Ban Intolerance, Ban Incivility, Not Sobriety Checkpoints

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A recent letter in the Roundup about the manner in which a sobriety checkpoint was conducted by several local law enforcement agencies has generated an onslaught of response.

Some of the letters were heartfelt, poignant and well-reasoned, even if they did seem to miss the point of the author of the letter -- that sobriety checkpoints could be just as effective if they were less obtrusive.

But others were strident, and some downright rude.

"Too bad lady, I don't feel sorry for you," one wrote. Another made the assumption that the letter writer was probably one who "is a frequent DUI driver."

Comments like this add credence to what seems to be a growing trend in this country -- founded on religious tolerance and diversity of opinion -- a striking, even troubling lack of tolerance and an accompanying incivility toward those who dare to express an opinion to which we take exception.

How can we forget that our forefathers came to these very shores in search of the right to do and think as they pleased -- and, by implication, to grant their neighbors that same privilege.

How can we forget that this very same attitude of intolerance by our British overlords caused American colonists to say, "Enough."

Even more troubling, our incivilities are often wrapped in the guise of morality, even Christianity. And yet two of the guiding principles of the Christian faith are tolerance and compassion. American clergyman Hosea Ballou put it this way:

"Has not God borne with you these many years? Be ye tolerant to others."

And then there's the old warhorse attributed to Voltaire:

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

A letter in today's Roundup makes the point as well as it can be made:

"A willingness to accept, or at least understand, different attitudes and values can be realized when we grant one another the right to be different," Larry Kluth of Mesa wrote.

If we don't, if we continue down this thorny path of uncharitable narrow-mindedness, the day will surely come again when good and kind people will rise up and say, "Enough."

Many letters by our readers are based on personal experiences, and ask the simple question that our nation's greatest innovators and statesmen have always asked: "Is there a better way?"

If we stifle that attitude, we no longer deserve to call ourselves the greatest nation on earth.

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