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Two letters next to each other recently demonstrated living by and acting on slogans, scare-words and misstatements. Both authors responded to a reprinted editorial questioning "socialism" as a scare tactic "fright word." One writer supports that idea.

A different writer packs a wide-ranging wallop of name-calling, shibboleths and misinformation (like ducking Bush's openly stated reason for his stubborn veto that it taxed rich tobacco whose profits are better for the country than healthy kids). That writer grudgingly acknowledged superiority of the VA medical system.

But he volubly asserted he'll take his chances with the free-market world, calling anything else "do-gooder Democratic Party." Does he enjoy police or fire protection or have "free- market" fire protection AIG squirted selectively on San Diego wealthy insured? Any kids or relatives in school or college?

Is he aware of the latest scandalous injustice to many vets who can't get health insurance — ironically because they were in a war for us — while high-paid privatized Blackwater goons free-market their way out of murder?

Am I doing linguistic jingoism with words? Sure. It's easier than thinking.

Can't we handle our lives better in this divisive world if we get beyond slogans, name-calling, and those meaningless scare-words? — G. E. Myers, Jacksonville

Our Jacksonville neighborhood is quite popular for trick-or-treating. Wednesday night we had almost 400 mad scientists, hippies, fairies and clowns stop by for treats. While the kids were uniformly well-behaved, four in particular stood out: the two young ladies collecting for UNICEF and the two kids, Maddy and Miles, who dropped little thank-you notes into our candy basket as they collected our offering of chocolate eyeballs.

To their parents we'd like to extend our thanks and congratulations. Raising kids with a sense of community purpose and an attitude of gratitude is a true gift to us all. Well done, and hope to see you again next year! — Richard and Olivia Boucher, Jacksonville

I've been at Exit 30 and as the light turns green we all proceed and then someone stops to offer a donation. I stop, because I leave room, but the cars behind me are on their mission and I hear the crash.

I guess if we stopped to pray, the atheist and ACLU would say we can't do that. But if we stop for a panhandler it's free speech. I would guess that we can place any sign we want on any city light pole or traffic sign and it's free speech.

Panhandling is a business, and as Medford charges a tax/fee for operating a business in the city it should tax them or end their business. If we let the ACLU govern us we are really in trouble. — Donald Politis, Ashland

The Bureau of Land Management's proposal to create 13 off-highway vehicle "Emphasis Areas" covering 100,000 acres of the Medford District (MT, Oct. 29) should alarm all people living near public lands and anyone who values them as a haven for wildlife and relatively quiet recreation.

Excessive noise, exhaust fumes, safety issues and destruction of the landscape that results from concentrated OHV use would adversely affect the serenity and beauty of rural areas in Jackson and Josephine counties. The checkerboard pattern of BLM lands in Western Oregon guarantees that thousands of private landowners would be adversely affected by OHV use.

Just ask the 1,660-plus residents who live near the BLM's proposed Timber Mountain/Johns Peak OHV Emphasis Area and recently signed a petition demanding that the BLM rescind the OHV designation. It was proposed in 1995 without consultation with affected residents. Since that time the BLM has staunchly defended the OHV proposal and insists that conflicts will disappear once it begins to "manage" the area for OHV use. The residents have had enough.

That's why it is hard to believe the BLM's claim that the 13 proposed OHV areas "are just potential areas, not specific acreages." The Johns Peak controversy demonstrates otherwise. — Everett Jordan, Gold Hill