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Opinion Letters Community involvement should be encouraged

In America we have the right of free speech and assembly. Opinions may be freely expressed. However, the burden is on us to do so responsibly. The Supreme Court has uniformly held that speech denigrating the rights of others is not speech warranting constitutional protection.

The January 12 issue carried a LTTE praising the actions of the airport Authority this past year. The praise is well deserved in as much as that board has kept the faith over a protracted period and is setting the stage for Macon County’s resurgence. Sadly, this letter also contained highly offensive and denigrating characterizations of local residents who involved themselves in the public hearings regarding the runway project. The writer hides behind unpublished phone/address information, so protest against his unseemly tirade must be made publicly herein-

The runway extension exceeded 600 feet, considerably more that “a few hundred”. It posed a major threat to the peace of mind, and prosperity values ,of some fifty area residents who attended the hearings. To a man they were courteous and respectful to the Authority’s plans. The words “small group”, “irritating” , “promulgating scare stories” are not merely belittling-they are insulting to persons exercising their rights under the constitution. The residents’ attendance was effective in eliciting a public promise from the Authority that commercial development/expansion will not be undertaken in the Burningtown/Iotla Valley. Their input should be applauded for focusing the Authority’s attention on excellence; It should not be belittled. As Americans we must value each other’s ideas: that is the point of being educated.

Mr. Sottile, you are a man of achievement, skill, and loyalty in your business and avocation. Step up to the plate and apologize herewith for failing to value your fellow Maconians. We have the right to disagree, but we must never lose sight of the absolute: we are all on one earth, so respect must be the foundation of cooperation.

Norelle Kirkland — Franklin, N.C.


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