Re: "Penna. needs more prisons," letter, Friday:
We don't need more prisons; we just need more efficient use of the existing ones.
This can be accomplished by having district attorneys let it be known that they will not prosecute nonviolent drug offenses. They have the right to concentrate their limited resources on high-priority crimes.
Then, the prisons would lose half their populations, but there wouldn't be any more serious criminals on the streets. Win, win.
West still exploiting
the Muslim world
The arrogance of Eric Trager's disparagement of President Obama's speech only emphasizes the division between the West and the Muslim world ("Obama conceded too much," yesterday).
Justifying the exploitation of the Middle East for our own resource needs is an all-too-familiar scenario to the people of the area.
Is it the White Man's Burden to bring civilization to an area that started the very concept? Rejection of our political, economic, or social mores is not proof of their ignorance, nor assertion of our superiority.
From Napoleon's invasion of Egypt to France's control of Algeria to the trumped-up war with Iraq, the history of Western penetration of the Arab world has been characterized by violence.
Western democracy is hollow when it comes to the need to control trade routes, the need to establish coaling stations, the need to control the Suez Canal, the need to carve up the Ottoman empire along imperial designs, or the need to ensure oil supplies. Apparently, Trager is unable, or unwilling, to comprehend the skepticism of Muslims.
All laws are based
on moral beliefs
Re: "Free to believe, free to marry," letter, last Wednesday:
The writer makes the common yet misguided argument that "gay marriage" opponents are imposing their religious beliefs on others.
This confusion is akin to the mistaken idea that you cannot legislate morality. All laws legislate moral beliefs that derive from religious views. Laws against murder impose a religious, moral belief that life is worthy of protection. Laws against theft are based on beliefs about liberty and property, and so on. In reality, all of our laws impose moral beliefs about what is right and wrong.
If the historic definition of marriage is imposing religious beliefs, as the writer claims, then he could have no logical objection to incestuous or polygamous unions.
Going too far
In Leo Thorsness' Sunday article, "Surviving torture," he says he would not hesitate to resort to "enhanced interrogation" if doing so would save innocent lives. It is easy to say I would use torture only on the guilty, but who determines guilt? How many of the victims of enhanced interrogation techniques were guilty? How many Guantanamo detainees had information worthy of enhanced interrogation?
Thorsness makes the point that "torture, when used by an expert, can produce useful, truthful information." He also notes that crossing that point can result in meaningless information or death. Is Thorsness advocating training for torturers?
but not health care
In "Public health plan draws GOP fire" on Friday, I read, "Opponents say private insurers could not compete with a public plan that did not have to make a profit."
When our elected officials have no problem funding a war of choice at the expense of taxpayers, yet cannot agree on providing public health care, they are sending the message that health care is not a basic need, but a commodity.
It just tells me that they are not interested in our well-being, but rather in supporting a private sector that pours money into their political campaigns.