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The Westboro Baptist Church ruling; waste in a community college building program; costly bike lanes for L.A.

March 07, 2011

What you say

Re "Justices side with funeral picketers," March 3

The Supreme Court somehow was convinced that an anti-gay protest at a veteran's funeral was free speech and thus protected by the 1st Amendment. Try calling a judge a fat slob in court, and your exercise of free speech may result in jail time and a fine.

In civil courts the tort of "intentional infliction of emotional distress" is actionable and, if proved, will result in civil penalties against the defendant.

I suggest veterans groups unite and protest at the funerals held by this church group with placards saying, "God hates bigots," "Hell is your eternity" and so forth. Fair is fair. See how the anti-gay bigots respond to equal-opportunity payback.

Sol Taylor

Sherman Oaks

Yes, the 1st Amendment protects the speaker. But it also gives the speaker the chance to display the falsity of his speech to the audience.

If anti-gay slogans are disgusting at funerals, aren't those same slogans always disgusting? The picketers have done our country an unintended favor, by showing that homophobia is a shameful badge of bigotry.

Dan Schechter

Los Alamitos

The writer is a professor at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.

Because the justices ruled that "Westboro addressed matters of public import on public property," thus allowing its members to continue their despicable picketing during the private memorial services of fallen soldiers, I suggest the services for military personnel be carried out on military bases with full military honors.

The grieving families of those fallen should not have to endure the pain caused by those picketing when their loved ones have lost their lives in military service to this country.

They were serving in the military, so it seems only right that their services should be carried out on military ground.

Linda Dosch

Bishop, Calif.

Apparently the Supreme Court has now said that among our constitutional protections is the freedom to be stupid.

Whenever one sees people holding insulting signs at a funeral, one can be assured that they are taking advantage of that constitutional protection.

Jim Goodenough

Canoga Park

This waste is tough to take

Re "Markups by 'body shops' inflate the public's cost," March 3

The Los Angeles Community College's practice of paying contractors hundreds of thousands of dollars for various consultants is nothing short of scandalous. It is a prime illustration of the ease with which taxpayer funds dissipate into thin air when diverted into an organization such as this district.

Larry Eisenberg, the official in charge of the district's building program, has apparently lost touch with reality, judging by his statement, "We would like to spread the wealth around."

Whose wealth is he talking about spreading? That of families who scraped enough money together for tuition to send their kids to a community college?

Jennifer Rabuchin

Burbank

While working for the district, marketing consultant Joan Marshall was paid $88,000 in wages at a total cost of $152,000, a computer specialist was paid $391,000 at a total cost of more than $1 million, and a contract administrator was paid $226,000, costing taxpayers $607,00.

I can see why we should extend the temporary tax increases for another five years. How else can we afford to operate public agencies like this?

Orrin Turbow

Oxnard

Re "Cracked floors, leaky windows dampen building's welcome," March 1

I taught in the new Allied Health and Science Building at Los Angeles Valley College when it first opened. My students and I had to endure freezing conditions because of the building's unresponsive heating system. Opening the classroom door was a struggle because the key would not fit properly into the lock or turn easily.

Simply put, the building displays signs of bad workmanship in and out, much like a cheap car.

Putting billions of dollars in the hands of inept administrators and improperly supervised contractors is a slap in the face of voters.

What are our choices in upcoming elections: voting no on bond measures, or voting out trustees who mess up?

Mike Asheroff

Sherman Oaks

Hidden things

Re "Hidden federal benefits," Opinion, Feb. 28

Gregory Rodriguez claims Americans don't recognize government's importance because many of its benefits are hidden.

But hidden benefits are dwarfed by government's long line of policies disguising burdens from those forced to bear them, making voters substantially underestimate the true cost of government.

Mandated benefits come out of employees' compensation, but employers get blamed for the lower wages or higher prices that result. Employer taxes for Social Security and unemployment insurance act similarly, as do corporate taxes, giving government money while diverting blame to others. Withholding reduces awareness of income tax burdens.

Even more important are massive government deficits, which are hidden future taxes. Recognizing hidden taxes, not hidden benefits, is far more important to understanding "the appropriate size and role of government."

Gary M. Galles

Malibu

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