Letters to the Editor

Readers write about Jena 6 as a hate crime, US negotiations with Iran, the duties of military chaplains, and humor in an "R-rated" world.

Did the Jena 6 nooses constitute a hate crime?

The Oct. 24 Opinion piece by Craig Franklin, "Media myths about the Jena 6," stated that no hate crime could be prosecuted at Jena and that the nooses were not aimed at black students but instead at white rodeo-team members.

Then a Nov. 30 Opinion piece by Sen. Edward Kennedy and Rep. John Lewis states, "We must not tolerate hate crimes," implying once again that these events at Jena were racerelated.

This difference of opinion points up a difficult decision that prosecutors and investigators must face with hate-crime legislation.

Can any of the authors prove that the motivation was hate, specifically related to one of the selected criteria?

Further, Mr. Franklin states, "It remains unclear why Mr. [Justin] Barker was specifically targeted" but that "police speculate that the motivation of the attack was related to racially charged fights."

Is it not possible to conceive that racially motivated hate might have played some part in the attack on him?

Would this then become a hate crime to be equally targeted and prosecuted under the Kennedy-Lewis legislation?

Would the intervention of federal authority somehow assure fair prosecution where the state or local officials have been unfair? Or is this a knee-jerk reaction that will only create more paperwork, longer sentences, and less real progress in learning to live in peace with one another?

Roger Lachele
Dallas

US naive in negotiations with Iran

In response to the Nov. 30 article, "Iran reformers: Let's talk": Unfortunately for any proposed talks between the US and Iran to succeed, there must be a resolution of the problem that exists, namely the ability of the supreme Iranian ruler Ayatollah Khamenei to veto any agreement that does not encompass the aim of destroying Israel and obtaining hegemony over the Middle East.

If we are naive enough to be drawn into negotiations with the current rulers of Iran, we can only expect that they will receive one-sided concessions from us.

Nelson Marans
Silver Spring, Md.

Military chaplains as contractors?

In response to the Nov. 27 article, "Military chaplains: A Presbyterian pastor patrols with his flock of soldiers in Iraq": I am a chaplain assistant in the US Army National Guard.

I enjoyed your story on the Presbyterian chaplain. It was well done.

A similar topic that is not covered by the news media is that there is a push by the military to turn chaplains into civilian contractors.

This would be a disaster for our Army and the nation. Your story of the chaplain in Iraq is a perfect example of why we need them in the military.

Dennis Kerr
Omaha, Neb.

Wholesome humor uplifts the day

Regarding Jeffrey Shaffer's Nov. 21 Opinion piece, "Life doesn't have to be rated R": Crude humor is as cheap as steroid-enhanced athletics.

It goes for the quick, loud, and uncomfortable laugh all the while pretending not to notice the unhealthy side effects of burdening (not lifting) the human soul.

It is so refreshing when a filmmaker taps into humor that uplifts and lightens my day – giving a needed breather from what perhaps is our R-rated world.

Matthew Jarman
Salt Lake City

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