Letters to the editor

Religious intolerance To most of us in the United States, their names mean nothing, but to the Bahai community here and abroad, they are known as “The Seven Yaran” (friends). In May 2008, they were arrested for their involvement with a national-level group that helped see to the “minimum needs” of Iran’s 300,000-member Bahai community. After an initial detention of 20 months, they were finally given a kangaroo court trial which charged them with spying, propaganda against the state, spreading corruption on earth, and collusion for the purpose of endangering the nation’s security. After six brief closed-door hearings, they were given 20 years in prison. The public outcry of governments around the world led to a reduction in the sentence to 10 years. More irregularities occurred in court and in March 2011, the prisoners were told that the Head of Judiciary in Iran overturned and appellate court ruling issued six months earlier that had cut their original prison sentences. The reinstated 20-year sentences are effectively life sentences for some of these leaders – all of whom have already served more than five years of “temporary detention.” On the eve of the Bahai New Year, March 21, President Barack Obama delivered his third annual New Year’s greeting to the Iranian people, repeating his call for greater human rights for all Iranians, specifically mentioning individual groups by name, including the Iran Bahais’ saying: “We have seen the Bahai community…punished for their faith.”
The situation continues to deteriorate for this former Iranian Bahai leadership group and they await signs the Iranian government will heed the international outcry for justice on their behalf. The United Nations Human Rights Council has appointed a special investigator to monitor Iran’s compliance with international human rights standards. This action is seen to reflect the world’s growing impatience with Iran over its increasing violations of human rights. The resolution had co-sponsors from every region of the world. Mary Gustavson Avon Park Armed citizens A blogger recently added up the deer license sales in just a handful of states. He arrives at a striking conclusion: there were more than 600,000 hunters this season in the state of Wisconsin. Allow me to restate that number – over the last several months, Wisconsin’s hunters became the eighth largest army in the world. They had more men under arms than Iran. More than France and Germany combined. These men deployed to the woods of a single American state, Wisconsin, to hunt with firearms. No one was killed. The number of Wisconsin hunters pales in comparison to the 750,000 who hunted in the woods of Pennsylvania and Michigan’s 700,000 hunters, all of whom have now returned safely. Toss in a quarter million hunters in West Virginia and it literally establishes the fact that the hunters of those four states alone would comprise the largest army in the world. Add in the total number of hunters in the other 46 states, it’s millions more. The point, you ask? America will forever be safe from foreign invasion with that kind of homegrown firepower. Hunting is not just a way to fill up the freezer; it’s truly a matter of national security. Therein lies the reason as to why all enemies, foreign and domestic, want to see us disarmed – food for thought when we next consider gun control. So if we disregard some assumptions that hunters don’t possess the same skills as soldiers, the question would still remain. What army of 2 million would want to face 30 million, 40 million or even 50 million armed citizens? Don’t let the government take control of our arms. Floyd Rider Lake Placid