Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Bristol Herald Courier Publishes Good Letter To the Editor?

Apparently so.

In the editorial, “UVa-Wise made the right call,” the writer implied that not knowing the outcome of Steve Barber’s mental health evaluation is equivalent to Barber being found a danger to himself and others. First, some education for the lazy journalist.
The record of Barber’s hearing is on file at the General District Court clerk’s office and it should be open to the public. If Barber was judged to be a danger to himself or to others, he would have remained in state custody. That he was released after his evaluation speaks for itself.
If Barber was judged to be a danger to himself or others, recent changes in state law would mandate the forfeiture of his 2nd Amendment rights. Barber still has the right to keep and bear arms. Do the math.
Barber lost his concealed carry permit not by operation of law, but by the fearful overreaction of the commonwealth attorney doing some good old-fashioned CYA.
I agree that Barber’s choices that lead to his predicament were questionable. However, it is now apparent in this post-Virginia Tech world that fear, not freedom, rules on our college campuses.
Barber did not shout “fire” in a crowded theater. A dark and sinister essay does not even compare to that classic example of where the Supreme Court has drawn the line on the “freedom of speech.”
Instead, UVa-Wise is showing classic overreaction based on the fear of what might be. So, now students are best served if they never write anything that might be controversial or perceived as threatening to anyone who might read it.
I suppose UVa-Wise (and the Bristol Herald Courier) believes that freedom of expression is a small price for feeling safe on a college campus, right?
Jack Smith
Bristol, Va.

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