One of the photos with the July 28 cover story “Profile of a suicide” depicts a white male having fun with a stereotype that is normally associated with Mexicans and is deemed racist and offensive by many.

Would Stars and Stripes be so quick to publish a photo of a white male in a black face or a black male in a white face. Or maybe even one pretending to be Asian gesturing with slanted eyes? I highly doubt it. So why is it OK for you to publish that photo without a second thought?

David Arevalo

Kandahar, Afghanistan

Sacrificing for the fallen

I am amazed at the American people, simply amazed. The July 17 article “Media groups back church in troop funeral case” stated: “Twenty-two media organizations have sided with a radical church against the father of a fallen Marine who is trying to sue it for picketing his son’s funeral.” Well, in my books, that is his right, like it is the right of the protesters to protest his son’s funeral.

I know we live in a free country and we have rights other countries don’t have. I believe in the freedom of speech, but how do you think we achieved that right? Let’s go back in history. Before 1776, our forefathers didn’t believe in the policies England imposed on the States. So they elected to have a revolution against England. Yes, a war, a war that was won by men fighting to establish a new constitution that gave us the right to have freedom of speech. It is funny, but I didn’t read about any protest in any history book other than the Boston Tea Party.

You have the right to dishonor this fallen comrade’s funeral as he was being remembered and honored by his family. You have the right to go to the radical church. Here is why you have that right. That fallen Marine fought to continue the right. Please have some respect! It is not right to protest at a soldier’s funeral. Put yourself in [the father’s] shoes. I am sure you would be suing the church.

Honor our troops who have fallen. Think of the sacrifices they make: many deployments away from their family, their children growing up while they are away, their daughter’s first date, or their son’s first home run/touchdown. These soldiers sacrifice many things for you and this country. Sacrifice one for them. Don’t protest funerals of fallen soldiers.

Lt. Col. Marvin Fehrenbach


Fake heroes’ acts outrageous

The July 18 article “Law punishing fake vets ruled unconstitutional” filled me with rage. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Blackburn just dealt a vicious slap across the face of every man and woman who has served honorably in the U.S. armed forces. He dismissed a case against Rick Glen Strandlof, who claimed he was a former Marine who was wounded in Iraq.

Stolen valor is just as tangible as stolen property. But unlike property, stolen valor can never be replaced.

Everyone who has worn a uniform should start a campaign to have that judge severely censured, if not removed from the bench. I intend to call my senators, Harry Reid and John Ensign of Nevada, and pound the drum vigorously.

We need to get all of the services and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and Disabled American Veterans into this. I think an irreversible law needs to be passed to protect us. We deserve protection more than some toad who wants to ride the coattails of real heroes.

Master Sgt. Roy Heath (retired)

Yamagata prefecture, Japan

What about atheists’ rights?

[The writer of] “Withstand forced immorality” (letter, July 27) is quite right. As a chaplain, it is his obligation to enable soldiers to exercise their right to “free exercise of religion.” It is his sacred duty to uphold the First Amendment’s religious strictures.

I wholeheartedly support his stand on having to sit through mandatory morality proscriptions that I disagree with. Too often in this country our personal views are trampled by people demanding conformity in their name of their beliefs and insisting that I abandon my own beliefs in order to give reverence and devotion to a concept that I cannot, in good conscience, support.

As an atheist, I find myself forced to stand through prayers and devotions at every formal and informal military event I attend. Can I count on the letter writer’s support of my right to my own religious freedoms in demanding that the Army stop trampling on my religious beliefs?

First Lt. Michael Barranti

Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan

Repeal would hurt chaplaincy

Ending the military’s ban on open homosexuals will muzzle chaplains’ abilities to minister without facing charges of discrimination.

For those who believe the Bible is God’s word, and that homosexuality is wrong, speaking the truth of the gospel could be reason for disciplinary action. How could any conservative chaplain preach the book of Romans without censorship once “don’t ask, don’t tell” is repealed? Will those chaplains who believe homosexuality is wrong be forced to perform same-sex weddings? What about marriage counseling for same-sex partners? Will a conservative chaplain be forced to counsel two same-sex partners when he clearly believes it to be wrong?

These are all questions that have to be asked and answered. Repealing the ban will certainly bring a series of unintended consequences, one of which will force conservative chaplains, who currently form the core of the chaplaincy, to support a policy in direct contradiction with the Bible and with their endorsing denominations. The only alternative they will have will be to exit the military, leaving a conservative population without solid, Bible-based preaching in military chapels.

Carolyn R. Guth

Heidelberg, Germany

Keep explicit shows off AFN

Why HBO on American Forces Network (“AFN lineup to include uncensored HBO series,” article, July 25)? Overseas, Americable International and Mediatti have HBO and Showtime and all the other cable services that show “explicit” content on their service, which is available to those who want to see it at a cost. Why put that “stuff” on AFN? AFN was the one place overseas where someone could watch good TV without having to deal with all the swearing, nudity and other graphic adult content. Why destroy that?

I am not one for censorship, and I know I can easily just turn it off, but when there is only one basic service available for everyone, and there is already a media outlet for that type of content, why force everyone who chooses not to watch that type of “entertainment” to go without.

Even airing it late at night is not a reasonable argument. A lot of people watch TV late at night, to include children. “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Big Love,” “Hung” — these are not the show titles for the AFN we have come to know and enjoy. Save that stuff for the premium “adult” channels they were designed for and are available through the aforementioned cable services. Let our AFN be the one dependable television source that, day or night, allows us to truly enjoy “family friendly” programs. Parents have enough to deal with without worrying about a V-Chip. Where did this idea come from, anyway?

Keith Williams

Yokosuka, Japan

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