“Do you all at Mother Jones live in a moral vacuum?”

“Bad Vibes”

David Kushner’s article on legislation that’s designed to curb the sale of sex toys and the exhibition of nude dancers attempts to remain objective but leans to the scuzzy side. The fact that he says nothing about the negative impact of these things on society belies his viewpoint. Are there no constraints on what is acceptable? Do you all at Mother Jones live in a moral vacuum? Why is it okay to condone or ignore people engaging in unhealthy and self-destructive behavior? Wake up. Drug addicts have that kind of selfish, self-centered attitude. Is drug use or addiction a good thing?

Parents don’t let children do whatever they want, whenever they want. So why is it acceptable for adults who can’t seem to recognize healthy from unhealthy to engage in these things? Don’t give me the right to privacy stuff. I’ve heard it before. Christians understand that there is a slippery slope here with regard to sex and sexual behavior unless we as individuals and as a culture are able to set limits. Unrestrained we are tempted and will take it all the way. No pun intended. At the risk of making any agnostics or atheists uncomfortable, being tempted into sexual deviancy draws us away from God. It leads us into other bad decisions and affects our relationship with a spouse or significant other. Any therapist will undoubtedly tell you the same kind of things.

Lest you’ve already made an assumption and judgment about me; yes I am a Christian but I am a moderate with some definite liberal leanings.

DON SCHROEDER

“The Bible Bench”

There is certainly some validity to what this article is about. I am concerned, however, with the way large groups of Christians with diverse attitudes on certain issues are indiscriminately lumped together under vague and deceptive terms like “fundamentalists” or “conservative Christians.” I would accept that both of those terms apply to me (as I understand the terms, but not as the article uses them), and yet all of the charges made in this article would not apply to me or any of the fundamentalists I know. It seems that anytime a group makes a loud noise and references the Bible, they are immediately in the media labeled “fundamentalists,” when that is simply untrue. I assume this is done out of ignorance.

My suggestion is that you simply truthfully report the facts without using broad, undefined terms that have diverse meanings to your audience like “fundamentalists” and “evangelicals.” Or, alternatively, define the terms. Again, I happily accept the charges, but you and I may have far different definitions of these terms (evangelical, in particular, is a term in flux that means many different things to many different people). If the goal is accurate, honest reporting, then you must be more focused and precise with your words.

The premise behind the article is faulty. As I understand it, it is wrong for “fundamentalists” (whoever those folks are) to exert pressure on the elected judiciary through the democratic system of voting. But that is what everyone does when they vote, “fundamentalists” or “others.” It seems the author’s actual criticism is that a voter would vote a certain way, or seek to effect political change, because of their belief that they are acting consistent with Biblical teaching. As I understand the article, if my political agenda is based on anything but the Bible, I am free to “strong arm” the judiciary. Where is the integrity in that? It is far more consistent with this nation’s constitution that I am free to lobby votes for or against whatever cause I like for whatever reason I like and, ultimately, the voters can decide; my motivations for my viewpoints should be irrelevant.

I am no Dobson fan (and he is no fundamentalist), but I am not aware that the author’s research indicated he did anything unlawful. Yet, the point of the article is to make a personal attack rather than an ideological one. While I don’t necessarily condone some of the methodologies employed by certain individuals, I disfavor personal attacks as a proper method of debate. That’s not legitimate journalism.

HUTSON SMELLEY

When the political boss in Miracle on 34th Street suggested the judge should figure out how to avoid ruling against Santa Claus, it was cute. But, Margaret Ebrahim’s “The Bible Bench” is not cute. It is a graphic warning of how fear and fundamentalism can destroy the very institutions that permit religious diversity in this nation. It was bad enough when an Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice decided to throw caution and the judiciary to the wind over his interpretation of the judicial oath and the Ten Commandments. Ms. Ebrahim should exhort us to cry, “enough is enough.”

Ms. Ebrahim points out that judges may be facing an ethical choice: vote right or lose your seat. This is not a question of interpretation, it is direct intimidation. Ironically, fundamentalist Christians who support this approach for elected judges are engaging in the same sophistry and fear of differing views that led, in part, to Christ’s crucifixion. Hot button issues like abortion or same-sex marriage are one thing, but what about honoring diversity, the right of Jews to be absent from school on Yom Kippur, or Moslems to celebrate Ramadan? Are these civil rights in America to be taken away because of the kind of fear that Ms. Ebrahim reports?

We need an independent judiciary. Too many decisions that judges must make are gut-wrenching enough. Does the fundamental right really want a situation where a judge is so busy keeping a job that they fail to do a job. Do we?

TOM CARPENTER

Little Rock, Arkansas

“Memorializing the Dead of 9/11”

I truly lament the death of the victims of 9/11, but the cost for this memorial is beyond the appropriate bounds.

A simple monument with all the names of those who died would be entirely sufficient. The plans for this monument seem terribly ostentatious and almost celebratory rather than an ‘in memory’ type of monument. Have we Americans lost our sense of value? The monument to be built in Pennsylvania in memory of those who died on Flight 93 also seems to me to be terribly expensive. Something decent and respectful could certainly be built for a couple of hundred thousand and should be designed to require little or no maintenance.

BOB DAMICO
Cleveland, Ohio