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What Sykes ignored, hip-hop problems, Lisa Schuetz, and Jesus' name

What Sykes ignored

Charlie Sykes claims in his column 'Hypocrites With an Agenda' (10/27/06) that the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign has a hidden agenda to re-elect Gov. Jim Doyle. As proof, he says 'there is no evidence the group has issued a single press release on Jim Doyle since July, despite the governor's cascading pay-to-play scandals.'

Um, well, actually the DemocracyCampaign last put out such a press release on Oct. 24, two days before Sykes' column appeared in Isthmus. (See

That inconvenient truth notwithstanding,maybe Sykes still is on to something.... Just go to the Democracy Campaign's Web site and see all the examples of how we have been 'helping' Jim Doyle. [McCabe provides links to nine press releases questioning Doyle's fund-raising activities. They date from Oct. 14, 2003, through July 18, 2006.]

Sykes also accused us of advocating a 'heavy-handed invocation of government power' to silence the Catholic Church. Either Sykesis ignorant of the issues we have raised about the Madison Catholic Diocese's campaigning in favor of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions, or he is knowingly distorting the truth to advance his own well-known partisan agenda.

Our concernsabout the diocese's electioneering activities in support of the statewide marriage referendum have nothing to do with whether the churchhas the right to take a positionor publicly advocate its position. The diocese not only is free to take a position, but priests and the bishop himself can preach from the pulpit on the issue and openly discuss church teachings on marriage issues.

The diocese also is free to campaign for the amendment if it chooses to. Butwhen any group spends money to directly urge people to vote yes or no, that triggers the requirement in state law to publicly disclose electioneering activities. Some religious organizations that are expressly advocating a 'yes' or 'no' vote on the referendum, including the Wisconsin Catholic Conference,are disclosing their activities. The Madison Diocese is not.

Sykesinvokes the First Amendmentto claimthat I am attacking not only the right of free speech but also freedom of religion by shining light on the diocese's political activities. Bishop Robert Morlino wentas far as to say our call for disclosure is 'persecution' and an attempt to 'intimidate' the church.

The First Amendment forbids any law'respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.' Both SykesandMorlinodwell on the second clause that seeks to protect religion from the state while ignoring the first clause aiming to protect the state ' and our democracy ' from the church.

Our nation's founders included both clauses for a reason. They loathedreligious persecution but also were deathly afraid of a state religion.

Sykes accuses us of hypocrisy, claiming the Democracy Campaign, 'which demands that the Catholic Church and others register and disclose their contributions and its expenditures, refuses to do the same itself.'

We issued a press release announcing our opposition to the marriage amendment on June 21. State law does not regard press releases as electioneering activity that triggers the disclosure requirement.We have done nothing else or spent so much as a penny to campaignon the issue.

Mike McCabe, executive director, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

Hip-hop problems

If you want to know why hip-hop continues to have problems in Madison, it becomes very clear from this statement by hip-hop promoter Gary Knowledge: 'Really, we need to look at everyone. The police, the club owners and the promoters ' we can all do things better.' Notice that 'everyone' doesn't include the broader hip-hop community.

If there really is a hip-hop community in Madison, then perhaps it's time for its members to act responsibly and deal with your troublemakers. The police cannot be everywhere.

Jonathan Hecht

'Your cover for 'Hip-Hop Haters' features a microphone, a Glock 9mm and a guy in what appears to be full riot gear or, maybe, someone even more horrendous. Talk about a negative correlation right on the front page. Great job, guys!

Phil Penn

Taking responsibility

My thanks go out to the Wisconsin State Journal for its decisive action concerning reporter Lisa Schuetz ('The Price of a Scoop,' 11/3/06). I feel the fact that she allegedly tampered with a crime scene is salient, trumping the fact that she did it reflexively to get a leg up on the competition.

Shame on her forcommitting this repulsive act [allegedly taking a piece of art drawn by the accused shooter of principal John Klang] and for not taking personal responsibilityafter reflection.

One of her colleagues is quoted as saying: 'If we make one mistake will we be fired?' What a stark indictment of the news-gathering culture! A more professional reaction would be: Why should someone not be fired for unethical and possibly criminal behavior?

Bill Koster

In Jesus' name

As a Bible-believing Christian, I always feel pain in my heart when I read other Christians' use of Jesus' name to hurt others, as Pastor Mike Mayhak does in his column 'The Bible and the Death Penalty' (11/3/06). What the author fails to mention are the many times that Jesus talks about loving thy neighbor and His abhorrence of murder and hate.

This is Jesus' strongest message, and I can't understand why so many other Christians are more interested in finding minuscule comments saying otherwise. And it's sickening that the press consistently uses the views of these people to represent the Christian faith.

Ellen Carlson

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