Why leniency (or, egads, a Peace Prize) for a hacker are not in order.
The case against painting him heroic
It is disconcerting that anyone thinks of Edward Snowden as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize (Letter of the Day, Jan. 3) for stealing extremely sensitive material, then running away to any safe haven that would have him, ultimately Russia.
Let’s separate the two components of this situation:
• It has been reported that Snowden had hacked databases to gain access to the tests he would need to take to become employed as a consultant in the NSA. With this information, he succeeded. He then gained access to documents that surely would be controversial, to say the least; loaded up multiple laptops, and went on the lam. Very simply, this is theft. It wasn’t happenstance that he came upon the information; he was on the hunt. He then fed this information to journalists while on the run, covering his tracks as he went. This is cowardice.
• The data, being good, bad or indifferent, started an incredible snowball down the hill. The impact has yet to be fully known, and the implications to our fellow citizens as well as people around the world are beyond enormous. The potential security for all of us around the world is greatly compromised, due to Snowden’s actions.
Nobel Prizes are not bestowed to traitors, cowards and thieves. Snowden has no honor nor admirable trait as far as I can see. If and when he ever returns to the United States to face the music without any deals or amnesty, perhaps my opinion of him will change.
GAIL VAN DER LINDEN, Minneapolis
What else might have dulled a generation?
The Jan. 3 commentary “Marijuana use dulls the mind” contained misleading assumptions about marijuana use and its relation to success on school entrance exams. It also contained outlandish tales of pot use.
The article did have one glaring omission: the use of alcohol. Most members of the so-called “Dumbest Generation” the author cites — those born between 1958 and 1964 — lived in states where the drinking age wasn’t 21 until the middle to late 1980s. Many states actually lowered the drinking age to let this cohort in on the fun. I wonder what percentage of these students had legally consumed alcohol in the month before performing poorly on their exams. I bet it would be higher than the 40 percent figure the author cities for pot use.
After the drinking age was raised, test scores went up. Perhaps early legal introduction to an addictive beverage that is highly encouraged by our society led to a dumber-than-normal group of people. But probably not.
If marijuana does become legal in Minnesota, it will not be a free-for-all that turns our youths into zombies unable to become doctors or lawyers. It will be an industry with oversight and regulations for age and use. This type of regulation has mellowed the effects that alcohol has on individuals and society to a level we, as a society, deem acceptable. The same will happen with pot. The Wild West is over. Colorado has shown that today’s West is well-regulated and tax-producing.
BRAD GAUSMAN, Minneapolis
• • •
True, there were test score drops in the late 1970s and ’80s. As an educator, I would attribute this to trends in the world of education. Gone were things like memorization, long essays, classic literature, structured research papers and teacher-led classes. In were things that were considered more important, like group work, open classrooms, student-led discussion, high self-esteem, letting learning take an individualized route along whatever the student was interested in and so on. This was the beginning of the dumbing down of American public schools.
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