Letters and comments for February 29, 2012

By Observer Upload February 29, 2012 12:57 pm
Letters and comments for February 29, 2012

Still a free country


To the Editor:

I would like to respond to the numerous letters regarding Dan Pokorney’s comments on Facebook regarding homosexuality and the one-sided forum recently held by EOU’s Gay-Straight Alliance.

The last time I checked, La Grande, OR, was still located in the United States of America and as such falls under the laws of the Constitution, which allows all of us the right to freedom of speech. We are each entitled to express our opinions and beliefs without fear of persecution from others who may not agree. 

Pokorney expressed his personal opinions on his own personal Facebook page, not on a city of La Grande or Union County page or website. He was not expressing his opinions as an elected official or as the mayor of La Grande.

I hardly think a few students at the university represent the majority of the citizens who live in La Grande.

In fact, only a small percentage of the students who attend EOU are actually permanent residents of our county and vote on local elections and issues.

While I agree they have a right to express their opinions and beliefs, they do not have the right to single him out and demand that he apologize or resign because of his personal religious beliefs. As U.S. citizens, we are all entitled to express our opinions and beliefs about any issue. As an individual, Pokorney has just as much right to express his opinion as anyone else. If you don’t like or agree with what someone has to say on Facebook, or anywhere else, you don’t have to read it.

Pokorney was not acting as a public official when he expressed his opinions on his personal Facebook page. I do not believe Mr. Pokorney owes anyone an apology. I do, however, believe the university’s Gay-Straight Alliance owes Mr. Pokorney an apology.

Kathleen Wright

La Grande 


OK to be candid


To the Editor:

Judging from what I recently read in the Observer, a lot of people seem either confused or disingenuous in their criticisms of Mayor Pokorney regarding his Facebook posts about same-sex unions.

In the spirit of full disclosure, let me say that I hate the invention of a category of speech labeled “hate speech.” I’d rather know what someone really thinks than have to parse euphemistic language that conveys hateful ideas in commonplace or correct language.

I can’t imagine why the war on so-called hate speech should be any less futile than the war on drugs.

Pokorney’s speech does not deserve legal censure but it does deserve ridicule. The mayor himself confuses me with his apology when he claims to understand that “there is a right way and a wrong way to address the issues.”

Look, he only needs to apologize if he willfully misrepresented himself on the issues of homosexuality and gay marriage. How does alluding to Sodom and Gomorrah or using the term “abomination,” both references to a book he clearly views as an authoritative source on these issues, constitute hate speech?

Is this not the Bible after all? We might all pause here for a moment of ironic silence. 

Just out of curiosity, what would be the right way to express the position he holds?

With his apology, the mayor lost his credibility with me. I for one appreciated Mayor Pokorney’s clarity and the courage (if only temporary) of his convictions. Now I just don’t believe him, not even when he says, “I don’t hate anyone.” 

Ultimately, it’s not his speech that is hateful; it is, rather, his opinion.

It is an old and festering hate, that homosexuality is evil and that gays should be forever closeted and be nothing more than second-class citizens.

If you happen to have, as I do, siblings, offspring, friends, neighbors and colleagues who are gay; or if this just matters to you on general principle, then Mayor Pokorney has rendered a useful service by being candid on what he himself refers to as “important issues.” 

Kevin Cahill

La Grande