Speech impediment: I am writing in response to the judge's decision regarding the shield law ("Strong Shield," Patti Epler, March 1). I am very glad he ruled in favor of the journalist. In short, it is imperative that our journalists, newspapers, magazines and other media be protected from law enforcement, government or any body of authority who threatens the people's freedom of speech.
I may not agree every time with what is written or spoken via the media, but I believe in free speech. The right to express oneself without the fear of persecution by the government is a constitutional right our forefathers died to defend. To me, the homeowners who are angry because New Times did not reveal its source, in order for law enforcement to pursue the culprit, exhibit extreme ignorance. Their myopic view through the paper tube of materialism blinds them to the long-lasting devastating consequences of limiting free speech. If a court ever rules to force a newspaper or journalist to reveal a source, it will set the precedent to allow government to abuse its power by utilizing the courts to obtain privileged information. Our freedom of speech is sacred and we need to preserve it.
Once the government gets its foot in the door, what stops it from initiating a state-run press? My blood boils when I hear a majority of our world is dominated by government-run presses. For example, in Saudi Arabia, if anything negative is written about the royal family, the press and the journalists are fined and jailed. That is horrible to be condemned to a life of fear for speaking one's mind. Those homeowners need to be reminded that if our freedom of speech is denied, violated or revised in any way, they will lose a lot more than their homes. Believe me, I will fight with my last breath for the right of free speech. That is our constitutional right, and no one or no body of power should ever have the tools to take that freedom away from me or you.
Laura L. Tolchinsky
Tell Laura I Loathe Her
Kiddy litter: Laura Laughlin's piece is simple, pure, cruel negligence ("O Children, Where Art Thou?" March 1). I've known Kim Van der Veen for some years now. The truth is that she is the kind of person who truly cares about the community. You depicted a person who is selfish and overly ambitious. You couldn't be more wrong. A community cannot flourish without those who are willing to do the hard work needed. I really do believe there are those who are more worthy to vilify, don't you? Character assassination should be considered a crime, and you, Laura, and the person who allowed this piece to be published should be convicted.
Spain killer: Carey Sweet is nuts, and has not a clue on fine dining ("International Food Bizarre," February 22). I enjoyed a beautiful meal at Barcelona. The service was excellent. The meal was perfect. My New York strip was cooked to perfection. I think Ms. Sweet should take a survey of New Times readers as to their opinion since she is lost outside of McDonald's. I challenge her to print this so that the readers understand that she is the only person in the metro Phoenix area who doesn't enjoy Barcelona.
Name withheld by request
Winner Olympics: Bet most of your mail regarding "Numbers Racket" has favored the Amadas ( Voas, March 1). If you're anti-State Lottery, then it's nice to see a guy stick a thorn in the Arizona Lottery's side. If you're pro-Lottery, you probably don't think much about things like odds anyway.
Regardless, Jeremy Voas could have at least presented the Amadas' business model a little differently. Instead of pointing out the dollar figures related to Amada's "scam," why not show how a $20 investment increases the player's odds of winning from "it ain't going to happen" to four times "it ain't going to happen"? Receiving 5 percent of that future winner is still something to get drunk over. Besides, who wants to endure people shaking their heads in the check-out lane at the grocery store while you buy $40 worth of lottery tickets?
If you want to characterize the Amadas' embellishment of a legal gambling activity as a scam, keep in mind the following: at least it takes some guts for the little guy to operate a scam, especially up front and out in the open. All the government has to do is get us to vote for it.
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Freedom writer: I just wanted to say that I hope you stand your ground on the freedom of the press issue raised by your article on the so-called arsonist ("An Exclusive Interview With the Preserves Arsonist," James Hibberd, January 25). I'm sure that you'll have many negative comments in respect to your stand. I think you should go to the wall for Mr. Hibberd, who wrote the article. I think it's high time that you looked into the record and credentials of Richard Romley, who seems to have argued in congressional testimony that the Miranda rights were ill-advised, because they allowed the guilty to escape prosecution. The recent issue of Sean Botkin -- where the prosecution and threatened punishment far exceed the crime (even according to many of those involved in the events) -- portrays Romley as an opinionated, vindictive, draconian, nasty little man. Keep up the good work, New Times!