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Oct. 10: Letters to the editor Add to ...

A Nobel for attempted peace?

Despite its noble attempt to reward President Barack Obama's considerable promise ( Obama Accepts Nobel Peace Prize As 'A Call To Action' - online, Oct. 9), the Nobel committee should be in the business of rewarding actual achievements - not just the potential - of nominees. Such a prize, in other words, should be awarded not on the basis of "Yes we can" but on "Yes he did."

Justin Williams, Toronto

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I sincerely hope Barack Obama goes down in history as a great president; it will be good not only for America but also for Canada and the rest of the world. That being said, I'm a little puzzled at the Nobel award. Mr. Obama has shown an interest in reaching out to countries that don't have America on their Christmas card list, hoping that approach will bear fruit.

But you don't win awards for your prize apples if the only thing you've done is pruned the tree and fertilized the ground. Perhaps he may deserve it in the future, but, right now, it's a wee bit premature.

Joe Gilgunn, Victoria

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Barack Obama's winning of the Nobel in the expectation of his future accomplishments discounts the value of the achievements of those who have won the award in the past.

John R. McClement, Regina

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Critics, no doubt, will complain that the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama is entirely premature. But if that prize were awarded solely on the basis of outcome, not effort, it would have precious few winners.

Nelson Smith, Toronto

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Is there no end to the accolades one can pick up simply for not being George Bush?

Eric LeGresley, Ottawa

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Savvy investors might wish to take advantage of my new proposal: I am offering futures on my Nobel Peace Prize winnings for contributions to humanity that I am only now contemplating.

David Castle, Canada Research Chair in Science and Society, University of Ottawa

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Don't get me wrong. I would have voted for Barack Obama in 2008. But as someone who participates in humanitarian work and has a visceral understanding of peace-building, I draw the line at his winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

What has me so riled up is the knowledge that, for the second year in a row, the Nobel committee shortlisted Denis Mukwege, medical director of Panzi Hospital in eastern Congo. Dr. Mukwege is a man I deeply respect. But don't take my word for it: Ask the thousands of Congolese women he's saved by repairing their bodies after they've been raped with extreme violence. He has won several humanitarian prizes this year for his courage.

In a country that has seen some of the worst carnage and sexual violence in modern history, Dr. Mukwege is waging peace like no other. He told me recently in Bukavu, after accepting the UN Human Rights Prize in January, that when he returned to Congo, he was greeted at the border by thousands of fellow Congolese. A parade ensued.

A humble man, Dr. Mukwege doesn't need the Nobel Peace Prize. But he deserves it. Maybe the Nobel committee will get it right next year. Three times, after all, is a charm.

Brad MacIntosh, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Toronto

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Some will deride the Nobel committee for awarding the peace prize to Barack Obama. But the power of words should never be underestimated. Avoiding or reducing animosity between humans often begins with the right choice of nouns, verbs and adjectives. By eliminating belligerent rhetoric from his vocabulary, Mr. Obama is, in effect, bringing about peace by first conquering the war of words.

Giselle Déziel, Cornwall, PEI

Naked on the street

Letter writer Nikhat Rasheed ( Burka Faceoff - Oct. 9) says "the state has no business in the bedrooms or the closets of the people." Agreed. But then comes this: "But how we choose to present ourselves to the world is part of our fundamental right of expression." Clearly, one does not present oneself to the world in a bedroom or a closet.

Every society has a range of behaviour in which free expression is tolerated - some narrow, some wide. But they're never without limits. In Western societies, where the range of tolerance for the dress code is among the widest, most people still find both complete nudity and full cover on the street inappropriate.

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