EDITOR: In the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn. shooting, many people have been quick to place responsibility for "rising trends" of violence on violent movies, videos and games.
C.R. Ryniewicz ("Violent media," Letters, Jan. 8) exemplifies a startling yet widespread reaction to the recent shooting. On the issue of regulation of violent media, Ryniewicz stated, "This type of media production goes far beyond freedom of speech." This view shows a blatant misunderstanding of freedom of speech and the First Amendment in general.
Freedom of speech is meant to guarantee the protection of all individuals, regardless of who they may be or what views they may hold. This freedom that protects makers of violent movies, videos and games is the same freedom that provides Ryniewicz with the right to submit opinions for the public.
The view represented in Ryniewicz's letter shows an ominous willingness to give up the protections that were fought so hard for by our Founding Fathers. This willingness threatens the protection of our right to independent thought, no matter how violent.
No room to fail
EDITOR: President Barack Obama's meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai wasn't necessarily reassuring in terms of the future of the U.S. role there and the stability of the Afghan government.
Let's not kid ourselves. If we fail in Afghanistan, we won't have any time or luxury for head-banging, mind-numbing soul searching. There really is an elusive enemy — we don't know where they are at all times, and they are harder to destroy than in previous conflicts. If we fail, the country will become a haven for terrorists bent on the destruction of freedom and democracy, not just America.
There won't be any cottage industry of guilt, regret and shame like in another time. If we fail, we will live to regret it and not live to make movies and write books about it.
EDITOR: I'm not sure how much universal background checks will do to curb gun violence. But after hearing the assault rifle enthusiasts argue their Second Amendment rights, I'm thinking that mandatory anger management training might be in order.
EDITOR: I attended the public forum on gun violence prevention organized by Rep. Mike Thompson ("Sharp division over guns," Friday). Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas, county mental health director Mike Kennedy, District Attorney Jill Ravich, Supervisor David Rabbit and a state Justice Department representative shared the stage. I was impressed with their willingness to listen and the creative problem-solving programs they had already initiated, such as multi-disciplinary teams to respond to violence.
These teams are already in the community educating teachers, health professionals and law enforcement officers to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness and undesirable drug reactions with the knowledge to effectively intervene and prevent violence.
At the forum, there was an overwhelming presence of the NRA lobby, protecting their right to bear arms. Many thought that more guns were the answer to solve violence in our schools. Preventing violence at its root cause is why the Season For Nonviolence Coalition in Sonoma County has created a similar event, "Walking the Talk: Effective Solutions for Violence Prevention in Sonoma County," a forum where Supervisor Mike McGuire will be moderating public officials, nonviolent trainers and advocates. It will take place at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building.