State should try bumper stickers
TO THE EDITOR:
The Tennessee Legislature has passed the "Choose Life" license plate bill, and once again at least half the people in the state are left with the feeling that they may as well be living in Mississippi.
If lawmakers want to raise money for a good cause, they should try passing the "Choose Quality Childcare" bill. Or they might opt for the "Choose Quality Schools" bill. Funds could go to improve the shameful quality of the places where many of our children spend their days.
Alternatively, lawmakers might pass the "Choose Food" bill and help raise money to feed the hungry. Or they could enact the "Choose a Home" bill and combat homelessness. Just imagine, conservatives and progressives alike could join together to support an innovative and thoughtful Tennessee Legislature.
Instead, legislators have taken a stand on one of the most politically charged and divisive issues of the day. They would put the state of Tennessee in the tenuous position of raising funds for organizations that are opposed to the constitutional right of reproductive freedom. Do our legislators get a kick out of provoking fury and litigation?
States that have gone down this route are embattled in costly litigation with organizations such as the Center for Reproductive Rights, the National Organization for Women and Planned Parenthood. A federal court recently ruled that government-issued anti-abortion license plates are a violation of the First Amendment. They constitute "viewpoint discrimination." If anti-abortion folks want to put their viewpoints on vehicles, they should try bumper stickers like the rest of us. I've got a brand-new one. It says: "Choose a New Legislature."
SANDY SMITH MADSEN
Death penalty bogs Tennessee in past
TO THE EDITOR:
Gov. Phil Bredesen stands at an historical crossroads. The course he charts next week, after considering the clemency plea of condemned inmate Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman, will bring Tennessee into this new century or abandon it to the old.
It's the kind of crossroads to which political leaders aspire - at least on the campaign trail. Such decisions test the meddle of our leaders and places them before their employers (some say that's us). The political mask is briefly pulled aside to reveal the core of that leader's character and conscience - if not his very heart and soul.
This episode - and those that Tennessee's draconian attorney general will certainly continue to provide - will decide if Tennessee remains bound to a handful of states that carry out court-ordered homicides. It's a minority of states that keeps the entire country shamefully linked to the last vestige of medieval European barbarism. Ours is the only Western democracy that still engages in murder by court.