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Canada a poor example of limited speech

In "We should not condone hate speech" [Opinion, June 25], columnist Anne Michaud proposes limiting the First Amendment rights of Americans to ensure we don't expose a person "to hatred or contempt ... on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination" or to "willfully [promote] hatred against any identifiable group."

She doesn't say that if a boss says something such as liking "visible minorities," as in the 2008 case of Shiv Chopra, that person could be hauled before a Canadian human rights commission and be forced to defend himself or herself at his or her own expense. Do we need an unelected bunch of professional meddlers interfering with our free speech rights?

The answer to free speech we dislike is more free speech, not less. The Constitution enshrined everyone's right to free speech; no one has a right to not be offended.

We've survived since 1787 with a First Amendment that has served us well. We should continue to honor it as we always have.

Thomas Reilly, Huntington Station

Anne Michaud's views on limiting free speech are dangerous, abrogate the meaning and intent of the First Amendment and ignore the question of who it is who decides what constitutes hate speech.

Repressive government or leaders can declare anything that they find offensive as hate speech. The perpetually offended could silence those they declare to be perpetually offensive.

Free speech gives us a weapon mightier than money or arms. Americans have the right to all forms of discussion. We can talk, write or draw about religion, morals and ethics. We must not take on the values of other nations because of threat, violence or fear.

Intolerance for debate has led to threats of attack and killings worldwide. America's future must belong to those who affirm freedom over fear.

Bernard A. Bilawsky, North Massapequa

Fussing with fats, ignoring the smoke

Reading "We won't miss the trans fats" [Editorial, June 21], regarding the Food and Drug Administration getting rid of trans fat in our diet, I have to wonder just what the federal government is doing about getting rid of tobacco products.

On TV, we see smokers who have lost their voices, toes, fingers and even legs. Yet, the government spends money telling people to stop smoking and continues to allow the sale of tobacco products.

If tobacco products were pills and drugs, they would have been removed from the market years ago. But with the money that all levels of government get in taxes from the sale of tobacco, the same governments continue to look the other way.

Thomas Smith, Riverhead

In answer to the letter about a ban on trans fats ruining Thanksgiving pies ["Tax trans fats, don't ban them," June 23], I buy a solid shortening that has no trans fats. Spend the extra dollar for a healthier product! Our families' health is worth it.

Irene Semon, Setauket

Don't send treated sewage to ocean

Is this the best we can do? Simply sending Nassau County's pollution from Point A (the western bays) to Point B (the ocean) as an out-of-sight, out-of-mind engineered project costing millions ["Grab millions for ocean pipe," Editorial, June 10]?

An upgraded nitrogen removal system at our sewer plant will not be good enough for the bays, but it's OK for the ocean?

Shame on our officials for not thinking better. Why not create tertiary treatment of the wastewater to bring it to drinking-water quality? Riverhead is using its treated effluent for ornamental irrigation instead of using precious drinking water.

Corrado Vasquez, Old Bethpage

Editor's note: The writer is a retired sewage plant laboratory director for Nassau County.

Sewer consultant deal had opposition

We, the Democratic minority delegation to the Rules Committee of the Nassau legislature, voted against a contract with KPMG LLC to study the feasibility of the county leasing its sewer system to a private operator ["Nassau money down the drain," Editorial, July 1].

Newsday's editorial correctly condemns the county's agreement to retain KPMG as a financial consultant for sewer privatization. The editorial neglects to mention how the committee's Democrats voted. Our negative vote was based on the very reasons expressed in the editorial, as well as because sewer privatization will inevitably result in higher sewer rates for the public.

Kevan Abrahams, Judy Jacobs, Carrié Solages, Mineola

Editor's note: The writers are, in order, the Nassau legislative minority leader and representatives of Legislative Districts 16 and 3.