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Our country has been polarized by much manipulation, whether it is by the press or the politicians.

A strange oxymoron of ethics pervades. Words such as "evangelicals, tea partiers, and conservatives" are thrown about. Representative of these ethics in politics are issues such as being against environmental protections, against health care reform, and as a symbolic form of prejudice: against gay and women's rights. In the fine print, they also want to do away with Social Security.

All the conservative "right" has to do is press a giant red button that says pro-life and people will vote for them. These are philosophical and personal issues that have no business in politics. Yet, time and time again they are the forefront topics in a political debate.

The time has come to use critical thinking to sift through the emotional rhetoric and really think about what is important to us as Americans. Truly ethical decisions should be integral in thinking of what kind of country we want to live in. If you are pro-life, you should support social services and health care for all, along with environmental protections that ensure our future generation's healthy life. — Kathy Lambie, Medford

I'm perturbed with your front-page article about the neighbors' beef with the Ashland Gun Club. After your editorial in the Sunday, Jan. 8 paper, I have to put in my own 2 cents' worth.

I grew up mostly in small town, rural Oregon. I was fortunate to manage a B.S. degree in 1955 as an Oregon Duck. My family and friends include hunters and gun owners. I set trap as a teenager at a shooting range where I lived, but have never fired a shotgun. I have no NRA connection.

I wonder about the validity or stupidity of this lawsuit against the city of Ashland and the Ashland Gun Club. We had to laugh at your comment of how the Sierra Club might view the environmental footprint of a 19,000-square-foot, single-family home. What really gets me is covering up the fact that they don't like the noise, and using the environmental issue to gain public support.

The gun club has leased the land since 1968, and these two "modest" family homes were built there in 2004 and 2007. These two intelligent families didn't realize that a gun club makes noise? Duh! If I looked up "smart and logical" in their private dictionary, it would be under "arrogant and selfish!" — Ken Hickenbottom, Medford

I am writing to protest Kurt Austermann's characterization of Allen Hallmark as a lawbreaker.

I know Allen, and was one of many who contributed to pay his fine. Allen is a combat veteran from Vietnam. Doesn't that earn him the right to peacefully protest when his congressman decides to represent the right-wing minority, not the people of his district?

Mr. Austermann should read the biography of Henry David Thoreau, who was once jailed for civil disobedience. He refused to pay taxes that were supporting an unjust war and slavery.

His conservative friend Ralph Waldo Emerson asked him if he was ashamed of being locked up. Thoreau replied, "No, but aren't you ashamed for not being in jail?" — Jeff Cheek, Medford