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Tolerance isn't always easy but one of things that makes U.S. great

To The Daily Sun,

An open letter to Ms. Denise Burke:
I sympathize with your discomfort with seeing Kia's breasts. Traditionally, we are all taught that women's breast should be kept covered in public.

When our forefathers wrote our Constitution, the people wisely insisted that one person's freedom of expression must prevail over other people's freedom from discomfort or offense.

Think what a horrible country this would be if people of color were restricted from eating at lunch counters because their presence made a Caucasian person uncomfortable. Or, if gay people were prohibited from holding hands in public because it made a straight person uncomfortable. Or worse yet, if people like you were prohibited from expressing intolerant views in letters to the editor because the letters offend tolerant people like me.

You may wish that the Constitution protected your right to be free from being made to feel uncomfortable in public but, fortunately for the rest of us, the fact is that it does not. On the contrary, our Constitution protects Kia's right to be top-free in public. For example, New York's highest court ruled that, under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, women have the right to be top-free any place a man is allowed to be top-free (People v. Santorelli 1992). The U.S. Supreme Court would undoubtedly rule likewise.

Tolerance isn't always easy, but it is one of the things that make this country great and one of things your father and grandfather fought for.

Think about the things you value that may make other people uncomfortable and what it would be like for you if they were prohibited. Ms. Burke, please help make this a better country by giving serious thought to the negative effects of intolerance, and then maybe you will want to become more respectful of other people's values even though they differ from yours.

Incidentally, you may be interested to know that up until the 1930s men were prohibited from being top-free in public, presumably because their hairy chests offended people.

Fred W. Van Nest
Kissimmee, Fla.

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Gun ownership of just any old weapon is not your birthright

To The Daily Sun,

Mr. Alan Moon is right that back in the 1950s, many people had Thompson sub-machine guns. That was 60 years ago. Before even I was born. To say that civilization and society has changed in that period of time is an understatement.

My dad came back from Berlin with a couple of German machine guns, and had a Thompson himself. Many people from that generation that went to war had an ingrained respect for these weapons, and did not go around trying to justify them as necessary for hunting or personal protection. They were mementos of who they'd been and what they saw. They were men who experienced war and its horrors and had a real respect for those weapons of mass destruction.

My grandfather landed at Omaha Beach. He was at the Battle of the Bulge. He never wanted another weapon as long as he lived once he came back. My father was in Berlin in 1946 and 1947 and saw what war had done. My wife's father was in Vietnam and came back to be a cop, but didn't own these weapons, nor did her Marine grandfather who was at Peleliu. They knew the difference between weapons of war and guns for hunting.

These weren't these small men of this era who tell lies about "what the government is going to do" — these NRA apologists who want to hold on to their big guns because of some warped sense of reality.

Now maybe you served — I don't know. Maybe you have a healthy respect for guns — I don't know. But what I do know is that many people simply don't. They treat them with an offhanded cavalier disrespect. These are the people who leave guns out for their toddlers to either shoot them with or shoot other children with. These are the people who think it is fine to teach a kid with Asperger's and some violent tendencies to shoot. These are the people who allow dangerous people to purchase weapons they have no right owning. These are the people who think that brandishing a gun is the solution to everything. These are the same people who denigrate anyone else who vehemently disagrees with you — like you did with Ms. Loesch.

Gun ownership of any gun is not a birthright. You just want it to be.

Mr. Moon, no one has ever said they were coming to take your guns. All they've ever said was that they wanted to restrict ownership of certain types. And back in December, the Supreme Court said that they can do that. And yes, I know all about the 1939 case of U.S. v. Miller that you have quoted before. But the court and even our own government changes with time. Whether there is the political will to restrict guns, who knows?

The NRA has dropped over $30 million into the coffers of (primarily) Republican politicians over the past decade to ensure it doesn't happen. And I'm sure the GOP enjoys your ongoing support.

So until we have some form of psychological test to determine if people should be gun owners (or parents or pilots or truck drivers), the next best thing to do is try and keep military-style weapons out of the hands of people who have a demonstrated inability to respect them. And based on the angry spittle I almost felt the need to wipe off your letter in order to read it, that might just include you.

Alan Vervaeke

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