LETTER- Free the speech: let Savage talk

Wow! I didn't realize that as a private citizen contacted by a reporter I'd be "progressive" attack fodder for trying to "amplify the ignorance." I guess I should have expected that from the arrogant Pete Myers ["Focus on facts, not rhetoric," Letters, August 14]. But unlike him, I don't have to agree with everything anyone says to support his right to say it.

Likely, neither Myers nor radio personality Coy Barefoot heard Michael Savage the night of the infamous autism comments because both are family men with better things to do and at sunset, WINA downgrades its signal. So, theirs were knee-jerk reactions to inflammatory sound bites from Media Matters, an organization pledged to eliminate conservative talk radio.

Yes, Savage is a flame-thrower who makes you think. A PhD researcher, Savage is an astute observer of the American scene, commenting on problems caused by family instability and national vulnerability.

Autism gets our attention. It's a frightening family tragedy with unclear causes; and Barefoot rightly advocates research on inoculations, mercury, and other pediatric procedures. Savage's heat-of-the-moment comments weren't aimed at Barefoot's personal situation. For Barefoot to react so vociferously, publicly, and personally was unprofessional; for WINA to buckle was pathetic.

When I'm insulted by things Barefoot says, I don't scream, "Off with his head." I turn the dial.

I flinched when I first heard Savage's book title, Liberalism is a Mental Disorder, but the more I see how dysfunctional these people are, the more I realize he's right: Code Pink, venomous hate for President Bush, the Free Speech Wall, intolerance of others, calling people ignorant/stupid, and shamelessly shutting down my right to speak– or listen.

Firing Savage has many layers. It's a battle in the long war for us who really believe in free speech.

Linda McRaven