News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 24, 2013

READERS’ FORUM: Feb. 24, 2013


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Civil liberties extend to all

I want to commend the Tribune-Star for its Friday editorial entitled “Enough Already.” I totally agree with this view except for the following comment, “We disagree with the teachers comments and share concerns over her teaching in a public school.”

Civil Liberties are a right we share as Americans but it has increasingly become apparent that we cannot be “civil” about it. What has happened to our right to express our opinions and faith? That goes in every direction. We all have the right no matter our opinion or our faith or lack of faith. Hatred has no place in our society. Hatred against homosexuals or against people who believe homosexuality is immoral is wrong.

Biblical opinion has at many times been in disregard culturally in our country over many social issues. This is not the first time. Let’s agree that we can disagree and still allow for civility.

In regard to the editorial’s statement, please sir, there are many teachers in many school corporations who would agree with this woman and her opinions. And may I say, they are great teachers and have every right to teach in our public schools. Freedom of speech does not have to be hateful nor does it have to agree with every public opinion on faith issues. This is what religious freedom is about in our country. That freedom extends to public school teachers.

— Vince McFarland

Terre Haute

Editor’s Note: Perhaps the editorial was not clear. The concern over the person teaching in a public school is only if that person’s religious convictions are being promoted in the classroom. And, as the rest of the editorial explained, we believe it’s time to trust that the school district has the situation under control and won’t let that happen. A public school teacher has the same free-speech rights as anyone else. We did not suggest otherwise.

Sycamores so close to success

I am always a big fan of Sycamore basketball. I graduated in 1978 during the Larry Bird era. We have a very good team this year, but they have one major weakness, as you may have noticed. They have a very difficult time winning on the road and beating teams lower in the conference than they are. They simply let these weaker teams hang around too long and those teams end up beating them.

Sycamores, you need to take a look at Indiana basketball against teams like Purdue. They put most of those teams away early and don’t let them back in the game. After the first 10 minutes of those games the outcome was rarely in doubt — only the point difference mattered.

Then look at your games, Sycamores, where you let the weaker teams hang around and hang around until they find a way to win. You don’t realize how good you can be. Do you realize that you have a tougher non-conference schedule than teams like Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State and other top-20 teams. You have beaten teams like Miami, Ole Miss, Creighton and Wichita State and then lose to teams like Southern Illinois and Bradley.

Win the tournament and you are in the Big Dance. Do you realize you only have to win two games in the NCAA tourney to be one of the top 16 teams in the country? That’s how close you are, and now it is time for you to seal the deal.

Get ahead in the first 10 minutes and never let up. Look at Butler. It made the Final Four two years in a row. You can, too. If any of your readers know any of the team or Coach Lansing, make sure they read this and go out and do what they need to do.

— Bill Pearman


Don’t blame all violence on guns

Recently, Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., proposed new gun control legislation for the citizens of America. Although she and many other distinguished members of Congress are intent on expanding our current gun control laws to include “assault weapons,” a term invented by the left to convince the general public that the rifles referred to are tantamount to machine guns. The FBI did report that rifles were used in just 3.7 percent of gun homicides in 2011, since more than 70 percent of gun homicides involved handguns. The U.S. Department of Justice has reported that approximately 60 percent of all adult firearm deaths are by suicide.

The Congressional Research Service in 2009 estimated there were 310 million firearms in the United States, not including weapons owned by the military; 114 million of these were handguns, 110 million of these were rifles, and 86 million were shotguns. In that same year, the Census Bureau stated the population of people in America at 305,529,237; the current U.S. population is estimated to be approximately 315 million.

Again the left has grown fond of asking why Americans need more than 10 bullets in a magazine, or why we need the particular guns they call “assault weapons”? For example, the deadliest mass shooter in U.S. history, who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007, used two handguns and a backpack full of 10-round magazines. One of the Columbine shooters carried 13 10-round magazines with him. According to the FBI, blunt objects like baseball bats killed 50 percent more people in 2011 than did rifles. Should we now outlaw Louisville Sluggers?

In 2010-2011, the Australian government decided to impose severe gun control laws that have now led to the confiscation of more than 640,000 rifles and shotguns. Since that measure was taken, armed robbery has increased by 69 percent, assaults by guns are up 28 percent, gun murders have jumped 19 percent, and “home invasions” have increased by 21 percent. Politicians in Australia continue to state that this is only the first step in confiscation of firearms — handguns are next.

When one examines American deaths by automobile accidents we can see that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 23,884 traffic fatalities occurred in the first nine months of 2011, and that number rose to 25,580 in 2012; an increase of approximately 7.1 percent. Further, we haven’t even reviewed American deaths by boats, private aircraft or trains.

As one can plainly see, these numbers far exceed U.S. deaths by guns, and yet there is no “outcry” for the elimination of cars, trucks and other motorized vehicles. It should also be noted that criminals don’t usually purchase guns through legal and licensed firearm dealers, especially since they are not great fans of “background checks.” Most informed Americans know that many guns (all types) are sold via the “black market” or by individuals, and no background checks are involved in these transactions.

In today’s America we tend to fix the blame on inanimate objects, as opposed to the element of human intervention when examining deaths by guns. Yet the most “common thread” that connects deaths by guns and motorized vehicles remains human behavior and personal responsibility.

The Second Amendment of our beloved U.S. Constitution clearly states … “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government,” said Thomas Jefferson.

The Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776) specifically states … “that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”

— William Hanna

Terre Haute

Talking points are all around

In a letter by Dr. Stephens on Feb. 10, I was accused of “parroting Democratic talking points” and being “uninformed.” He then went on to parrot Republican talking points and proving how uninformed he is.

When I said the GOP is the party of the rich, I meant the leadership is. If anyone thinks different, there you will find the uninformed.

Ask Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in America, who said it is not fair that he pays a lower income tax rate than his secretary.

You think it is stupid that anyone would think the ordinary folk of the GOP want to take care of the rich. Granted. But it is stupid to vote to take care of the rich. I know there are other reasons people vote GOP, but if we’re just talking our personal and financial well-being and we vote the GOP in, we lose.

Is the GOP for anything? Lower taxes and smaller government. Bumper-sticker talking points. But what does that really mean? Cut taxes for the rich, again. But what about us? Cut “entitlements” which is another term for austerity, which made things worse when it was tried in Europe.

Smaller government? Sure. Cut regulations for everything from Wall Street to food inspectors to OSHA and mine inspectors and environmental regulations. So big business won’t have to pay for them. We all saw how well that worked when Bush and the Republicans were in charge of everything. Disaster.

Obama started class warfare? Class warfare has been around just about forever. It really intensified in this country when Big Business (the rich) hired thugs to murder union organizers.

Income disparity is growing thanks to the GOP war on unions. So the rich can get richer. That’s class warfare. Without unions we would have no middle class.

The rich have been looting the country, the government, schools, pension plans, wages, the equity in our homes and everything else they can get their hands on since the Reagan days. Their greed has no end.

Why cut public education and lay off teachers? Just another hurdle for someone to overcome to try to get a piece of the pie when the rich wants the whole pie.

Dr. Stephens wrote that the rich pay 90 percent of U.S. taxes. That’s probably because they have about 90 percent of the money.

By the way, Doc, the U.S. is No. 1 in the world in health-care spending yet 45th in life expectancy. And the Republicans want to keep things just as they are.

Get informed, Doc, it’s time for progress, middle-class style.

— Bruce Sheets


Learning about rare diseases

I am writing to alert your readers to a special day that’s coming up soon. On the last day of February, millions of people around the world will be observing World Rare Disease Day. There will be activities across the U.S., throughout Europe, in Canada, in Australia, in China and elsewhere. People with a rare disease and their families will share their stories to focus attention on rare diseases as a public health issue Feb. 28, 2013.

In the U.S., a disease is considered rare if it affects fewer than 200,000 people. Some rare diseases, such as the one I have, Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP), affects only one in 2 million people. FOP is one of the rarest, most disabling genetic conditions known to medicine. It causes bone to form in muscles, tendons and ligaments, making a second skeleton that imprisons my body in bone.

You can imagine the loneliness of having a disease that most people have never heard of but fortunately through my membership with the International FOP Association (IFOPA) my family and I have support. The IFOPA funds research to find a cure for FOP while supporting individuals and their families through education, public awareness and advocacy.

This year, which marks the 25th Anniversary of the IFOPA, our organization wants everyone to know what FOP looks like at birth because it is frequently misdiagnosed as cancer and surgery or a biopsy only makes the condition worse for children, increasing their pain and loss of mobility. Although there is no effective FOP treatment at this time we can prevent misdiagnosis. Please encourage your readers to visit this page on the IFOPA web site,

All of us know someone with a rare disease. I encourage your readers to visit the U.S. Rare Disease Day website ( on or before Feb. 28 to read about Rare Disease Day activities in the U.S. and the global website,, to learn what’s being done around the world. Thank you for sharing this information with our local community.

— Kay Shaffer-Daley

Terre Haute