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Let ye without sin ...
When I read Derek Jennings' article "Land of the Free" [May 29] I thought that he made some good points. However, when I read Chris Speck's letter to the editor about Jennings' article, I noticed that Mr. Speck made some very bad points.

Mr. Speck states that "Jennings, like most left-wingers, holds the United States and its leaders to higher moral standards than the rest of the world." America is the most powerful, influential and in some cases the most aggressive nation in the world. I would hope for humanity's sake that leaders with so much power would have very high moral standards. The mistakes that our leaders make are much more costly for the United States and the world than the mistakes of other leaders.

Mr. Speck also makes the point that "Fidel Castro brutally gained power in 1959." Was what the United States did in Nicaragua in the 1980s brutal? Yes. Is what the United States is doing in the Mideast right now brutal? Yes. According to Marx, eventually the only way that the proletariat can survive in capitalism is to overthrow the government. The fact is, conditions for the working people in Cuba before the revolution were terrible. Most citizens were very discontented with Batista's rule. On Jan. 1, 1959, the night that Batista fled Cuba, the average annual income of a Cuban was $91.25. That was one-eighth of the average annual income of someone in the poorest state in the United States at the time (Mississippi). Aside from that only 11 percent of the population drank milk, 4 percent ate meat, 2-3 percent had running water, 9.1 had electricity, 36 percent had intestinal parasites, 14 percent had tuberculosis and 43 percent were illiterate. Unlike the majority of the American public with our leader, the majority of the Cuban public welcomed Castro.

Mr. Speck makes many comments about Jennings' actual intentions in writing this article, although I doubt he knows the real intention. He says many things about Jennings like, "Jennings' personal agenda, however, gets in the way of making a convincing case." Or how Jennings would "happily pervert the truth." And he comes down hard on Jennings for a "hypocritical" view on America's support for dictators around the world. However, he misses the point of Jennings' argument completely. Jennings criticizes America's support for certain dictators around the world but he also says that if we trade with other dictators, then why not with Castro? He is pointing out an obvious hypocrisy, and showing that we have some other personal grudge against Castro. Unfortunately, Speck, instead of observing and recognizing that hypocrisy, blames Jennings for being a hypocrite. This is also a very hypocritical comment on Speck's part. He says things like, "Jennings' personal agenda, however, gets in the way of making a convincing case." But apparently his personal agenda of making Jennings look bad gets in his way of making an honest and just case.

Speck closes his letter by saying that Jennings "just doesn't like George W. Bush and will happily pervert the truth or do away with it altogether to make us not like him as well." There are so many more things that Jennings could have said about Bush (all true) that would appall most people. The fact is, Speck is pointing his finger at Jennings, although he doesn't grasp Jennings' points. Arguments like Speck's obviously don't add up, and should show that insults don't prove anything on political grounds.
--JONATHAN PATTISHALL, DURHAM

Voluntary tax
In regards to your article on the upcoming vote to pose the question of a state lottery to North Carolinians [Trotline, July 10], I'd like to say to you, OH COME ON! Your article was tiresome and just plain dumb. Now, I might not be the most intellectual of people. My education is pretty limited, and I don't usually expose my thoughts on paper for anybody to read, but grammatics and all such aside, I think you miss the point of a lottery. Yes, it is a tax. Yes, it will probably end up costing the lower income strata more overall than the wealthier, but NOBODY is forcing ANYBODY to play a lottery should North Carolina vote to have one. That's the great thing about a lottery. Be it a tax or harmless entertainment, it's totally voluntary. If you think it's such a "destructive tax," don't play.
--CARYN RUPEL, RALEIGH

Correction
In last week's article about the forces lobbying the legislature to head off a lottery ("Lining 'Em Up," July 24), we incorrectly said that the N.C. Family Policy Council is suing UNC to protest a summer reading program that includes a book about the Qu'ran. The group suing UNC is the Virginia-based Family Policy Network.

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