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Continued: Readers Write: (Oct. 29): Minneapolis election, U.S. surveillance policies, the Sochi Olympics, the environment, death

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  • Last update: October 28, 2013 - 6:15 PM

Let’s fix America before thinking boycott

Russia’s laws regarding homosexuality may be oppressive, but they aren’t that different from those here. Ellen J. Kennedy cites a poll that found “almost half of Russians believe gays should not have the same rights as heterosexuals” (“U.S. must boycott next Olympics,” Oct. 25). She writes this in a country where only 14 of 50 states allow marriage for same-sex couples. She points out that Russia penalizes those who demonstrate or advocate homosexuality. Yet, the United States repealed its “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy only two years ago.

By no means am I condoning or excusing Russia’s discriminatory laws. However, to compare these practices to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany minimizes the horror of the Holocaust. Besides, maybe we’re not that much better.

CHELSEA TOLLEFSON, Savage

 

THE ENVIRONMENT

Why resource use requires regulation

Reading articles from the Oct. 27 editions of the Mankato Free Press and the Star Tribune (“Forests in state give way to farmland”) reminded me, again, of our society’s difficulty in dealing with the natural resources that we hold in common, water and air.

The market mechanism is a remarkably efficient instrument for meeting society’s economic goals, but only when all input costs are private in nature. Resources such as water in our aquifers and clean air are part of our common heritage. Those who can profit by exploiting the commons have an economic incentive to do so.

A case may be made for allowing private use of resources that are a part of the commons. But society cannot rely on an unregulated market to determine how the commons should be used. Whether we are talking about pollution associated with extracting fracking sand in southern Minnesota or about irrigation of potato farms in northern Minnesota, it is essential that the public have a voice in how scarce resources are used.

PAUL THOMPSON, Mankato, Minn.

 

DEATH

Can we treat passing with due respect?

Call me old-fashioned, but I think funerals and burials deserve respect (“Want to be a tree after you die?” Oct. 26). Most traditional believers worldwide practice respectful funeral and burial rites as part of their faith.

Unfortunately, the National Funeral Directors Association annual convention, a gathering of 5,800 people from 50 countries, is promoting more creative ways to “dispose of” bodies beyond the “boring old funeral.” Remains can be made into jewelry or a fertilizer packet for a tree, or launched on a weather balloon or sent to the moon. There were even 1,300 entries in a competition to determine possible “crazy stuff or the weirdest thing,” apparently to energize the movement and create demand for new ways to deal with grief.

We can only hope that this movement does not break the boundaries of good taste, respects the sensitivities of traditionalists and is not the material of a media heyday.

MICHAEL TILLEMANS, Minneapolis

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