Joan Felice, Roseville
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Criticism of Obama is a narrow perspective
President Obama was going to be damned if he didn’t cancel his Russia trip, and, sure enough, he’s been damned (by one letter writer anyway) because he did.
The fact is, Edward Snowden was only part of the reason. Relations with Russia have been deteriorating over military support for Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s massacres of his own people and over crackdowns on human rights, including Russia’s new antigay law that has U.S. Olympic officials questioning whether or not our winter athletes will be arrested next February.
Besides, the president will be in St. Petersburg this fall for the G-20 summit. He can publicly and privately rebuke Vladimir Putin then, because rebuke is all Putin deserves. Retribution for crimes already committed is only a matter of satisfying one’s desire for revenge. Bringing pressure on a major world power to accept all human beings’ rights, including sexual preference, and slamming Putin for his ongoing support of Assad are far more important actions for Obama to take.
Kevin Driscoll, St. Paul
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Prevention starts with attention to offenders
In “Taking a new tack against sex trade” (Aug. 9), there is a single quote about keeping kids away from traffickers under the heading “A tool to protect children.” Let’s be honest. The best way to protect children, considering that we are talking about a business, is (a) to ensure that there is less demand for child sex and (b) to inform the public about what leads to that demand. In that sense, trying to keep kids away from traffickers or traffickers away from kids is like putting a Band-Aid on a severe laceration.
Sex offenses are primarily a mental-health issue: Offenders believe that they are not doing harm with their behavior, among other factors, and those beliefs are formed over a long period. Sex offenses do not happen by someone suddenly deciding to hurt a child; they happen by justifying, lying, ignoring feelings and altering thoughts to the point where offenders are convinced that spending time with children is a good thing, without being aware of how they’re deceiving themselves. The hard truth, the ugliness of the laceration of sex offenses, is that they are preventable with more mental-health interventions and sending the message to people with unwanted attractions that they can get help and that help is effective.
Jeff White, St. Paul
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The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.