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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about diversity on the Supreme Court, sexting, and gambling.

April 29, 2009



The only diversity on the Supreme Court should be intellectual

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In regard to the April 17 Opinion piece, "Supreme Court's bench has never been less diverse": Intellectual diversity on the Supreme Court makes perfect sense. Choosing Supreme Court justices from a pool of clearly superior and intellectually diverse candidates, conservatives and liberals, is more likely to promote thoughtful debate which leads to a wise consensus and a deeper consideration of issues. But all other kinds of diversity are irrelevant.

The purpose of the Supreme Court is to make wise decisions which serve the long-term best interests of our nation in light of the Constitution. It is not the purpose of the Supreme Court to "represent" the people of the United States, or to look like us. Attributes like gender, race, age, geography, or ethnicity have no more to do with defining a competent judge or a competent court than a person's weight or eye color. And we wouldn't think of using such silly characteristics in choosing our next judge.

If we want a "competent" Olympic basketball team, we don't choose one that looks like us or "represents" us, and we don't call for "diversity." Intellectual diversity is the only kind that makes sense in choosing Supreme Court justices.

Jonette Christian
Holden, Maine

Don't scare teens with 'sexting' horror stories

Regarding the April 28 editorial, "'Sexting' overreach": Your editorial on sexting is sensible. But your point about pedophiles is less so. Although child sexual abuse is serious, it is neither rampant nor connected to photos. Study after study has shown no connection between increased availability of pornography and increased incidence of sex crimes.

Pedophiles and the unfortunate Jessica Logan, who committed suicide after a nude photo of hers circulated, are often brought up as a kind of bogeyman in the sexting debate. Nude photos don't cause suicide. Trying to scare teens with such stories doesn't help them, or anyone.

Paul Rapoport
Ancaster, Ontario, Canada

There's no evidence to prove gambling harms communities

Regarding the April 28 Opinion piece, "Legalized gambling only fuels economic crisis": Author John Warren Kindt tries to argue that legalized gambling is causing all sorts of harm. But there is no good evidence to support his claims.

He asserts that academic evidence on the economic impact of casinos is consistent and conclusive. That's not true. Mr. Kindt cites estimates that gambling creates $3 in costs for each $1 in benefits. In fact, there is little consensus among academics about the economic and social effects of legalized gambling. Cost-benefit figures, such as those cited by Kindt, are derived more from arbitrary assumptions than from legitimate economic analysis.

The truth is that there are potential social costs attributable to gambling, as Kindt points out. But there are also benefits, which Kindt completely ignores: benefits to people who enjoy gambling at casinos, to people who have jobs in the industry, to taxpayers who may see lower taxes because of the revenues raised from gambling, and others. Perhaps more to Kindt's point, simply banning an entire industry would have huge costs to the economy, far greater than the costs of legal gambling that concern Kindt.

It is difficult to take Kindt's policy recommendation seriously, given he seems to have ignored all of the arguments, evidence, and common sense that oppose his view.

Douglas M. Walker

Associate professor of economics

College of Charleston

Author, "The Economics of Casino Gambling"

Charleston, S.C.

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