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Readers Write (March 13): Marriage, early ed, bus Wi-Fi, railroads

  • March 12, 2013 - 8:31 PM

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

A matter of semantics, or so much more?

Many, including me, support a legal union between same-sex partners that offers all the legal, economic and social advantages (and disadvantages) of marriage. But that union cannot be called “marriage.” That word is already taken — it has a well-established definition.

Why, you may ask, am I hung up on semantics? Well, because the primary functions of language are to define, differentiate, and share ideas. To add same-sex unions to the traditional definition of marriage is like legislation stating that from this point forward rivers will be included in the definition of lakes; after all, they’re both bodies of water. In doing so, language is compromised.

To use a term other than marriage for same-sex unions does not imply a lesser relationship; it can be an institution of pride. Same-sex unions — you have my full support. Marriage is a union between a man and a woman.

C.K. McCracken, Anoka

• • •

The problem I see with this “solution” is twofold. First, “separate but equal” is unconstitutional. Second, it creates a huge problem state to state. Minnesota laws would not necessarily be recognized by other states. In addition, at least 515 state laws would have to be amended to accommodate the term “civil union.” The proposed new law simply changes the term “marriage” from “a man and a woman’ to “two persons.”

True marriage equality is the only reasonable answer.

R.C. Bible, Apple Valley

• • •

A March 10 letter writer speculates that those in favor of traditional marriage would also be against interracial marriage and the Civil Rights Act. It is unfortunate that he was not at the Minnesota for Marriage rally at the State Capitol on March 7, as I was.

There, he would have observed more than 1,000 people, among them Asian-Americans, African-Americans, a Somali-American Muslim imam, an African-American Democratic pastor, and at least one interracial family (mine), all standing for marriage between one man and one woman.

A lifestyle choice that violates moral convictions is not similar to a racial civil-rights issue. We do not operate from “prejudice and misinformation.” Rather, we are quite well-informed and interested in having our First Amendment right to freedom of religion maintained, and in promoting a society that is best for children.

As for Steve Sack’s March 10 cartoon: Those who support traditional marriage in Minnesota ARE being attacked, but we have not dug foxholes piled with sandbags. Perhaps the cartoonist needs to be reminded that we are a majority in this state, and elsewhere. Many of us hold deep moral and religious convictions and refuse to be trampled upon by pressure from other states, other countries, and cartoonists.

Donna Ferber, Cambridge

* * *

 

EARLY EDUCATION

OK — so it’s not magic, but what is?

A March 10 headline read “Early childhood education promising, but no vaccine for disadvantaged youth,” meaning that it doesn’t guarantee success later in school and life.

While I don’t dispute the assertion, I’m left asking: So what? Do we stop investing in kindergarten because some kids are unsuccessful later in life? Elementary school? Middle school? High school? Higher education? Vocational training? Apprenticeships? On-the-job-training?

Education at any level can never be a fail-safe “vaccine” against failure. But research shows that it greatly increases the likelihood of success, making it a great investment. With up to 90 percent of brain development happening before age 5, we especially need Minnesota kids to have the benefit of great learning environments as early as possible.

Fred Senn, Edina

* * *

BUS WI-FI

Driven to distraction, students won’t socialize

A March 11 article (“School bus Wi-Fi connects kids, classes”) clearly described the purported and observed benefits of providing school-age children with wireless Internet access on the ride to and from school, but it stopped short of describing any potential negative impacts of providing kids with access to constant electronic stimulation.

I’m a college student who rode the bus in high school when it was too snowy or icy to bike, and I made many meaningful friends on my rides. If I had ridden a bus equipped with Wi-Fi, who knows if I would’ve struck up as many casual conversations, if others were too busy checking e-mail or doing homework to pay attention to the physical world?

Districts focusing on establishing Wi-Fi need to realize that students can’t be expected to devote all of their time to completing class work. Students receive a social education on bus rides, and eliminating a potential source of worthwhile social development in order to facilitate work time will not serve them well in the long run.

Aly Young, Northfield, Minn.

* * *

 

RAILROADS

With higher traffic comes disruption

I read the March 10 letter about transporting Canadian oil by train with great interest. I have lived beside a rail line for more than 60 years. When we built our house, the railroad was owned by the Soo Line, and there were about 12 trains a day. No big deal.

Several years ago, it was bought by Canadian Pacific, and the number of trains per day rose to 24. Still, we could live with that. Last fall, the number of trains rose to 26 to 28 per day, according to the Department of Transportation.

What I fear is that this number will keep going up, with frac sand going north and oil coming south.

In the spring, when the weather allows us to open the doors and windows, whenever the train goes by, we must pause the television, stop talking with friends or family, and tell people on the phone we’ll call them back. The noise is overwhelming. And I dare anyone to sleep at night when the whistle blows.

If this is also affecting you, please contact your state and federal representatives. There is strength in numbers.

Al Muller, Maple Lake, Minn.

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