When the first settlers came to America, it was to escape religious persecution and the tyranny of a nonelected king. They thoughtfully created a system of democracy that is unique worldwide. They guaranteed free speech.

What is troubling about the State Fair incident discussed in a Sept. 1 commentary (“Threats replace political debate at Fair”) is that the Donald Trump supporter would argue that his confrontation of the author represents “free speech.” However, there is a fine line between respectful free speech and threatening or forcing speech on someone else. We have moved too far away from civil discourse and tolerance. Even basic politeness is now snidely referred to as “political correctness.”

People are angry because our political parties in Washington no longer represent real people. People are angry because they do not have a voice in their communities, so they take it upon themselves to influence the dialogue through force and intimidation. What made America great in the first place was that we ARE a democracy. In order to live and maintain that democracy, we must first respect and understand the viewpoints of others. We then are each responsible to set an example, calmly and respectfully in all situations.

Vote. Run for office. Arm yourself with facts, not conjecture. Treat everyone as you would treat a member of your own family, because we are the family of man.

Jane Montemayor, Excelsior

• • •

Perception becomes reality and lies become truth. That is happening, as was pointed out by Susan Mallison’s commentary about the incident she experienced at the fair. Here is a person calling Hillary Clinton “a convicted criminal,” when this is a complete lie. As Susan pointed out, Clinton has “never been indicted, much less convicted of a crime.” Yet many people continue to repeat this lie until it is becoming reality for some.

Gordon Kelley, Dundas, Minn.

• • •

I am sorry that Mallison was harassed by a man who I assume was a Donald Trump supporter. I know as a person who has volunteered for more than a decade at a political party booth and who has been political for a long time that these incidents are common. In 2002, the Republican Party put up a cutout of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, calling him a liar. In 2004, a man went flashing his anti-John Kerry presidential button in people’s faces. In 2010, I wore a political party shirt, and a man implied that people would be wise enough not to vote for the party. In 2014, an activist at the Libertarian Party booth mocked the political party that I stated I belonged to. And last year, a Ben Carson presidential supporter kept picking fights with a Hillary Clinton booth volunteer. My advice to people is to use public civility at the State Fair, and if you can’t be civil, do not engage in politics there.

William Cory Labovitch, South St. Paul

MINIMUM WAGE VOTE

A proper ruling, but underlying issue of inequity remains

The legalities are settled (“Court blocks ballot proposals,” Sept. 1). We can’t set a minimum wage in Minneapolis by referendum. I agree. That does not mean the wealth gap is fair. It is not. People at the lowest end of the wage scale are still shafted by the system. People working a full-time job deserve pay that allows them to pay rent, send a kid to school, and go to a movie every now and then. It would be best if this inequity were settled on a state or national level. It really would. But, until then, the Minneapolis (and St. Paul and Duluth and Bloomington and St. Cloud, etc.) City Councils should lead the way.

John Widen, Minneapolis

SOUTHWEST LIGHT RAIL

Love/hate continues for the line and its funding solution

Congratulations to the Metropolitan Council, the Counties Transit Improvement Board and the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (“SWLRT partners cover gap in funds,” Sept. 1) for their creative solution to preserve nearly a billion dollars in federal funding for the essential Southwest light-rail project from the obstruction of a tiny group of wealthy Kenwood NIMBYs coupled with Kurt Daudt and the House GOP determined to cash in on this as an election issue. The howls of these outflanked groups tell the whole story. They are frustrated that they could not prevent this needed public transportation project for their own selfish concerns.

William O. Beeman, Minneapolis

• • •

At last there is a way for the legislative process to become more efficient. When visionaries, developers, and movers and shakers are lobbying to get help for their respective projects, the legislators could simply advise them to get “certificates of participation,” as was done with the Southwest light-rail project. It seems to me that this would save a lot of time for the legislators — or am I missing something?

Florian Lauer, St. Paul

• • •

Here’s a novel idea to fund the Southwest light-rail line: electronic pulltabs!

Norm Spilleth, Minneapolis

• • •

Let’s take a look at the Southwest line and compare it to a heavy rail line in Oslo, Norway.

From the center of Oslo, if you take the T-Bane (Metro) Line 1 toward Frognerseteren, you will be amazed by the scenic journey, but even more amazed that a heavy rail line (with a frequency of every 15 minutes) is going through forest with only pockets of residential and commercial near the stations. This rail line is not only intended for commuters, but also for accessing recreational areas where people can hike, bike, pick berries, and ski or snowboard. Since this rail line was established nearly 100 years ago, the communities and residents are used to it and know how important it is for commuters and travelers.

The Southwest line would go through the Chain of Lakes and have stations that allow easy access to trails, lakes, and shops and restaurants. Not only will it benefit commuters going between Minneapolis and the southwest suburbs, but also people who want to go exploring and see nature in an urban area. As a user of the Kenilworth and Cedar Lake trails, I would love to have an easy option of getting to those areas without a car, and I’m sure numerous other people would, too.

Eric Ecklund, Bloomington

DONALD TRUMP

An act of exploitation in Arizona

Donald Trump’s Aug. 31 rally in Phoenix showcased one of the most despicable acts of political pandering we’ve witnessed to date. His exploitation of “angel mothers” — family members of victims of violence at the hands of undocumented criminals — should be roundly disdained by all who witnessed the spectacle.

Anyone can round up a group of sorrowing people to demonstrate a biased, urgent need to get rid of some kind of “undesirable.” How about everyone who’s lost a loved one at the hands of an Irishman? A white person? Police? A black person? Perhaps all alcoholics and drug addicts should be done away with. All mentally ill. All men between the ages of 20 and 30. What about all who have lost a child because they didn’t properly lock away their guns? There are countless groups we could banish if we put our heartless, illogical minds to it.

If this is the best Trump can do to justify his vengeance toward undocumented immigrants, and if our country holds enough angry and prejudiced followers to vote him into office, then we should be profoundly ashamed that we allowed such disgusting ignorance to take fever in our presidential campaign.

Shawn Gilbert, Bloomington