Letters to the editor
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In regard to the Dec. 9 letter "Spirituality Void": Joe Hopkins couldn't be more wrong in his assessment of why "Students Lie, Cheat, Steal, But Think They Are Good" (article, Dec. 1 ): I have met these types of kids through my own children for years and, believe me, they have religion and will often tout it. But having religion doesn't guarantee morality.
Our prisons are full of Christians, Muslims and Jews, and even priests have been guilty of the most immoral acts. I have noticed a commonality among these children who lack morals -- their parents are what is missing. Either both parents need to work or both want to work, leaving kids to come home to the television or to spend their evenings with other kids in the same parentless boat. Grandparents, older siblings and babysitters are no replacement for a mom and dad.
It's an unfortunate circumstance of the times and I consider myself lucky to be able to work from home and take back control of what was once a sinking ship. For the sake of the future of this country, I hope America once again embraces family and puts it before work, where it belongs.
In regard to Joe Hopkins' Dec. 9 letter ("Spirituality Void"), in which he blames youth's lack of accountability and vacuous nature on the secular culture: I've lived all over the world. I've lived in other cultures, and in similar cultures. I have never lived in a country where religion is more paramount than this one. Yet, American children have lost their compass.
In my opinion, the opposite effect is evident here. People believe a "Santa above the clouds," as Bishop John Shelby Spong has referred to God, will be there to forgive all their overindulgence and covetous behavior and welcome them into heaven with open arms. Parents give their kids everything they desire and then drag them to church on Sunday to hear about sacrifice. Sounds like a double standard to me. This has very egregious consequences. Failure.
Don't blame the "secular culture" on your failure to parent. Take responsibility for your own decisions.
In his Dec. 9 letter regarding the article "Students Lie, Cheat, Steal, But Think They Are Good" (Dec. 1), Joe Hopkins asserts that "[t]hey are victims of a secular culture that is devoid of moral authority telling them what they should or should not do." Mr. Hopkins' opinion is shared by many victims of religious traditions that survive and thrive by claiming supernatural moral authority to command and forbid.
We call our acts "good" which intentionally nourish and preserve, those "evil" which intentionally injure and destroy. This is true for each of us as humans, irrespective of personal religious outlook. When those wielding supernatural authority can characterize good and evil acts otherwise and oppositely, when injuring and destroying can be divinely defined and demanded as good acts, their systematic moral bankruptcy becomes lethally obvious. This is just as true, of course, in the realms of political and personal acts.
God-citing moralists are deaf and blind to the slander and libel they spew against us naturalists. We consider this life our one and only span of existence, precious beyond all valuation, not just a stop along the way to some hypothetical post-mortem realm of eternal reward and retribution. Our consciences signal good and evil just as reliably as yours, if not more so. A look at U.S. percentages of religious vs. nonreligious prison inmates would be a more enlightening next step than pontificating over yet another demonstration that teenagers are as hypocritical as their elders.
PAUL R. PALMER
The photo's point?
I was puzzled and disturbed by your Dec. 9 front-page photo over the headline "A Pilgrim's Rite." The picture was of a young Muslim boy having his head shaved after throwing pebbles at a stone pillar representing the devil. This occurred during his pilgrimage in the holy city of Mina, Saudi Arabia. Other than the caption under the photo, there was no additional information or story associated with the picture.
I can't imagine what makes this front-page news, or news at all for that matter! Would a Jewish boy at his bar mitzvah or a Christian boy at his confirmation enjoy equal front-page coverage? Absent a related story, I'm left wondering how many of these young men are taught to see the United States as the "devil" during this pilgrimage, and what you were trying to accomplish when you decided to put this unpleasant photo on Page One in the first place.
Credit for him
I want to thank James T. Carney for his Dec. 3 letter ("Joe Lieberman, a Model of Civility, Stands Up for His Beliefs"). I had been a supporter of then-Sen. Barack Obama and was dismayed by Sen. Lieberman's support of John McCain.
At the same time, as I had been proud of Sen. McCain's support of campaign financing in opposition to President Bush's stance, so do I applaud Sen. Lieberman's independence in choosing a man on principle, not party. To me, that's an expression of democracy at its finest.
I appreciated the letter even more knowing it was based on intimate knowledge of Sen. Lieberman. I consider Sen. Lieberman's actions a reflection of democracy's most cherished principle, freedom of speech.
Why no outcry?
I can understand why the Post-Gazette has not editorialized against the proposed UPMC Palace Hospital in Monroeville. Millions of advertising dollars carry a lot of influence. I can understand why the Monroeville authorities passed a zoning variance on Nov. 19 that allows UPMC to move forward with its plans to build a 125-bed hospital with a 34-bed ER on the second busiest intersection in Pennsylvania. There will be new jobs for that area and the move of Westinghouse to Cranberry must be fresh in the minds of these officials.
I cannot understand why there is no outcry from local residents about UPMC's spending hundreds of millions of dollars duplicating services in a new facility less than two miles from Forbes hospital, a growing hospital with new cardiac surgery services, a new labor and delivery wing and a new thriving E.R.. The Palace site will be lost from the tax roles of the area because UPMC is considered a "nonprofit" entity. Jobs may be gained, but will some come from decreased utilization of Forbes and Braddock and McKeesport hospitals?
UPMC has recently announced that it will close its South Side Hospital because it is less than two miles from its Mercy property. Forbes is less than two miles from the very crowded Palace site at the corner of Routes 22 and 48. I wish that there could be more cooperation between competing health systems so facilities could be built and programs developed to treat truly underserved areas and the underserved people in the region. Monroeville is not an underserved area. The Forbes campus of West Penn has many acres on which to accommodate the needs of the Monroeville area.
ALAN LANTZY, M.D.
The writer is chief of pediatrics at the Western Pennsylvania Hospital.
Her argument against allowing gay marriage has many holes
I found Dolores S. Jarrell's Dec. 10 letter worth comment ("Gay Couples Cannot Provide for the Survival of Civilization"). First, I'd like to point out that I had never heard of, much less read, "After the Ball" (Kirk and Madsen, 1989) before reading her letter. My letter -- as written -- is therefore free of any homosexual social agenda.
I'm confused about this "engendering" business. I thought that was something ultrasound readers and OB/GYNs did. They look at the kid and assign her/him to one of two categories. Never mind that kids come in far more than two categories, and frequently do not agree with the engenderer's opinion. Is Ms. Jarrell arguing that only ultrasound readers and OB/GYNs should be permitted to marry? Of course not. But her argument that marriage is for breeding falls flat.
Postmenopausal women may marry; I presume Ms. Jarrell would "grandmother" women who married before menopause but cannot now bear children. Men need not obtain a sperm count before obtaining a marriage license. Couples do not need to have a kid first and take her/him to the county offices to certify their fertility. Fertility clinics don't require marriage, either.
And as for the "gift" to civilization, that smacks of the pay-to-play we so roundly despise in our politics. Ms. Jarrell may as well demand that only those able to help a politician obtain re-election be granted the constitutional right to petition for a redress of grievances.
Let gay folks marry. It's simple 14th Amendment equal protection, people.
First Published December 16, 2008 12:00 am