- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The cartoon double standard

Paul M. Rodriguez’s column (“A Muslim viewpoint,” Op-Ed, yesterday) in telling only one side of the story misses the double standards of Muslim protests.

First, the Muslim response is inconsistent, since there has never been any protest about the north frieze on the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, which features a bas-relief sculpture depicting the prophet Muhammad, among other historical lawgivers.

Second, Muslims’ argument that they stand for respect for all religions against secular society’s disregard for religious values is incorrect.

Protesting against 12 cartoons as a form of idolatry is disrespectful to the faith of more than 1.5 billion Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, who use idols in worship.

Third, if Muslims truly treat Koranic verses as embodying the word of Allah in their day-to-day life, why are so many newspapers with Koranic verses on their masthead thrown out after being read in the broader Middle East?


Visiting professor of finance

College of Business Administration

Butler University


A solution to eminent domain abuse

Jacob Sullum goes a little over the top when he compares the government’s use of eminent domain to a bank robber’s use of a gun (“Eminent domain arm-twists,” Commentary, Saturday). Otherwise, he’s right that eminent domain now more than before Kelo v. New London is a bargaining tool that would let local governments put forth a more forceful attempt to buy land for redevelopment.

Mr. Sullum writes, “given the choice between selling and fighting an expensive legal battle they will almost certainly lose, after which they will have to give up their land anyway, probably on less advantageous terms, most people ‘agree’ to sell.” But that’s not the whole story, as we might wonder what would happen if the choices were to sell or fight a long and expensive legal battle that the property owner might win.

Wouldn’t the costs incurred in fighting any legal battle, regardless of the outcome, be a tremendous incentive to simply sell at whatever price is offered? Kelo v. New London simply made the outcome more likely to be negative for the homeowner; if a court ruled for the homeowner, however, the overall outcome wouldn’t be all that positive.

If eminent domain cases are to become prominent (like asbestos cases) maybe we need a special court to handle them and special rules to govern them. Ideally, the burden of the cost for an eminent domain case should fall entirely on the plaintiff (the government) — that means both the government’s legal fees and the homeowner’s.

This would make it possible, even reasonable, for the homeowner to put up a defense. It would also discourage the government from using eminent domain for reasons that are not obviously a “public good.”

Even with the precedent of Kelo v. New London, any use of eminent domain to obtain property that will be turned over to private developers would face a lengthy appeals process, which might discourage the government now that it is footing the bill.



An environmentalist cash cow

With regard to “Hot flashes” (Inside Politics, yesterday): Environmentalists simply do not want to lose the biggest money pit opportunity of the 21st century.

With elitist consensual manipulation, scientists, politicians and college professors reached a blind spot on the environmental fitness landscape and intend to get around it by creating a global tax on energy under the umbrella of global warming, when it should be strictly under the environment.

By trying to divert the complexity that makes up our weather into one simple output, global warming, they want to create the largest slush fund in the world.

Michael Crichton is the common citizen’s interpreter of complexity theory. His discussion with President Bush indicates Mr. Bush has a better grasp of complexity than most other politicians, the scientists and the media. Additionally, the president can connect the dots when it comes to understanding environmentalists’ Clintonesque tobacco trial strategy (guess who wants in on the deal).

There have been ice ages and global warming without carbon emissions and they will continue with carbon emissions.

The real issue is that the snake oil environmentalists are selling should be limited to the local environment to really do some good, not global weather. They just can’t make any money that way. Like Mr. Crichton, when you hear consensual science being espoused, hang on to your wallet.


Peyton, Colo.

Regarding religious freedom

Regarding the review of Kevin Hasson’s “The Right to be Wrong” (“Maintaining religious freedom,” Books, Sunday), Mr. Hasson is wrong if he thinks that the 14th Amendment did not apply the First Amendment to state and local government until the 1920s. The Congress that approved the 14th Amendment after the Civil War intended precisely that, though it took the Supreme Court 50 years to actually do it.

If Mr. Hasson believes that First Amendment free exercise is adequately protected, he should reread Justice Antonin Scalia’s 1990 ruling in Oregon v. Smith to see how free exercise has been diluted.

If he thinks that free exercise eliminates the need for the establishment clause, he is mistaken, as the history of religious freedom in the United States makes clear.



Americans for Religious Liberty

Silver Spring

Other ways of confronting violence

In the article “To show or not to show” (Culture, et cetera, Feb. 14) about Notre Dame and “The Vagina Monologues” debate, there was much talk about why the play is necessary, even at institutions that may not want to endorse the content of the play.

Kerry Walsh expressed in the article that the play should be allowed to stay because it “helps elevate awareness of violence against women.” Up until now, Catholic universities across the country have accepted the V-Monologues based on its laudable goals, arguing that the ends (ending violence against women) justify the means although the means are questionable.

But some of us did not accept this answer. Though not mentioned in the article, we provided an alternative way to raise awareness about violence against women through a conference titled “The Edith Stein Project: Redefining Feminism” (www.edithsteinproject.org).

This two-day event took place on campus the weekend before the Monologues. Twenty speakers from all over the country spoke to an audience of more than 300 people from the Notre Dame community and around the nation.

This event dealt with topics ranging from rape, domestic violence, abortion and pornography to motherhood, career choices and women’s health issues. The event welcomed varying perspectives and encouraged open dialogue while maintaining a pro-life, pro-family focus.

While many people within this debate have not explored other possibilities than performing the V-Monologues, the Edith Stein Conference organizers demonstrated that there are other ways to address the issue of violence against women while maintaining the integrity of our Catholic tradition at Notre Dame.


South Bend, Ind.

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