Optics vs. ethics
Re: Katz says purchase unwise (Sept. 13). I wish to join the chorus of those calling for the mayor to step aside. While this business dealing is not illegal, it is most certainly unethical and the mayor must have known that to engage in such activity with one of his employees was improper.
To now say this was a bad idea that does not look good is not good enough. The mayor tried to derail scrutiny by saying those who wanted to look into this matter were on a witch hunt.
There is a decided lack of moral authority to conduct city council's business on the part of both the mayor and the CAO, and they should do the principled thing and step aside.
Medical access is vital
Re: Cancer patient's mom decries access to files (Sept. 13). A legislated penalty for illegitimate snooping is appropriate, but let's be sure that we do not hamper legitimate access to personal health information by patients, families and health-care providers.
Communication failures are the leading cause of medical errors, and it is vital that health-care providers, patients and families have prompt access to records in order to ensure the best possible care.
Let's not return to the days of obstreperous health-privacy legislation, when patients and families could wait for up to 30 days to see current information, such as medications, and when a patient's physicians could not freely communicate with each other.
Any legislated changes should preserve the newly won access rights that improve care and save lives.
A fundamental right
In response to Mohammad Ashraf's Sept. 13 letter, Ending the tension, in which he condemns those who react violently to religious criticism and also those who criticize it, I will say that the last thing to do with a bully is to give in to their demands.
The right to free expression is a fundamental keystone in any free society. I respect the rights of a person to believe whatever they want in the name of their religion, but that does not mean that I have to respect the beliefs. Religious ideas do not get a free pass in the marketplace of ideas.
The fact that some believers hold some things sacred does not mean that I must also. I am under no obligation to follow the rules or dictates of someone else's religion. To expect this of anyone violates the freedoms of expression, conscience and religion enshrined in our charter.
I stand shoulder to shoulder with Mohammad Ashraf condemning the violence against American diplomats and missions in Libya and Egypt. I part company with him when he asserts that Islam, or any religion, is immune from criticism and even ridicule.
The offence of religious sensibilities, by words or imagery, grants no right to commit atrocities. Muslims who think it does need to grow up and stop holding society hostage by violent tantrums.
Ashraf's view of free speech is wrong on several counts. It is not a crime in the West to ridicule or criticize any religion. Free speech allows this attack against ideas. This may not be the case in Islamic states, but it is here, and Ashraf should be grateful for this.
As a Muslim, I am ashamed at the reaction to the anti-Islam film. It cannot be justified. However, those who justify the insulting depictions of a religious leader considered holy by more than a billion people around the world as a matter of freedom of speech should be informed that when western philosophers advocated freedom of speech during the 18th and 19th centuries, they believed it would lead to truth and morality.
Freedom of speech was intended to educate and inform. But, unfortunately, this is not the case today, when freedom of speech is being used to mock and insult. Freedom of speech will always lead to conflict, so it needs to be balanced with other values in society, such as peaceful co-existence. This is becoming increasingly important in an increasingly inter-connected world.
Our creator has endowed all human beings with a sense of humour. I believe that God (Allah) enjoys a good, clean joke.
Why can't humans enjoy it too, with a smile, instead of a knife, or worse?
A university's purpose
Re: U of W to shift from growing to earning (Sept. 8). Lloyd Axworthy has belatedly discovered the raison d'être of a university: academics. Universities exist, on the academic level, primordially for learning and teaching, for scholarship and research -- for those intellectual pursuits that no other institution exists to provide.
If I were still at the University of Winnipeg, I would tell Axworthy bluntly that the faculties and departments have no business wasting their time in making money. That is one of the major functions of the president. If he is not up to it, it is time to find a president who is.
Gorgeous as a painting
When I saw the beautiful photograph of the water lily and its reflection in the pool at the Leo Mol sculpture garden (Lily of autumn, Sept. 13), my immediate reaction was, wow, what a gorgeous painting!
The striking water lily, combined with the muted, yet dazzling colours of the lily pads and the water, is breathtaking. Kudos to photographer Ruth Bonneville and to all the excellent photographers with the Free Press.