12/9 Readers write

Credit: pskinner@ajc.com

Credit: pskinner@ajc.com

Freedom of speech comes with responsibility

I was taught that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I wish that were true. In fact, bones may break and heal, but malicious words wound us invisibly and have unintended consequences.

The current legal conflict over certain rap lyrics and the First Amendment might be resolved by acknowledging that freedom of speech is a fundamental right in our democracy, but every right assumes a responsibility.

In modern communication like the Internet, it is hard for someone who screams out lies and incendiary provocations that wreak havoc to hide from consequences. Consider the January 6 aftermath.

Lyrics championing violence challenge the Bill of Rights by raising the cause-and-effect question: Are lyrics responsible for illegal acts?

Words, which are said to be stronger than swords, can be irresponsible and illegal when their effects are harmful or lethal. I can think whatever I wish, but can I say whatever I please?

Courts will provide one answer. Common sense provides its own.


News of Atlanta’s income inequality not based on sound analysis

The recent news story about income inequality in Atlanta focused on the large disparity in income in Atlanta, trotting out the usual “clickbait” excuses of structural and historical forces.

If the analysis of the article’s Gini coefficient uses data based on the population residing in Atlanta, this is different than the population that works in Atlanta -- as anyone who commutes to the city knows well.

This article is then about who lives within the city limits, either by choice, necessity or the perceived lack of other options. These factors are not caused by “entrenched racial disparities which took root generations ago.” Instead, they are from more recent personal and policy choices, which have added residents of new luxury buildings scattered everywhere to fatten property tax rolls. Others have left the city for perceived benefits in the suburbs, while the rest remained in place.