Regarding "Chipping at the death penalty" (June 25): Within the past two years, significant events have created a sea change in how Americans view capital punishment. Illinois Gov. George Ryan's recognition of disturbing legal errors in many capital cases during 2000 caused him to order a moratorium on executions. That action coupled with the recent Supreme Court decision in which juries, not judges, must decide the death penalty give rise to questions about the reliability of procedure.
Now is the time to end the violence of the death penalty. The cost alone of lengthy legal process makes it cheaper to keep people incarcerated than to execute them. The time has come to join most of the civilized world and end this primitive process.
Wendell K. Edwards
I recently began corresponding with several death-row inmates as a way to offer a compassionate, nonjudgmental hand to someone languishing in a hellish existence.
At first they were names, numbers, and addresses. Now I call them my brothers and friends. They are not the monsters the public thinks they are. If I showed someone one of their letters without telling them who it is from, they would think a friend or family member wrote it.
Unfortunately we cannot bring back the dead, but we can work with the living. Many of these men are repentant and are working to better their lives and the lives of others. They have new hearts and feel sorry for what they have done.
Regarding "Hop, skip, and a jump" (June 18): Your front page blurb for a double-Dutch tournament was accompanied by a line drawing of three people, identifiable by hair, body shape, and style as white. I was immediately suspicious.
Sure, white girls jump double Dutch. But, as expected, when I turn to page 12, I see photos of an event that is assuredly black- organized, celebrating what is largely an African-American girlhood tradition, and is overwhelmingly attended by girls of African descent. Yet the article is illustrated by more drawings of white girls.
It is a form of white supremacy, even if "unconscious" or "unintended," that allows the ignoring and erasure of African-descent effort, tradition, and reality, and the inappropriate and false substitution of European-descent presence.
Last December, the Defense Department signed off on the sale of 52 F-16 fighter jets and 106 million gallons of jet fuel to Israel through the Foreign Military Sales program (earning Lockheed Martin $1.3 billion and Valero Energy $95 million). If this doesn't constitute a green light to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to continue his siege of Palestine, it certainly enables it.
While the administration complains about Iran shipping small-arms weapons to the PLO, it's beyond dispute that Israel is armed to the teeth with US-made weapons. If President Bush is sincere about his call for an Israeli withdrawal and Palestinian statehood, then he should suspend military aid to Israel.
Your touching essay "That was just the beginning" (June 17, Home Forum) should inspire everyone who desires a pet to rush to their local shelter and adopt a furry companion. It was heart-warming and gratifying to know that an innocent little creature was placed in an environment of reciprocal love.
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