Washington sets bad example

While Villanova University professors who were disheartened by the student protesters at Middlebury College for their refusal to listen to Charles Murray offered thoughtful analysis about the correct manner of protesting, they neglected to mention the roughshod manner in which Congress and the Trump administration are governing ("At Middlebury College, a disheartening blow," Sunday). They silence opposition with their dictatorial style, which includes demonizing the free press.

Most citizens I talk to are appalled at this manner of governing and feel there is little chance of dialogue because they see senators silence other senators who object by slamming the gavel or changing the rules of the hearings. The administration refuses to allow members of certain news outlets to ask questions or attend a press conference. This is precisely the reason Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, quoted by the Villanova professors, led the Russian Revolution against the corporate powers of the day.

It seems that history is going to repeat itself, and many of us applaud the students, who refuse to be subject to an authoritarian regime or those who support it as intellectual propaganda. Unless all parties are willing to listen, the last resort may be to use the tactics of one's enemy or opponent, even when one finds them distasteful.

|Ernie Sherretta, Broomall

Force overpowers free speech

The recent debacle at Middlebury has again demonstrated that groups of people frequently employ censorship, intimidation, and even violence to force other people to think the way they do. It is suppression of self-determination based on premises that we know what is good for both you and us. It's nothing more than expurgation - those few people want other people to understand and accept specific thoughts without a clean and direct thought process. It is never about your right to hear the other side, it is about a choice already made, a choice that will benefit you because they think it would be your best choice.

|William Earley, Merion Station, bearley@verizon.net

LOL over Chick Wit

I've been a fan of Lisa Scottoline for some time time, but she really outdid herself with her latest Chick Wit column, "They're not giving us a discount - they're discounting us" (Sunday). I can't remember when I laughed so hard. Each paragraph caused me to drop the paper in my lap and go into hysterics. It's been a very long time since I've laughed like that, and I just had to tell the Inquirer how fortunate it is to have such a talented writer. In this crazy world today, there's not much I read in the paper that makes me happy - for a brief moment, she took me away from it all.

Many thanks to Lisa for giving me and so many other readers such great comic relief.

|Mary Moore Pigeon, Plymouth Meeting

'Israel is there to stay'

The commentary, "There's no safety without safety for all" (March 3) expressed concern for desecrated Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia. Meanwhile the Palestinian Arabs, whom the writer supports, not only desecrate graves at the world's oldest and largest Jewish cemetery - the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem - but assault Jews who go there for funerals and to visit gravesites. The Zionist Organization of America has been a leader in helping to secure the Israeli cemetery, which is 3,000 years old.

The commentary also sought to convince readers to embrace Jewish Voice for Peace's anti-Israel agenda, claiming Israel is an occupier. The Jews are the indigenous people of lands the Arabs claim; Jews have lived there continuously for thousands of years. Only due to deadly attacks by Arabs during the last century did Jews leave Judea and Samaria (commonly known as the West Bank). How can one occupy one's own land?

The territories are disputed. Just because the Arabs claim the land is theirs does not make it so.

Those who want what is best for Palestinian Arabs and want real peace should demand that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority stop terrorizing and inciting violence against Jews - especially since Israel is there to stay.

|Lee Bender and Kevin Ross, copresidents, and Steve Feldman, executive director, Zionist Organization of America: Greater Philadelphia, Bala Cynwyd

Health insurance saves lives

What's the human cost of not having health insurance? For some, it's 10 years of life.

A new study of life expectancy of people with cystic fibrosis found that even after making allowances for different treatments, patients in Canada live longer ("Cystic fibrosis survival better in Canada than in U.S.," Monday, Philly.com). Life expectancy for Americans with cystic fibrosis is 40; in Canada, it's 50. An extra decade - why?

Canadians - with their single-payer health-insurance system - had a 77 percent lower risk of death than Americans without health insurance. The Americans with private health insurance did almost as well as the average Canadian. Affordable, comprehensive health care saves lives.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that under the proposed American Health Care Act, 14 million people will lose coverage by the end of 2018. When we know that people with better health insurance live longer, why consider making private insurance more expensive? Why suggest shrinking Medicaid?

Any changes to Obamacare must increase the number of people who can afford to see their physicians for preventive care, management of chronic diseases, and catastrophic illness. Anything less - such as the Republicans' plan - must be rejected.

|Jennifer Hamilton, M.D., Philadelphia

Different kind of Jewish wedding

A great deal of progress is being made in insuring that our community members who want to maintain their level of observance wherever they are on the sexuality and/or gender spectrum can do so, in our more religiously observant communities as well as ones that are more liberal (" 'When Moshe becomes Marsha,' " Wednesday).

In the marriage ceremony of my daughter Rachie and her beloved Liz, they were recognized as marital partners by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In terms of Jewish sensibilities, it was a different type of ceremony that was appropriate for them and used Jewish legal precedents as a legal exclusive business partnership based on Kinyan - the acquisition of joint property and other aspects of their lives. The actual text and context of the traditional Jewish wedding contract was not applicable, so a more appropriate format was used under the capable and sensitive guidance of Rabbi Steven Greenberg, showing respect to their ceremony and Jewish Law.

|Saundra Sterling Epstein, educational consultant, Elkins Park, shulisrose@aol.com

Democrats playing GOP's game

A commentary's implied assertion that Democrats are initiating "divisive politics" for the Judge Neil Gorsuch nomination to the Supreme Court is a reversal of Republican tactics during the Obama years, when federal judges at all levels were routinely refused a hearing - or when granted a hearing with unanimous Judiciary Committee endorsement, were denied the up or down vote that the commentary urges for the divisive Gorsuch nomination ("Casey should back Trump nominee," Tuesday). This tainted, distorted endorsement of Gorsuch is precisely one Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) should ignore.

The Republicans' refusal even to meet with Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama's nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, was just icing on a cake with many layers and many years of continued insult.

|Ben Burrows, Elkins Park