Monday, Oct. 17, 2011 | 2 a.m.
We asked you, our readers, for your thoughts on Occupy Wall Street. Here is a sampling of the letters to the editor we received.
As the Occupy Wall Street movement has grown over the past several weeks, we have noted with some curiosity the objections of critics. Several pundits, politicians and others with differing viewpoints have started to level some incredible complaints. The protesters are, in their eyes, a mob, unfocused, whiny, smelly — and those are the polite complaints.
One of the curiosities of the complaints is that many of the critics are supporters of the Tea Party. Many of the critics we have heard have tried to draw stark contrasts, making the Tea Party protesters out to be righteous, polite patriots and the Occupy Wall Street protests to be crazy malcontents.
There are bad apples at any protests, and there are crazies in any political movement — yes, that’s true even in the Tea Party. However, the actions of a few shouldn’t color the entire movement.
There is no doubt that the Occupy Wall Street movement is much different from the Tea Party, both in the type of people who are taking part to the motives and desires of the participants.
But the complaints about the Occupy Wall Street protests, which have happened around the country and included events in Las Vegas, miss the point: The protesters are exercising their First Amendment rights.
The last we checked, the Constitution isn’t limited to clean-cut, well-dressed Americans with clear agendas. In fact, it was designed to give a voice to all Americans, no matter if they need a shower or a focused agenda.
The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are worthwhile. Opposing view points are healthy in a democracy. The Founding Fathers had plenty of differences of opinions, and there were extremes — from the federalist Alexander Hamilton to Thomas Jefferson, who stood opposed to much of Hamilton’s agenda.
Sadly, many Americans have started to despise dissent. Political debate, such as it is, has become a matter of who can talk over and shout down an opponent. Too often, talking points have become more important than ideas, and that’s a shame.
The nation faces significant problems, and it will take more than sound bites to put the country on a good path. It will take people who can listen to one another and seek out the best ideas, even if they come from those with different political views.
We would think that patriots would encourage debate. Remember: Just a few years ago, there was a complaint that people weren’t active enough in public life, but that certainly changed with the recession.
So, if the Occupy Wall Street protesters want to gather and march and make their voice known, even if they’re not exactly in unison about what they’re demonstrating for, well, good for them.
What do you think? Send your thoughts in a letter — no more than 250 words. Include the writer’s name, address and phone number. Anonymous letters will not be considered. E-mail: [email protected].