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Opinion Letters

We join the rest of the world in mourning the brave staff of the magazine “Charlie Hebdo,” gunned down by religious fanatics for defending freedom of the press.

Meat industry fanatics in the U.S. have devised a more subtle means of stifling freedom of the press. The states of Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, and Utah have enacted "ag-gag" laws that impose criminal penalties on investigators seeking to expose animal abuses and safety violations in factory farms.

According to an Associated Press report in yesterday’s papers, four members of an animal protection organization were charged with violating Utah’s ag-gag law. They sought to document the daily transport of thousands of pigs from the infamous Circle Four factory farm in Cedar City (UT) to the Farmer John slaughterhouse in Los Angeles.

Ag-gag laws are clearly unconstitutional and are being challenged in federal courts. Assaults on press freedom need to be confronted wherever they rear their ugly heads, even when they assume the legitimacy of a state law.

Chad Carlyle — Highlands, N.C.

Well now, for the space of five paragraphs I thought Bob Wilson was actually on the right track regarding his letter on freedom of the press.

We all agree that we are a freedom loving nation. We believe in our basic right to free speech – for ourselves and others. However, Mr. Wilson, true to form, continued on in several following paragraphs to display the obtuse views from the crevasses of his apparently dimpled and circuitous thought processes.

In no way, none, not at all, did commentary on his writings support left, right, or centrist, views of any political party. They only expressed the wish that, though he has a right to his opinion, he needs to clearly state that it is only his opinion – it is not fact, and therefore not necessarily whole truth. He has a penchant for sharing twisted or partial facts and leaps between creating his own fiction out of whole-cloth or sharing whatever bits, pieces, and portions he pursues from non-credible sources, and then, while claiming to be impartial, declaring them as true.

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We’ve all seen what happened in Paris, France when a group of radical Muslims decided that a news outlet had gone too far in publishing cartoons about Mohammad.

France, of course, has a long history of lampooning politicians, religion and any group that dares present themselves as having all the answers.

In America, we too have a long history of lampooning those in power. This is what keeps us safely in a Democracy as we freely debate questions of both religious faith and political ideology. No political or religious leader is above being questioned or lampooned.

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If we are going to spend billions every year on health care and food assistance programs, then we need to start investing more of that money into sustainable projects that are nearly free or can pay for themselves over time. Community farms on every block would boost every local economy in this country.

I do not think it makes sense that we pay farmers to not grow certain crops while people go hungry. Farmers should be paid for their surpluses instead. Until we meet the needs of our own people, we are a poor example to the world. Not for long though - this generation is here to unite us.

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