While I agree with commentary writer Peter Leschak's sentiment that there's a "thrill" involved with emergency responses to incidents, I disagree with his assertion that "this was one of the best things that ever happened to us" ("Another's pain, our gain," April 8).
As a veteran firefighter, EMT and one-time paramedic, I believe the thrill described comes not from the event but rather from performing at a high level in an extremely stressful environment with the skills honed from many hours of training.
This isn't a given, and any law enforcement officer, firefighter, EMT or paramedic will tell you that their worst days were when things did not go well. We respond to events because it's our duty, and we do it well.
When I see trauma, I appreciate it as a mechanic does a muscle car, because we both appreciate the mechanics of it, and how to (possibly) fix it. I cannot, however, equate it to some kind of thrill that I relish.
Each tragedy that I've witnessed has been etched into me and affected me (and my family) in ways I didn't foresee when I began my career.
MIKE MISCHKE, BEMIDJI, MINN.
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I'm wondering why the Star Tribune chose to print this disturbing piece of writing. The author describes an accident that killed three people and injured four as "one of the best things that ever happened to us."
I continued to read the article thinking that surely he must be referring to some bigger outcome of the tragedy that drew people together or allowed them to express their compassion and humanity. But no, the author seemed to express that his pleasure was simply a result of witnessing other people's tragedies.
He went on to explain how he also helped a rookie EMT express his feelings about "liking" to witness gore and death. By printing the article, the Star Tribune chose to glorify a shocking lack of respect for human life as expressed by the author.
Do the families involved in the accident think that losing their loved ones was "one of the best things that ever happened?" Tragedy and death are certainly part of the human experience, but it's actually very inhuman and base to derive pleasure from other people's tragedies.
MELANIE TRAXLER, MINNEAPOLIS
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I agree with Kersten's statement that our founding fathers understood that of all human rights, freedom of religion and conscience are the most important freedoms ("Consider the nation's debt to biblical faith," April 8). As a Catholic, I was taught the importance of following my conscience. That's why so many Catholic women practice contraception. It's the Catholic Church -- and not the government -- that seeks to suppress the individual's right to freedom of conscience.
MARY BARTHEL, BURNSVILLE
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Kersten wrote a column on Easter -- a day that celebrates the breaking down of all enmities between God and humanity, and between peoples and nations -- and turned it into another partisan attack against the Obama administration. She "resurrects" the radical right's spurious slogan that the government under the president is engaged in an all-out attack on religious freedom. Not true.
For someone who claims to speak to "both Christians and non-Christians," (which covers everybody), Kersten is unable to see that many Christians and others see human rights in a way that differs from her perspective. Health care and education are basic rights. We should work together, even when we disagree on important issues. That means we must listen to the differing points of view. Kersten seems incapable of that important leap of faith.
THE REV. PATRICK CABELLO HANSEL, Minneapolis
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Jim Graves has announced his intention to run against Michele Bachmann in the Sixth District congressional race ("Bachmann comes home to a fight," April 11). He says abortion is a woman's choice, but also calls abortion a tragedy.
A tragedy is usually something like a tornado wiping out a town or a drunken driver killing an innocent victim. And for something to be tragic, there must be at least one victim.
Who is the victim in an abortion? A lump of tissue hardly qualifies, so we must be talking about a human life. If abortion is a tragedy, as Graves says, then why is he saying it's OK to have one?
This strikes me as absurd.
MARK PELHAM, BUFFALO, MINN.
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There's no more smoking at Target Field, but if you want to spit tobacco, you've got a green light ("More to chew on at ballpark," April 12). Yuck! Let's start a campaign to talk about the effects of secondhand spit.
LISA BARRY, MAPLE GROVE
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I've never understood why women of my generation are obsessed with tanning beds ("For teens, tan's allure still eclipses the risks," April 11). Aren't we the generation that claims to be the most color-blind when it comes to skin color? Despite the claim that someone with a fake tan "looks better than someone who is pasty white," I know many people, including plenty of men, who prefer natural skin to the "fake-baked" look.
HEIDI SELTZ, AFTON
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Washington Post columnist George Will, whom you publish, must work cheaply. I can think of no other reason why any news organization would put forth his partisan ramblings as thoughtful journalism. He hit a new low in a column that referred to President Obama as "loutish" ("For VP, an adult to challenge the president's inner child," April 9). Barack Obama has many attributes, but loutishness is certainly not one of them.
LEE ANDERSON, MINNEAPOLIS