Senate bill could stifle democracy
TO THE EDITOR:
I was appalled when I heard that President Bush signed campaign finance reform - which should be called "The Rich Man's Election Protection Act" - into law because of the provisions that violate the free speech of organizations in which people of a common interest pool their money together in order to inform people about candidates.
Here in Tennessee, Sen. Joe Haynes (D-Nashville) has proposed legislation that should be turning heads. His bill (SB-62) would increase the number of signatures required on nominating petitions from 25 to 500. Besides increasing the workload on election commissions across the state, which would cost the state more money, it would have an enormous effect on our democracy.
Those who cherish our democratic form of government should understand that if legislation is put into effect that makes it impossible for average people to run for office, we no longer have a democracy; we'll only have the appearance of democracy. Democracy is just an illusion if only the elite are able to obtain governmental positions. If a dictator states he is going to embrace democracy and holds elections but dictates who shall run for each available office, his country really doesn't have a democracy.
There is only one obvious reason that Sen. Haynes could have proposed this legislation, and that is to keep the common folks from running for office. I would like to know if Sen. Haynes has dual membership in the Democratic Party and the Communist Party.
BRIAN K. WHITMAN
Harding sought communication
TO THE EDITOR:
The November 1997 "neighborhood meeting" referenced in John Claybrook's letter to the editor (May 19, "Links residents for zoning overlay") occurred under my watch as board chair of Harding Academy and was held in the home of the neighborhood association's president.
Harding Academy has a demonstrated history of communication with neighbors and respect for their concerns, as evidenced by the very successful effort the school has made to keep traffic off of the Links' interior roads, even though those roads are for public use.
There were additional meetings held the following year, also for the purpose of having open communication within the neighborhood. One was held on Sept. 22, 1998, at the same neighborhood association president's home. That one was not well attended, so we held yet another neighborhood meeting the following Tuesday evening, Sept. 29, 1998, at the school. We were concerned about the lack of attendance at the first meeting, so we went up and down the streets putting a meeting notice in everyone's mailbox about the second one.
We did not limit neighborhood attendance to the meetings. Quite the contrary, we very much wanted good communication with all of our neighbors, and I think the vast majority of the neighbors appreciated the effort.
MOLLY P. BRONAUGH
Look at left's track record
TO THE EDITOR:
As various celebrities and politicians have been placed on the hot seat for dissing the president, we've all been treated to lectures from the left on the importance of respecting each other's thoughts and opinions. Until their antiwar views were challenged, however, we had heard nary a peep from liberals about "diversity of opinion" and such. Why?
I think it's instructive to look at the left's track record in recent years. To wit: Susan Sarandon, who was a leftist poster child of sorts during the Iraq war, led the calls for a boycott of Dr. Laura Schlessinger's short-lived television show. Is Dr. Laura not entitled to the same free speech rights as Sarandon?
Likewise, the National Organization of Women and other left-wing outfits pressured the Florida citrus growers into canning Rush Limbaugh as its celebrity spokesman. Do the citrus growers not have a right to choose whomever they please as a celebrity pitchman?
As Alan Kors and Harvey Silverglate point out in their book, The Shadow University, our nation's colleges and universities have become Orwellian places in which any statements that challenge the prevailing left-wing orthodoxy are systematically condemned and suppressed. "Speech codes" are the norm, and conservative thinkers are often shouted down or denied the right to be heard at all.
Rigid ideological conformity is a hallmark of modern liberalism. In 1992, Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey, an anti-abortion Democrat, was twice denied permission to address the Democratic National Convention. In recent years, J.C. Watts, Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, and other black conservatives have been dubbed "Uncle Toms" and "house slaves" for refusing to endorse the race-hustling antics of Jesse Jackson and the NAACP.
Historian Steven F. Hayward recently suggested, "Hypocrisy is the only moral failing that's yet to become an alternative lifestyle." If liberals continue their histrionic prattling about free speech, that's soon to change.
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