The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

December 13, 2012

Readers' Forum 12-13 | Indifference toward others shameful

(Continued)

— People have a right to their own opinions

In response to “Ending hateful letters” (Dec. 5), I, too, am in favor of speaking graciously, even to those with whom I disagree.

However, the writer states that she believes The Tribune-Democrat publishes too many right-leaning letters. It’s not the paper’s fault if more right-leaning letters are submitted than left-leaning letters. The whole point of the Readers’ Forum is for individuals to say what they think, not what the paper thinks.

Those calling for the end to hateful letters would be in favor of the Sedition Act of 1798, which made it illegal to speak maliciously or falsely of the U.S. government, Congress or the president. But the act was later repealed for its unconstitutionality under the First Amendment.

The writer encourages us to “give our young people a glimpse back into the era of having respect for elected officials and our elective process.” When was that? The election campaign between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson is known in American history for being nasty and bitter. It doesn’t sound like much has changed in 200 years. 

Let’s encourage each other to speak graciously, by all means. But no one has the right to suppress another’s speech because it is hateful. (Hateful, by the way, is rather subjective. Who determines what is hateful?)

Like it or not, the First Amendment gives us the right to say what we think, whenever we want (election season or not), in whatever way we want to say it. 

Stephanie Rose

Johnstown

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