Readers Write: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl paid his dues; Unpopular views are still protected
Letters to the Editor for August 4, 2014 weekly magazine:
Ore: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl shouldn't be returned to active duty. He has paid his dues.
Frank: Freedom of speech protects all speech, not just the speech we agree with.
Clearwater, Fla.; and Los Lunas, N.M.
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl paid his dues
In response to the July 14 online article “Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, reintegration finished, back on active duty” (CSMonitor.com): Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl served multiple tours of duty, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was held in captivity by the Taliban for five years, so I am stunned that he is being returned to active duty. It appears as though the US Army isn’t supplying the manpower needed and is hard up for recruits. Not only is Bergdahl already emotionally spent, but he’s paid his dues in full. Active duty could break Bergdahl down completely. He could become a danger to himself as well as to others. The United States should send Bergdahl home.
JoAnn Lee Frank
Unpopular views are still protected
It is refreshing that the July 21 Focus story, “When does ‘speaking out’ cross a line?,” considered freedom of speech in the conversation about racist celebrity outbursts, such as the ones made by Donald Sterling. Although I was appalled by Mr. Sterling’s bigotry, I was equally turned off by the lack of discussion about the prevalence of constitutional rights.
Freedom of speech is vital to a democracy, and those with unpopular views should not be persecuted. After all, without free expression the voice of equality could not have persisted through the time when discrimination was a prevailing opinion. We must not suppress speech through punishment, as that negates the very democratic values that permit social progress. When Sterling was ostracized for the statements he made, while in the privacy of his home, his right to self-expression was challenged. We should not renounce constitutional liberties to court the ideals of a tolerant society. Opinions should be freely expressed, and true social progress is demonstrated by a collective voice that refutes prejudice. Progress toward valuing racial equality has been made since the civil rights era. We should not regress by reprimanding individuals for their speech, which denies civil liberties.
Los Lunas, N.M.