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Give thanks for freedom

Thank God, thank our country, thank the Constitution of The United States of America that the Mail Tribune can and did print the photo of the flag burning! Is there a clearer message that we still live in a free country?

Oh, yeah, thank them again that they can print a page and a half of our opinions about it as well! ' Adam DeRose, Ashland

Hold an open discussion

On Feb. 26, Richard Watson of Central Point proposed a great idea: publicly contrasting the arguments for and against the Pheasant Meadows location for the new First Presbyterian Church. But, rather than one-sided choreographed presentations, let's have a moderated, open forum where citizens of Jacksonville are invited to ask questions of representatives on both sides of the issue. Are you up for the challenge, Pastor Jung? ' Trish Bowcock, Jacksonville

We all want the same thing

Let's see, Donna Patella and the Women in Black want peace, but support our troops. Erlene Thomson and those who joined her hope we won't have a war, but feel it is important to support our troops.

Sounds to me like we all want pretty much the same thing. Do we really need dueling vigils at Vogel Park? ' Leslie Hall, Medford

Focus on realities

It's not easy to grasp the depth of shallowness exhibited in recent letters regarding the flag-burning incident in Ashland. These writers' misdirected outrage amounts to an orgy of sense-burning.

Why does it not occur to them that their venerated flag is a mere symbol? That burning it, boiling it, shredding it, stamping on it or eating it, none of these matter, none of these acts does any harm to the reality behind the symbol?

The reality our flag stands for is liberty and justice for all. Let us focus on these realities, and on working to attain them for this nation ' and ignore the children playing with matches. ' Isaac Walker, Ashland

Clean up the Tribune

About the picture on the front page of the Mail Tribune Saturday, Feb. 15: What flag flying over what country gave that person the freedom to burn the American flag?

Why not let Ashland print their disgusting pictures and clean up the Mail Tribune with something positive? The majority of Rogue Valley citizens would like to have some pride in their rag sheet!

God bless America and its flag. ' Marilyn Wrobel, Central Point

Not great or honest

This is in response to Give president a break Feb. 17.

First of all, to call Bush Jr. one of our greatest, most honest presidents is a joke. With everything that has happened in his term as president I haven't seen one great or honest thing come from the White House.

I haven't seen many presidents in my 22 years of life, but I have seen far better. In his eight years as president Bill Clinton brought us out of a deficit and gave us a national surplus. We had a booming economy and we were prospering.

In his three years as president, Bush has managed to get us back in deficit. Not to mention getting us into another recession and another war.

Now, I ask, how is that having the American citizens' welfare at heart? How is sending my peers to die in a foreign country, in a very unjust war, having our welfare at heart?

No, Mr. Bush has the welfare of big businesses at heart and that seems about it.

He is right about one thing, though, millions are praying. Praying we won't see another horrible four years. ' Benjamin Williamson, Phoenix

Show more respect

What a disgrace to see our flag being burned in our paper. How proud Ashland must be to be a part of such a distasteful display.

The people burning our flag were so proud one of them had his face covered.

My husband said they should have their butts beaten and told to get the hell out. They do not deserve to be able to live here.

As our young men and women put their lives in danger they deserve more from people they are trying to keep free and safe. No one wants war.

Our flag is our symbol of freedom we have. Show more respect for our country or feel free to leave. ' Mike and Kathy Higday, Medford

Don't punish hybrid owners

I own a Toyota Prius, a hybrid (half electric and half gasoline vehicle). Besides great mileage (45- 50 mpg) and being a great car to drive, it emits significantly fewer emissions than conventional vehicles.

Yet the state of Oregon mandates that hybrid-car owners pay double registration fees. Seems strange when you consider that hybrids significantly reduce emissions that cause asthma, emphysema and other costly breathing disorders. Also, hybrids produce fewer greenhouse gases, helping to stave off global warming.

It is interesting to note that the state of Oregon does not charge higher vehicle registration fees for people who use studded tires (&

36;50 million in damage to our roads each year). Nor do we charge higher fees to owners of large vehicles that use much more fuel, pollute more and cause more wear and tear on our highways.

The state is saying Try not to pollute our precious environment, and by the way, if you do reduce fuel consumption and pollution, we will penalize you for doing so. The 2003 Legislature should immediately revisit and rescind this law. ' Judson Hyatt, Medford

Workers don't need threats

In response to Mr. Worden's letter in the Feb. 11 issue of the Mail Tribune, I would like to point out that many, if not most, PERS retirees do not get 105 to as much as 135 percent of their salary. I, for one, worked and was paid approximately 10 percent below comparable jobs in the private sector, and retired at approximately 33 percent of my salary.

Public employees are hard-working and dedicated people who perform the tasks that keep the public agencies operating and functioning to the benefit of the whole population of Oregon, as well as visitors. They work under a great deal of stress, and are frequent recipients of threats of violence in conjunction with their jobs.

They do no need further threats after they retire! ' Don Smith, Medford

What's the hurry?

While driving Interstate 5 through the viaduct construction zone, I would like to know where these drivers think they are going ' speeding past a few cars just to squeeze in.

I have to drive it five days a week. We all have places to go and I would like to get to my destination safely. I'm glad to see the Oregon state troopers out in full force. ' Teresa Croft, Central Point

Iraq threatens everyone

What has a war with Iraq to do with us? This is a war to help the world, as well as America.

Iraq threatens everyone. Iraq, with weapons and the terrorists it sponsors and Saddam's successful defiance of the United Nations, has encouraged other ambitious dictators such as North Korea's Kim Jong Il to menace their neighbors and the world.

If Ashland wants to follow Chamberlain of 1938, wants to hug a tree, sacrifice the people of Iraq and millions around the world to Saddam, so be it. Osama bin Laden has admitted alliance with Saddam. It is hard to ignore Iraqi support for terrorists, including al-Qaida.

How many Ashland protesters think that the people of Iraq support this monster? Do any of them remember his terrorist invasion of Kuwait? Do any of them remember how he let loose poison gas on his own people in the 1980s?

Are they aware of the countless murders by the terrorist police of Iraq? Do they really believe the citizens of Iraq and their neighbors want him to stay on?

Do they really believe Iraqis can stand up to this killer? If so, they had better rethink their place in the world. ' Phil Garey, Grants Pass

Pleasantly surprised

I was pleasantly surprised to see the front-page picture of the Lady in White. How about it, ladies ' let's show our support for our president, our veterans and our red, white and blue by meeting Erlene at Vogel Park, — p.m. on Thursdays. ' Velda Kessler, Central Point

Iraq had its chance

In response to some letters printed in the Feb. 20 paper: First of all, hatred directed toward the U.S. by countries with sadistic murderers in control is not a bad thing, so I don't understand why people keep complaining about hatred for the U.S. We started out as being hated (remember the American Revolution and England?).

Secondly, yes, Iraq does have weapons that they haven't been disarmed of, but we have more weapons, and bigger ones, so that doesn't matter. And the Zuckers said that Bush is trying to manipulate our aggression about 9/11 and transfer it to Iraq, but then said that's not right, as we've found no evidence they were involved in those attacks.

Well, Bush doesn't want to attack them because of 9/11; he never said they were involved. Bush wants to attack them because since the end of the Persian Gulf War, Iraq has been breaking treaties.

Yes, people, there have been U.N. inspectors in that country for a decade. So please, stop saying, let the inspectors do their job. If they haven't gotten it done in one decade, I don't think another will make a difference.

Iraq had its chance; it's over. ' Mike Kerlinger, Medford

Flag burning was news

As an amateur newspaper journalist and editor, I've been taught the function of a newspaper: It is to share what is important in the community, state, country and world with the public. If a newspaper doesn't do this, they won't do their job, or stay in business for that matter.

In response to Rosalyn Rhinehart of Medford's letter scolding the Mail Tribune for running a picture on the front page of the recent flag burnings: Would she want a media that didn't cover the most newsworthy happenings in her area? I think not!

In Iraq, such a picture would never have been taken, let alone run on the front page of a publication. We are lucky enough to live in a country where our presses are not censored.

Many may disagree with the action portrayed, but should be grateful they are aware of the news in their own community and world. Thank you to the Mail Tribune for not being afraid to share such a controversial topic. 'Becky Klabunde, editor-in-chief, North Medford High School Hi-Times student newspaper

Baha'is say thanks

We wish to thank those who made the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration in Medford such a tremendous success in spirit and in attendance, with more than 125 community members of all ages, races and backgrounds participating.

We especially wish to acknowledge Mayor Lindsay Berryman for proclaiming , Martin Luther King Jr. Day, City Councilman Sal Esquivel for his inspiring keynote address and Dennis Franklin from the Multi-Cultural Commission for his heartfelt comments.

As Medford residents, we can be proud of our city government's ongoing efforts to create unity in diversity within our community by valuing and welcoming everyone's contributions.

The multi-cultural entertainment was outstanding, thanks to Shomari Rue, Mercedes Colgrove, the Ballet Folklorico and the United Hearts Baha'i Youth Dance Workshop.

We took forward to welcoming a wider array of community members at next year's celebration. ' Sylvia Surratt, corresponding secretary, Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is, Medford.

Front-line provocative

Feb. 20 at 9 p.m. on SOPTv/KSYS, the investigative program, Front-line, provides useful, insightful and provocative opportunity to grow and learn.

It examines the unreported and hidden story of what is compelling President Bush and his administration to go to war. It asks the question, what are the distant, long-term ramifications? Is it truly the fear of weapons of mass destruction or a desire to safeguard America's access to petroleum and change the dynamics of power in the world for many years to come? ' James Waidler, Medford

Will no votes help?

I was disappointed when our voters rejected Measure 28. I noticed immediately that school days were reduced for our children and other services were c cut.

Possibly the worst was the layoff of many law enforcement officers.

In view of this I have a question. If I am being robbed and if I am lucky enough to get to a phone, can I call a person who voted no to come to my aid? ' Vic Mabry, Rogue River

Double standard

Some who read this will consider me a racist. Not true! However, I feel compelled to speak to the sometimes vitriolic comments regarding Mr. Day's inappropriate statement. I grew up in Missouri and California and heard that epithet frequently (as well as frog, wop, mick, etc.) Although the connotation was that something wasn't quite right, it really wasn't used maliciously. I don't condone the use of these terms; I'm just stating a fact.

What bothers me is that as I surfed the TV channels recently I caught a movie directed by (I think) Spike Lee, with an all-black cast. I'm not 100 percent certain, but I think I heard the N word 17 times; the F word 28 times; and the MF word 24 times (as well as whitey, honkey, pig, etc.).

It seems to me that Mr. Day is being pilloried for using a term (in what he thought was a private conversation) that he probably grew up with, notwithstanding the fact that it is not acceptable in today's society, while black directors/actors use the same word (and other racial/ethnic slurs), plus the basest swear words imaginable. I'm sorry, but this smacks of a double standard. ' Murray LaHue, Phoenix

What will it cost?

Last night I was watching the news on television and saw a report on the cost of peace marches and vigils.

I am glad to see that mainstream media franchises are helping us to steward our tax dollars. I hope to see more reports about the cost to us of not funding education, health care and safety net programs. What will it cost to take care of the homeless that we are creating by not funding the vulnerable of our culture?

I was grateful to see that the interview with Michael Bianca of the Ashland Police Department was intelligent, thoughtful and he did not seem perturbed by the bend his job is taking lately as peace officer.

The people who get in the streets to say that there is another solution to conflict than war pay taxes. Their need for and support of safety services has been mounting up for years.

Furthermore, those who are compelled by conscience to stand for an unpopular belief fight against their own tax dollars. Go figure.

(Addendum: What does it cost to process drunk drivers? For those who do not drink, a too-high cost, no doubt.) ' Suzi Aufderheide, Ashland