Series will help in ending this horror

Thank you very much for your incredibly disturbing and powerful series on sex trafficking ("Saving Bobbi," Nov. 17-20). Telling Bobbi Larson's story in such detail helps those of us who had previously failed to appreciate the nature and intensity of this problem. While this is clearly a complex issue with a variety of causes, I would suggest that one reason many people overlook it is that by labeling it "trafficking," we obscure what a horrible thing this is. "Trafficking" is a benign, almost antiseptic term. I would suggest we find a more descriptive, visceral way to describe the problem so that fewer people's eyes gloss over these headlines. The language we use matters, and in this case, it seems to serve the function of helping to hide this horror in plain sight.


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Thank you to the Star Tribune and to reporter Pam Louwagie for the well-researched and well-written articles on this difficult topic. So often we don't want to see or deal with something so complicated and so ugly. The United Methodist Women's organization has been studying and advocating on this topic for some time now, but as it is such a separate world from the lives of most people, it is hard to get traction on this issue. Your articles will help.

Mary Yee, Edina

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The story of Bobbi is just one in the current world of sex-trafficking, described by some as modern-day slavery. It is a difficult story to tell, filled with setbacks, failures and human frailties. People fail, not because they have made bad choices over good, but because at times they have no choices at all.

Grant Snyder is one of the most dedicated police officers I know. He, and countless others in law enforcement and their nongovernmental partners, will do whatever it takes to save these young girls from the nightmare of trafficking. The next victim may be your daughter or mine.

Bobbi has been saved. She has a chance to succeed. Others, too, will succeed if given the opportunity.

The bottom line in enforcing sex-trafficking laws is not how many johns or pimps are arrested, but how many lives are saved.

There is hope.



Assessing the motives in Met Council policy

Katherine Kersten's Nov. 17 column ("Met Council is mixed up on poverty") was quite revealing and, frankly, downright scary. To think that the Metropolitan Council and federal Department of Housing and Urban Development can extort local governments to jam housing, racial quotas and "economic equality" down their throats under the "ThriveMSP 2040" program shows how out of control big government has gotten. Americans are in the midst of dealing with Obamacare, NSA spying, the IRS scandal, and all of this on top of the recent financial crisis, much of it perpetrated by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (just study the Community Redevelopment Act). All of this on behalf of bigger government.

This is an unacceptable encroachment on our freedom and liberties as a free society … or are we one anymore? Perhaps it's time to recall the words of Patrick Henry: "Give me liberty or give me death!"

STEVE HAYDEN, Eden Prairie

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The Met Council continues to ignore the foundational behavior of generational poverty, like the high rates of school dropouts and teenage pregnancy. Instead, the council embraces the geographic cure: "If I simply move to a new town, none of my self-destructive behavior will follow me."

Dispersing poverty means moving poverty from its current neighborhood to one near you.

TERRY LARKIN, Minnetonka

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The causes of poverty are by all credible accounts complex and multifaceted, and Kersten, in eliding the systems of oppression and cycles of violence and degradation faced by impoverished communities, only adds to the problem. To write off poverty as the fault of the poor is to blinker ourselves to the moral responsibility and calling that echoes down from scripture to America's own proud history of social betterment.

But perhaps most galling is Kersten's use of African-American out-of-wedlock marriage statistics to bolster her claim that those stricken with poverty have only themselves to blame. Let's put aside that equating "black" with "poor" is reductive and racist, and let's be charitable and assume that her moral scolding about out-of-wedlock births comes from an honest (if misguided) desire to alleviate poverty and not from the long and storied history of whites calling blacks lascivious. Still, this column trots out a way of thinking about race and poverty that ought to be put to pasture.

JOHN WEST, Chicago


Inconsistent affection for the canine family

I was sickened by the Nov. 21 photo of that poor pit bull who has been so horribly scarred for the entertainment of a questionable audience ("Dogfight operation busted"). But while dogfighting is considered barbaric and is therefore illegal, let's not forget that across Minnesota this month, wolves have been stepping into leg traps that will cause them terrible pain for up to two days, and all for the entertainment of a select few. It's a double standard that many of us simply do not understand.