 article, "No happy ending in '05 for Hollywood, as ticket sales drop again," I ask: Why are fewer and fewer people going to the movies? Let me count the reasons:

(1) The cost of a DVD is roughly equal to what it costs for one person to buy a ticket and concessions. Translation: Ticket and concession prices are too high.

(2) Many of the better films are not widely distributed, promoted, or made available on the big screen. Movies that I would gladly go to see at the theater are seldom available unless you live in one of the big cities.

(3) The lack of originality of major Hollywood releases is appalling. It seems like 50 percent of major releases are sequels or ill-advised and poorly done retreads of someone else's work.

(4) The studios seem obsessed with heredity more than talent. You don't need talent to make it in Hollywood - just the genes of a past industry icon or a once-famous rapper.

There are more reasons, but that's enough.
David A. Gregory
Marion, Ark.

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