Letters to the Editor

Readers write about checks on government powers, the economic crisis in Zimbabwe, and minors abusing cheap alcohol in Britain

Consistent checks on governmental powers

In response to the Aug. 24 article, "Padilla sues US officials over confinement," about Jose Padilla's lawyers asserting that their client suffered psychological abuse during his military detention, I fear that there are many who have assumed from the beginning that Mr. Padilla should not be afforded any rights. The danger with this viewpoint is that there will always be special-interest groups with something to gain by limiting the rights of others and who that will push for these limitations under the cover of security.

During World War II, despite the nature of the attack on Pearl Harbor, there was no immediate outcry of suspicion of Japanese Americans. It was not until after January 1942 when politicians, commentators, and special-interest groups – with aims of their own – began to influence public opinion. Afterward, pressure for removal of persons of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast began to develop. To make our system of government viable, the will of the people and the rule of law must be consistent and provide the necessary checks on power in the government.

Katsumi Hikido
Campbell, Calif.

More focus on events in Zimbabwe

Thank you for the Aug. 27 article, "Zimbabwe economy in free fall," about the economic crisis in Zimbabwe. It is appalling what is happening in Zimbabwe, the result of the greed and selfishness of a handful of people. In the past year, I have seen what was a beautiful, plentiful country collapse to the degree that my friends and I spend much of our time going from store to store looking for basics such as bread, milk, cooking oil, sugar – some of which have not been on the shelves the whole year I've lived there.

What scares me almost as much as the situation itself is the lack of interest in Zimbabwe from the rest of the world. It is a sad reflection on our world that if, as world leaders, media, and citizens, we become alarmed and involved only when a country has a high death count – at this point it is too late. Zimbabwe is a highly educated country with so much potential. Do millions of people have to die before it features on the radar screen of the world at large?

Verity Norman
Harare, Zimbabwe

Minors abusing cheap alcohol

In reading the Aug. 24 article, "In Britain, ever-cheaper alcohol is prompting legal action," about police chiefs' and lawmakers' concern that the low price of alcohol is fueling a rise in drink-related crime and rowdy behavior – I could not help but notice that the British government's focus was on the connection between availability of alcohol and criminal or unruly behavior.

I think the British government was too narrow in its focus on the increase in bad or criminal behavior of its minors. The ease of getting inexpensive alcohol is a contributor, but why are minors abusing it in the first place? The most probable answer seems to be that parents are not teaching their children responsibility. Nowadays, people seem to expect the government to raise their children and come up with the solutions for behavioral problems rather than try to be responsible parents and teach their kids what is deemed acceptable behavior.

The British government ought to conduct a study to determine how many parents have spoken with their children about alcohol and proper responsibility around drinking. Stores and restaurants that sell and serve alcoholic beverages should not be entirely blamed for their customers' behavior; parents should have to take responsibility when they do not take an active role in their children's upbringing.

Michael Shutak
Morehead City, N.C.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

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