Union Democrat staff

Should we abandon our rights?

To the Editor,

There have been letters on this page and in other periodicals comparing an anti-Islam video to - in Justice Holmes' famous dictum - "shouting fire in a crowded theater."

In essence, these letter writers are saying we should abandon our First Amendment rights because criticizing Islam, in a world where many Muslims are prone to violence, might lead to riot and destruction. By this logic, we never should engage in political, philosophical or religious criticism because somebody might take offense and attack us.

Open discourse is a foundation stone of our democracy and culture. It should not be surrendered because of threat or blackmail from some benighted segment of the global population. If we surrender our rights because of external threats, we will end up surrendering them at home as well.

Michael Ackley


DUI checkpoints

To the Editor,

DUI/license checkpoints are illegal. For an officer to stop a vehicle, he/she must have probable cause, meaning they must witness something to substantiate his/her suspicions that a crime has taken place, is taking place or is about to take place.

Delaware v. Prouse 440 U.S. 648 finds that "stopping an automobile and detaining its occupants constitute a "seizure" within the meaning of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, even though the purpose of the stop is limited and the resulting detention quite brief."

Even with alternate routes available, most people will go through these illegal checkpoints because they do not know their rights.

The California Highway Patrol knows this.

That is abuse of power. Please don't bother writing back trying to trash me. I rarely drink, and I never, ever drink and drive.

That's not what this is about.

It's about the general attitude of big government doing whatever it can get away with. The CHP is trained and capable of identifying drunk drivers just by watching them drive by.

The pretense of "public safety" is not a justifiable or legal reason to stop everyone on the road.

Know your rights and exercise them while you still can.

Todd Johnson


The importance of truth in history

To the Editor,

There is sometimes an obvious divide between truth and fabrications, imaginations, lies and any other attempt by man to manipulate the actual course of history.

Recent accounts in the press reveal that the first president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has some grossly misguided ideas about what happened to the Jewish people during World War II. He states the Holocaust is a myth.

The eye witness accounts, pictorial records and the bottom line disappearance of 6 million Jews cannot be denied. Whatever guilt or triumph Iran's president may imagine in his fabrications is based on incorrect information about the accounts of the second world war.

There is no room for trivializing such a horrific and tragic chapter of human history. How shameful it is to show such a lack of respect for a people group.

Don Nessl