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WEEK IN COMMENTS

Sunday, August 22, 2010 | 7:08 p.m. CDT

Every week, readers of ColumbiaMissourian.com offer their opinions on the news and the Missourian's coverage of it. Here, we offer you a digest of some of the conversations we found most interesting.

Judge: Mo. funeral protests ban unconstitutional

Comments: 8/Commenters: 4

The Associated Press reported on a federal ruling that Missouri's restrictions on protests near funerals violate the right of free speech without serving a significant government interest.

Carlos Sanchez said funerals, especially those of soldiers, are important enough to warrant some restrictions on speech. "Constitution or not some things need to be kept sacred no matter what the costs," he said. John Schultz said the ban suggested the Constitution isn't sacred to members of the General Assembly.

Ray Shapiro said, "If Westboro has the right to venture on to PRIVATE PROPERTY due to freedom of speech and freedom to disrupt, then I would break out a good New Orleans Funeral March Band, in full regalia, and dance circles around them."

UPDATE: Taser ban to appear on November ballot

Comments: 11/Commenters: 6

Dan Claxton and Jessica Pupovac wrote about the City Council's vote against banning Tasers within the city limits. The vote means the proposed ordinance will become a referendum, and voters will weigh in on the proposal in the Nov. 2 general election.

Tom Kelly said, "It is far too easy to zap someone that pisses you off," but he suggested some possible measures that might keep Taser use under control without banning the devices completely. Roger Dowis said people should realize how hard it can be to control someone who resists arrest. Gregg Bush said the city either should ban the devices or treat them as lethal weapons.

COLUMN: Proposed mosque raises the question: Are we a nation of intolerance?

Comments: 12/Commenters: 8

David Rosman wrote about the proposed Islamic community center near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, saying, "In part, what happens in New York will decide the validity of the Constitution of the United States." He said rejecting intolerance is essential to honoring the Constitution.

Ray Shapiro asked people to "not condemn those who choose to express their preferences and opinions as racists and bigots" and suggested that "perhaps America should have a ban on any further Mosque building."

Jim Jones said, "We spend too much time and energy being against those that are different from us," and Tim Woemmel asked, "Why is it so hard to coexist?"

Columbia Muslims share views on mosque near ground zero

Comments: 17/Commenters: 7

A story gauged the opinions of Columbia Muslims on the Islamic community center that is proposed for a site near the World Trade Center site in New York.

The story sparked a lively discussion about the controversy. Carlos Sanchez and Gregg Bush debated whether moderate Muslims had done enough to denounce the acts of terrorism by extremists. Sanchez suggested they had not, while Bush offered links to several such denunciations and said that the problem may be that too many Americans choose not to hear moderate voices. Roger Martin, Ellis Smith and Ray Shapiro expressed several reasons for being sympathetic to the view that the mosque not be built, including reservations about the nature of Islam and a need to be sympathetic to the victims of 9/11, while Laura Froese and Kate McIntyre suggested there should be no controversy in a country that values religious freedom.

TODAY'S QUESTION: Should funeral protests be restricted in Missouri?

Comments: 7/Commenters: 5

The question was prompted by a federal judge's ruling that invalidated two Missouri laws that restrict demonstrations at funerals. The laws were broadly aimed at the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., which is notorious for staging anti-homosexual protests at military funerals. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has vowed to appeal.

Carlos Sanchez and Linda Ferris disagreed with the ruling, with Ferris suggesting that the judge lacked common sense and should be removed. John Schultz and Christopher Foote, however, agreed squarely with the judge that protesters' First Amendment rights had to be protected. Schultz accused Koster of pandering to voters with his planned appeal. This article also had a reader poll attached to it; 52 people voted, and 69% of them said protests at funerals should be restricted.


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