To the Editor:
Our constitutional rights, guaranteed by the first amendment, include freedom of speech, religion, the press, assembly and petition, among others. These are wonderful rights that help to make us a more civilized and democratic country, They are inalienable rights that the government can't trample and that must be protected by the court system. But let's not misuse them!
As civilized people, we should exercise these rights in a civil manner. Let's keep the level of discourse respectful, an especially urgent request in light of recent events. We can disagree with someone else's ideas, but should do so in a calm respectful manner. The press, for example, can print anything that isn't libelous, but has an ethical obligation to print the truth and not insult people or practice "yellow journalism." Groups have the right to assemble, but in a civil society that assembly should be peaceful and not descend to shouted insults against those whom one is protesting.
As someone who has lobbied Congress and the state legislature on health care, I can attest that a polite, civil and logical approach is the most effective way of bringing a legislator around to one's point of view. People don't like to be yelled at.
And please, let's be respectful of other people's religions, ethnicity and personal reputations. Enough with the negative stereotypes! People should be able to worship God/the gods/the universal divine forces or not, as they please. I have heard that even in the 18th century the Founding Fathers were concerned about protecting the rights of Muslim citizens. Let's truly honor freedom of religion by respecting other people's religions; that is a human, not just a governmental, responsibility.
And please, find out the truth before speaking out! Vicious rumors about a religion or an individual can be very damaging. As far as I know, no religion in the US practices human sacrifice, burns down buildings, tortures people or unleashes gladiators. Nearly all seem to be well-intentioned. Let's respect that, please!
Let's respect individuals and ethnic groups as well. It's very unlikely, for instance, that Bill Clinton had Jeffrey Epstein killed. Mean-spirited attacks against individuals or groups can inspire even more hate and violence in others. False rumors/tweets/news commentary against Hispanic citizens and non-citizens very likely inspired the El Paso shooter to commit his horrendous crime. Dare we hope that in a more civil society such crimes would be more unlikely to occur?
We are all human beings. We all deserve respect – the Constitution demands it.
Mary Lee Cozad