Your letters, Dec. 18

December 17, 2013 

Can’t force religious beliefs in democracy

Pearce Godwin (CHN, Dec. 11, asks proponents and opponents of gay marriage to listen respectfully to each other and try to understand each other. We should then “take (our) genuine beliefs on gay marriage to the voting booth without reproach.”

Wrong! When you force your religious beliefs on someone else, even via a democratic vote, this is not respect.

George Entenman

Chapel Hill

Argument naïve

Regarding Pearce Godwin’s commentary on marriage equality (CHN, Dec. 11,

Mr. Godwin’s neutrality in considering the views of opponents and proponents of gay marriage strikes me as naïve. It leads me to wonder whether he would have also professed neutrality if he’d lived before the civil war, when “good, genuine, well-meaning” and devoutly religious people supported slavery.

Well-meaning people throughout modern history have opposed social movements that expanded human rights and equality before the law. Scripture was shouted at suffragettes by decent, “well-meaning” Christians who opposed women’s rights. White church leaders in South Africa were firmly committed to apartheid until the very day it was abolished. Believe it or not, the idea of opposing gay marriage will soon seem as antiquated and wrong-headed as opposing a woman’s right to vote.

Those who support the oppression of others certainly may believe whatever they wish, and as a society we are obliged to tolerate them, but does Godwin truly think that equal respect is due to slaveowners and abolitionists?

People who oppose basic human equality aren’t all ill-intentioned, but they are definitely on the wrong side of history – as are those who profess neutrality. Sometimes you have to take a stand.

Katherine Ayers

Chapel Hill

‘Experts’ have agenda

Clarence Marsella, Sam Staley and Stevce Polzin are not what I would call a team of “experts.” (”Transit experts: Orange, Durham not ready for rail, CHN, Dec. 3,

These “experts” are consultants sponsored by anti-regulatory, anti-shared resources ideological interests, interests that favor gasoline consumption to favor the oil industry. These folks have an agenda other than to help communities decide how people should get around.

The simple truth is, 15-501 and 54 are not going to be widened. Capacity, though, needs to be added somehow. These roads are jammed full of people going from Durham to UNC Hospitals at peak travel hours, our main employer in town. The town of Chapel Hill can either create a bigger pipe for people travel between Durham and Chapel Hill by way of a sleek, multi-car, single operator train, dedicate lanes on these roads for BRT only, stagger the hours for those who work in the hospital and university system (which is also not likely to happen), move the hospital (not likely), or house all those people who now live in Durham and commute to the hospital to work, which, since Chapel Hill keeps fighting density settlement, is not likely to happen to the degree necessary to displace commuters. UNC Hospitals is the destination of most of the commuters from Durham.

Pick your course, Chapel Hill. the solution has to be several of, and among, these.

Sally McIntee


Pie-in-the-sky solution

If everyone is so gung ho to have rail, it's not a bad idea to work out a deal with the RR folks with lines already extending into Chapel Hill/Carrboro and to downtown Durham. The “pro-light rail” folks will say that an existing line is not usable at all. Fine, if true. But, where are their studies showing this is true? Studying existing rail possibilities is far cheaper than investigating a pie-in-the-sky solution.

Just because something is new and shiny doesn't make it better. I'd love rail solutions (note, I lived for years in Atlanta while I attended Georgia Tech) if they make sense. Folks like Bernadette Pelissier and others will push the rail for everyone regardless of the facts against it. Is this really “serving the county and its citizens”?

Dave Carter


Convicted for our convictions

On Dec. 4th, 58 years and three days after the beginning of the Montgomery bus boycott and the arrest of Rosa Parks, 12 of us in the original 17 Moral Monday arrestees were convicted for our convictions. Although the judge dismissed one charge and openly stated that several rules of the North Carolina legislature were vague and unconstitutional, we were found guilty of second-degree trespassing and breaking legislative rules. The rationale for our civil disobedience still stands and our lawyers have filed an appeal to Superior Court for a jury trial. We believe our lawyers made tremendous constitutional arguments that must be heard in a higher court, not a district court.

We do not believe that our actions were unjust but that the extremism of Gov. Pat McCrory, Speaker Thom Tillis, Senate Leader Phil Berger, and Budget Director Art Pope and their fellow extremists who have denied Medicaid to 500,000 people, cut unemployment benefits for 170,000 struggling North Carolinians, took away the Earned Income Tax Credit from over 900,000 poor families, passed the worst voter suppression bill in the nation since Jim Crow, attacked women's rights, and cut public education are unjust. These actions are constitutionally inconsistent, morally indefensible, and economically insane. We, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, Rev. Curtis Gatewood, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, Rev. Nelson Johnson, Maria Teresa Palmer, Rev. Larry Reid, Sr., John (Bob) Zellner, Perri Morgan, O'Linda Gillis, Margaretta Belin, Dr. Timothy Tyson, and Barbara Zelter, like other Moral Monday arrestees before us, were convicted for our convictions.

We are glad to be in a state where people will stand up for the poor, the sick, children, labor rights, women, and fundamental economic, social, and gender equality. We will continue to mobilize and carry our moral message across the state.

On Dec. 23, we will return to Raleigh for a Mass Moral Monday to either celebrate that the governor has rescinded his opposition to Medicaid expansion and restored unemployment benefits by convening a special “Redemption Session” of the legislature or we will come to protest how these laws will negatively impact hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians.

We will also mobilize for the Feb. 8 Moral March on Raleigh Historic Thousands On Jones St. Peoples' Assembly. Our fight has only just begun. Our commitment to standing against extremism is unwavering. Our love for those that tried to persecute us is still intact. Our commitment to the cause of justice is even stronger.

The Rev. William Barber



Now the hard part

The nuclear deal brokered by the United States and Iran in Geneva is historic. Just as the agreement to peacefully disarm Syria of its chemical weapons demonstrated, diplomacy makes the world a safer place.

Now comes the hard part: U.S. diplomats are working to secure a final agreement to prevent war and a nuclear-armed Iran. I hope my senators and representative will publicly support these efforts and oppose calls by

some in Congress for more sanctions.

Patrick J. Blell


Conservative kiss

Some conservatives are upset because President Obama shook hands with Fidel Castro's brother.

I remember when the second President Bush kissed the conservative dictator of Saudi Arabia. Why weren't conservatives upset when a conservative president kissed a conservative dictator?

Chuck Mann


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