Friday’s Letters to the Editor

The end of civility?

EDITOR: While the pandemic was raging, I saw a glimmer of light that many of us noticed: neighbors becoming acquainted through morning or afternoon walks, stopping to chat and share our stories or simply commiserate about being inside too much. The human connection was palpable and the “we’re all in this together” feeling showed us at our best.

Now we are getting “back to normal.” Drivers cut each other off in rush hour traffic and retaliate with gunfire. Parents profanely threaten umpires at a high school baseball game. A congressman’s town hall meeting is disrupted by a COVID-denying mob. For many of us, our news sources encourage us to abandon civility, to somehow appease our fury by targeting our fellow Americans as the enemy, to shower vitriol upon them, to act like those news hosts — race-baiting bullies with no sense of decency.

But I still see that glimmer of light among my neighbors, talking to people I hardly know, finding common ground for a brief chat, seeing the humanity in us all. I hope, perhaps naively, that we can carry that light back out into the world with us and see those we don’t know not as others, but as ourselves.


Santa Rosa

A mind gone astray

EDITOR: A federal judge, unbelievably, overturned California's 30-year ban on assault weapons, ruling that the ban violates the constitutional right to bear arms (“Ban on assault weapons reversed,” June 5). The Second Amendment consists of 27 words and has limited historic scope. The judge required a document of 94 pages to support his position. I see a legal mind gone seriously astray.

The Second Amendment literally speaks of the right of citizens to protect themselves against actions of a governing power or other forces that threaten their freedom. All citizens have a constitutional right to protect themselves through a "well regulated militia." Remember, this is the time of our country's founding, a time of great concern about constitutionally protecting citizens' freedom. The issues that the judge raises about gun rights and assault weapons were unheard of until far later times.

Whenever a legal verdict requires 94 pages to interpret a 27-word amendment, the ball must be tossed back to the bench to explain itself. Reasonable thinking and coherent intelligence are usually more trustworthy.



Enforcing carpool lanes

EDITOR: HOV lanes are a great idea. Unfortunately, a significant number of solo drivers use the restricted lanes on a daily basis without any fear of getting caught. It's a difficult citation as the CHP officer has to see the violation, get to the violator in the fast lane and then try to move the violator across three or four lanes of traffic to issue the citation. Then, while he or she is doing that, 10 more violators drive past

Why not install cameras on the overpasses and pedestrian walkways, issue electronic citations and catch all the violators? Simple, and less dangerous for the CHP. The lanes would be more efficient, and the revenue would more than offset any costs.

I've suggested this to our state Assembly and Senate members to no avail. Maybe the power of the press will be more effective.



Vaccinations and privacy

EDITOR: The point of the federal Health Privacy and Portability Act is not to regulate the procurement of medical data by health care workers or by anyone else (“Health privacy violations,” Letters, June 4). The point is to regulate how that information is shared.

HIPAA regulations are designed to preserve the privacy of your information once it is in the possession of someone else. When and in what manner your private health information may be shared is the point. Even health care workers where you receive your care are not allowed to see your health information unless there is a reason related to your health care and to their participation in that care. If they are not involved, they are not allowed. If you have not given your permission, no one is allowed.

But HIPAA regulations will not protect anyone from having to divulge their vaccination status. If the rule at some place of business is, "no vaccination, no entrance," there is no violation of HIPAA rules if you are asked about your status. The business is not illegally sharing your private health information. You choose to tell them, or not. And they allow you inside, or not. It’s that simple.



Where does the salt go?

EDITOR: Allen Brogden’s letter of June 8 says desalination is the only real answer to California’s drought. At first glance, that does seem true. What he fails to address is what happens to the salt that is the result of the process. You can’t dump it back into the ocean because of disastrous ecological effects. I’d like to hear a solution, because I haven’t yet.


Hilo, Hawaii (formerly Sebastopol)

Integration of military

EDITOR: Thank you to John Yatabe (“A Stamp of Honor,” Letters, June 9) for reminding us all of the valiant 442nd. We must never forget their sacrifice and the despicable incarceration of our Japanese-American fellow citizens (including children) in prison camps during World War II.

One correction, however — the “Army” does not deserve commendation or credit for the integration of the armed services.

In fact, the highest officers of our armed services were for many years the obstacle to integrating the Army, Navy, Marines, etc. (Even during WWII the non-white troops were mostly not allowed in combat).

In fact, it was President Harry Truman’s courageous issuing of Executive Order 9981 in 1948 that banned segregation and discrimination in the armed services and helped pave the way for the modern civil rights movement in the United States.

Rich Jaffee


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