'Don't ask, don't tell' an unfair policy

Two recent letters defend the current "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, which denies gays and lesbians the right to serve in the military with the same status as heterosexuals. Both letter writers operate from the viewpoint of the privilege of the heterosexual, which they take for granted.

Regarding the first (" 'Don't ask, don't tell' imperfect, but works," last Sunday), I would like to assure the writer that working well is not the experience of the many gays and lesbians who have been discharged. It has not worked well for those who struggle to keep their identity secret, when straights are under no such restraint. For gays, as an example, there can be no public, emotional reunions with lovers on the tarmac upon return from serving their country.

The second ("Gays in the military don't need labeling," Thursday) states that "we just don't think that a demarcation of someone's sexuality is needed." We again encounter the position of privilege that straights automatically enjoy. The writer then resorts to arguments of no pertinence. USO dances for gays (why not?). A gay VFW (there aren't VFWs for specific ethnic groups?). A gay point of view and lifestyle (what, exactly, is the gay point of view and lifestyle?).

The simple fact is that DADT makes sure that the straight community can retain its position of privilege and does not have to acknowledge gays and lesbians as equal to itself.

James F. Davis

Gulph Mills

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Exaggerated effects of marijuana use

After reading the article regarding the use of medical marijuana, I thought that the writer had just finished watching

Reefer Madness,

a short film from the 1930s that portrays a young man in a murderous fit after smoking a "reefer" ("Sober reflection is in order," Thursday).

I am a retired police officer who has arrested many persons for possessing illegal drugs. However, today our prisons are brimming with those incarcerated for marijuana. The cost for this is incalculable. Marijuana has been used for decades and will continue to be used. Locking up people doesn't work.

I say decriminalize it, tax it, and restrict it, but stop claiming incredible and exaggerated depictions of marijuana use by sensible people.

Robert Morgan

Southampton, Pa.

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U.S. became the colonial power

Jeff Hurvitz should get his facts in order ("Sinking the symbol of a superpower's rise," Wednesday). By stating that the United States, through the activity of the Olympia in the Spanish American War, "did much to free people from colonial rule," he is revising history.

After our victory over Spain in that war, we replaced Spain as the colonial power in the Philippines. This came after we had promised self-government to the Filipino rebels who were our allies during that conflict. It was not until after World War II that the Philippines were allowed self-rule.

Ben Kendall

Wynnewood

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Short-term savings in an ineffective drug

I was dismayed by the article about the state of Pennsylvania suing Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. over the antipsychotic drug Risperdal ("In court, Pa. claims it was duped by drug firm," Thursday).

The article says, "Pennsylvania contends that Janssen falsely claimed Risperdal was safer and more effective than similar but less expensive antipsychotic drugs such as ... Haldol." This attitude is putting short-range savings over human well-being. Haldol is much cheaper in the short run, and it does control some psychotic symptoms, but it has such horrendous side effects that most people stop taking it.

These unmedicated people frequently end up in the hospital or in the criminal-justice system at a much higher cost to the state. Even those who stay on Haldol are frequently extremely sedated and subject to severe facial and bodily twitches, which make them unable to enter the workforce, while many people on Risperdal are able to be gainfully employed.

Ronni Flitter

Past president

Northeast Philadelphia affiliate

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

Philadelphia

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The failure of regulators

We note that some people are trying to lay the blame for the BP Gulf oil disaster on President Obama. These are the same people who try to blame him for American troops in Iraq and for the hard economic times. All three problems arose during the previous administration.

Until the BP well blew out, there was no reason to suspect that a culture of regulators' being too close to the industry had developed.

Government regulation has always been needed, because seeking profit has always overruled the public's needs. We have the Food and Drug Administration because a century ago, the food industry was selling seriously polluted food to the American public. Similar points can be made about the SEC, the EPA, and other government agencies.

But if the political culture at the top is to cozy up with those who are supposed to be regulated, then the system does not work, as we have just seen.

It takes a while to change political culture. One election is not sufficient.

Ernest and Elaine Cohen

Upper Darby

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At least somebody spoke up

Bravo, Helen Thomas.

Finally, an eminent and respected former White House reporter has spoken publicly about an unpalatable truth and Israel.

Keith Nolan

County Leitrim, Ireland