Letters to the editor: Oct. 20, 2017


Re: Oct. 17 commentary, “Let’s view science as a powerful tool, not as a threat.

Professors Michael Starbird and Jay Banner encourage universities to engage the public in the appreciation of science. It is dangerous, they rightfully state, to develop energy or public health policies not based on the best scientific information, and advocate that artists, humanists and social scientists help convey this message.

The obverse is equally important. Scientists need to understand and convey the importance of the arts, humanities and social sciences — and not only when it comes to policies about trade, war or immigration. Indeed, understanding the history and social context of science is also important in seeing the role of assumptions and the past in current scientific work. We must stand together as scholars and teachers to appreciate each other’s work in its own right, not just as service fields. Full collaboration in all studies is the only way forward to combat the ignorance and blunders that threaten our future.

STEVEN DAVIDSON, GEORGETOWN

Oct. 7 article, “Trump widens birth control opt-out.”

I am writing to express my outrage at the recent move by the Trump administration in rolling back the Affordable Care Act mandate that insurance companies cover birth control under employer-provided plans. Any employer with a religious “excuse” could discriminate against the women in their employ. Where do you draw the line? What if I take a job run by a Jehovah’s Witness or a Christian Scientist and they do not want to cover blood transfusions or routine vaccinations?

I am a woman of child-bearing age with two children — and I do not wish to have any more. That decision should be between myself and my husband, not the government and my employer. This is an economic and social justice issue for women and families, and I will not rest in fighting this every step of the way.

RACHEL JACKSON, AUSTIN

Leonard Pitts is obviously no fan of our current leader. That’s fine. Every Sunday, we are honored to read his criticism of President Trump. He suggests Trump is a lousy excuse for a president. Maybe — but he was elected to serve us. He certainly is entertaining. Maybe too crude. Having never been elected into our political system kind of puts a different spin on his style.

Pitts needs some other folks to gripe about. I would suggest he get off his rear and find some causes which need to be editorialized.

MIKE EDGAR, AUSTIN

Re: Oct. 15 commentary, “GOP starts to acknowledge truth of Trump’s awfulness.”

In his commentary entitled “GOP starts to acknowledge truth of Trump’s awfulness,” Leonard Pitts correctly observes that Trump’s defectiveness was obvious from the start. What Leonard fails to realize is that as a Twitter-holic ignoramus, Trump is representative of most Americans — and H. L. Mencken’s prophecy has come true: “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. … On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

LARRY CHASTEEN, AUSTIN

Re: Oct. 14 letter to the editor, “Smoking takes far more lives than guns in U.S.”

The writer’s observation that smoking deaths take more lives than guns a bit perplexing — and perhaps even confusing.

But let me just say this, when cigarettes are used as weapons to murder people — “murder” being the key word — such as a mass killing, drive-by scenario or a robbery gone awry, then I will be the first in line to have them strictly regulated. Until then, let’s keep our apples and oranges separate for now.

STEVEN MARTIN, TEMPLE

Nine months into Donald Trump’s administration, the president’s tweets keep coming, creating drama that occupies the attention of the news media and thus the public. Important question: Where should the news media draw the line between either ignoring President Trump’s tweets (not allowing them to drive the daily news) or focusing on how dangerous and erroneous his statements are (on the assumption that these are the words of the president and thus matter)?

As someone who studies communication, I believe there is no easy answer. On the one hand, by focusing on the tweets, the news media fulfills its function of covering and fact-checking the president, exposing possible dangerous outcomes of what he says. On the other hand, the more coverage of Trump’s tweets, the more likely his abnormal behavior becomes normalized — and the less attention gets paid to other potentially more consequential things the president may be doing.

RICHARD CHERWITZ, AUSTIN



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