LETTERS IN THE EDITOR'S MAILBAG.
Bush helped kill civil discourse
I appreciate Dale Dickson's Aug. 15 letter calling for civility in discourse by those offering criticism of President Bush and his policies.
Unfortunately, it would appear that Dickson does not hold Bush to the same measure. At age 54, I have studied history and followed political developments since the early 1960s. During that time, nine men have served as president of the United States.
Not one of them came anywhere close to the assaults on political candidates of both parties, on American citizens who disagree with them and on foreign leaders and nations who refuse to back their moves, as has the Current Occupant and his gang.
In their efforts to divide and conquer, Bush and his team have gone far beyond civil discourse. Their tactics are well-known not only to the historians who will judge this presidency's actions as among the most damaging to U.S. welfare ever, but to any citizen who has been so foolish as to question where we are being led. We have been informed we lack bravery, fortitude, patriotism and morality.
And in the process, many of us have indeed lost our ability to provide civil discourse in critiquing the costly disasters being carried out with our tax dollars and in our name.
The case for cycle commuting
George Jeffcott (letters, Aug. 16) hit the mark with his advice that all should drive reasonably. I would like to point out more explicitly something implied in his letter.
Like Jeffcott, I commute to work by bicycle. My commute, from 40th Avenue and Donald Street to Autzen Stadium, takes me about 25 minutes.
Recently, I rented a car to fetch my daughter from Portland. I drove to work, and then on to Portland.
I timed the car commute to find that it took 18 minutes. This was noontime traffic, not morning or evening rush hour. So it takes me seven additional minutes to commute by bike.
Many might see this simply as taking longer on a bike. But think about it: In my 25-minute bike commute, I am not merely getting out to work, I am simultaneously working out. By pedaling to work I get 50 minutes of exercise a day.
Commuting by car, I would have to either spend an additional 50 minutes per day working out or contribute to the national obesity epidemic. To this, add the fact that I pay zero money for a car, car repairs, insurance, gas and blood-pressure medicine. It amounts to a compelling argument for cycle commuting.
OK, I get less enthusiastic about cycle commuting in February, but we have at least four sunny months when people can get to work, get healthy and fight the oil barons simultaneously.
Does life get any better?
More than one kind of theory
In his Aug. 17 letter "Evolution is still purely a theory," Thomas Mossberg seems to use "theory" to mean speculation or hypothesis - that is, a hunch that hasn't been validated by scientific facts or experimentation. That is one meaning of "theory."
Theory also can mean, however, a hypothesis that has been confirmed or validated by scientific facts and testing. Although scientists do not understand exactly how gravity works, the theory of gravity is a useful model for explaining what we call gravity. It is not just a hunch that actually doesn't explain observed facts well.
The theory of evolution is a model of how present life may have arrived in all its current forms. It does a good job of explaining a lot of scientific facts, but is not perfect. Even a theory of the second type is always open to revision based upon new facts or experiments.
Scientifically speaking, hypothesizing that God created life does not help explain why life forms are presently like they are. There are no scientific facts or experiments to support the existence of God. Even if you believe in God, you are still left with the question, "How did God come to be?"
"Why is there is something and not nothing?" is a question about a mystery that we may never be able to answer scientifically.
Study stalls field burning ban
It's obvious that the weak-kneed state Environmental Quality Commission had no intention of banning field burning during its recent meeting.
Instead, it ordered yet another study to placate the majority who are opposed to this archaic practice, which has no place in today's health-conscious society. Kind of reminds me of Eugene's own unending traffic studies on West 11th Avenue, also designed to placate the majority who voted for the West Eugene Parkway, which in turn reminds me of Mom and Dad saying, "We'll see" when faced with a difficult question they didn't care to address.
Bottom line is nothing ever gets done. Time to man the barricades!
Bruce A. Nelson
What are editors' backgrounds?
I have lived in this area for several years now and as a subscriber to The Register-Guard have wondered about the background of the editors.
I could be classified as a conservative, and I read the editorials and wonder where the balance is in their opinions. It would be interesting to know the background of the editorial staff - such things as where they were born, what their home life was like, where they went to school and, most importantly, what their world view is.
Many of the people I talk to in this community prefer to remain quiet on political issues rather than take so much scorn from the extremists in this area. There are more of us out here than you realize.
David I. Leach
Festival had traditional values
I don't know if Sara Stewart (letters, Aug. 15) attended Eugene's Pride Festival this year, but I was there with my family and, contrary to Stewart's claims, we didn't see anything there suggesting Christians should have fewer civil rights.
The representative we met from the United Church of Christ at the event certainly didn't think so. Indeed, freedom and equality were major themes at the festival. I think these are the most traditional of the "traditional values" folks such as Stewart invoke.
Everyone should have the same rights. No special rights. No exceptions. Gays should have the same rights as non-gays, Christians the same rights as non-Christians, minorities the same rights as the majority.
No one should fear being fired because of his or her beliefs, religious or otherwise. No one should be evicted because he or she is gay. Simple.
Nobody is suggesting that Christians "bury their heads in the sand." Christians will, however, need to respect the basic human rights and freedoms of others, even when those freedoms are at odds with Christian beliefs. Christians will get the same respect in return.
Equality is not a zero-sum game. More equality for me does not mean less for you. Democracy is not a tyranny of the masses. The Christian majority needs to share with others the basic rights, such as marriage, it has so long enjoyed. If Stewart and those like her can't understand these basic values - such as respect, freedom, equality and sharing - then I don't know where their heads are buried.
Smokers forced smoking ban
I want to commend all the smokers here in this great state, because it is they who finally drove the Legislature to ban smoking in public.
It is smokers' plain ignorance of not knowing when it's OK and when it's not OK to light up that has forced those who know better to tell them through the law. This may come as a surprise to those who smoke, but those of us who don't smoke don't want to breathe secondhand poison.
I always have said that smokers are the rudest people on the planet, and they proved it at the Lane County Fair. I was disgusted at the number of smokers who would light up around children and then watch as the smoke billowed past their smiling little faces. The children, of course, didn't realize that the adults they trust were sharing a deadly, toxic cloud of poison. That's ignorance at its best.
So thanks from the bottom of my heart, for soon smokers will have no choice but to smoke alone.
China's family policy is abusive
Norma Townsend's Aug. 13 letter on the birth of the Duggar family's 17th child was appalling.
Townsend laments the fact these children will require space, oxygen, food and water to live, and then paints them as being akin to parasites upon the Earth. Townsend indicates that, due to their numbers, this family is ignorant about the environment.
Her letter reads like she's part of the modern-day landed gentry speaking of the filthy peasants. This woman needs a check on her perspective. Who's to say one of these children will not grow up to improve the very issues Townsend so stridently champions?
This family is diverse in comparison to the average-sized American family. Where in Townsend's letter is the Oregon-grown idea that we should "honor diversity"? Do only a few select issues or groups qualify for this honor?
Townsend's apparent admiration of China's policy on family size greatly concerned me. Are we to think it beneficial to force abortion upon a family that wants and loves its children? That anyone would find this desirable is unbelievable. Would that China took its human rights abuses as seriously as Townsend believes they take overpopulation.
These forced abortions are human rights abuse. If we're to learn anything from China, it's what not to do in this arena.