Free speech Is free speech

As the individual who responded inappropriately to James Pitkin after the Oct. 1, 2008, news conference for Czech Republic President Václav Klaus, I would like to respond. Mr. Pitkin's article ("Czech President Denies Global Warming; WW Gets Called an Asshole," WWire, Sept. 30, 2008) missed much of the content of President Klaus' presentation. Irate at Mr. Pitkin's tone, I spoke angrily and unprofessionally and wish to apologize.

Having done so, however, I would like to question the ethics of Mr. Pitkin focusing on personal attacks rather than critical journalism. Dr. Klaus is a scholar, and the president of a nation state whose perspectives on global warming vary much as do ours. But Mr. Pitkin seems to believe that the validity of one's views should be based on one's standing as a celebrity (Pitkin's question that raised my ire suggested that Václav Klaus was a lesser person than another noted Czech, Václav Havel, and thus his views deserved less attention).

Shouldn't Oregonians hear alternative views, especially from one of the only political leaders in the world to have challenged the conventional viewpoint on the global warming issue? What is the point, after all, of having free speech if only one side is allowed?

President Klaus spoke a few minutes later to an audience of more than 225 people. But Mr. Pitkin did not elect to hear that talk—he'd scored his hit and had his story. As a former journalist, I understand, and defend, the right of a reporter to ask tough questions. But I do think Mr. Pitkin, and his readers, missed an opportunity to gain some appreciation of a hugely important issue.
Jody Clarke
Vice president for development, Competitive Enterprise Institute
Washington, D.C.

Ed. note: See story for more

Black people STILL denied voting rights
In reading your article on PUMA ["PUMA Patrol," WW, Oct. 1, 2008], I must admit I found the excuse that "Black people had the vote 50 years before women" to be most disingenuous. While that statement may be historically accurate, it simply isn't the whole truth. Black people are STILL being denied voting rights, as is easily researched from the 2000 and the 2004 elections. How many black people were thrown off of the voter rolls in Florida and in Ohio, respectively, to prevent those states from going Democratic? I also seem to recall that either Jim Crow or just plain racism prevented MOST blacks from voting until the civil rights era. Women winning the right to vote faced little to no discrimination once they had achieved the right (unless they were black). The individual who made that remark needs to find a new song and dance for their private version of racism.
Ken Lodge
Southeast 27th Avenue

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