I was interested in Dave Blaska's claim that the "left hate[s] free speech" ("Plugging Up Their Ears," 9/9/2011) because I have some personal experience with this question, involving Mr. Blaska himself.
Every weekday at noon, union supporters gather in the Capitol rotunda to sing pro-union and pro-civil-rights songs at the Solidarity Sing-Along. When Mr. Blaska announced his intention to hold his own "conservative sing-along" in the Capitol rotunda, also at noon on a weekday, our group, more than 150 people in all, agreed to move outside and sing on the State Street corner of the Capitol so Blaska's group could have the rotunda. As I explained to Mr. Blaska when he entered the rotunda to begin his sing-along, the Capitol is his home too, and we're happy to see more people singing in the Capitol, even if we don't share their views.
At the time, Blaska seemed appreciative of our group's gesture in support of free speech, but now it appears that he's forgotten that this ever took place.
Steve Burns, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice
There were a lot of cheap shots re Dave Blaska's column "Plugging Up Their Ears" in Letters ("Stupid Speech," 9/15/2011). For 40 years I had the good fortune of being mentored by Mike Mansfield, Democratic congressman, senator, Senate Majority leader and Japanese ambassador under Carter and Reagan. Mansfield said that a true conservative was a liberal tempered by the application of experience.
The left in Madison brands all opposition as archaic, misinformed and Republican. Always willing to attach a label and trade experience for untried, or failed, ideas or philosophy. In real life, a difference in opinion and approach from conservatives, not necessarily Republican, is just that. And unworthy of harsh, hysterical attack.