Don't blame the police for fear

You reached a new level of self-deluding logic with Monday's editorial "Too many neighborhoods run by fear." The editorial blamed inadequate police protection as the reason many would-be witnesses to urban crime stay silent rather than risk retribution for their testimony. Is it possible the newspaper of record in the city has forgotten its long-standing opposition to procedures that allow the police in difficult, crime-ridden neighborhoods to correctly protect the public? Perhaps if you stopped being a vocal opponent of police procedures every time a legally interesting question of "constitutionality" comes up, police might be able to more adequately protect citizens in urban "war zones."

The "Badlands" and other drug- and violence-steeped neighborhoods are no place to parse the nuances of the propriety of the very individuals trusted to protect us. Bad cops should always be weeded out, but overly reactive, restrictive policy changes, often fanned by your editorials, do little more than handcuff the majority of good cops trying to do their jobs under exceedingly difficult conditions.

While we are at it, let's not forget our perpetrator-sympathetic legal system, which often fails to keep the guilty and the "more than likely" guilty away from the potentially testifying public. The Inquirer has been a longtime supporter of crossing every T and dotting every I when it comes to prosecution, and has editorially eroded the concept of "reasonable doubt" in our courtrooms. Why should citizens take the risk to do the right thing when they are often failed by a legal system blind to the right thing?

Is it any wonder a frightened public keeps its collective mouth shut when it comes to crime? The Inquirer has been an active facilitator in the progressive deterioration of the ability of the police and the justice system to protect the public. It's appalling that you now criticize these institutions for not properly protecting witnesses.

Christopher Knob, Media,



Open cathedral to feed homeless

Of course the homeless should be fed on the Parkway — right in the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul ("It's better to fed the homeless indoors," Thursday). Throw open the cast-bronze doors, and bring in folding chairs to raise the seating capacity. Set up tables on the antique marble floor and, in a reenactment of what is on one of the stained-glass windows in the Chapel of Our Lady, where the loaves and fishes are depicted, feed the homeless.

In an ecumenical embrace, true to St. Paul, the patron of lay people, invite all groups offering food to bring it to the cathedral table in honor of St. Peter, the patron of butchers and fishermen. No, not in honor of any saints, but in the true spirit of Philadelphia.

Samuel W. Whyte, Philadelphia



Don't need bad economic advice

Everyone agrees that greater economic growth would be a good thing for this country, but it is beyond me why anyone would listen to Brendan Miniter for his thinking on how to achieve it ("The role of economic growth," Sunday). As a cheerleader for laissez-faire economic theories that should have been entirely discredited by the "Great Recession," Miniter and his ilk have nothing useful to add to the conversation. What is next for The Inquirer, investment advice from Bernie Madoff?

Larry Goldberg, Merion



Hospital merger bad for women

I am a gynecologist and former abortion provider who lives near Abington Memorial Hospital. I've read with interest how Abington Memorial and Holy Redeemer Hospital are attempting to find a "creative solution" to the community and medical-staff outrage at their planned merger. The outrage was a result of the announcement that the merger would result in a loss of hospital-based abortion and selective-reduction services at the nonsectarian Abington institution. In reality, the only good "creative solution" would be to call off the merger altogether.

There are many important clinical and public-health reasons why abortion should be offered when desired and/or needed in a hospital setting. Many abortions cannot be done in a freestanding clinic, particularly when dealing with second-trimester procedures and significant medical conditions. A prohibition on abortion would also have chilling effects on the care of many women with desired pregnancies that become complicated by intrauterine infection, lethal fetal anomalies such as anencephaly, and other medical situations that are not uncommon in a busy labor unit such as Abington Memorial's.

I'm disappointed that yet another hospital in Pennsylvania will essentially become an abortion-free zone, which only serves to marginalize the procedure, make it easier for protesters (since they can more easily target outpatient clinics that do provide abortion services), and cause problems for women facing difficult decisions about their pregnancies, desired or otherwise.

David Toub, M.D., Wyncote



Tradition no defense for rodeos

When will we stop using "tradition" as a substitute for moral reasoning (" 'Mexican rodeos' " find crowds, criticism," Sunday)? The fact that something has been done for a long time has nothing to do with whether it is something we should be doing as a matter of morals or ethics. Justifying the brutal treatment of animals in Mexican rodeos by arguing that it continues a long-standing tradition, or brings people back to their youth, is akin to arguing that the Romans never should have stopped throwing people to the lions because it was such an ingrained part of their tradition and culture. This same argument is made with respect to the "ostrich boots" and meat-cooking referred to in the article, that it's traditional. It's time we used our brains and hearts to respect the dignity of other creatures and stop blindly following "tradition."

Penny Conly Ellison, adjunct professor, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Philadelphia,



Take away Paterno's victories

For me, it is still problematic that Joe Paterno's all-time record for college football victories was established exactly before the hammer fell on his program at Penn State. Whatever anyone says, the timing of this collapse seems to have been as sculpted as the cover-up was. Questions about the Attorney General's Office and persons above it, both now and since 1998, still abound in that matter.

In his undelivered note to his players, the coach insisted that his teams and program had nothing to do with the problem he helped develop. Perhaps we can absolve the football team and its players, yet fit a punishment for what was the coach's lack of due respect and concern for the child-sexual-abuse victims.

It is suggested that the team's record over the years remain in place. However, all wins accredited to the coach since 1998 should be subtracted from his personal record. In this manner, whatever trace of stained accomplishment is attributable in the intervening period could sit with the one who was culpable for his omissions and/or commissions.

The laurel of most wins (however trivial that may be in light of the surrounding events) should then rest more comfortably for others to accept.

Sigmund G. Morawski, Abington,



Too many people don't pay taxes

I have heard many snide references to how the "rich" Mitt Romney has not paid his "fair" share of taxes. The fact that a little less than half of American households pay no federal income taxes does not seem "fair" to me.

The late actor Orson Welles was accused of being a communist, but his response was that based on the amount of taxes he paid, he should be considered a capitalist.

So, will someone tell the public just how much in federal taxes have President Obama and Romney contributed to the Internal Revenue Service for social programs during their lives?

Joseph DuPont, Towanda, Pa.