We should all be grateful for the ACLU

To the editor:

In response to Joe Merica’s Wednesday letter criticizing the ACLU and its activities, I’d like to suggest that Mr. Merica do some research on the activities of this organization.

The ACLU mission is to defend legal cases involving the violations of civil liberties. It provides legal assistance in support of the rights laid out in the Constitution and its amendments. For almost a century, the ACLU has been fighting for the rights of all Americans, regardless of politics, religious beliefs, labor or management.

This organization has a long history of protecting rights denied. For example, it was the ACLU that fought for Jehovah’s Witnesses’ right to freedom of the press when the state of Georgia required permits to distribute literature. They fought to protect the rights of Americans to have access to books banned by state or local governments. They also defended the rights of Henry Ford to distribute anti-union literature.

Closer to home, the Nevada chapter has fought for our constitutional rights of free speech (yes, distributing handbills is considered speech, regardless of content); to protect the rights of those who post anonymous online statements critical of our government; in support of expanding Nevada’s public accommodation non-discrimination laws; and to protect the rights of students to speak any language they choose on a public school bus, just to name a few.

We all don’t agree with every client the ACLU represents (protecting the rights of Nazis to march in Skokie, Ill., for example), but when they act to protect one group’s rights, in essence, they protect all of our rights.

I am reminded of this poem, attributed to pastor Martin Niemoller:

“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a communist;

“Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist;

“Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist;

“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew;

“Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

I, for one, am grateful for the courage and determination of the Americans who are members of this truly patriotic organization.

Joel Rector


Health care

To the editor:

In response to the Tuesday article, “Insurer alters obesity policy”:

This article proves health care reform is needed badly. The shame is, if that infant’s father didn’t work for a TV station, his son might still not have coverage.

We do not need a government-run fiasco called the “public option.” What we do need is a government mandate that requires all insurers to accept all applicants for insurance at reasonable and controlled rates.

All insurers should be nonprofit corporations, and controlled by commissions not affiliated with anyone in the insurance industry. They should be treated like public utilities, but not run by the government.

President Obama needs to listen to the public, and both political parties need to sit down and do what’s right for the public.

Furthermore, both the House and the Senate should be made to join the same insurance plan they advocate for the public. This will guarantee swift reform.

David R. Meyer


Helping kids

To the editor:

Do you think allowing students to take the high school proficiency exam multiple times will help them pass it? I think not.

We focus so much on forcing these students to pass these exams that we forget the very essence of education — helping them.

Let’s work on motivating our kids to succeed in school. Sometimes, all they need is a little push. Why not establish classes that specifically cover materials in the proficiency tests? Or make it mandatory for teachers to cover the materials in the curriculum?

We are so blinded with hopes and wishes for our students to do better that there is no action being taken. It’s like sitting in a desert waiting for rain.

Instead of forcing the kid to eat the vegetables, encourage them.

Paulina Dimaguila


Do something

To the editor:

David Adams’ Tuesday letter states that the chairman of the Republican National Committee mocked our president for having won the Nobel Peace Prize. My understanding of “won” might be different than his, but usually to win something, one must compete by actually doing something, not just talking about doing something.

Most can agree that Mr. Obama hasn’t done anything thus far to merit such an award, much less 12 days into his term, when he was nominated.

If Mr. Adams wants to talk about respect, how about respect for, in Mr. Adams’ words, “one of the most prestigious awards in the world”?

Or at least have enough respect for the office of president to not lie to the president about his accomplishments or lack thereof.

John Walls


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