I agree with Dr. Steve Bergeson ("Aid in dying is not the help sick Minnesotans need," Opinion Exchange, March 3) that the End of Life Option Act proposed by state Sen. Chris Eaton and Rep. Mike Freiberg is the wrong way to help sick Minnesotans. Assisted suicide normalizes suicide. Assisted suicide devalues the sick, the disabled, the elderly and the poor, those who do not have access to proper care for mental illness. Assisted suicide leads to a view that our lives only have value if we are "productive," rather than recognizing the inherent value of all human beings. And isn't this failure to recognize the value of each person at the heart of the abuses we see around us: racism, murder, bullying, sexual exploitation?
When we recognize the inherent dignity and value in each other, we realize we cannot abuse each other. When we see life as having value only when we are productive, or only in terms of what I can get out of the other, we devalue and cheapen life. I do not want to repeat Dr. Bergeson's many good points, except for his point that the Legislature should renew funding for the state's Palliative Care Commission. I have heard many a doctor tell of how proper care with proper use of medications can alleviate the suffering we fear. Let us choose positive solutions, and stop choosing death as the solution to our problems.
Leo Martin, Minneapolis
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All three opinion letters on March 5 supported medical aid in dying as an option for anyone incurring "intolerable suffering" awaiting death ("The dying deserve this choice," Readers Write). How about exploring the other side of the alleged Minnesota majority of 73% favoring assisted suicide, with similar legislation already enacted in nearly 20% of our country? ("Minnesotans need end-of-life aid," Opinion Exchange, Feb. 24.) Perhaps the strongest argument is God's commandment "thou shall not kill" and his charge to persevere through every life trial and tribulation. Death should be God's sole prerogative from conception through natural death; does our faith in God still matter? While abortion on demand is still legal, we do not condone the all-too-frequent desperate suicides throughout our society or the "accidental" drug overdose deaths; there are even major movements to eliminate the criminal death penalty option for the worst of crimes.
We don't want to see our loved one suffer, but palliative care has advanced to comfort those suffering some of the worst pain in their final days of hospice care. This is further supported by the fact that so very few ever implement the assisted suicide option. I spent 25 years volunteering in pastoral care visits and witnessed the peace of hospice deaths. Doctors can't always accurately predict the timing of death, and some patients even surprisingly recover to live many more years as seemingly miraculous exceptions. Likewise, too many inmates have suffered the death penalty, only to be found innocent years later.
While it may be more "convenient" for some to induce death "on their own terms," with family and friends present, this option is simply not ours to take.
Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis
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Bergeson's repeated use of the term "suicide" does a disservice to those seeking a more peaceful death through medical aid in dying.
Medical aid in dying is not suicide. The term "suicide" describes an act by an individual who wants to die and who often does so impulsively, alone, sometimes violently and almost always due to mental illness.
People who wish to end their lives through medical aid in dying want to live! Their disease is killing them and they simply seek a peaceful death. Their terminal illness and the often-unpreventable pain in the last weeks, days or hours of their life makes their life miserable. They seek what most everyone wants: relief from intolerable pain.
Please don't stigmatize those wishing to live but seeking a peaceful death with the label of "suicide." There is nothing wrong with wishing for a peaceful death.
The Rev. Harlan Limpert, Hopkins
The writer is co-founder of Interfaith Clergy for End-of-Life Options.
Please, bring back some order
Minneapolis city officials, listen up: If Spring Lake Park officials can do it, you can and — more important — should ("Spring Lake Park median law in effect," March 1). Tim Harlow's article explains their busiest intersections were never safe to loiter around, and now it's illegal for pedestrians to linger and block.
As downtown Minneapolis residents can attest, outside Target's store entrance on a daily basis are huge crowds of youngsters who linger, block, harass, tease, jeer, beg for money and put total fear into regular customers or passersby. Why, oh why, can't Minneapolis officials pass city ordinances that make it a petty misdemeanor for pedestrians to stand too long around intersections? Nicollet Mall bus drivers will confirm it's not easy to drive that intersection. Other growing problem areas are LaSalle Avenue at Grant Street, Loring Greenway and by Loring Park. Years ago, there were anti-loitering rules and laws. Why, oh why, not institute them urgently — and then enforce them?
Barbara Nylen, Minneapolis
BLACK MINNESOTA MUSICIANS
Several additions to the list
We loved the article "30 essential Black Minnesota musicians" (Feb. 27), and we nominate another pair of African American musicians who have fostered an entire community: the Rev. Carl Walker and Grant West of St. Paul's Walker West. Since 1988, this music school has taught thousands of students of all ages, fostering African American music education for Black, brown and white students. Many of the musicians who were included in the wonderful article have been associated with Walker West, and Rev. Walker and Mr. West deserve a shout-out for their contribution.
Eugene Monnig and Nancy Vernon, West St. Paul
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I need the Star Tribune to explain how you can write a story about 30 essential Black Minnesota musicians and leave André Cymone out! André is just as accomplished as many you highlighted and even more so than others. There is no way he would not be among the top 30. He is one of the architects of the Minneapolis sound — along with Prince, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Mint Condition and Alexander O'Neal. Andre wrote songs alongside Prince and was writer and producer of Grammy Award-winner Jody Watley. André has written for rock stars, music for television series and songs for popular movies, yet the newspaper does not see fit to include him among the top 30 essential Black Minnesota musicians. Shame on you. There is no music writer worth the ink in their pen who could consciously exclude André Cymone.
So again, please explain to me how you left him out!
Sylvia Amos, Minneapolis
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The Star Tribune's list of 30 Black musicians with roots in the Twin Cities includes deserving artists but overlooks one giant: Oscar Pettiford. Pettiford was an internationally recognized revolutionary jazz bass player.
Pettiford grew up in Minneapolis, graduating from North High School, and, by 1945, had moved to New York, where he played with jazz legends Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young (who himself spent 10 years in the Twin Cities) and other greats. Who wouldn't want the bassist who was the most rhythmically and melodically advanced?
Because Pettiford didn't just keep time, his playing is timeless. To not recognize him in the list is simply off-bass.
Brad Engdahl, Golden Valley
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