Freedom of speech

Christian voice counts, too

Congratulations and applause: We commend the Missoulian for the courage to continue Johnny Hart's work. Agreed, at times it is overtly Christian, but our Constitution still protects that right of free speech. Also, as free people, we may choose, or not, to read what is printed! The mark of a great newspaper is in successfully meeting the challenge to present a balance of diverse views, while maintaining ethical standards.

From the beginnings of the Christian Church, they were instructed by their Founder to "Go and tell" all over the world, which is still being obeyed. Now being curtailed in some countries, the right to proclaim has been granted to all U.S. citizens here in our country since early in our short history. Christians have steadily exercised that right in various ways; but not only Christians - also Jews, Muslims, conservatives, liberals, atheists, agnostics, etc., as long as all are law-abiding, not advocating violence.

However, the practice of being "politically correct" in speech and print is being used to try to stifle the freedom of the Christian voice. Has anyone noticed?

George W. and Adella J. Tussing,

P.O. Box 255, Conner

Legislature

Corporations allowed to fleece us

The Montana Legislature is mesmerized by free-market religion. Inspired by a self-proclaimed "lap dog of industry," Judy Martz, and led by high priest Fred Thomas, passionate devotion is demonstrated by sacrificing anything deemed to stand in the way of corporate interests. Speaking in tongues, devout free-marketers call themselves "business friendly," even while businesses close due to electrical deregulation legislated by those same free-marketers. Devotees demonize scapegoats, like environmental regulation, to deflect responsibility.

Hypocrisy abounds. For example, while gutting the Montana Environmental Policy Act on the altar of the "free market" with one hand, Rep. Doug Mood's other hand accepts corporate welfare, in the form of a taxpayer-funded bailout and subsidized public timber, for his Pyramid Lumber Co.

What is this "free market" that receives such blind obeisance? Corporate profits, idolized as sacred, are often false profits. Tithes taken from taxpayers are paid to subsidize corporations with bailouts, and public resources like free mineral deposits and cheap public timber are offerings to bolster corporate profit. The reality of the so-called "free market" is that profits are privatized while costs and liabilities are socialized. We bail out banks, Chrysler and Pyramid Lumber. Taxpayers are given the bill to restore creeks clogged with silt from logging, species endangered by hydroelectric dams and toxic waste left by mining companies. They get the gold; we get the shaft.

Corporations are legalistic figments chartered by state government. They are given the rights of an individual, yet do not have the responsibilities. They get bailed out while real individuals are left without help. This happens because the public allows it. We elect politicians who sell us out to corporations and we allow corporations that damage the public good to retain their charters.

How much longer will people allows corporation hands protected by government gloves to fleece us out of tax money, resources and democracy?

Larry Campbell,

P.O. Box 204, Darby

Child victims win protection

While the Legislature was busy as a whole trying to find ways to reverse the adverse effects of deregulation, a quiet bill was passed that will ensure some additional rights for the victims of pedophiles. I would like to thank Holly Raser for responding to this need and finding someone to carry a bill to extend the time a child victim of sexual crimes has to report the incident after the age of 18.

House Bill 563, carried by Paul Clark, extends the reporting time for this horrendous crime to be a criminal offense. A victim now has until the age of 28 to report it as a crime. Oftentimes, a victim can't even talk about the incident until years later; shame, fear, anger and confusion cloud what seems would be a natural thing to report. We need to continue to add legislation to protect our children from these very sick predators. Continuing with laws that will offer good comprehensive rehabilitation programs for the victims, stiffer sentences and realistic rehabilitation programs for the pedophiles.

It might surprise many just how many child victims of sexual crimes we have in our prisons: Pay now or pay later. I feel a pedophile should be accountable throughout his or her life. How else will we clear our neighborhoods of the danger to our children? Every child deserves the right to not feel fear.

Pari LeCoure,

2160 A Fairview, Missoula

Initiative 143

Game farms aren't real hunting

Len Wallace (Missoulian, April 24) still would have us "dishonest people" believe that because of Initiative 143, he will be down and out. Come on Len! There aren't very many people in Montana that could come close to spending the money you have on an elk farm over the past decade. The Big Velvet was a hobby for you, plain and simple. I think you'll be OK whether you're raising elk or not.

Wallace says his "business" has turned into a "torture chamber" because of I-143. Interesting. When I toured his ranch several years ago, those were exactly the words that came into my mind: "torture chamber." Torture is an understatement when you're sawing off blood-engorged velvet antlers, when one puts a bullet into a "trophy" elk when it comes on the run because it is habituated to the ranch trucks and people!

It amazes me that game farmers from the United States and Canada claim to have had this huge market for venison. Where has it gone? Len Wallace now says that there is no venison market. Which is exactly what supporters of I-143 have been saying. There were only two reasons for a game farms existence: velvet antler production and shooter bulls - period.

Recently, 600 captive elk were killed because of Chronic Wasting Disease in Saskatchewan. Don't let anyone tell you that their game farm is CWD-free, because there is no live test for the disease. Because we don't understand this disease, because we don't know how it's transmitted, because we don't know where it comes from, are the very reasons to stay away from the types of situations where they are found - game farms. This disease is much more prevalent in penned deer and elk. Montanans took the first step in the right direction by supporting I-143.

Wallace isn't a biologist, not an expert on elk and not a hunter. If he would ever leave his ranch, he would find that Montana has no "deviate gene pool" as he's suggested. I've found the opposite the past few years. The bulls are still bugling, and they seem to be getting bigger. One just has to get off of the road. Instant, big-bull-every-year gratification is not conducive to the true elk hunter or the real elk hunting experience. That's the message backers of I-143 were promoting. And we won!

Dino Fanelli,

1215 Pineview, Missoula

Milltown Dam

A health risk, plain and simple

If my memory serves me correctly, the "Superfund" is tax money that has been set aside by the federal government to be used to correct the pollution messes that businesses have made on land and in water over the years before we citizens got wise and started complaining about all the poisons and toxins that were being buried or flushed into our waterways and earth.

The reason behind setting up the fund was that some companies, after being caught polluting, would simply close their doors, go bankrupt and walk away from the whole mess - and even take a loss on their taxes.

The Milltown Dam is a "Superfund" site due to all the nasty stuff that has collected behind it. There is no argument that this stuff can kill you and even cause really premature balding. Seriously, this stuff is dangerous and cannot be just glossed over with slick words and "we're workin' on it."

"Our friends," the people who put this stuff there, are spending a lot of money to keep from doing the right thing and would love to see this tied up in the courts for years.

And here we are, "Schucks, golly gee, they're gonna sell electricity to the hospitals and schools at a losing-money price, but that's OK." Makes you want to dig out your old military uniform and unfurl ol' Glory.

The simple facts are:

1. Nasty stuff behind the dam.

2. Dam is "Superfund" site.

3. Public health at risk.

There should be no more arguing, no more studies, no more delays.

Divert the river water around the dam site, like they did in the 1930s for the Hoover Dam construction. Don't we have engineers with that kind of ability anymore? Or are we going to line the pockets of more attorneys and more experts for another 10 years?

If, as citizens, we don't scream loud and clear and demand this project started, big business will be next telling us that birth defects are just casualties of making money.

This whole mess is just disgusting "capitalism at its best."

Gregory Nordin,

6030 Meininger Drive, Missoula

Environment

Public comment used as needed

Well, so much for compassion, bipartisanship and morality.

According to the April 26 Missoulian, Interior Secretary Gale Norton has concerns about grizzly bear reintroduction into the Selway-Bitterroot. She says she wants to wait until she gets the whole story from some of the public. And those negative opinions must be heard and acted on.

However, later on in the same issue, is an article stating Bush is in the process of gutting President Clinton's roadless plan. Bush's direction to Justice Department lawyers is to find a legal way to undo the roadless plan.

Out of one side of their mouth, Bush's people say they don't want to reintroduce the grizzly bear due to some negative public opinions. However, the administration is perfectly willing to gut the roadless plan in spite of a yearlong process public meetings and involvement and 1.6 million opinions that overwhelming endorsed the roadless plan.

It's perfectly obvious the administration is going to do what it wants to do whether the public has spoken or not. I guess this president who promised to be a "compassionate conservative" and who promised to act in a "bipartisan manner" and to "restore dignity and morality" to the White House will do so based solely on the issue being considered.

Ron Stirling,

5 Carriage Way, Missoula

Letters policy: The Missoulian welcomes and encourages letters to the editor on topics of general interest. Letters should be about 300 words or fewer. The Missoulian reserves the right to reject or edit letters for content and length. The Missoulian prints as many letters as possible. Letters must contain the writer's name, address and telephone number (phone numbers are for verification, not publication).

Mail to: Missoulian Letters, P.O. Box 8029, Missoula, MT 59807. Fax: 406-523-5294. E-mail: opinion@missoulian.com.

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