Why don’t we protect the First Amendment with like we do the Second?

Dennis Griffin Sr. of Goldston N.C., listens to speeches during the "Support the Second Amendment Rally" Saturday, April 14, 2018, at Halifax Mall.
Dennis Griffin Sr. of Goldston N.C., listens to speeches during the "Support the Second Amendment Rally" Saturday, April 14, 2018, at Halifax Mall. ehyman@newsobserver.com

Now that the election season is beginning to subside, maybe it is time to re-examine exactly where one of the major issues just debated fits in the national discourse: I’m talking about the Second Amendment.

As a former television and newspaper reporter, I have always been amazed at the disconnect between the supporters of “the right to bear arms” and those, like me, who hold the First Amendment so dear. The champions of the former so often disparage, if not outright deny, the rights provided by the latter. Where is the gun lobby when the White House starts pulling reporters’ credentials? Yes, both issues are part of the same Bill of Rights, but don’t some rights really shine a little bit brighter than others?

The Freedom of the Press. Freedom of Speech. The Right to Peaceably Assemble. Don’t the lovers of firearms understand that “first” comes before “second”?

Mel Hanks

Holly Springs

UNC repairs fee

In reference to “UNC students could face a fee for repairs” (Nov. 16), when I was on campus recently I could not help but notice the sad condition of some buildings. On the second floor of Wilson Library there was a display of rare books, all of them hundreds of years old - astronomy, botany, history. These books, obviously worth a lot of money, were displayed behind glass in fancy wooden cabinets. Surprisingly, many were partially covered by plastic tarps. Yes, it was raining that day, but if you keep a good roof over your head you don’t have to use plastic tarps on the furniture.

Why does UNC-CH pay a coach millions of dollars to lose football games and why does UNC give a $500,000 bonus to a president when she leaves the job early? The campus in Chapel Hill obviously needs to spend money on infrastructure, but this problem did not appear overnight. Who has been kicking this can down the road? Is it a high school senior who will step onto campus for the first time next August? Or an administration that has known about these problems for years? Hey kids, we are the finest public university in the land, but make sure to bring two umbrellas — one for outdoors and one for indoors.

Tom Whiteside, UNC-CH class of 1979


Switching platforms

A recurrent talking point by Republicans is that “Democrats used gerrymandering for 100 years – they shouldn’t complain now.” A young friend asked me if that was true, and I realized he was unaware of the political flip flop of the southern states in the late 1960’s and 1970’s.

Between the end of the Civil War Reconstruction era in 1877, and the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the southern states were run by Dixiecrats. They were conservative whites who were Democrats and generally favored racial segregation and the suppression of black votes by poll taxes, gerrymandering and other means.

After signing the Civil Rights Act, President Lyndon Johnson reportedly told an aide, “I think we just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come.” With President Nixon’s adoption of a “southern strategy,” conservative whites, including Jesse Helms and countless others, abandoned the Democratic Party, and became Republicans. So, when today’s Republicans complain about gerrymandering by Democrats over the past 100 years, they are really talking about what they themselves did.

David C. Sokal


Other plans

When the N&O’s contributing columnists Edwin Yoder and Gene Nichol write, they’re dislike of Trump is obvious. They criticize how he governs and what he says. But, they do not offer any new policies or directions to make America and the world better, except to tax the rich more. If they understood capitalism, they would know that the more free capital there is, the more economic systems grow and innovation occurs.

Nichol, in particular, speaks of concern for the minorities. This is all a facade. The Democrats just cater to them to buy their vote, and divide us. If this direction continues across the United States, we will be faced with the Dictatorship of a Democratic majority in Congress and the White house, and the country I served for in WWII will be lost.

Joseph J. Moyer


Irresponsible driving

I moved here from the San Francisco Bay area about a year ago and here’s what I see daily on the area roads: Excessive speed. Following too closely. Erratic lane changes. Talking on the phone when driving.

One difference I noticed in California was a highly visible and active highway patrol. Just seeing a California Highway Patrol vehicle causes people to slow down and drive more safely because they fear expensive tickets. Here are some examples: Seat belt violation: $271, Speeding: $360, Red light violation: $471.

Perhaps we should raise the fines here and use the revenue to increase the number of state troopers patrolling our roads. Another option would be for all drivers to practice and encourage safe driving techniques. It may be a cliche, but the life you save may be your own!

Rod Lambright

Wake Forest

Miss Manners

Where has Miss Manners’ column gone?

How ironic that she is missing in action from your pages at the same time rude and abusive public discourse has burst into violence.

I first became familiar with the column by Judith Martin when my husband would amusingly read her answers to various letters. Using different voices, he brightened Sunday morning with a giggle. ‘Miss Manners’ was furthering the idea that good manners are simply acts of kindness and attention to others. Forks and napkin use are irrelevant; treating people with concern is everything.

The current President of the United States incites rudeness, vulgarity and words of hate through tweets and rallies. Such bad manners have given permission now to actual violence.

I wish ‘Miss Manners’ could reprimand him and his followers and teach them the way to live in a civil society, full of grace, consideration and rights for all. That would truly make America great again.

Karyn Traut

Chapel Hill


Today I purchased two boxes of Rice Krispies cereal, and guess what, I did not have to show ID!

Edward H. Bonacci, Jr.