If I am to understand Sam Johnston, a Salt Lake attorney whose letter appeared in a recent Public Forum, the protesters who defaced the recently constructed Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office should be forgiven for their vandalism because after all it was a simple act of freedom of speech.

Following that logic, then surely those who paint redrock green or blue in Utah’s scenic southwestern parks should be forgiven because their self expression is what it is, and at least they didn’t blow up these state treasures with a few sticks of dynamite or plug the scenic landmarks with rifle shells.

Johnston's saying the building can easily be repaired is akin to observing it would be simple to remove a painted mustache from the Mona Lisa put there in protest because the restoration is a simple fix.

I fail to see how the destruction of public property isn't similar to shooting oneself in the foot. If you want to circulate a petition, make a speech, march down State Street or stand naked in front of the Utah State Capitol building, so be it. Were these protesters thinking they were giving Sim Gill a figurative black eye? No one asked me if they could deface property that I was taxed to pay for.

I believe peaceful protesting is appropriate. Shooting police, shooting each other, shooting minorities, lighting cars on fire, setting bombs, running at crowds with swords in hand, defacing property which is not yours to do so — all of that flies in the face of the rule of law.

Attorney General William Barr, by his own description, sent agents to protect a federal courthouse in Portland from harm. Would Mr. Johnston ignore the painting of Mickey Mouse on the facade of the Salt Lake Temple because someone was protesting the cartoon figure as an annoying and agitated rodent?

Joan Provost, Salt Lake City