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The killing of 9-year-old Christina Green in Tucson; sanitizing 'Huck Finn'; funding NPR

January 12, 2011

For Christina

Re "They had come to shake her hand," Jan. 10

Christina Green, the 9-year-old victim of the shooting rampage in Arizona, was born on Sept. 11, 2001. As a baby, she was one of the "faces of hope" in a publication that featured children born on that tragic day.

Her very existence served as a lesson in hopeful possibilities amid despair. Unfortunately, her death reminds us that we have rejected the opportunity for a more humane world. We have allowed ourselves to be whipped up into a frenzy of hatred and fear.

We must reject the mantra that difference and dissent are diseases to be eradicated. Although it is too early to know the exact motivation for this horrific event, I hope that Christina's death will inspire us to find a way back to the place of hope and possibility that existed in the moment she took her first breath.

Fredi Avalos

Vista, Calif.

The search for answers

Re "Amid grief, a search for answers," Jan. 10

Once again, someone has shot a bunch of people. Once again, all Americans can talk about is how horrible it is. Folks from every side of the political divide are busy pointing fingers.

In the meantime, about 30,000 Americans die from guns every year, most of which are tragedies hidden from public view — hidden but in plain sight.

So for a while again we will be mesmerized by the horror, spend countless hours speculating on the motives of the killer and debate whether guns kill people and whether it is a good idea to outlaw assault rifles or semiautomatic weapons.

And then we will go back to simply accepting that 30,000 people will have to die every year.

I guess 30,000 lives a year is just the price of doing business in a democracy.

Ann Colburn

Los Angeles

Blaming only part of the news media and the "tea party" is really a stretch.

Nidal Malik Hasan, a major in the U.S. Army, killed 13 and wounded 32 others. He was a Muslim, but his religion got a pass from the far left. We have to be politically correct in this nation and only draw conclusions from crimes committed by obviously insane whites.

In the Ft. Hood massacre, no one was a judge or a member of the House; they were just soldiers. It's a pity we have this double standard.

Rodney McKinney

La Mirada

When will we have a national database in which people identified as unstable can be legally listed and denied the privilege of owning firearms? How many massacres by angry students and disgruntled former employees might be avoided?

This young man who allegedly shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was ejected from community college classes for disruptive behavior and was described by acquaintances as in need of mental health intervention.

Yet he had no trouble walking into a shop and leaving with a Glock.

Helen Wilson

Arcadia

For the last 17 years I have interviewed more than 240 people in the violence-prone cities of Sarajevo, Jerusalem, Beirut, Belfast, Johannesburg and others.

The rhetoric used by political leaders in these places typically dismisses their opponents as invalid. They even attack the very legitimacy of their opponents being in power. Political language is spiteful and most assuredly simulative of active conflict in these areas.

I am deeply troubled by the parallels with our country's current state of political debate. I have always believed in our system's resiliency and exceptionalism, but the road we have been going down darkens my mood.

The Arizona shootings are an important marker along that road; may we pay close attention to it.

Scott Bollens

Irvine

The writer holds the Warmington Endowed Chair in International Peace and Cooperation at UC Irvine.

Which Twain do we want?

Re " 'Huck' and 'Rent' done wrong," Opinion, Jan. 8

Thank you, Tim Rutten, for shining a bright light on the education community's recent efforts toward censorship: the twin evils of content and viewpoint discrimination, both held up to ridicule by the 1st Amendment. This all brings to mind Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451."

Isn't education supposed to stimulate thought? Without stimulation, we all are pabulum, the same — the antithesis to betterment.

John Werlich

Westlake Village

Rutten's criticism of a "Huckleberry Finn" without the ever-present racial slurs is a function of living too long in a tall ivory tower.

I love "Huck Finn" and "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." These books remain great literature without the epithets. But as a teacher, it is most uncomfortable reading the books in a class.

The epithets are so charged with slavery, civil rights violations and negative history that in today's classroom, they detract from Mark Twain's genius. No one is asking for the original to be burned.

John Ziebarth

Fountain Valley

Insurance games

Re "A mandate that matters," Opinion, Jan.7

The authors write that a government mandate for individuals to purchase health insurance supports the private market and lessens government's role.

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