Freedom of expression must be extended to all beliefs
In response to the April 1 article, "Court takes new Commandments case": I know this is a "hot-button" topic, but as a doctoral student in US history, I believe that what the Founding Fathers would say is that this is a democracy, and every person, every voice, has a right to be heard. If that expression cannot be extended to all, then it should be extended to none.
I still believe that democracy and religion can coexist if people cooperate with and respect each other. The very idea behind democracy is that the minority is as important as the majority. While some may find this offensive because they are members of the majority, it is the only fair thing to do.
If members of any one group are given a voice, especially in public space, then members of all groups should be given a voice. Yes, it will become "cluttered." That is the beauty of the United States – it allows for a "clutter" of beliefs that are all as valid as one another. It is sheer fascism to insist that only the majority has a voice in a public space, or that government space is only reserved for the majority.
Morals matter in government
Regarding Paul R. Dubinsky's March 20 Opinion piece, "What Spitzer's fall says about us": Mr. Dubinsky implies that humans are hopeless sinners who should not expect moral fortitude from leaders. I agree that humans are prone to sin and almost no one can cast a stone at someone like Spitzer. However, I'd like to pitch for the power of hope: I expect leaders to model virtue.
As a professor of education, I help teachers build emotional and analytical intelligence. Children absorb the virtue of teachers, just as citizens are motivated or demoralized by leaders. Increasing violence and uneven achievement in our public schools are related to moral issues – lack of support for the family unit, the availability of addictive substances, and the circulation of violent, sexualized media.
I want to hope that democracy at its very best does not support leaders who allow greed, bigotry, sexual promiscuity, and violence to govern either their private or public lives. We do not have to be hopeless sinners living in a doomed world.
Professor,Truckee Meadows Community College
Lower use of chemicals in agriculture
Regarding your March 11 editorial, "Reduce drug traces in tap water": The problem with the quality of America's domestic water supply is only part of the equation; the other is our food supply. Both of these life necessities are being contaminated on a broad geographic scale.
Today's agricultural industry uses a variety of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and added hormones. So it should come as no surprise that those chemicals percolate down through the land surface to contaminate groundwater aquifers or are transported in surface water runoff to our streams and rivers.
The public needs to wake up and demand that public officials and environmental agencies implement appropriate policies that will ensure the highest quality water and food resources for present and future generations. For too long the agrochemical and livestock industries have exerted undue influence over public officials. If it's not right for athletes to take hormone enhancements and drugs, why should we tolerate such chemicals in our food and water? We are what we eat and drink.
Michael P. Crane
Sioux Falls, S.D.
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