We're all the same

I am always saddened when I hear people denigrate and insult minorities and immigrants with hateful language.

I had the good fortune of spending a major part of my 35-year career in the chemical business in the international realm. I have visited 65 countries and have done business on all five continents. What I found through this very broad experience is that, once you scratch through the cultural "veneer," all people are fundamentally the same.

That is to say that they yearn for the same things for their families and children and that most people everywhere are fundamentally kind and good.

When we use generalizing pejorative categories to apply to people, especially those whose culture differs from our own, we are oversimplifying a very complex issue that leads, often, to unjust wars, genocide and other crimes against people.

Roy N. Wetterholt

Lucky to be alive

Thank you for reporting on Byron Halsey ("Updated DNA test frees N.J. prisoner," May 16). I applaud Union County prosecutors for working with the Innocence Project to urge State Superior Court Judge Stuart L. Peim to reverse the conviction and order a new trial.

Halsey faced the death penalty at trial but the jury spared him that sentence. He is very lucky to be alive, because his legal journey looks something like this:

An innocent man, whose trial counsel has a stellar reputation (Joan Van Pelt), was convicted; then the safety valve of direct appeal didn't work; then the safety valve of postconviction relief didn't work; then the safety valve of DNA testing was denied. Every possible avenue under New Jersey law was tried and failed, and then, by some unknown minor miracle, an out-of-state nonprofit gets involved - a process not envisioned by anyone's rules of criminal procedure - and an innocent man walks out of prison after serving more than 20 years for a crime he had nothing to do with. What if he had been sentenced to death?

I hope New Jersey legislators take note of this case, and I hope Pennsylvania legislators follow the lead of New Jersey, which may pass legislation to change the death penalty to life without parole later this year.

Abraham J. Bonowitz

Mount Holly
abe@cuadp.org

Nothing will change

I am one of the majority of Philadelphia's eligible voters who did not vote in the primaries. In discussions that I had, literally no one believed that any of the candidates would make needed changes.

One issue that I looked at was Michael Nutter's proposal to have a "stop-and-frisk" policy in targeted areas in the city. As The Inquirer pointed out, other candidates advanced similar proposals. I have asked myself whether Frank Rizzo would have made this same kind of proposal when he ran for mayor. Clearly, Rizzo became famous for his support of excessive force by the police, but I would question whether he would have campaigned supporting the right to frisk citizens.

The Democratic and Republican Parties will give us what they have delivered in the past. We will have more war, more poverty, more alienation, and more destruction of the environment. The resources have been available for more than 100 years to move away from this trend of deteriorating living conditions for working people. Only when we have a government that believes that human needs are more important than profits will there be any basic and meaningful change.

Steven Halpern

Philadelphia

Advocate for children

Re: "For Council At-Large, Democratic Primary," May 8:

As a past president of Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth, I take issue with your dismissal of Blondell Reynolds-Brown's work over her two terms on City Council. You concluded that she hasn't made a "big impact." That's where you are wrong.

She pushed for creation of Philadelphia's Children's Fund, which requires the Phillies and Eagles to contribute $1 million each annually for 30 years. She also introduced the legislation authorizing the approved ballot question that will create a Youth Commission in Philadelphia.

At PCCY, it is understood that advocacy on children's behalf can be an uphill fight, because kids can't vote, and most parents don't have cash or time to make political connections. That's why Reynolds-Brown's efforts are so vital. To dismiss a dedicated voice for the needs of women and children is to dismiss three-quarters of Philadelphia's population.

John Riggan

Philadelphia