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Jan. 12: Dal’s options, and other letters to the editorAndrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Dalhousie's options

Dalhousie president Richard Florizone is right to move carefully regarding the accusations of impropriety against the 13 dentistry students (Talking Point – Jan. 10).

I personally agree that anyone found guilty of these allegations should be severely punished. I might even be convinced that they ought to forfeit their right to practise dentistry in Canada. But what most of us think is irrelevant. Transient public opinion does not run this country. The rule of law does.

If Dalhousie metes out a punishment that is not supported in law, it could be challenged in court. If it loses, it could cost the university millions of dollars in penalties, and regulatory colleges could be compelled to permit these people to practise.

The university should get all the information it needs, consider its options carefully, then take the most appropriate and strongest action permitted by law.

Hershl Berman, Toronto

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When words hurt

Here we are in Canada trying to figure out how harshly we can punish some immature men for offensive words on a website. Some people were "hurt" by them. Then Paris happened (An Act Of Barbarism – Jan. 8), and now I'm starting to get whiplash looking from one side to the other, trying to figure out why words hurt some of the time and why "freedom of expression, no matter how offensive" is a right worth dying for.

For some, the wannabe dentists have erred so enormously that wiping out their planned careers and future is barely enough. At the same time, we weep for the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, who were just exercising their right to freedom of expression while publishing jeers and taunts at any target they wished.

Which is it? Do we ignore it when people say offensive things to us? Should we pick up Kalashnikovs or (as in Canada) destroy their futures? Or do we grow up and define ourselves by our actions and lives, not what others say about us?

Pamela Pastachak, Niagara Falls, Ont.

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Publish/be damned

I wish to express how terribly disappointed I am in The Globe's decision (Why the Globe Didn't Publish The Charlie Hebdo Cartoons – online, Jan. 8).

Your justification for not publishing them is cowardly. From a journalistic standpoint, it is also unjustifiable – I presume most of your readers are not familiar with Charlie Hebdo. You should give them the benefit of the doubt and allow them to make up their own minds as to their offensiveness.

Geoffrey King, Montreal

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You missed a great opportunity to stand up against obscurantism and censorship.

François Leduc, Quebec

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Je suis Charlie? I doubt it.

The real (and only) "Charlies" were the brave people in Paris who were prepared to create and publish these cartoons.

David Shore, Richmond, B.C.

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The free-speech crowd forgets that ordinary Muslims, not just extremists, are also offended by disrespectful cartoons – besides being themselves the primary victims of Islamist terrorism.

John Dirlik, Pointe Claire, Que.

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A cartoon satirizing a living politician or institution is an effective means of getting a message across, but satirizing a dead prophet can achieve nothing except provocation. Freedom of expression carries with it the responsibility to use it judiciously.

James Duthie, Nanaimo, B.C.

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War with modernity

Islam's invisible war with modernity has been raging since the age of the Enlightenment (The Long War Is Between Islam And Itself – Jan. 9). Western civilization succeeded in reconciling reason and faith, faith and freedom, science and the religious narrative, but the Islamic world, glorious as it may be historically, has yet to find the formula.

The imperative is to find a new interpretation – ijtihad – ‎to get Islam out of the black hole it finds itself in. That would be better for all.

Elie Mikhael Nasrallah, Ottawa

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Not a diplomat

Re Vickers To Be Ambassador To Ireland (Jan. 9):

Why would anyone aspire to a career in the foreign service today, as so many highly qualified men and women did in the past, when ambassadorships are used as patronage appointments or for publicity purposes?

Kevin Vickers performed his role as sergeant-at-arms of the House of Commons in exemplary, even heroic, fashion, but what does that have to do with carrying out the duties of an ambassador to a foreign country?

Ken Dewar, Halifax

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The appointment is not appropriate. I'm sure he is an admirable man, but he is not a diplomat.

Canada has spent decades developing a professional and admired diplomatic service only to have this government decide that political appointments serve them better. How sad, and how disrespectful to the countries to which they are appointed.

Sarah Hastie, Toronto

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All have a voice

Bob Ramsay suggests that policewomen and non-white police officers don't have a voice in policing or in their respective associations (Debate Over Police Powers Missing Key Voices: Women And Minorities – online, Dec. 31). This is not the case.

In the Ontario Provincial Police's association, it's our membership that has power. A congress of elected uniform and civilian members from across the province gathers regularly to discuss and debate the issues of the day. This congress then passes motions and resolutions that the provincial board of directors and I are obligated to carry out.

Women made up 34 per cent of our congress at our most recent general meeting and this number has been closer to 50 per cent in recent memory. Three women have served on our provincial board with others holding the highest executive staff positions. Women have also served or currently serve as elected president or in other branch executive positions. Visible minorities and French-speaking members are also well represented.

Those in policing who dedicate their lives to serving Ontario all have a voice. The OPP and the OPP Association appreciate the value of a diverse organization and continue to work on ensuring our membership is reflective of the communities we serve

Jim Christie, president and chief executive officer, OPP Association

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More than a phew

Former mayor Rob Ford is quoted as saying of successor John Tory's performance, "That's not the way I would run the city" (Ford Criticizes Tory's Job Performance – Jan. 9).

Surely I'm only one of numerous Torontonians whose immediate reaction was, well, thank God he's not running it.

Sally Casey, Toronto

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