Don't sell out our rights
I am one of the people Susan Hill fears ("Raleigh abortion war veteran awaits high court verdict," Triangles, Dec. 7). Apparently so are actor Martin Sheen; author Helen Prejean (Dead Man Walking); death penalty abolitionist Abe Bonowitz (arrested at Central Prison); and Voices in the Wilderness founder Kathy Kelly (arrested in Johnston County anti-torture action). They, as well as PETA, the Teamsters, the IBEW, about 24 other activist organizations and 30 noted peace and justice leaders, have signed amicus (friend of the court) briefs in the Scheidler v. National Organization for Women Supreme Court case, opposing NOW.
Why? Not because all oppose abortion on demand: Some do, others don't. But because they all oppose using federal racketeering and extortion (RICO) laws against nonviolent protesters.
Apparently Hill believes it more important to keep unfettered access to abortion than to safeguard our constitutional rights like freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.
Thousands, perhaps millions, have publicly protested abortion, yet incidents of violence are rare. In Hill's view, anyone who publicly opposes abortion is a potential clinic bomber.
This case is not about stopping violence (a good thing), but about misapplying a law written to deter organized crime.
Nearly all claims of clinic violence brought before the court in this case were found to be untrue, and what remained was specious at best.
For example, an incident in Milwaukee in which the husband of an abortion clinic owner had his arm broken during an anti-abortion protest sounds bad. But the truth is a mentally ill passerby actually injured the man.
Under RICO, protest organizers are held liable for everything that occurs at the protest. Such a misapplication of the law has a chilling effect on all nonviolent protests.
None of the amicus signers condone violence; many are pacifists. But all agree that allowing the government to apply racketeering law to abortion protesters sets a frightening precedent. Some abortion protesters have already been punished under RICO, as have animal rights advocates and environmentalists.
NOW and Hill are selling out progressives. True progressives would do everything possible to protect our constitutional democracy.
I agree with Bob Geary in his Jan. 4 Citizen article, "Who needs Raleigh?" I think Chapel Hill and Durham should move forward with light rail plans and leave Raleigh out. One day Raleigh will wake up to the idea of light rail, and that's when it will really cost Raleigh lots of money. Hey, as long as the developers in Raleigh can make money off of sprawl, they will. Raleigh has always done things backwards. I always think of Durham and Chapel Hill as progressive and cool places to live.
Not so sketchy
Bob Geary, in his otherwise excellent piece on rail transit in the Triangle ("Who needs Raleigh?" Jan. 4), says: "[D]owntown bus service in Raleigh is sketchy in the extreme--with no promise of quick improvement. So if rail riders disembarked five or six blocks from their destination, they'd have to be prepared to wait for a connection. Or else hoof it."
In fact, while suburban bus service in Raleigh is sketchy, downtown CAT bus service is quite plentiful. There are 18 bus routes that serve downtown Raleigh, several of which already pass the planned downtown TTA station, and long-range planning calls for more service to those stations when they are built. Plans also call for bus shuttles from the two stations around the State Fairgrounds, looping to destinations like the RBC Center.
In fact, the City of Raleigh currently has special bus service seven days a week from the Amtrak station to Moore Square where all the downtown routes converge, meeting three of the four daily trains.
Not so bright
I see once again the OBC lighthouse is making a comeback ("More fighting over Currituck lighthouse," Triangles, April 28, 2004). I'm wondering on the legal side of things how the commissioners of Currituck County can continue to waste our tax money. I was wondering if there's any way to counter-suit, to stop them from continuing on with their childish idiocracy. The county can't even manage what they have, let alone another icon. Take a look at the ferry issue: You would think they would have planned where it would dock before having the boat built! More of our tax money at work. Let's not mention the irresponsibility of suing Gov. Easley over a mere misinterpretation. Our taxpayer money is being squandered on things the average Currituck citizen couldn't care less about. Give more money to our law enforcement, fire departments, water and sewer projects and quit with the childish behavior already!