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letters march 4

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Misinformed and short-sighted

Robb Nash's March 1 column, Law on bullying divides, is misinformed, short-sighted and unhelpful. He says that the implementation of Bill 18 will result in gay-straight alliances being "mandated in all schools." This misconception seems to be the key point in opposition to the bill.

The only thing to be mandated in the bill is that schools cannot prevent students from organizing such a group, not that it must exist or that students must join. The reason it is important to specifically mention GSAs is because there is so much direct and unequalled opposition to them (this is why the provision is not "unnecessary" as your editorial on the same day called it).

Nash describes a girl whose joining a GSA was a source of conflict and became a cause of bullying for her. It sounds like she had other students willing to defend and support her. Perhaps he should have advised her to seek out those students, befriend them, and maybe even try to consistently meet to describe issues they all face. Oh, wait, I'm describing a GSA.

Pontificating about how we should all be nice to each other is not an answer. Action, like that included in Bill 18, is.

ADRIEN DESSENS

Winnipeg

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It's good Dan Lett highlights some of the misconceptions about why Christians take issue with Bill 18 in his column, Allan right to shut down opponents of anti-bullying bill, Feb. 27).

Christians are not against anti-bullying legislation; they've had it for thousands of years. Love your neighbour as yourself; do unto others as you would have them do unto you; love your enemies; repay no one evil for evil; respect everyone -- these are all biblical anti-bullying statements.

Nevertheless, if you love someone, how can you actively support behaviours you believe to be detrimental to them? You cannot. One clause of this bill requires teachers either change their beliefs on the matter, or support it by action, despite what they believe.

That is the mark of the beast; that is unconstitutional; and, according to the definition and characteristics established by this very same bill, that is bullying behaviour. This is why Christians are upset.

MICHAEL GILES

Oakbank

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Even if Dan Lett is not intentionally naive as to the implications of Bill 18, responding to all his ambiguous argumentation could not be done in a brief letter to the editor. Perhaps one thing that could be clarified is the church's true position on homosexuality. It is important to get the story straight (no pun intended).

Yes, the Catholic Church does hold that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered because they are contrary to the natural law. Why? Because they close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstance can they be approved. Notice we are talking about acts, not persons.

We have seen brutal attempts by totalitarian governments to force the populace to accept and even celebrate that which they cannot. It invariably amounts to acts of bullying and violence that succeeds only in silencing many out of fear.

If our present provincial government will not rise to a wiser and unbiased legislation, the result will only be a massive act of bullying that will discredit the bill from its inception and will callously undermine good schools that have served Manitobans well for many years.

REV. MICHAEL KWIATKOWSKI

Winnipeg

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When addressing the 1,200 protesters to Bill 18, Education Minister Nancy Allan should have opened with three questions: Are there any gays or lesbians here? Are there any women here who have been bullied or beaten by their husbands? And what does everybody think of those priests who sexually molested young boys?

I fully realize Allan would have been committing political suicide, but I believe these questions would shock the protesters into being more understanding and compassionate toward people who feel ostracized and persecuted. You know, people like Jesus Christ.

DAN CECCHINI

Winnipeg

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Perhaps someone should tell Rev. Lyall Sutton (Letters, Feb. 28) that there is a difference between taking away his freedom and giving freedom to others.

Perhaps the solution would be to take away both groups' freedom. We won't allow gay-straight alliances and in return Christians can't go to church.

BRENNAN MCRAE

Winnipeg

Blame province and feds

Jim Palmquist's Feb. 26 letter, A foreigner's letter, mentions some of the advantages of living in Winnipeg, but Palmquist is misinformed if he thinks it is our mayor's fault our roads are in such bad shape.

Every Winnipegger should know underfunding of the city by the provincial and federal governments is the actual cause. Both governments collect huge amounts of tax in the city but return a miserly amount, often with strings attached to the city administration.

When at Confederation the distribution of taxation powers was decided, cities were not much more than a few cross roads in a much larger rural and agricultural economy. Today Winnipeg, and every city in Canada, along with the vast majority of citizens, suffer at the hands of politicians who refuse to address their responsibilities to those who elect them.

Palmquist can report that to his Chinese friends, who will also inform him that their cities do not suffer under the same irresponsible government.

SHANE NESTRUCK

Winnipeg

A true woman of sport

I would like to acknowledge the tremendous work of Free Press reporter Ashley Prest during her many years in the sports department. I understand she is now transferring into general news, but her time as a sportswriter should not go unrecognized.

Prest has been a champion for local and amateur sport in Manitoba for decades. She has told the stories that might not always be on the evening highlights, but the ones that remind us why we love sport, the ones about athletes who compete for reasons beyond a paycheque.

Being a female sportswriter has never been an easy job -- even today, much less in the 1980s -- but she has persevered.

I would also like to thank her for the major influence she's had on me as an individual. Ten years ago, Ashley took me under her wing as a high school student hoping to learn what it took to be a sports reporter. Her encouragement and guidance set me on a path to my own career in the industry and I'm eternally grateful to her for that.

I'll certainly miss reading her in sports and know there are many Free Press readers who will feel the same.

ERIC MacKENZIE

Whistler, B.C.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 4, 2013 A10

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