Neil Young, top left, was joined by Graham Nash, seated,...

Neil Young, top left, was joined by Graham Nash, seated, David Crosby and Stephen Stills in leaving Spotify. They're shown in 1999. Credit: AP/BEBETO MATTHEWS

Excuse me, but I can think for myself

Am I the only one who’s noticed that the words "misinformation" and "disinformation" were not as much part of the national vernacular until COVID-19 hit us?

People used to be allowed to listen to multiple sources of information, analyze it, and decide for themselves what was true or false. The right to believe what one wants to believe was a founding principle of this country.

When was that right taken away from us? Why do the government and the media insist on infantilizing the American public … apparently deeming us incapable of deciphering information ourselves, in constant need of censorship and supervision to understand "truth"?

We don’t need the president, Facebook or Neil Young, for that matter, telling us what’s what ["Crosby, Stills, Nash join Spotify boycott," Flash! Feb. 4]. We are free adults who have the right to make our own decisions regarding what to listen to and what to believe. Celebrities who claim to know what misinformation is, on subjects they know nothing about, are simply laughable. Young’s views are no more valid than Joe Rogan's are, and only we should get to decide which one is right. No one is doing us a favor by not allowing us the opportunity to think for ourselves.

Priscilla Soumakis, Brightwaters

Addressing school costs can lower taxes

Recently, I've seen multiple commercials and pieces of mail all advertising property tax relief companies ["Assessments need state fix," Editorial, Jan. 7]. I don't mind these companies, but I am reminded that this is a backward approach to tax savings. Every tax dollar saved for a homeowner or business shifts the tax burden to others. It’s a simple formula; taxes go into spending plans (and budgets). The only real way to lower property taxes on Long Island or anywhere is to lower spending.

Some 67% of my property taxes are for schools. School property taxes are based on the district's spending plans, created by administrators and school boards. The community has a unique opportunity every year in May to vote for or against the spending plan.

Residents can ask local districts when the budget hearings for the next school year are being held. Ask about the actual, audited spending of the current school year and a projection of what the following year looks like. Typically, districts only present budget-to-budget comparisons, but these do not help the taxpayer understand the costs necessary to run district schools. Becoming educated taxpayers is the best way to lower our property taxes.

Kathleen Darmstadt, Williston Park

Starving Afghans need money now

President Joe Biden’s proposal to distribute half the frozen funds belonging to the Afghan government to families who suffered from the 9/11 attacks is the wrong decision ["Afghans protest Biden order on $7B in assets," Nation & World, Feb. 13]. The other half, to be awarded to a trust fund for humanitarian distribution, could take months. Meanwhile, the Afghan economy is in freefall and people are starving. Let us not add to the 20-year disaster. It’s their money. Unfreeze all the funds to prevent mass starvation.

Martin Melkonian, Uniondale

I voted for President Joe Biden, and I think he is doing a great job dealing with the myriad problems this country face, not the least of which is the obstructionist Republican Party. But I  disagree with his decision to give half of the seized Afghan funds to the families of 9/11 victims. All of this money should go to a UN trust fund to benefit the Afghan people. They should not be held responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

David K. Benson, South Huntington

Clarifying differences about voting issues

The Mueller investigation was not about voter fraud ["Taking issue with voting contentions," Letters, Jan. 31]. It was about the real foreign interference in the electoral process by the dissemination of misinformation on social media to manipulate persuadable U.S citizens, mainly targeting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Second, the Mueller investigation confirmed what the FBI and Defense Department knew; There was interference by Russia. There was strong evidence that Republican candidate Donald Trump's campaign communicated, and possibly colluded, with the responsible Russian operatives in the scheme.

In 2016, when the votes were counted, Clinton stepped down with integrity, dignity and respect for the election process, never making wild, unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. She didn't try to install fake electors into the process, and she didn't incite civil insurrection. On the other hand, Trump did.

But with new Republican-driven voter suppression legislation and drastic limitations on mail-in voting, Trump supporters can feel optimistic that he will be back to finish his job.

John Chumas, Port Jefferson

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