We will never know whether the negative campaign atmosphere in Arizona was a factor in further unbalancing the alleged shooter in the fatal attack (“Arizona: A deadly rampage is just the latest episode to cast the spotlight on America's 48th state,” Jan. 16).
But we do not need to analyze the political arena in Arizona to realize that our recent political campaign has polarized our own community and others.
We are not willing to single out a particular party or notch on the spectrum of opinion from right to left. Unfortunately, there are damning examples of inappropriate rhetoric on all sides. We hear racial epithets and personal slurs from public officials and media personalities, followed by a lame apology that does little more than repeat the insult.
This country is blessed with the freedom to voice our differences. But we are certain that the Founding Fathers did not intend freedom of speech to excuse vile, inflammatory name-calling and bigoted hate-mongering. Such disrespect is bad form, and ineffective.
Name-calling invokes emotionalism and obstructs discussion. When we speak, and, perhaps more important, listen with respect, we allow the possibility of finding common ground and useful compromise.
The Erase the Hate Coalition's theme this year is a call for action: “Promoting Civility, Kindness, and Respect through Positive Action.”
It's time for citizens who are tired of the vitriol and polarizing negativity to demand of public officials and media personalities a much higher level of discourse. We ought to demand that public figures serve as a positive role model for our young people.
There is a more effective way to express our differences. Together we can make a difference.
Judy Lee Trautman
Erase the Hate
Memorial was an embarrassment
The memorial in Tucson would have been a time of honoring the dead and the heroic actions of others if there had not been so much cheering (“Obama asks for healing over tragedy in Tucson,” Jan. 13).
I was disappointed in the reactions of all the people. It sounded more like a rally than a memorial.
Still no answer about Loughner
George F. Will's ponderous Jan. 12 op-ed column, “Half-baked sociology smears conservatives,” is indeed half-baked.
He ignores, nor does he answer, the question: Why was Jared Lee Loughner, with his disturbing past, able to obtain a Glock semiautomatic pistol?
Virginia M. Nichols
Muskets, speech, and other rights
If we think the right to bear arms is outdated and we should only bear muskets, then why don't we expand that thinking to the other amendments (“Stand up to gun lobbyists,” Readers' Forum letter, Jan. 12)? Why not limit the right to free speech to only the language that was used in the 18th century?
Under the Fourth Amendment, we would not be allowed to go into a house without a warrant, but we would be able to hover over someone's house with a helicopter, or tap the phone lines.
The writer was right about people using guns to kill people. But if someone does not have a gun, he or she will find one on the black market or use something else.
Enacting gun control laws would only increase crime.
C. L. Dawson
Gun laws hurt honest citizens
Guns and high-capacity magazines are not to blame for the Tucson shooting, but the legal system is (“Regulate guns as seriously as children's toys,” op-ed column, Jan. 14).
If the alleged shooter had a history of mental illness, why wasn't it on his record? The alleged shooter legally bought his gun from a store. If mental illness was on his record, he would have been denied.
Tougher gun laws ultimately punish law-abiding gun owners. Would criminals care if guns were restricted or banned? They could always buy them on the street.
Law-abiding gun owners would never try to buy a gun on the street. If they were caught, it would go on their record.
Remembering John Grigsby
I was a pretty green reporter when I walked into The Blade's newsroom in the fall of 1963. I remember the late Bill Rosenberg, city editor at the time, pointing out a sandy-haired, middle-aged guy pounding away at a typewriter on the state desk.
“That's John Grigsby,” he said. “Stay close and listen to him and you'll do OK. He knows everything about Toledo” (“John N. Grigsby, 1914-2011: Blade reporter was hired in 1936, retired in 1989, covered everything,” Jan. 14).
I did, and he did.
John did know almost all there was about Toledo. He was a mentor to me and scores of other writers who worked with him over the many years he spent at The Blade. He was an honorable man and a good and accurate reporter.
Little known, however, was the work he did behind the scenes to bring the city of Toledo and its suburbs together after the warring 1950s, when the issues of water and annexation left the community badly splintered.
He once told me that he had saved every story he ever wrote. I don't know where they are, but I'll bet they would fill the newspaper's city room to the ceiling.
Toledo will never see another John Grigsby. But its citizens know more about their city because he decided to stay in his hometown and tell its stories.
Editor's Note: The writer is a retired Blade reporter.
Keep ban on exotic animals
Congratulations to former Gov. Ted Strickland for fulfilling his promise to Ohioans, by implementing an emergency executive order banning private ownership of dangerous exotic animals (“Owning of exotic animals banned,” Jan. 7).
The ban was part of negotiations that kept Ohioans for Humane Farms, a coalition of animal welfare, environmental, and food safety groups, from pursuing a wide-reaching ballot initiative on farm animal welfare in the 2010 election.
Under the exotic animal ban, possession, sale, and transfer of big cats, bears, wolves, nonhuman primates, large constricting and venomous snakes, and crocodilians are prohibited except for accredited zoos and sanctuaries, long-standing circuses, and a few others.
This legislation is long overdue in Ohio. Lack of effective regulation of exotic animals has resulted in a number of terrible injuries and deaths of innocent people and suffering by countless animals. It puts our state's wildlife and agricultural animals at risk.
The Toledo Area Humane Society supports these regulations and urges Gov. John Kasich to make the new rules permanent.
Toledo Area Humane Society