I found John Whitehead’s commentary “Protect the freedom to criticize the government,” in the Sept. 1 Daily Progress, to be alarming in its reasoning.

Whitehead worries that, having lost our tolerance for free speech in its most provocative, irritating and offensive forms, the American people have become easy prey for the police state. He includes a list of angry words he has used to describe the U.S. government.

This reminds me of Rep. Newt Gingrich, who recommended to fellow Republicans a list of sick words with which to smear opponents.

I would argue, however, that the right to vote is the best pushback against what Whitehead perceives as government’s many injustices.

At the same time, I wonder if his particular tolerance for active dissent explains the fact that the Rutherford Institute, which he heads, joining with the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, filed suit against Charlottesville for revoking Jason Kessler’s permit to hold a rally in what the two organizations called an unconstitutional decision based on the content of Kessler’s message.

Florence Schmitt

Albemarle County

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