The Week in Comments: Taser vote, puppy mills, the First Amendment

Sunday, August 29, 2010 | 8:10 p.m. CDT; updated 9:56 a.m. CDT, Monday, August 30, 2010

Every week, readers of 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.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Why you should vote to ban Tasers

Comments: 4/Commenters: 4

Ken Green, a member of People for a Taser-Free Columbia, wrote that "Taser use degrades community confidence and trust in police" and described use of the devices as constituting excessive force.

Both Carlos Sanchez and Roger Dowis expressed concerns over suspects' ability to fight and resist arrest despite the use of other types of nonlethal force. "I've seen men continue to fight after being beaten to the point of breaking bones," Dowis said. Mark Flakne also said the proposed city ordinance banning Tasers would prevent citizens from using similar devices in their own self-defense.

LETTER: Proposition B designed to protect animals, not destroy animal agriculture

Comments: 6/Commenters: 6

Columbia resident Brett Prentiss wrote about an Aug. 20 guest column on an initiative in November's election to end puppy mills in Missouri. Responding to columnist Aimee Gutshall's claims about the initiative, Prentiss said, "To claim Proposition B is a conspiracy to abolish all animal agriculture is totally inaccurate and bizarre." Prentiss went on to defend the initiative as "an effort to eliminate cruelty to animals."

Eric Stockton linked to the text of the initiative and pointed out that it seems only to cover dogs; he also cited a Better Business Bureau study about the prevalence of puppy mills in the state. Samuel Davis called puppy mills "the last legalized form of slavery" and said all states should pass some sort of legislation on the subject. Ashley Cox asked about opponents of the initiative: "What kind of heartless people are these? Have they never had a pet they loved and who loved them back?"

J. KARL MILLER: Is the First Amendment absolute?

Comments: 31/Commenters: 12

Columnist J. Karl Miller wrote about the First Amendment arguments for the proposed Islamic community center in New York and recent court decisions about military honors and protests at funerals. "The solution will require the wisdom of a Solomon and a dollop of adult cooperation," he said. "In the end, possessing the right to do something does not render it right to do so."

Tim Dance said the issue was "about stirring up fear and hate," arguing that the Bill of Rights exists "to protect the minority from the fear mongering majority." Gregg Bush called some of the comparisons used in the debate "foolish" and said called the U.S. Constitution "powerful enough to withstand a Shinto shrine near Pearl Harbor." Carlos Sanchez and John Schultz argued about what kinds of speech would be considered as disturbing the peace or as stalking; Sanchez said people should consider the unintended consequences of their actions, and Schultz said people should be entitled to exercise their rights on public property. Tom Kelly said, "The right-wing solution to every maniac who abuses free speech, is to whittle away at the Constitution." Ellis Smith pointed out the obvious, saying, "The mosque/community center will either be built near Ground Zero or it won't."

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Ellis Smith August 30, 2010 | 6:39 a.m.

Not certain I was trying to "calm" anyone; just stating the obvious (that the center will either be built at Ground Zero or it won't).

(Report Comment)
Kathleen Pointer August 30, 2010 | 10:01 a.m.

@Ellis Smith,
Thank you for your comment. We changed it to reflect your sentiment about "stating the obvious."

Kathleen Pointer
Assistant City Editor

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 31, 2010 | 4:09 p.m.

[Carlos Sanchez and John Schultz argued]

I do not feel we really argued but some good healthy open debate can become heated when people are willing to make a stand on an issue and not be moved. It gets all thinking out side of the box hopefully and I just hate one sided opinions all the way down articles where there is obviously another side that is not being discussed.

(Report Comment)

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