Letters to the Editor

NC GOP is not trying to punish the poor

Gene Nichol is Boyd Tinsley distinguished professor at UNC and former president of  the College of William & Mary, law dean at the University of Colorado, and dean at UNC (1999-2005).
Gene Nichol is Boyd Tinsley distinguished professor at UNC and former president of the College of William & Mary, law dean at the University of Colorado, and dean at UNC (1999-2005).

In “NC’s GOP legislators are back for more punishing of the poor“ (May 25), my colleague Gene Nichol criticized the GOP-controlled General Assembly for enacting legislation over the past few years that has reduced welfare spending.

I respect Gene’s point of view. Gene has devoted himself to fighting poverty, and he sees those laws as hurting those in need. But I don’t agree with his view that members of the General Assembly aim to punish the poor.

The Republican members that I have met since moving to North Carolina do not want anyone to suffer. They simply have a different view of how best to help the poor and others who are disadvantaged. They believe that, instead of providing welfare benefits to those in need, we should devote resources to increasing jobs and bolstering the economy, because in the long run a stronger economy will more effectively combat poverty than welfare will.

One can disagree with those premises. But one should not impute evil intent to others simply because they hold those contrary views. Politicians must make choices because resources are finite. Budget choices will always disappoint someone. But we shouldn’t call the choices that disappoint us immoral.

Andy Hessick

Professor of Law, UNC-Chapel Hill

No disrespect

Regarding “NFL will require players who are on field to ‘stand and show respect’ for flag” (May 23): Isn’t it a sad day when the leader of the free world, charged with protecting the democracy, is the very instrument altering First Amendment rights.

Trump continues wielding the power of his office for personal crusades. His latest target is Jeff Bezos, because the Washington Post will not submit to his threats, accurately reporting the news and earlier the NFL.Although I’m not an NFL or football fan, Trump has no right to pressure the players. And, shame on you Roger Goodell for capitulating and not consulting the players.

Until now, our country tolerated differing views, but no longer. All Americans have an opinion about taking a knee; however, exercising our First Amendment rights belongs to everyone, and until today no president has attempted to change it. It’s not disrespectful to take a knee, it’s a right many countries do not have, and the president’s responsibility is to protect this right. His behavior models the leaders from Turkey, the Philippines and North Korea, where democracy and a bill of rights do not reside.

Rosemary McGee


Prevent shootings

Regarding “Here’s our best defense against school gun violence in NC” (May 21): Violence in America comes from the same place as every nation: mental healthillness. Violence in America is just more fatal than anywhere else, and it’s because of our guns. We have so many firearms in circulation and they need to be reduced. As Barnett points out, we have roughly 300 million firearms, 42 percent of global private firearm use.

However, it’s unrealistic to believe we could ever put a dent into this number through buybacks and restricting gun use. Less than a fifth of gun violence is committed with guns acquired legally. So our issue should not be people turning in guns, it should be curbing the black market and under the table trade of firearms.

With school shootings, we have a bigger issue. When a mentally-ill child decides to go and grab his father’s gun out of the family closet, innocent people will die. Barnett briefly mentions how these parents should be fined, but there needs to be more incentive. Instead of mass media giving shooters attention, this time should be devoted to the parents watching the news, and telling them parents how to prevent this. Barnett writes well on how schools need better counseling, again, it’s a mental health issue.

We as Americans and North Carolinians can’t ignore the issue. Start young. We may not be able to stop those when they acquire a firearm, but maybe let’s prevent these thoughts. Bullying today isn’t so much jocks beating up nerds in the hallway, at least not as much. Bullying is consistent verbal abuse now, and some kids can’t handle it forever. We need a societal change. I may not be educated enough to give a definitive path for the way ahead - but I am educate enough to know we must start carving this path. Let’s take a look at civil rights. The Civil Rights Act wasn’t passed until years of peaceful protest was demonstrated, violence doesn’t work in America.

Our government seems to enjoy watching Americans riot; it seems to be entertainment for them. But when we start making their lives difficult, not their employees, we’ll get change. Giving teachers guns won’t solve a problem of violence. It’s too radical. America is so divided a radical solution is unrealistic at this point. Gun violence is America a mental health issue, no one can disagree, and when we easily provide the tools for this violence to be consistently fatal, mass shootings become monthly, weekly, and daily.

Brandon Pribula

Wake Forest