In an opinion regarding a wedding-video service that refuses to video LGBTQ weddings (“We will prove discrimination is not free speech,” Opinion Exchange, Oct. 3), Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Rebecca Lucero maintain that business owners’ beliefs are fully protected under the First Amendment. It is not as clear as that. They seem to think it means that you are free to believe whatever you like — even that LGBTQ weddings are contrary to the law of God — but that you cannot act on your belief. You must either violate the law of God or go out of business. What freedom is there in that?
The deleterious consequences they foresee — that a tax preparer might refuse to prepare your taxes because you are a woman working outside the home, etc. — are fanciful, even silly. There is a sane way to resolve this problem: reasonable religious accommodation.
For example, members of traditionally pacifist churches were not required to serve in combat roles during World War II. Within Christianity, there is a centuries-long natural law tradition, with clear teachings on sexual morality and marriage, supported by philosophical reasoning. Surely, this is worthy of some accommodation. Or shall we have persecution instead?
Richard Berquist, St. Paul
What can seem like dignity can turn out to be anything but
I sympathize with Bobbi Jacobsen (“I have ALS, and I hope for a dignified death,” Opinion Exchange, Sept. 24). Like her, I became severely disabled as an adult. But I oppose assisted suicide: It’s too dangerous.
Assisted suicide can look appealing from an individual’s perspective, but at the state level, it inevitably leads to the premature deaths of non-dying people. At least 12% to 15% of people judged terminal outlive their six-month prognosis, according to the Journal of Palliative Medicine, sometimes by years and decades. Actress Valerie Harper, who died last month, lived six years longer than predicted. Tragically, there are people who would be alive today but for their misplaced trust in a doctor’s prediction.
Jacobsen cites the absence of disability abuse reports from state protection and advocacy agencies, but abuse gets easily buried. For example, Oregonian Wendy Melcher’s death in 2007 at the hands of two nurses was suppressed by the state nursing board.
Elder abuse is rampant. Safeguards end after drugs get dispensed and, because no witness is required, heirs and abusers can engineer deaths without worry.
As the cheapest “treatment” for serious illness, assisted suicide fattens insurers’ profits and crowds out traditional, more expensive treatment.
Palliative care doctors know how to let people die gently, so it’s inexcusable that anyone die in uncontrolled pain. Everyone has the right to reject any treatment, including food and water, and palliative sedation is available as a last resort.
The Minnesota Legislature should demand excellent palliative care, not put everyone in danger of premature death due to mistakes, abuse and insurers’ bottom lines.
John B. Kelly, Boston
The writer works for Not Dead Yet, an organization opposed to assisted suicide.
Over-the-counter, viable? No, a permanent solution is needed
With regard to his Oct. 4 commentary, “Over-the-counter insulin is a viable option,” perhaps state Rep. Jeremey Munson doesn’t remember what he has said before, because I am sure that if he had remembered, he would have included it, just to be completely honest: “The $25 drug is not a permanent fix, Munson said, but he wanted people to know about the option that could save a life, adding, “I’m not giving medical advice, that’s pretty clear.’ ” (The passage comes from a Sept. 24 news article in the Star Tribune.)
So, if the much-cheaper drug is not a permanent fix, then we are back to the cost issue. Munson does not address this, but if we want to save our fellow citizens’ lives, then cost will have to be addressed. And insisting on fixing this is not a partisan issue, it is a human issue, inherent in the human condition. Any of us, if we had diabetes, would wish some governmental intervention or other help in solving this.
Perhaps it’s Munson who has another agenda, as he spends much of his commentary attacking those who are trying to solve this issue. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Who’s really trying to solve the issue, and who wants to attack the other side and spin half-truths? He has cast doubt on his own position.
Mary McLeod, St. Paul
An Oct. 2 letter writer called U.S. Reps. Angie Craig and Dean Phillips “insane” because they are on board with the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. Well, that would mean more than 50% of the population is insane and that more are becoming so each day as we watch this president literally melt down. The writer gleefully claims Democrats have “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” which is playfully pushed by the conservative outlets and their pundits. How about “Trump Fatigue Syndrome,” which can be defined as reasonable people who just want to hear the truth without an angry, divisive, twitter tirade? I won’t be holding my breath on this one.
Kent Smith, Minneapolis
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It’s hard to believe that the president of the United States is publicly calling for the investigation of the former vice president, his political opponent, by a Communist police state led by a dictator who had himself made president for life (“Trump to China: Investigate Bidens,” Oct. 4). The leadership of the GOP has no comment on it. Are we in the Twilight Zone?
Tim Leland, Excelsior
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Trump’s message to China is an upscale version of me peeling away from a traffic stop at 100 miles per hour when I’ve just been issued a speeding ticket.
Sally Thomas, Edina
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Could it be a sign of weakness that propels a president to enlist foreign aid in order to win an election? Is he not confident of his own merits, reputation and record? And if he does get help, how much would he owe these foreign powers? No matter what party affiliation of the citizen, are these not questions that should be addressed?
Kathryn Burow, Minneapolis
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All presidents are investigated. Remember Iran-Contra? Remember Whitewater? Congress has a constitutional duty of oversight. The president is obligated to:
1. Tell the truth.
2. Cooperate. Provide all requested materials and records. Testify if asked.
3. Behave like an adult. No whining. No threats. No name-calling.
If the president is “just being Donald,” then this will all pass. The whistleblower has raised serious issues regarding the president’s behavior. If it is shown that Trump exerted pressure on a foreign head of state to impugn his political rival, then there must be consequences. Elections are the bedrock of our system. Foreign governments are absolutely unwelcome in the process. I would hope we can all agree with the founders on this.
Jay Richardson, Minneapolis
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The Trump-Ukraine scandal is playing out like an old “Columbo” movie. If you recall, Columbo was a fictional homicide detective featured in made-for-TV movies. In these movies the crime was done in the first scene. The rest of the movie was basically watching the detective slowly but surely applying pressure on the perpetrator.
How did Columbo know who committed the crime? Because the perpetrator always acted guilty. Not normal. Overwrought. Invariably unglued, making serious mistakes and babbling self-incriminating remarks. All Columbo had to do was stand back and watch. Justice prevailed.
Doug Williams, Robbinsdale