Reduce poverty, and drug use will decline

A Jan. 3 commentary was headlined “Marijuana use dulls the mind” and argued that marijuana is a gateway drug as well. Both of those statements are also true for alcohol, especially in regard to young users, and alcohol is a legal drug for adults.

I’m neither in favor of nor opposed to marijuana legalization. I do know this, though: If we had spent as much money and time and energy on eliminating poverty and making education better as we have on trying to stop the use of marijuana (including what we’ve spent on drug agencies, prisons and housing prisoners, and on drug enforcement agencies) we would’ve greatly reduced the pockets of poverty in our country. Not only that, but in doing so we would most probably have done a better job of reducing drug use and or crime.

It should be obvious that poverty and lack of education do more to foster drug use than prisons do to stop it. It’s way past time to stop the war on drugs and start a movement to reduce poverty and do much to foster a good education for all of our children.

DON ANDERSON, Minneapolis



Pro-immunity policies appear to be waning

A young Catholic man has accused Archbishop John Nienstedt of touching “his buttocks during a photo session following a confirmation ceremony in 2009,” this paper reported several weeks ago. Although some are stunned by the accusation of abuse and although Nienstedt may very well be exonerated, the charge is not implausible in a general sense. All bishops were once priests whose ranks we now know have included a goodly number credibly accused.

What seems unprecedented in this case is the refusal to process it behind the closed doors of the Chancery Office. When the young man met with Lynette Forbes-Cardey, the coordinator of the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, she directed him to take his accusation to law enforcement authorities. The directive to contact the police suggests that perhaps, at least here in this archdiocese, church laws that for centuries granted immunity from civil law for Roman Catholic clerics may have finally lost their influence.

In effect until 1983, Church Canons 119-120 called for criminally accused clerics to be tried before a church judge and explicitly forbade taking to civil court a cleric accused of a crime. It was a sacrilege, a mortal or venial sin to do so. The law, however, did allow taking bishops and cardinals to court with permission of the pope and approval of the local bishop for accused priests.

Nienstedt’s accuser should know that under current church law he will neither sin nor need the pope’s permission should he decide to file charges against his own archbishop.



The writer, ordained for the archdiocese in 1957, left the ministry in 1972.



The threat won’t necessarily be violent

“What’s a phone worth?” (editorial, Jan. 3) could be answered partly in a devastating yet telling photo of a young injured woman being carried away from a bomb explosion site in Lebanon, apparently unconscious yet clutching her cellphone (Page A3, Jan. 3).

Being victimized by cellphone theft can happen anywhere, but reading about Mark Andrew’s brutal experience makes us look at big malls as big targets. I was a potential target when I held up my phone waiting to take a photo of grandchildren on a ride at the Mall of America. When a sweet-looking young girl asked to borrow my phone to call her mother because her battery had worn down, I naively handed it over. My daughter-in-law more astutely summed up the situation and quickly stepped near the girl, between her friend and the older boy standing with them. The girl became flustered, could not remember her phone number, handed the phone back, and the threesome left hurriedly.

As the editorial states, “smartphone users need to be aware that they may be targeted by increasingly aggressive thieves” and that the thieves may come in sheep’s clothing.

SUE KEARNS, Minneapolis



The surveillance that he unveiled is fine with me

In response to the Jan. 3 Letter of the Day (“Consider Edward Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize”), I feel that Snowden betrayed the United States in the worst way. Not only did he tell the world what the U.S. has been doing to keep its citizens safe, but he was a coward about it.

I haven’t forgotten that in the last decade the United States has been subject to a number of terroristic threats. If the government is listening in on our calls to be able to better identify any threat, I’m OK with that. That said, I’m sure the government has its eyes and ears on particular people.

Sadly, we now live in a world where the government has to do some things that we may find invasive, but it is necessary. At times, I’m simply amazed at how some people in the United States seem to exaggerate their importance; therefore; they either don’t see the big picture or simply choose to ignore it.

CHERI JOHNSON, Minneapolis

• • •

I was intrigued by the concept of Snowden as a Peace Prize nominee and looked forward to an intelligent argument on a complex, multifaceted subject, but the writer closed his argument with the single-minded conclusion that those who disagree are “so identified with the United States and its military” that they can’t see what is best for peace on our planet. This brings to mind the “America, love it or leave it!” mentality. No wonder our legislature is crippled by partisanship. Are we unable to even try to understand those whose views are opposite our own?