Letters to the Editor

Readers write about free speech, healthcare deals, and the death penalty

Freedom of speech?

Regarding the Feb. 7 US News Briefing, "Campaign funding: What happens now?": The Supreme Court's recent decision finding aspects of government control of campaign speech unconstitutional was a victory for freedom and for the First Amendment.

The decision struck down the government's attempt to outlaw speech about political candidates by nonprofit organizations such as the Sierra Club, National Right to Life, and Trout Unlimited, as well as for-profit corporations and labor unions.

Until this decision, it was criminal for these organizations (or us as individuals) to run a television ad informing citizens of a candidate's record.

The First Amendment does not exist simply so you and I have a theoretical ability to speak out, but also so that we may hear and read what others have to say.

The right to speak has the purpose of ensuring an informed electorate. This is what the "marketplace of ideas" is all about, and why silencing voices, from any source, is so insidious: It limits the marketplace to particular ideas from particular people.

Not many would call a "level playing field" one that allows newspapers and television newscasters to endorse and criticize candidates, but threatens a non-profit organization like the Sierra Club or labor unions with criminal sanctions if it dares to do the same thing.

Freedom of speech and the press is messy, but it beats the alternative – efforts by government to tell us what we can hear and who can communicate with us.

Blair Lindsay 

St. Louis 

For the people

Thank you for the article "Backlash to healthcare 'deals' ": Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, elected by the people, indulge in what many think is corrupt behavior in their earmark "deals" behind closed doors to achieve what they want. Those elected need to remember they work for the people, and we are more than fed up. It's time for legislators to represent the people more honestly.

Jackie Baxter 


Enforce the death penalty

In response to the editorial "Switching off the death penalty": There are people who commit unbelievably heinous crimes for which the only possible solution would be the death penalty. And to let them have the opportunity for countless appeals only indicates the system is flawed. You can jolly well rest assured that said convicted criminal will not be free to commit any further crimes if the penalty is enforced. And most certainly the person will think twice before committing a possible death penalty crime if he or she knows that will be the result.

Norm Stoll 

Portland, Ore.

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