A quiet, meditative walk across and around the Big Dam Bridge would be a very pleasant experience, if it wasn't for those infernal cyclists who seem to think that they have a greater claim to the pathways than pedestrians.
They are not only a nuisance, but with their spandex pants, body armor and racing helmets, an acute embarrassment. Just who do they think they are?
Pedaling around the banks of the Arkansas River at 15 mph in that ridiculous uniform does not qualify them for the Tour de France. In the name of humanity, find these clowns another site and, please, as far away as possible from those who enjoy the simple pleasure of walking. There they can indulge their foolish fantasies to their heart's content.
William G. Carlyle
North Little Rock
There are three topics that have replaced politics and religion as taboo subjects for discussion. They are guns, money, and climate change. Mention any of those at your peril. Recent events, however, call for a need for discussion about guns.
For most, there are only two arguments: one, there should be more guns and everyone should have at least one; and two, there should be fewer guns and only those charged with law enforcement should have them.
Let's look at argument one first. In order to argue that everyone should be armed, you must assume that everyone has equal capacity to become a killer. This is, of course, absurd. The great majority of us have never killed another human and, most likely, would not do so. To argue that we would all become killers under specific circumstances would argue against the very proposition that all should have guns. Don't we want to keep guns out of the hands of killers rather than deliberately arming them and trusting circumstance to keep us alive?
Additionally, this argument seeks a lowest denominator for our behavior. Why would a civilized society seek attainment of the lowest or harshest behavioral standard? For one to argue that it is necessary to have a gun in order to be "safe" is equivalent to arguing for the use of "date rape" drugs because that is the only way he or she can have sex. A civilized society doesn't want guns or dangerous drugs in the hands of those most willing to use them. Trying to make the argument that simply possessing a gun is a deterrent to crime is merely overlooking the obvious. If that were true, then having a picture of a gun would be sufficient to deter crime. It isn't the gun that is the deterrent, it is the assumption that it will be used for deadly force that might create a momentary hesitation. Trying to make this argument is reasonable only if you assume that it isn't people who kill people, it's guns that kill people. If that is the case, then wouldn't we be better served by having fewer guns?
But, what about the Second Amendment? Indeed. Reading our Constitution (including its initial version, The Articles of Confederation) confirms that the intention was to ensure availability of an orderly army in case of national or local emergency. Court case law has, over many years, addressed the individual "right" to own weapons. Nonetheless, our Constitution is more attuned to what government can and cannot do than it is to specifying individual rights. Any changes in our inadequate and nonsensical gun laws will have to originate in the courts. In order to begin that process, we must realize that we are not a nation of individuals just waiting for circumstances to turn us into killers.
And argument two? Anyone else want to take that one on?
It is necessary to note here that I am not arguing for more laws relating to guns. I am arguing for reducing the number of guns available to citizens and in favor of a civilized society with fewer guns. I'm sure there are some who will think or say they would be willing to kill me for blaspheming their idol. I certainly want to keep guns out of those hands. I hope the rest of a civilized society will want to as well.
The mosque debate
The enormous debate over the building of an Islamic Cultural Center near what used to be the Twin Towers of the New York Trade Center troubles me greatly. It seems tied to at least two other issues that are also debated: The personal religion of President Obama and the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution.
The proposed building of the center has been likened to placing a Japanese pagoda or symbol at the site of the bombing of Pearl Harbor or a Nazi symbol at the Holocaust Memorial. Well, anyone who would use those comparisons needs to go back to school. The bombing of Pearl Harbor was the work of the Japanese Empire, a nation state, and the horror of the holocaust was the work of the Third Reich, a nation state. As horrible as the bombing of the Trade Center was, it was NOT the work of a nation state or a religion. It was the work of a few fanatical individuals who have no allegiance to anything but what they concoct as their brand of whatever. They seem to wish to ally themselves with some form of Islam, but they are not representative of the religion of Islam. Those who make this association need to read and learn about Islam and perhaps get to know a few Muslims. This may shock many readers, but the few Muslim friends I have are some of the most Christ-like people I have ever met.
The personal religion of President Obama: He refers to himself as a Christian and that is good enough for me. However, if he is, indeed, a Muslim, so what! The First Amendment gives all of us that right. I quote: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
So, could we now lay these debates to rest and get on with solving the critical issues of the day: Education, the economy, the deficit, immigration, etc.
Brenda Ball Tirrell
Hot Springs Village
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