Letters to the editor for August 26, 2018

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On the Inter Lake’s letters policy

When Dean Baquet and the editorial board of The New York Times made the decision not to publish the cartoons of Muhammad, the Times was reporting about (because they had provoked mass demonstrations, acts of terrorism and threats of more terrorism in Europe), I was disgusted by their cowardice. Now the editors of the Daily Inter Lake without facing any such danger has decided to “re-examine our policy” of trying to publish all the letters they receive from local residents. Why? Because they received a number of letters castigating them for publishing on August 12 a letter from one Tim Adams that was awash in ignorance and anti-gay prejudice, presented as a defense of scriptural teaching by someone wholly ignorant of the linguistic, anthropological and historical context of the bible he knows only in whatever English translation he uses. Happily, there were several excellent responses to this medieval moron, addressing his ignorance and bigotry. Unhappily, there were many more letters arguing that Adams’ benighted views should not have been published. That is the approach of folks like the Love Lives Here crowd who think that by gagging the expression of wrong and backward ideas they lay them to rest. And that is the wrongheaded notion to which the editors are bowing with their re-examination of their letters policy. If Dean Baquet is a coward, the Inter Lake editors are cowards thrice over. —Lee Smith, Somers

Words fuel acts of hate

I was very disappointed that Daily Inter Lake editor Frank Miele printed the guest opinion piece by Tim Adams on Aug. 12, 2018, titled “Promoting LGBTQ lifestyle a mistake.” The online version of this piece is currently posted under Letters to the Editor, but in the printed version of the paper the article was given a sizable amount of page space as a Guest Opinion, which to many readers appears to lend content more authority.

The piece attempts to shame and condemn LGBTQ youth and their parents and also calls for conversion therapy, which has been widely denounced as harmful by the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association and many others. Printing such recommendations veers strongly towards unethical journalism as it promotes harm to individuals, in this case children and teens.

Here in Kalispell, a high school student was recently harassed after a Love Lives Here meeting, and these meetings are now requiring extra security measures. Hateful and intolerant words printed in the local newspaper do nothing but make community members more unsafe. These words fuel acts of hate, discrimination and intimidation in a community that should be safe for everyone and offer love and acceptance to all. ­­­—Martha Furman, Kalispell

An unsafe area to build

This letter is concerning a recent article about the Somers schools plans building their new school (additions). One of the last land -use decisions I made as county commissioner was to deny a 200-plus subdivision proposed on the north end of Flathead Lake, east of the Somers School.

I spent countless hours of research about “liquefaction” which is exactly why the Somers School engineer halted construction before ground was broken. Fact: wet, loose sandy soil may have the building vulnerable to damage in the event of an earthquake. And, according to Somers-Lakeside School District Superintendent Joe Price, “it could potentially be a worst case scenario for the future of Somers School.”

While I don’t need to take this opportunity to justify my actions at the time, it is important to point out to the previous County Attorney’s office, who decided to settle the case with the developer for a staggering million dollars, county taxpayer monies, (insurance paid a portion, but nonetheless, a very wrong and misguided decision), they did not bother to understand the significance of building out a large subdivision on the sandy soil of Somers beach.

I write this letter only to point out the facts — yes, for justification of the decision I made concerning building subdivisions on the north end of Flathead Lake, but also to remind future out-of-state developers trying to make large amounts of money in an unsafe area to build, there is now enough information to put you on notice. I do not regret my decision. —Gary D. Hall, Columbia Falls, former Flathead County commissioner

‘Two-faced’ Tester and the VA

I read Douglas Rhodes’ Aug. 15 letter and agree that the VA Clinic in Kalispell is tops. However I disagree that Tester is supporting our veterans. I believe that he voted in the Senate to cut military pensions. They deserve every dime in their small pensions. He goes on how he supports them and votes against them. I call that two-faced. In the vote 53 democrats voted for the cut versus 11 Republicans, and Trump passed legislation for them to see civilian doctors. Who is really taking care of the veterans? The proof is in the votes. If they want to cut pensions, they should cut the congressional pensions! —Martha Snipes, Columbia Falls

Living in our own little bubble

Regarding the current brouhaha over the Daily Inter Lake’s publication of Tim Adam’s opinion piece regarding LGBTQ+, several thoughts come to mind.

Immediately, the quote “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” pops up in my mind. It’s often mis-attributed to Patrick Henry of revolutionary war fame, but he definitely agreed with it. Usually attributed either to Henry or Voltaire, it originated with Evelyn Beatrice Hall in 1906. She used it to sum up Voltaire’s attitude about the author of a book that was attacked, publicly burned, and resulted in the author’s exile - a chilling thought for us in America. And, all who know history remember what happened in Germany when Hitler began burning books he disagreed with and controlling what was put out through the media. This quote also leads to remembering the fairly recent case of the Danish cartoonist who drew a satirical work about a Muslim cleric and who then had to go into hiding because of death threats from outraged Muslims. Of course, no one who objected to Adam’s letter being published went that far, but the underlying premise is the same: an opinion/idea that I vehemently disagree with should not be disseminated.

The other thought I have regards the human tendency to stick our heads in the sand, avoiding people, thoughts and actions that we are uncomfortable with, living in our own little bubble. This leads to being unaware that there are those who disagree with us and who may ultimately adversely affect the safe cocoon that we live in. Is it better to know or not to know? As Michael Corleone famously said in the movie The Godfather, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”

I believe in the freedom of the press founded on responsible journalism (NOT social media) in order to fight the deterioration of democratic culture around the world. I believe that just by publishing a letter clearly marked as an opinion piece, the Daily Inter Lake was not promoting that opinion, but rather was disseminating information for the general knowledge of their readers. —Betsy Wood, Kalispell

Public safety more important in Evergreen?

Traffic on West Evergreen Drive was cited as one of the paramount concerns for the decision to scrap the Evergreen mobile-home park. Compare this decision to the city of Kalispell’s plan to allow perhaps 600 to 800 additional vehicles access onto Two Mile Drive, in two different developments, a high density apartment complex near Hawthorne and a large single -family development near Two Mile and West Springcreek.

At a planning board meeting focusing on the high-density apartment project on Two Mile Drive, pedestrian safety was brought up. The response was that the developer would be responsible for sidewalks only along roadways immediately adjacent to the apartments. This same response was made at another presentation regarding the housing development at West Springcreek. Just because the developer cannot be responsible for safety provisions does not mean that they are unnecessary.

The infrastructure is not in place to permit this development yet our representatives just plow ahead with little regard for the potential hazards to pedestrians and bicyclists. If this development goes forward, sections of Two Mile Drive, already narrow, will have just a couple of intermittent sidewalks, with the huge majority left with no shoulder and drainage ditches on either side.

Either put the upgrades and necessary infrastructure in place or don’t approve the project.

The primary function of government is to protect it’s citizens. This is your responsibility.

I regularly see walkers, joggers and youngsters on bicycles using Two Mile Drive. Don’t wait for a tragedy to do what should be done. —William Etter, Kalispell

A chance at affordable higher education

Be it Flathead County or Gallatin Country, I have lived in this beautiful state for my entire life. Montana is my home.

As a third-year student at Montana State University pursuing a degree in rconomics with an emphasis in community health, I reflect back to five years ago when I was 16-years-old and my father unexpectedly lost his business. This was my family’s main source of livelihood and in the midst of financial strife, my parents broke the news that if I wanted to attend college, I would need to find a way on my own.

Without affordable in-state tuition and scholarship opportunities, I would have never had the means to afford higher education on my own. My education has empowered me, elevated me, and made my future aspirations much clearer. I seek to use economics and public health practices as tools to improve community health in historically underserved Montana communities.

As a result of my stories and others like it, I hope you’ll join me in voting YES on the 6-Mill Levy in November. The 6-Mill Levy is not a new tax, but having it pass again in this 10-year cycle would ensure that other students like myself have a chance at affording higher education and accessing their full potential and passion. —Micah McFeely, Whitefish

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