Gun Rights Lobbyist Deserves Recognition, Not “Extreme” Label 

I am responding to your Jan. 2 "news & features" piece about gun-rights activist Philip Van Cleave and his group, the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

Throughout "Open Season", I noticed the use of the word "extreme" to describe Philip Van Cleave and his group, the Virginia Citizens Defense League. Apparently the reader is to conclude they're "extreme" simply for believing in freedom and protecting our constitutional rights. It was clear the article was an attempt to portray Philip as a fringe member of society and the group as out of touch with mainstream views.

This article made for an interesting comparison to your cover story of this same issue ("2012 Richmonders of the Year") about a group of women proudly being arrested for a public protest for women's rights. Not once did I read this group being described as extreme. Yet, their protests required state troopers to wear riot gear to protect themselves and their protest led to 30 arrests. The article treated these women as heroes, even titling them as your publication's 2012 Richmonders of the Year.

Van Cleave is fighting to protect our constitutional rights, for both men and women, and to allow us to better protect the lives of our schoolchildren. For that, he is called extreme. On the other hand, a group of women fighting to protect the right to kill unborn children in the womb is described as heroic and called Richmonders of the Year.

I believe you should revisit your definition of extreme and instead consider naming Philip Van Cleave as the true Richmonder of the Year.

Clayton W. Rhoades


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