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such as birth control or gay marriage. But the United States has not established an “offi cial religion” as some seem to want. These people argue that their version(s) of Christianity should be the basis of our laws. However, the U.S. Constitution and centuries of history trump their opinion. There are dozens of Protestant denominations in this country. Many people are Catholics, Jews, Muslims, or Deists. Which of these religions should be the “offi cial American church”? Of course, the


answer is none. The Constitution forbids the establishment of any one religion. It also permits the free exercise thereof — unless those activities are in confl ict with secular law. Then some diffi cult decisions must be made. Some recent examples before the courts: Can a member of the LDS have several wives? Can a Sikh wear a turban instead of a hardhat in a construction zone? Can a Muslim kill his teenage daughter because her behavior shamed him? Can Adventist parents withhold life-saving medical treatment from their child? These people are observing their religious beliefs, so must society permit these actions? We are a diverse society. Most


Americans say they believe in God, but there are many interpretations of what that means. The Bible is the answer to some, but it — or the Koran or the Book of Mormon — should not be the basis for our laws. Our secular laws already restrict many behaviors such as theft, reckless driving, or assault. But we don’t execute heretics or witches anymore, and divorce and abortion are now legal. No group should impose their religious beliefs on others, and our nation’s laws should not be based on one group’s religious beliefs. America is a democracy, not a theocracy.


John Flynn Goodyear


West Valley View, Inc. Letters to the Editor 1050 E. Riley Dr. Avondale, AZ 85323 or e-mail: editor@westvalleyview.com


current topics. Letters must be 300 words or fewer, include the writer’s full name, address (including city) and telephone number. The View will print the writer’s name and city of residence only. Letters without the requisite identifying information will not be published. Letters are limited to one per author per every two issues. Letters are published in the order received. The View will not publish “thank-you” letters, consumer complaints, form letters, clippings from other publications or poetry. Letters’ authors, not the View, are responsible for the “facts” presented in letters.


The View welcomes letters that express readers’ opinions on


by Joe Gandelman Cagle Syndicate


If someone shoots a person wearing a hoodie, could it be partially explained because it made the person look like a menacing gangster? Apparently that continues to be the view of Fox News’ fading, mustachioed news personality Geraldo Rivera, who is at it again. Rivera seems stuck in defending-racial-profi ling mode as he again calls hoodies provocative “thug gear.” Rivera’s exercise in wardrobe


Is Rivera right when he says hoodies are thug gear? GUEST COMMENTARY


Rivera’s comment sparked howls of protest, including from many fans. He tweeted that his own son wrote to him saying he was “ashamed” of his position, but Rivera insisted, “I still feel parents must do what they can to keep their kids safe.” After a virtual national furor, Rivera apologized to Martin’s parents directly on TV, expressing his “deepest apologies,” and saying he was only warning parents of minority children about certain clothing. Fair enough. But he recently seemingly issued a big


defi ning is not as it seems at fi rst glance, although if it were true, hoodie manufacturers could simplify things: Why not just print logos of targets on hoodies’ backs? Rivera’s fi rst raised the hoodie-as-dangerous-clothing in battle cry in March, when he said on Fox News while talking about Florida Neighborhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman’s shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin: “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman.” George Washington Law School Professor Jonathan


Joe Gandelman


“Never mind!” on laying his crusade to rest, pointing to 7-Eleven footage of Martin the night he was killed showing the hoodie-wearing teen. Aha, Rivera said, it showed he was wearing “thug gear.” It’s sad to have watched Rivera’s descent into racially


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Hoodies date back to Medieval Europe, starting as formal wear for monks and became popular in the U.S. in the ’30s But, according to Rivera, they are “thug gear.” I’ve been in schools all over the country where kids of all ages wear hoodies. So a fi rst grader is dressed like a thug? I’ve seen teachers in hoodies. At a rest stop near in Oregon several 30ish white adults men and women wore them.


was bar mitzvahed in Connecticut, and whose teenage years are ancient history, is wearing a hoodie at night and is shot, it was because he was wearing thug gear? Should we assume all these kids in schools and all these adults who wear hoodies are wearing “thug wear” because gang members wear them, too? Should we assume anyone who has a mustache is silly and sensationalistic because Rivera wears one, too? Rivera contends a black or Latino young person


Turley perfectly summarized the context on his blog: “While the parents of Trayvon Martin are saying that he is wearing a hoodie in Heaven, Geraldo Rivera went on the air to denounce hoodies as evil garments causing the death of teenagers across the country.”


divisive thinking. When I was a student at the Medill School of Journalism in 1972, Rivera was a Peabody Award winner, a young TV investigative journalist who professors and students considered a role model. He symbolized what many felt journalism should become. Over the years he discarded serious journalistic branding and hosted the 11-year run of Geraldo, a syndicated TV talk show that lowered the bar for daytime talk and was labeled “trash TV” by Time. Then he joined Fox News as a sometime reporter and always news personality. His star declined greatly over the years and not due to his age, but due to his own choices. Actually, hoodies are to thug gear what Rivera is to serious journalism and thoughtful commentary.


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walking at night wearing “thug gear” is, in effect, asking for it, due to perceptions rooted in racism and media. So these now become a justifi cation or mitigating factor to ending someone’s life? Or if that does occur is someone who physically acts due to perceptions committing a hate crime? I have a wardrobe suggestion for Geraldo Rivera: a nice, big roll of duct tape that he should put over his racial-profi ling-enabling mouth.


Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is editor-in-chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates.


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