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Letters for Monday, June 2

Free Speech Sacrificed

To the Editor:

Mark Latham’s ad hominem attack on me (“No Defense of Police Commissioner,” Forum, May 27) for defending the Wolfeboro police commissioner’s right to freedom of speech is very telling.

He has chosen to ignore the obvious fact that defense of an individual’s right to free speech does not, ipso facto, endorse that speech. Everyone should be reminded of Voltaire’s remark, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” (Actually a misattribution, but the words his biographer used to express Voltaire’s philosophy and just as powerful). Mr. Latham would clearly like to sacrifice freedom of speech on the altar of racial harmony. While racial harmony is a very commendable goal, such a sacrifice would be a bargain with the devil and set us on the road to tyranny.

As to the specific case of the police commissioner, his ugly remarks were made in a private conversation in a restaurant and overheard. I have no knowledge that he intended to make a public statement, but he was extraordinarily indiscreet. As far as I know, the details are not public. Context, however, should be important. I would ask Mr. Latham, Where do the commissioner’s rights to privacy come into the picture? Has the quaint notion that even public officials have rights to privacy gone totally by the board in a world that otherwise is increasingly concerned and protective of those rights? Would Mr. Latham say that all rights should be contingent upon conformity to the dictates of political and social correctness as determined by the “enlightened”?

The police commissioner cooked his goose by getting his back up, failing to take a conciliatory path and expressing regret that his private thoughts had become public. Even had he done so, it is still highly problematic that his behavior would have received calm, thoughtful assessment in the highly charged climate of racial politics. His fate was a hasty political execution. At least he did not face the gulag, or worse.

Richard Chapman


Disturbances in the Field

To the Editor:

About “Trigger Happy” (editorial, May 22): Were I still in the academic game, every course announcement would be prefaced as follows: “With any luck, this course will be full of disturbing materials. If this prospect worries you, don’t take the course. Your reactions will be missed.”

W.C. Spengemann


Too Soon to Endorse

To the Editor:

The recent endorsement of Scott Brown by Sen. Kelly Ayotte in this early stage of the primary season was uncalled for (“Ayotte, Ex-Govs. Back Brown’s N.H. Senate Bid” May 28). It gives Brown an edge over the other candidates. I voted for Sen. Ayotte and have watched from the sidelines as she morphed into an establishment politician. The R after her name no longer denotes Republican, instead it denotes RINO (Republican in Name Only). The same can be said for Scott Brown. Come the primary I will vote for the person who adheres to and espouses my values and ideals. If by chance that person does not win and Brown wins, I will either write in that person’s name or not vote in that election.

Stuart A. Smith