Letters: April 2008

Letters: April 2008

Letters to the Editor

Less is More
I found Luther Setzer’s letter (January) advocating less government and fewer laws such as wearing seat belts in cars both inspiring and disturbing. I found inspiration in his view that we need less government intrusion into our lives, especially in the arena of car safety. So after a few beers I got in my car. As his letter points out, government supervision stands squarely at odds with the foundational concept of a free society. So I ran a few red lights. After all, I wanted to be free. Paternalistic laws governing a driver’s behavior do not promote Mr. Setzer’s ideal of a free society and self-responsibility. How else would I ever learn the consequences of my own actions?

After doubling the speed limit and driving on the wrong side of the of the road, I hit a pedestrian. Clearly this person was not on the look-out for a self-responsibility free-society-lover like me. And that’s when I found disturbance. I realized that some government guidelines, such as seatbelt laws and traffic rules are there to protect me and the people around me.
Shannon Miller, CC • Santa Barbara Toastmasters Club Santa Barbara, California 

More on Less is More
I was taken aback by the January issue’s letter titled, “Less Is More” by Luther Setzer, commenting about Darcy Keith’s choice to use her skills gained through Toastmasters to lobby for a cause that was important to her.

The purpose of Toastmasters is to teach communication and leadership skills. How people choose to use them is outside the scope of Toastmasters. In our clubs, we listen and help fellow Toastmasters improve speeches that are political, religious or in direct conflict with some personal beliefs. Hearing differing opinions helps the speaker gain insight into all sides of the issue. The arguments are more powerful when the speaker acknowledges and refutes the other side.

We do not, however, chastise or condemn those with differing opinions or try to redirect their efforts. I hope Toastmaster Seltzer will acknowledge that Ms. Keith’s right to have differing opinions from his is what ultimately makes the United States a free society.
Suzanne Barone, DTM • Business Oriented Toastmasters Club Rockville, Maryland

Toddlers Today, Toastmasters Tomorrow!
I really enjoyed Julie Bawden Davis’ article on Steve Van De Walle, “Teaching Toddlers to Read” (March). I can sincerely relate, as I have a 25-month-old daughter and a 10-month-old son. My daughter “practices” her first Toastmasters speech every opportunity she gets. To many, she’s babbling, but to me [the noises] are music to my ears... My son is stuck on one word right now, “ga,ga,ga,” but soon he will start to speak and prepare his first Toastmasters speech.

I’m truly impressed with Mr. Van De Walle’s efforts and desire to help stamp out illiteracy among children.
Martha A. Moore, DTM • GVSU Club • Allendale, Michigan 

“Truth” a Teaching Tool
I was surprised by the letters regarding the article “An Inconvenient Truth” (December ’07). Toastmasters teaches effective communication and leadership; judging by the [presentations] worldwide response, it was well-received and produced the author’s desired effect. As a Toastmaster, I watched it carefully, looking for ways to improve my own presentation skills. Toastmaster used this widely known and celebrated communication work as a teaching tool – not to make a political statement.

The only political bias I saw came from the letter writers... who apparently disagreed with the presentation’s message. We are Toastmasters to make us better communicators and leaders. Please leave the political statements for a more appropriate venue.
Scott E. Redstone • Bullish Expressions • New York, New York

There’s No Remorse With Respectful Discourse
May I take this opportunity to congratulate the Toastmaster for having the foresight and the fortitude in highlighting a major speaker such as Al Gore, who is educating the world about a significant humanitarian crisis that is creeping up on us all.

Of course, you don’t have to agree with someone to be respectful of their talents as a teacher or as a trainer, and Toastmaster managed to shine through with an article that told the story of the telling of the story.

Some people in the United States seem to be losing the respectful discourse that great societies are made of. We are all striving to be good communicators, and to learn from others who are doing it well is a good thing. No matter what their political stripe.
Brian Hebb, ACB/ALB • Rising Star • North Hollywood, California >

Do you have something to say? Write it in 200 words or less, sign it with your name, address and club affiliation and send it to letters@toastmasters.org.