A complete deconstruction of the letter ("What's the problem," The Daily Astorian, July 29) would take up too much space and push my blood pressure off the charts, so I'll be brief.

In summary, the writer believes that the controversial provisions of the so-called "Patriot" Act are perfectly reasonable and that "liberals" are the scum of the earth and source of all things bad in this country. As the cherry on his toxic verbal sundae, he offers up the idea that the media should publish the party affiliation of criminal offenders - with the implication, of course, that they would be predominantly liberals/Democrats.

Regarding the invasive provisions of the Patriot Act, the writer asks, "I'm not doing anything wrong, so why should I worry?" Answering for myself, I worry because there are people out there who think nothing of calling their neighbors criminals or even traitors for their different political beliefs, people who have deliberately made the honorable adjective "liberal" into a swear word.

In my lifetime, this nation had an FBI director and a president, both of the right wing, who used the machinery of government and the justice system to harass and destroy their political enemies. The so-called Patriot Act opens the door to all manner of such evil manipulation behind the ever-present Bush administration's curtain of total secrecy. I have a lot of liberal views and I am proud of that fact. It is, therefore, people like the writer who worry me, especially when they run the government, as they do now.

The writer has a solution to what he sees as liberal poison: "It's faith in Christ and in biblical principles that keeps us in check. If those very things are taken away, what's to keep us all from running amok?" The implication, of course, is that non-Christians are a lower form of life, incapable of civilized behavior because they don't share his specific Christian religious beliefs.

It is but a short step from that position to religious persecution. After all, if your neighbors aren't Christian, God has damned them for eternity anyway, so what's the harm?

You want prayer in the public schools? OK, let's have the kids recite a Buddhist prayer in unison every day. You don't like that idea because it would exalt another faith above yours? Seems downright Unamerican, doesn't it? That's how non-Christians feel when told to say the Lord's Prayer.

You are welcome to say the Lord's Prayer wherever you want and to display the Ten Commandments wherever you want - but not to impose them on others through the power of law and government. You seem to have read the Second Amendment to the Constitution protecting gun possession; the first clause of the First Amendment, regarding separation of church and state, makes equally good reading.

GORDON PAINE

Astoria

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