Unintended Consequences, Letter to the Editor by Carolyn Cagle


As a woman growing up in Western North Carolina, I always knew and still know I am not pro-Abortion; however, I am pro-healthcare for women. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade, I began to think more deeply and honestly about all the things that have been affected by their decision, about all themany Unintended Consequences that we as women, our spouses, and our families are beginning to realize.

Unintended consequences like what could have happened to me as a young wife years ago. I almost lost my son at 6 months in my first pregnancy. I was put on bed rest and was blessed to carry him to full term and birth my only child. Two years later, I was not so fortunate. I had a partial miscarriage when I was 4 months along. After 4 stressful weeks of repeated testing with consistent negative pregnancy results, worry that my baby had been compromised and having developed a uterine infection, I was admitted to the hospital and a D & C was performed by my doctor.

What if I had also been questioned as to whether I had tried to abort the baby or if my doctor had been unsure that he legallycould have treated me? Would the ability to have the healthcare I needed eventually have resulted in the unintended consequences of my death or serious impairment of caring for my precious 2-year-old son? It makes my heart beat rapidly even now, 53 years later, to think of the pain both my husband and I felt during that difficult and uncertain time.

I know two young women who have recently experienced miscarriages while trying to bring a much wanted first child into their happy homes. One of them had a complete miscarriage, but hemorrhaged and had to be treated at a medical facility. What if her intention had been questioned and as an unintended consequence, she had been denied healthcare by a doctor who was unsure of the legal rights to treat her. Would she have diedor lost her ability to have children? It breaks my heart to think of the pain these women, their spouses and families, have suffered without having to suffer through being questioned as to their motives involving miscarriages over which they had no control.

What about cases of rape and incest? There are women who bear the scars of these brutal and horrific crimes against them for their entire lives. How can judges or legislators or any of us dare to think we can develop a simple, unyielding rule of law to decide the fate of these girls and women who face unintended pregnancies and unintended consequences brought about by theSupreme Court’s ruling.

What about the unintended consequences of cases of ectopicpregnancies which will never result in a baby being born but will surely result in real danger to the woman’s life if she is denied healthcare?

What if all the women who’ve had painful and stressful miscarriages had been questioned as to whether they tried to abort the fetuses they were carrying or denied healthcare when they needed it? Further, what if women and girls who have been raped or were a victim of incest and became pregnant were put in prison because they chose abortion over a birth that was conceived in violence and hate? What if all the men who were ever partners in conception and never helped raise or support those children were also put in prison? Honestly, how much of the blame and grief is fair to place on women alone? It’s both cruel and unfair for women to bear the full responsibility.

Yes, we’re now dealing with so many unintended consequencesbecause the Supreme Court foolishly, and without much forethought, overturned Roe vs Wade. Republican legislators aretrying to dictate a one-size-fits-all fix for things that should be private to individuals in the complicated circumstances of their lives. Complicated things that can only be known and should only be decided by the individuals who are facing them. VOTE BLUE to protect your privacy and your right to make these crucial decisions!

Carolyn Cagle, Sylva

Originalism is Wrong

Originalism is Wrong

I am a Christian, a mother, a grandmother, and a retiredphysician born in 1950 long before the start of women’s rights. I benefited immensely from the feminine equity struggle and strongly believe that this societal change also helped my family and my community. At the time the original constitution was written only white property-owning men had any fundamental rights.  Black people were predominately slaves, and women could not vote.  We have all come a long way.

However, I fear that the  Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe is the first step in returning our nation back to this white patriarchy. Complex legal arguments based on laws from the last 500 years are just a smoke screen for the slippery slope wherewe are now engaged.  If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one for goodness’s sake. Instruct your family and church community to do the same thing.  But a fundamental ORIGINALIST interpretation of our constitution is that it is founded on the separation of church and state.  We are all free to practice our particular faith doctrine…. but we are not free to impose it on everyone else.

We have come to a very skewed place in our nation.  You can carry an AK47, a weapon of war, because of your fundamental rights, but a woman has no right to make personal private health decisions. This extreme group of people will not even pass the Equal Rights amendment for Women. Do not believe their words that this leaked ruling overturning 50 years of precedent is just a one-time adjustment.  Watch their actions. Focus on the long game, not the latest tweet. Fundamental freedoms can be permanently taken away. Please vote in the next election for candidates who honor all of, not just the nationalistic Christians.  The future of your children’s children depends on you to protect all their rights, not just a right to carry a semi-automatic weapon.

A Mountain Mother


Message from a mountain mother regarding gun control

In light of the August 28 shooting in an Oregon grocery store”

Dear Republican Neighbor and fellow Jackson County Resident,

I am writing to ask your help.  I think we are all reeling from the recent mass shooting like the one in Uvalde.  Our politicians donot really want us to find an answer to this mutual problem; we are the only country in the world where children get slaughtered in school. They exploit our political division to keep money in their pockets and themselves in power.  I am a gun-owning Democrat, and a mature adult.  I know as you do that compromise is not a dirty word.  It is not surrender.  Surely, there is a middle ground to this debate so we can move forward and truly be the exceptional nation that we used to be. As a Republican, you are the only person who can talk some sense into your elected representatives.

We can always do “both/and”.  It is never simply all or nothing.  Democracies don’t work that way.  Democracies work by compromise and good ideas come from both sides of the aisle. Securing our schools and placing armed police presence in them is a good Republican idea.  It is also a good idea to get background checks before a gun purchase and raise the age of purchase to the drinking age. The USA does NOT have any more mental health problems than the rest of the world; that is not why we have more school shootings. That is insulting to us as a people.  We just have too many guns in the hands of the wrong people.  Semi-automatic weapons are not used for hunting. but they can be used to shoot 100 rounds of ammunition into a 3rd grade classroom. The gun manufacturersproduce them to make money and scare the rest of us.

Please for the sake of our community and nation, urge your leaders to find some middle ground.  I am certainly talking to the people I vote for. Let’s do something together about this national recurring nightmare.

A Mountain Mother


Ms. Buchanan’s rejection of church and state separation, by Penny Smith

Ms. Buchanan’s Rejection of Church and State Separation


The beginning of the first amendment to our Constitution declares that we will “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It goes on to prohibit Congress from limiting our rights to free speech, press, assembly and petition. But it begins with some advice about religion and it does so deliberately.


Most of us recognize the “free exercise” clause. Our government should have no role in what we choose to believe. We are free to subscribe to any religion, sect, or denomination. We can even elect to believe in none at all. Yet it’s the other clause, which comes first, that we are prone to forget. We cannot “establish” a religion. In other words, it is forbidden to privilege one set of beliefs above another.


Our founders were familiar with established religion. The Church of England prevailed in the colonies and it was itsprivileged position the founders sought to banish. Popular stories of our founding then and now praised early dissenters like Roger Williams, when they founded settlements on the premise of welcoming diverse believers. Lord Baltimore, the Catholic founder of Maryland, likewise welcomed dissenters as did William Penn, a Quaker, in his colony of Pennsylvania.


The phrase “separation of church and state” is generally traced to an 1802 Thomas Jefferson letter in which he affirms to a Baptist congregation worried about the establishment of religion that the writers of our Constitution believed religion was “a matter … between Man & his God.” Government has no role in that relationship. Thus, he wrote, the new Constitution built “a wall of separation between Church and State.” It is a separation that I assume even Jesus would approve, given his advice to render unto Caesar what is his and unto God “the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22: 21, KJV). His statements built on the foundation laid in the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom (1786), which he authored.


So, Ms. Buchanan’s assertion in a Facebook post that the separation of church and state is a “false teaching” raises the question of in what way is it false? True, no man, woman or government can nor should wipe away our personal religious beliefs. They often form the ethical framework with which we view the world and they sometimes guide our personal behaviors. However, in a nation of diverse peoples, with diverse beliefs, it is contrary to the establishment clause to force those notions on others through public policy. We have never lived up to the aspirations of the establishment clause, but that doesn’tmean it is a false teaching.


In the same Facebook posting Ms. Buchanan notes that legalizing abortion was wrong and predicated on a lie. How she squares that assertion with the deeply felt religious beliefs of some people that life only begins at birth, not conception, is beyond me. For example, in Judaism, life starts with a first breath and that happens after, not before, a fetus enters the world. So, are those believers to turn their backs on their theology and adopt that of Ms. Buchanan? Isn’t that establishment of a set of beliefs? Doesn’t that compromise religious freedom? One wonders into what pretzels our conservative Supreme Court majority will twist itself when a case brought on behalf of religious freedom FOR abortion access appears, as it inevitably will.


That’s why that establishment clause was paired with a freedom clause when it came to religion. Religion is only free when it cannot be established. When we disagree, logic dictates that we use our faith to render personal decisions for ourselves and not policy, legislative or judicial decisions for everyone. Ideological absolutists have entangled us in tribal divisions on behalf of ideas worthy of authoritarians and Grand Inquisitors rather than falling back on two very sound pieces of advice: Caesar does Caesar’s work and God does God’s work with a wall of separation between them.


Not only do I worry about people who think that wall is a false belief, but I fear what they might do to our great country. In the name of their religion, they want to shut down conversations. They forbid books. They hope to dictate which ideas we can encounter and which we must avoid. In public schools, they support a regime of ideologically pure instruction and avoid education, which requires critical thinking and openness to new ideas. Instruction makes us alike; education allows for difference. A nation instructed is a nation dead in the water, unwilling and, ultimately, unable to deal with what tomorrow may bring. That is the world established religions make and it is not one in which I or any other freedom-loving American should wish to live.


When it comes to Caesar’s world, “true believers” must be true believers only for themselves and their families. Hate abortion? Don’t have one, but remember that many sincere believers of other religions do not believe that life begins with conception. Want to put limits around what young people should know or encounter? Do that with your own children, but do not inflict that requirement on the children of people who do not share your belief system. Want a restricted curriculum reflective of your sense of what the world is like? Opt for private schools; that is not the task of public ones.


Let me be very clear. I am not saying that in public schools children should be exposed to things that are age-inappropriate. Obviously, adults have a responsibility to monitor what children encounter, but they also have a responsibility, at least in a free country, to ensure they engage with facts, with history (both the good and the bad parts of it), and with diversity. Ultimately, children belong to themselves, not their parents nor their country nor one set of ideas. That’s what freedom, something Ms. Buchanan repeatedly touts in her campaign literature, is all about.



Let’s Strive to Become Great-Sylva Herald Letter to the Editor, Dave Waldrop

Let’s strive to become great

To the Editor:

Been thinkin’ lately ’bout MAGA. What an acronym! It sounds strong. Unfortunately, there is a built-in weakness.

It is this: great is an opinion only. It cannot be measured or agreed upon. When was it great? How was it great? Was there widespread greatness or only pockets here and there? Is there a chance that America has never been great?

Yet, Donald Trump has exploited many Americans and deceived them into believing he could restore America to greatness when for many that simply hasn’t been so. His red cap became a symbol of something that may only be imaginary – a by-gone era that will never return because it never was here in the first place. Much like “Gone with the Wind” as written by Margaret Mitchell. Back when Blacks and women couldn’t vote. When only property owners could. When some people were enslaved. Who wants to go back to those times?

Now, don’t tell me I’m being less than patriotic. I served four years in the Navy. Members of my family have used copyright as well as patent laws to improve our lot in life. I have read/studied most of the Constitution. I have read the Bible extensively. I have voted for Republicans and Democrats. I am a native of Jackson County. And, I happen to believe Johnny Cash knew some people had been held back when he sang “Man in Black.” Listen for yourself.

In addition to that his musical friend, Waylon Jennings, sang: “I can’t say I’m proud of all of the things that I’ve done. But, I can say I’ve never intentionally hurt anyone.” How many can honestly say that? Can that be said about America?

I admire those two musical legends. I also admire Jesus Christ. We have to get better at caring for others. If we don’t we can never reach the level of greatness. We are told that by every major religion as well as most philosophies.

Let’s strive to become great, though. Jesus, Waylon and Johnny will guide us.

Dave Waldrop, Webster

Abigail Clayton for School Board- Sylva Herald Letter to the Editor by Pamela Krauss

The survival of public education that serves all of our children is the true concern of the July 26 school board election. Public education is not, nor was it intended to be, religious education.

We have a choice of an incumbent, Abigail Clayton, that has family in the school system. Or the other choice is someone that is a strategic widget of those that fear teaching bona fide history, and prefer to mix public education into teaching Christianity and prayer in a public school. More bluntly, the other choice, the other candidate, is part of the warped philosophy that wants to blend her own flavor of religion into public education.

And, it becomes more and more clear that we better pay attention, and hope that our children can overcome the hot mess “we” have created losing sight of the purpose of public education. We can only hope that today’s children can right the ship of a country that is not acting in their best interest by teaching facts and critical thinking rather than religion in public schools.

So who are “we”? “We” are voters, or maybe even the sometimes nonvoters that have placed or allowed to be placed “representatives” in Washington, D.C., and Raleigh that find that public law does not apply to them, and basically set an example of the very behavior we would not accept in our children. This behavior violates not religious standards, but violates common law abiding standards consistent with our state and federal constitutions. Religious teaching belongs in religious institutions. We are seeing a trend in the leadership of the United States and North Carolina, and now maybe our school board, leaning toward a government that does not consider the needs of the future generation, (climate change, for example) and attempting to substitute true public education with religion.

But, we have a choice. We can choose to avoid the misguided candidate that wants to change the purpose of public education. The only real choice is to vote for Abigail Clayton, who has the best interest of our children and their future, public education, and will continue to work for Jackson County students.

Pamela Krauss, Webster

Familiarize Yourself with Local and State Democratic Candidates!

Take a look at these candidates & you’ll see why we’re proud to be Democrats.

“ candidate made race partisan“ letter to the editor, Sylva Herald

To the Editor:

Regarding last week’s article, “Nonpartisan school race…,” (District 2 candidate Lisa) Buchanan made this a partisan race when she first declared herself a ‘Conservative Christian’ in your previously published “Meet the Candidates” feature. The simple fact is that religion has no place in our public schools. If you disagree, feel free to enroll your child in any of the religiously-affiliated schools in the area (I would also encourage you to not accept taxpayer subsidies to pay for that, but I digress).

Imagine the outrage if a candidate had declared themselves a ‘‘Traditional Hindu,” ‘‘Progressive Buddhist,” ‘‘Orthodox Jew” or ‘‘Devout Muslim.” But ‘‘Conservative Christian” gets a pass because many people see them as non-offensive because they look similar or have the same beliefs. Those who do not look or believe the same have all too often seen the predictably toxic and venomous response from the evangelical right and decided that expressing their disagreement and concern is not worth it.

If a candidate cannot separate their religious beliefs from their public duties, they are not representative of all people and are unfit for office. There can be no doubt that the ‘‘parents rights” these candidates champion line up conveniently with their chosen religious principles.

Andy Barber, Cullowhee

“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” Letter to the Editor, Sylva Herald by Mark Ballinger

The good, the bad and the ugly

To the Editor:

The good: Since I’m retired at this particular point in history. I have been able to watch all the televised hearings from the January 6 committee. If you can’t watch TV during the day, you should still do everything possible to watch all or part of the broadcasts in some format after work. This is a tipping point in our nation, with our fragile democracy hanging in the balance, and that is not hyperbole. History is being made in real time for the remainder of our generations, and those to follow. History will show whether we survived, or whether the longest existing democracy died like the many other democracies that came before or after ours.

The bad: The hearings have shown, without a doubt, what one selfish life form has done to our government, and many people’s lives, all for his personal gain and pursuit of his fantasies. Millions of dollars, time and treasure of federal and state employees have been spent (our tax dollars) forcing them to “prove” that there was something wrong with the 2020 election based on “theories.” Innocent people have been threatened, murdered and injured and continue to be threatened today as a result of the pursuit of a fantasy by one being! Anyone else in a similar position of power who told everyone who worked for them that they needed to prove that the sky was orange, when everyone already knew it was blue, would be laughed out of town. There is no difference in what was done, except that the life form tried to use his power, and powers he thought he had, to overthrow the will of the people. The people, all the people, should be thoroughly pissed off! No justice, no peace!

The ugly: Approximately 20 percent of the country actually believes that the sky is orange, for no other reason than that the life form said it was so. So much for critical thinking and reasoning. Even uglier, there is a larger percentage (20 to 30 percent) who believe it’s no big deal, it’s politics as usual, don’t care, don’t want to get involved, don’t think the threat is real, don’t have time to watch or listen, or any number of lame excuses to not help save our way of life. It’s incomprehensible that anyone would live in, and enjoy the privileges of living in the United States, and not be willing to protect that privilege with all their being.

Americans have become way too complacent and indifferent. It can happen here! We all need to care and be sure everyone does what they can to hold accountable (prosecute) all those responsible. If not, we are lost and will have no one to blame but ourselves. Vote as if your life depends on it, because it does. Unfortunately, as it appears right now, the words of Han Solo come to mind – “I got a bad feeling about this.” I sure hope I’m wrong.

Mark Ballinger,