Constitution gives us all right to state our opinion

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By The Staff

I would like to respond to Bobby Payne’s column, “Do your research before choosing next president,” in the Aug. 15 edition of The Lancaster News.

She was understandably proud of her son. I can appreciate that. She has every right to be.

I am somewhat confused by her anger at Sen. Barack Obama.

She said she thought it was ironic that at the same time her son was leaving to defend America a prospective presidential candidate felt he had to travel halfway around the world to gain support of Germans to become our president.

My first point is that Germans don’t vote in our elections, so he could hardly be trying to win their support to get votes here.

My second point is that what Sen. Obama did in Germany was no different from what Sen. John McCain did a month earlier when he traveled to Central America as a presidential candidate to gain the support of the people who in live in Central America to become our president.

Neither does this say anything about the fact that Sen. McCain had traveled to Georgia earlier to meet with its president. He also did the same in Iraq and other places. I won’t list them all.

Payne then said Sen. Obama belittled the United States by saying . . . our cars in Boston . . . are melting the ice caps in the Arctic and shrinking coast lines in the Atlantic, bringing drought to the farms in Kansas.”

The only thing I can say to that is that the truth is oftentimes unpleasant.

What Sen. Obama was saying was the same thing that I, and according to the latest polls, now a majority of the people in this country are saying. Not to mention the Union of Concerned Scientists and NASA. We have to stop polluting our own environment.

Put more crudely, we have to stop fouling our own nests.

One of the reasons he was mentioning this was because until now we have angered the Europeans by doing our best to single-handedly scuttle the Kyoto Protocol.

Then there is the following paragraph Payne cited by Sen. Obama.

In speaking about the example our country projects, he said we need to “reject torture and stand for the rule of law and we need to welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all people. I know my country has not perfected itself. At times we struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes and there are times our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.”

Payne’s response to that paragraph was:

“How dare him. This man stood there and criticized our country – the country my son is leaving home for – to gain political favor. This man wants to be my son’s commander and chief? Not by my vote. He does not deserve to be any military personnel’s commander and chief.”

I have read and re-read that paragraph over and over. For the life of me, I can’t see what is so upsetting. Is she upset about America rejecting torture and following the rule of law? Is she upset about freedom of religion? What she appeared to be upset about was that Sen. Obama had the audacity to admit we were only humans and not perfect. As such, we have occasionally failed to live up to our expectations.

If I am not mistaken, that is one of the main points of the Christian religion.

I would also like to point out that Payne’s son probably swore the same oath that I did when I served in the Army from 1970 to 1973. I don’t think they have changed it since. The oath is to defend the Constitution of the United States of America. You don’t swear an oath to one person, or party, or to the flag. You swear an oath to the Constitution the country is founded on.

I don’t remember any clause that went “as long as they agree with me.”

One of the major components in the Constitution is freedom of speech. That means people have the right to express their opinion, whether you agree with them or not.

I took that oath some 38 years ago so Payne could say everything she just said. I am proud of that. Payne’s son recently took that oath so that Obama could do the same.

Payne has the right to any opinion she may have. She also has the right to speak or write it. I respect that. If she does not want to vote for Sen. Obama, she has every right not to. I would not dare question her patriotism or morals. I am sure she is just as fine an American as I am.

I have noticed in the last several years a disturbing trend. I am not saying that is what Payne intended. I have no way of knowing what was in her thoughts. I have to give her the benefit of the doubt. At any rate, she had the right to say whatever she wanted.

The trend I am referring to is that politicians and religious leaders get up and give this fine oratory about this being the best country on earth because we are a democracy and we have freedom of religion and freedom of speech. This is usually followed immediately by trying to shut the other person up by challenging the very rights they extolled. They usually do it by questioning their patriotism or morals.

It really is possible for a person to have a different opinion or question their elected officials without them being al-Qaeda sympathizers out to destroy America.

God bless our troops and God bless America.

Larry Rollings is a former Lancaster County resident and is now living in Kansas City, Mo.