Readers comments 12.5.12

Election outcomes

Dear Editor:

The outcome of the 2012 election has elicited a range of responses from people who came out on the losing end.  Recent letters in the COURIER provide examples of reactions that range from laughable to sad to excessive.

On the humorous end of the spectrum we note the comments of Jacqueline Mahoney, who equates Barack Obama with Stalin and Castro. She claims that “the people kept them in office because they gave them their milk, bread, etc.” Right on, Ms. Mahoney!  Everyone loved Uncle Joe and Fidel so much, they never lost a single election.

She goes on to say that Barack Obama “will probably want to change” the Constitution so “he could run forever and be reelected over and over like Vladimir Putin.” The term “looney tunes” would be appropriate here (with apologies to Porky Pig and Daffy Duck). More hysterical and vitriolic ranting about President Obama can be found on numerous political websites on the Internet.

Moving on to Douglas Lyon, who often seems to be the unhappiest man in Claremont, we encounter some serious commentary. Sensitive readers might feel compassion for Mr. Lyon’s palpable discomfort and fear regarding multiculturalism in America, but his despair is misplaced.

Multiculturalism does not necessarily result in “balkanized enclaves,” despite Mr. Lyon’s pessimistic assumptions.  And rigid unicultural societies are not so uniformly wonderful. In any case, multiculturalism is an established fact in our country. The key question is, which political party is working toward true inclusion and a viable harmony of voices? Current Republican leaders seem to be encouraging division and conflict. As long as they cling to that strategy, they will impede progress, and lose elections.

Mr. Lyon also complains about government control of our lives. He doesn’t provide any specific examples, but we can guess that he’s referring to Obamacare. This has been a source of intense hand-wringing for 3 years, but what freedoms are we losing? Perhaps Mr. Lyon wants to preserve the “freedom” to forgo health insurance, and then, when medical emergencies occur, to depend on the most inefficient and costly form of taxpayer-funded health care. Is that what liberty is all about?

The slippery slope of eroding freedoms started many years ago with the tyrannical laws that required seat belts, and then mandatory auto insurance (OMG!), in a blatant affront  to the old plea, “Don’t tread on me.” Nevertheless, life in our democratic republic has continued to improve in many ways, often as a result of elections.

Dave Nemer



Camera clarification

Dear Editor:

In his letter [COURIER, December 1], Mr. Bob Nichols attacks a straw man (that is, uses a type of argument based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position). Before exploring his example, however, let’s consider some of the underlying assumptions.

His tone is illustrative of how a certain proportion of the US population is, for reasons I don’t comprehend, seemingly uninterested in protecting their own rights. As a consequence, to someone who is uninterested in protecting his rights, the solution (to license plate reader cameras, in this case) appears simple: stay off the streets. Applying this rationale to the totality of daily life would mean that anywhere government chooses to intrude, then just avoid that area.

The natural result of such an absurd approach would, of course, lead to an ever-shrinking realm where the individual can operate unmolested by government—which is, coincidentally, pretty much the situation we have today.

On the other hand, to those interested in and concerned about actually preserving our rights, freedoms and liberties, the real solution lies in constantly working to safeguard those against an overly active government—for the forces of tyranny are ever on the march.

To his example, Mr. Nichols writes, “…do you find having a police office look at your license plate for current registration an unreasonable search? If so, I guess you have the right to not use public streets…” Unfortunately, the gentleman is overlooking a very important distinction. The individual police officer in his example is discreetly investigating one particular vehicle and driver, with the presumption of reasonable suspicion. On the other hand, the 36 permanently-installed cameras indiscriminately record the movements of everyone operating a vehicle on the roads in Claremont, entirely without regard to any reasonable suspicion.

That something positive may occasionally result from an infringement of rights does not justify the infringement; nor does making a process “more efficient.”

And, finally, as for airport terrorists, Mr. Nichols asks, “What do they look like anyway?” Well, one could start by reviewing a photo gallery of those 19 September 11 hijackers who killed over 3000 people. If, after that, one is still wondering…well…go talk to the Israelis. They seem to have figured it out.

Douglas Lyon



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