Readers Write: (July 1): World War I, Hobby Lobby ruling, privacy ruling, stadium design

  • Updated: June 30, 2014 - 6:51 PM

It’s part of the Grand Rounds, yet perhaps not well-known.

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Victory Memorial Parkway in 2000.

Photo: BRIAN PETERSON • Star Tribune,

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The June 28 Rash Report column (“ ‘The Great War’s’ great impact”) didn’t mention the Minneapolis location of a beautiful and heartbreaking memorial to 568 Hennepin County residents killed in World War I. But I think not many people are aware of the memorial, although it stretches for 3.8 miles and is part of the Grand Rounds park system.

I hope Great Decisions groups will take field trips to walk, quietly, along the columns of trees lining Victory Memorial Parkway. Those who want to learn more about the impact of American involvement (only a year and a half) in that horrible war will stop at each marker at the base of each tree and say the name, aloud, of each of the 566 men and two women who were killed. (Yes, 568 people from Hennepin County!)

Just drive north along Theodore Wirth Parkway, past North Memorial Medical Center, where the parkway name changes to Victory Memorial. Park your car and start to walk, attending to the marker at each tree. You’ll be touched.

Lucia Wilkes Smith, Minneapolis

CONTRACEPTION RULING

A court in love with corporations

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that corporations can withhold contraceptive health coverage from employees, according to the religious views of owners, isn’t based on the flawed belief that corporations are people. Instead, it is based on the even more flawed belief that corporations own people.

Jeremy Powers, Minneapolis

• • •

Where are the conservatives when you need them? The idea that a corporation can hold religious beliefs is novel and legally unprecedented. I howl in outrage at this judicial activism.

The Hobby Lobby ruling is also a radical reshaping of existing workplace law. We have just turned corporations into something like churches. What about the religious beliefs (or nonbeliefs) of the secular employees? Why should sales clerks have to inquire about the religion of secular corporations when seeking employment, and will doing so allow the employer to ask about the applicant’s beliefs?

The wave of unintended consequences to come from this heedless ruling will be staggering. It will Balkanize laws regulating employment and all manner of services. Don’t want to have to rent to blacks, Muslims or single women? Incorporate your religious “belief,” whether long-held or newly discovered, and you are exempt from the law.

This ruling legalizes religious discrimination, first but not only by the powerful against the powerless. We know how this court would have ruled if the appeal had come from some splinter sect on a question other than contraception-as-abortion. The founders wanted this to be a nation of Christians, not an overtly Christian nation. Unfortunately, five Catholics who call themselves conservatives have other ideas. Where are the true conservatives when we need them?

Brian W. Smith, St. Paul

• • •

Be prepared to see denials of all forms of birth control, medical procedures concerning fertility or sterility, and medications used for conditions like ADHD. This decision also leaves open the possibility that corporations could refuse to hire people on the basis of religious beliefs. Furthermore, it applies to all religious beliefs. So, let’s see what the conservatives say when an Islamic employer finds it religiously objectionable to cover any type of family planning or not allow women to work alongside men.

The only way to correct this is for Congress to amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to mandate that for-profit nonreligious entities must abide by public laws such as the Affordable Care Act. But … good luck getting Congress to do anything that really matters.

Joe Tamburino, West St. Paul

• • •

When old people reminisce about things like “you could get a gallon of gas for a nickel” or “men used to wear suits and ties on airplanes,” I always wondered if I’d have anything equally baffling to tell my grandkids when I (too soon) enter my dotage. Now I’ll have one — “I remember when my getting health care didn’t depend on my employer’s religion.”

Dave Mackmiller, St. Paul

 

PRIVACY RULING

It’s odd to think police have too little power

A June 28 letter writer expressed dismay over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to require police to obtain a warrant before searching someone’s cellphone. He reasoned that police have too little power and that if a citizen has nothing to hide, he shouldn’t care if police rummage through his house or phone.

Given the fact the United States far outdistances every other country on Earth in terms of the percentage of citizens incarcerated, it seems police have more than enough tools at their disposal. If a phone is relevant to an investigation, they can follow protocol and get a search warrant. Otherwise, their prying eyes can focus elsewhere.

Individual privacy is increasingly under fire these days. I can’t fathom why any citizen would surrender it so willingly.

Jason Gabbert, Prior Lake

• • •

1) The police don’t have “rights” to be taken away. They have responsibilities — and the powers to enforce those responsibilities. They are constrained by the Constitution and the law of the land, as it should be.

2) I notice that the June 28 letter writer “has nothing to hide.” And yet, he somehow failed to include his birthday, Social Security number, bank account info and e-mail password. It’s almost as if he does have something to hide.

Newsflash for the people who substitute sound bites for critical thinking:

Everyone has things they want to keep hidden. Everyone has private things. Everyone.

The police are supposed to get a warrant, a specific warrant, before they dig through your personal life. That’s in the Constitution, and it’s there for a reason. It protects everyone — even those with “nothing to hide” — from unnecessary, intrusive searches.

I think that’s a pretty big component of the “freedom” we hear so much about.

If you want to invite the police to rummage through your house under the mistaken notion that you “have nothing to hide” (you’ll be amazed what a determined cop can find to charge you with), go ahead. Just don’t advocate that the rest of us give up our rights in the process.

Mike Westberg, St. Paul

 

VIKINGS STADIUM

A dead ringer for that place on the ring road

Has anyone noticed how the Vikings stadium design is a blatant ripoff of the REI store on Interstate 494? Same glass, same slope of the roof line, same roof beams sticking through the walls. So much for imagination. Maybe the architects just drove around until they found something they liked.

Greg Reichelt, Lakeville

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