<i>IoS</i> letters, emails &amp; online postings (07 August 2011)

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I read A C Grayling's advocacy for a global gun ban in the mid-day heat at a petrol station less than 100 miles from the South Sudan border and a few miles from home ("What would this man be without a gun?", 31 July).

I have had the privilege of studying in America and England, and perhaps Mr Grayling's argument is tenable there. But too many of us have had the misfortune of seeing that trusting governments to be armed while the populace is not is not a solution. We have seen soldiers kill and rape with impunity. We have seen a government's needless, motiveless killing. I wonder how long it has been since Mr Grayling feared for the lives of his friends, hoping they were not harmed by hoodlums wearing government uniforms?

There is a place for guns. Like any other tool, they are sometimes misused (by governments, civilians and mercenaries). But they offer hope of protecting the weak from the strong, the few from the many. They offer the prospect of the defence of one's body, family and home. They offer the chance for intervention that so many have not had, forced to stand by in dishonourable impotence while their brothers, wives or daughters are taken from them.

In the lands most of the world's population inhabit, by chance rather than by choice, guns provide the only check on government. Perhaps a world without weapons is one to aspire to. But the road to that future is a dangerous one, not safe for travel by unarmed dreamers.

Karl T Muth


The murderous imbecile Breivik is prevented from giving media briefings but, for the second time in as many weeks, The Independent on Sunday has published large colour photographs that produce the image that he wishes to convey.

Karen Sanger

Enfield, Middlesex

Martin Narey is an experienced and thoughtful public servant who, as adoption tsar, will do much to stimulate public debate about the important issue of adoption and its role in our child protection system ("Adoption has come back into fashion", 31 July). But he is wrong to stereotype social workers as anti-adoption when, on the whole, they are not, and to label families as irreparable when some will and do improve with professional support. The adoption debate must also acknowledge successful alternatives to adoption and factors outside of social workers' control, such as court delays that can see children waiting over a year for a decision about their future. Social workers do not have an easy task and are already subject to public disapprobation. Alienating language from a ministerial adviser is not helpful in creating the environment for a constructive discussion about the future of our country's most vulnerable children.

Matt Dunkley

President, Association of Directors of Children's Services


Peter York makes the London club scene appear much more exclusive than it is ("The secret and changing life of the private members' club", 31 July). The National Liberal Club is neither in the toffs' area nor exclusively cool, being between St James's and Parliament and housing the Savage Club, which happily describes itself as "Bohemian". It has always had an easy-going atmosphere, and in 1978 was the first major London club to admit women as equal members. As for dress codes: these tend to reflect current members' opinions rather than those of new applicants.

Michael Meadowcroft


Matt Chorley offered no credible evidence that the Business Secretary has gone from zero to hero ("From hero to zero and back again: the vindication of Vince", 31 July). Rupert Murdoch was nearly given the keys to the front door of Sky precisely because Mr Cable boasted to young women of his supposed prowess. It was due only to brilliant brave journalism that Mr Murdoch was exposed and was nothing at all to do with Mr Cable.

Paul Gillett

Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

Your efforts to collect aid for people in the Horn of Africa remind us that not everything about the media and what it does is bad. Given the amount of money wasted on pointless, at best, military interventions in Afghanistan and Libya, the idea of raising money underlines the difference between what can usefully be done and what cannot.

Keith Flett

London N17

You say that it was India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who translated the epic Rajatarangini from Sanskrit into English ("Cultural rebirth as Kashmir holds its first literary festival", 31 July). It was, in fact, Nehru's brother-in-law, Ranjit Pandit, who undertook this translation of the 12th-century saga of the kings of Kashmir. Pandit Nehru, although a fine master of English prose, knew no Sanskrit, which he himself admits in a foreword he contributed to this work while paying tribute to Mr Pandit's scholarly abilities in this classical language.

A R Shiva

via email

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