Sparking discussion on Pledge of Allegiance

As a member of the El Cerrito City Council, I initiated a discussion about the role of the Pledge of Allegiance, which Tom Barnidge lambasted in a front-page column Feb. 9.

If Barnidge had attended the council meeting, watched the live stream or contacted me, he would know I was clear that I love my country and its people and I respect the flag and the noble sentiments it represents.

I accomplished my goal of having a reasoned discussion after examining the pledge's deeper meaning and historical context. Continuing what's often a rote recitation of the pledge, just because that's what has always been done, would have been easy, considering change-generated controversy. The result was the council reaffirming the recitation of the pledge while providing a respectful alternative.

We're all fortunate to live in a country that gives us the right to speak freely and the opportunity to raise difficult issues in an open democratic forum. The comments I've gotten from El Cerrito residents have been supportive for sparking this debate.

Loving America and finding the best way to act as a responsible public servant sometimes means asking questions and considering new approaches. That's what our country's built on.

Mark Friedman

El Cerrito

Gun industry uses fear to keep profits coming

In the debate over guns, the issues being discussed are just so much blather over 18th-century concepts.

Today it's all about money, as the gun industry seeks to maintain its businesses and profitability. And it does so by instilling fear. Bad guys, freedom, constitutional rights, government takeovers and economic collapse are propaganda devices -- and the people who buy guns fall for it.

The real question we should be discussing is the role of guns in a 21st-century urban society. I agree with the NRA that a gun is just a tool -- a dangerous one. The sole use of automatic weapons and handguns is to kill people.

Do we need this in a supposedly advanced society? Of course not, and we all know it. But people are seduced by the message of fear, and the more guns that are sold magnify the potential for violence, which reinforces the message.

We know that most of the weapons will thankfully never be used, but those that are will more than likely be used on friends or family. And the personal tragedies will continue.

Ed Angle

Danville

Gun letter was off the mark

Claire J. Baker's remarks in her recent letter, "Gun buybacks one way to get rid of firearms," are very naive and uninformed.

Does she remember a movie titled "The Magnificent Seven," starring Yul Brynner as the leader of the gunmen? It is a western-style remake based on a 1954 Japanese film, "Seven Samurai."

Had the people in that story armed themselves adequately, they would not have suffered the way they did. Consequently, they needed hired guns to protect them. The outcome was that many were killed on both sides.

And regarding her use of a biblical phrase "... their swords (guns) into plowshares," she's off the mark as well. All Baker has to do to verify her mistake is go to the nearest zoo and look for the lamb sitting next to the lion in comfort and safety. Or take a viper to a child to let him or her handle it without fear of death by snake poisoning.

Stan Ginn

Albany

Wary of mandated weapons registration

In his recent letter, "Gun lobby's argument is not making sense," it's clear Larry Schaleger thinks assault weapons should be banned for use by the citizenry. Is the militia, as defined by our Constitution, supposed to use flintlocks against an armed invasion when the enemy is carrying assault weapons?

Schaleger apparently thinks all governmental mandated registration and licensing are innocuous. Remember the Jews in Germany and Poland? Registration did not work out too well for them.

The United States is one of the chief protagonists of an international treaty to ban all private ownership of guns. You can't confiscate the guns if you don't know where they are -- ergo, mandatory registration.

The correlation between any government anti-gun regulations and infringement of Second Amendment rights is real. Most gun owners are either hunters, who must have firearms training to get a hunting license, or target shooters, who automatically get training at shooting ranges.

Frank V. Murray

Fremont

Cartoonist is not bully; he is just lazy

An earlier letter cited that Bruce Tinsley, the creator of the comic strip "Mallard Filmore," was a bully. I disagree. I think he is just lazy.

Rather than providing insight and persuasion for conservative views through humor, satire, storytelling, introspection, self-deprecation and wit, he more often than not simply recycles the faux rage bouncing around the conservative echo chamber.

What we get is Fox "news" and talk radio in comic strip form. And, like these other forms of conservative discourse, where a single mention of a point might suffice, Tinsley stretches the matter out for way too long, as if repetition somehow makes its better (it certainly makes writing the strip easier).

Conservative letter writers often cite the strip as offering an alternative, conservative view. I will grant that it is alternative, but I would expect a better showing for conservative views. I suggest that conservative readers demand better.

Jon Barrilleaux

Oakland