Several recent articles in The Post and Courier have addressed the issues of increasing tourism and overcrowding in Charleston. The Dec. 14 editorial on the hotel boom said that “developers are eager to be assured that the city will not put the brakes on commercial growth and prosperity.”

In his Jan. 10 column on saving Charleston from tourism, Kirkpatrick Sale suggested that the city “should quickly bring a halt to the invasion” of tourism by capping hotel rooms, prohibiting cruise ships and taking other restrictive measures.

But such actions would try to solve the problem by addressing symptoms not causes.

A fundamental premise of our market-based economy is that prosperity requires more people producing and consuming more indefinitely. The result is overcrowding. Moreover, limitless economic growth that relies on limited natural resources is not sustainable.

That’s the dilemma. Before the overcrowding problem can be addressed for the long term, it may help to consider a broader perspective about what constitutes well-being beyond endless economic growth.

Richard Wildermann

Privateer Creek Road

Johns Island

Perhaps you’ve noticed them: individuals with homemade cardboard signs who panhandle motorists stopped at major points of access to the city.

Having noticed the same faces at different locations, at various times, as if on shifts, I suspect this activity may be less based on need and rather a more organized activity with strategic and territorial considerations.

During the Christmas season, I also observed panhandling on upper King Street.

As a resident of Charleston, having moved here some years ago from New York, I am reminded of the “Squeegee Wars” in that city during the Guiliani administration. Panhandling can quickly accelerate into an aggressive and intimidating form of window washing unwanted by motorists and ultimately requiring intervention by the police department.

Those of us who have traveled extensively will also recognize this activity as a prelude to the selling of food, water and souvenir items to stopped motorists.

The city, which threw out its ban against panhandling, needs to explain why this onerous practice is being encouraged in this city.

The city needs to note how panhandling can grow into other issues.

At the very least, the issue should be part of the debate over livability, safety and growth issues affecting our future.

Paul M. McManus

Tradd Street

Charleston

A Jan. 19 article written by an AP reporter stated that Salmon Rushdie said the right to free speech is absolute or else it isn’t free.

As much as I respect Mr. Rushdie, this statement is not correct. Freedom of speech is not absolute.

In a recent commentary, former senator Fritz Hollings stated that one’s deity, whether it is Mohammed or Jesus Christ, is sacrosanct. (I guess Jehovah would fall in that category.)

Several religious leaders have made similar statements. Some letters to the editor disagreed, and one noted that caricatures of Christ are commonplace.

As Leonard Pitts pointed out in a recent commentary, defamation and incitement to riot are not protected. We are all aware of the adage that yelling “fire” in a crowded theater is not protected (if there be no fire) as it could cause injuries and deaths. Such statements are never protected.

Cartoonists draw caricatures. That’s what cartoonists do. I believe that since caricatures of deities do not reasonably cause harm, they are protected. However, I note that in the past caricatures of Jews have fostered attacks upon the Jews and their establishments, particularly during the Holocaust. But the caricatures were just one element in a climate of bigotry.

Even if you consider such speech unprotected, the punishment for it should not be to kill the cartoonists.

The real issue is not whether such caricatures are protected but the issue of sanctions if not. Death is not an appropriate sanction.

Irving S. Rosenfeld

Simpkins Street

James Island

A Jan. 20 letter asserts that “scientists” in the time of Columbus believed that the world was flat.

He’s dead wrong: Educated people knew it was a sphere. Columbus’ problem was that most also knew how large it was. Had the Americas not existed, the trip from Spain to the Orient was far too long for anyone to survive it.

Uneducated people presumably would have written their newspapers, had they existed, to claim that the world was flat, just as they do today to express their disbelief in climate change.

Alan G. Arthur

Oxborough Circle

Mount Pleasant

Why does District 6 Rep. Jim Clyburn almost always vote the opposite of what the other S.C. congressmen vote?

A perfect example is the “South Carolina Tally” in the Jan. 18 paper: six Yes and one No, or six No and one Yes.

I understand he is a Democrat and anything the Republicans do is wrong, but almost all of the time? What about his duty to the people the represents?

Ron Schauman

Waterfront Drive

Moncks Corner