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September 9, 2013 at 6:36 PM
Pot should be legal everywhere
Dealing with marijuana, currently a federally illegal, controlled substance, has always been a serious struggle for our Congress as well as local governments. [“Coming soon: 334 pot stores in state,” page one, Sept. 5.]
I want our members of Congress to finally consider decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana and its derivatives, treating it the same way alcohol has been since the repeal of the 22nd Amendment.
There is no doubt that there are safety and health concerns that must be addressed. But let’s put it this way, alcohol was, is, and will be dangerous when consumed in an excessive and irresponsible manner. It is a regulated substance that can be consumed and even studied for medical-treatment purposes.
Marijuana has the discoverable potential to save many lives, if fully legalized and treated the same way alcohol and other substances currently are.
Why can’t the federal government make up its mind and pave the way for sensible, science- and society-centered drug law reforms?
Erick Dietrich, Walla Walla
August 13, 2013 at 6:43 PM
Violating due process
Our drones are killing people now in the impoverished country of Yemen. [“News of Note: Embassies evacuate, insurgents killed,” News, Aug. 11.]
No arrests, no trials, no witnesses, just summary executions of people that someone has said are members of al-Qaida.
This is such a flagrant violation of due process and the foundation of democracy! It is tyranny, pure and simple.
What have we become?
William DuBay, Poulsbo
July 23, 2013 at 4:13 PM
Acceptance practices must change
It is unfortunate to see how limiting our educational institutions can be for individuals who cannot control their own circumstances. [“UW dream beyond his reach,” NW Monday, July 15.]
Simon Mendoza has been at the mercy of unforgiving medical schools due to his legal status, even though his choice in immigration was impossible.
These unfair acceptance practices, which discriminate against individuals who have the skill and talent imperative for a field such as medicine, should be reanalyzed and reconstituted in view of academic qualifications, not a status that ultimately has no educational merit.
Systems like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), recognized at Loyola University in Chicago, should be employed by other schools.
Because there are other children like Mendoza, who arrived with their parents when they were too young understand or control the ramifications, it is vital that we work alongside them to give them the opportunity that they deserve to have.
Emily Kassebaum, Renton
July 17, 2013 at 4:33 PM
Letter missed the big picture
William Wheeler’s letter to the editor was thought-provoking and I enjoyed reading it; however, it uses the term “racism” where the term “bigotry” should be used. [“Northwest Voices: Trayvon Martin case,” Opinion, July 16.]
Racism is institutional, and the incident itself wasn’t institutional, and I don’t believe that the outcome of the trial indicates racism. The United States does have bigots of all stripes.
So, is it politically correct to protest a verdict that you feel is unjust? If you believe that the Constitution grants you free speech, then yes.
When you use your imagination as Wheeler suggests, close your eyes to imagine that you are O.J. Simpson sitting in the witness box on trial for murder, or that you are Zimmerman sitting in the courtroom on trial for second-degree murder or manslaughter, and ask yourself if you believe that the Constitution of the United States requires that the case against you be proved beyond all shadow of a doubt.
My guess is that you will want to imagine that it does, and understand that a jury of one’s peers is going to do its best to come to a rational decision. Anything else would result in a justice system based on revenge.
There are those who believe that this case means it’s open season on young black males in Florida. I don’t think the law is set up for that, but perhaps the solution is actually education of all students in the United States.
Can you imagine the outcome of the confrontation between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin if even one of them had been taught to de-escalate confrontations in health class, or church, or Boy Scouts?
Keith Wellman, Freeland
Letter omitted facts
William Wheeler assumes I have not imagined the events of the George Zimmerman trial with their races reversed.
However, Wheeler omitted important facts that, in this scenario, the black Zimmerman was part of a neighborhood watch that was formed because white youths were vandalizing their homes. He omitted that the white Trayvon described “some n-word” that was following him.
Wheeler left out the question of how the smaller man ended up straddling the bigger man when the gun was fired (the answer is he sucker-punched him).
After reviewing all the facts, I not only imagine a black Zimmerman would be not guilty, but since the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People would not being yelling about racism, this case would never have been brought to trial if Zimmerman was black.
When the NAACP alleges racism and brings cases that have bad fact patterns to national attention, it loses credibility with me.
Don Taylor, Brier
Case was legal, not racial
Outrage over the acquittal of the George Zimmerman, based on perceived racial injustice, is badly misplaced.
While racial profiling arguably led up to the incident, once a brawl ensued, all of Zimmerman’s preceding actions, including profiling Trayvon Martin and disregarding police instructions, became irrelevant under the law.
The prosecution had an impossible burden because the only witness with a clear view of what happened was Zimmerman — who, under the law, was entitled to defend himself with lethal force if he reasonably perceived his life in danger.
In criminal trials, the prosecution must present evidence rebutting self-defense claims beyond a reasonable doubt. Zimmerman had exclusive control of the self-defense evidence. There was plenty of doubt here.
If the jury members considered only the trial evidence and faithfully followed the court’s instructions, they really had no option but to acquit. Wheeler mentions the O.J. Simpson case. That’s an odd reference, since a black man was acquitted in that case because the prosecution failed to convince the jury Simpson was guilty beyond reasonable doubt — the same rule that freed the white man in this case.
To those outraged by the Zimmerman verdict I ask: What part of “beyond a reasonable doubt” don’t you understand?
Jerry Cronk, Shoreline
It seems to me that you don’t let the facts get in the way of your opinions. [“Editorial: The next step after the Trayvon Martin case,” Opinion, July 16.]
I have two points to note. One is that George Zimmerman is indeed innocent in the eyes of the law and under the U.S. Constitution, unless he is proved guilty in a court of law by a jury of his peers.
Second, the defense was based upon a claim of self-defense, and had nothing to do with Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
Donald Devlin, Lakewood
July 15, 2013 at 4:11 PM
Race decided the case
This kind of injustice is what black people have had to deal with since we arrived in this country in chains. The fact that we are still dealing with it in 2013 is proof that millions of white people in this country have a very long way to go before they can overcome their racism. [“Fla. verdict doesn’t end national debate,” page one, July 15.]
Too many white people continue to pretend that injustice is a figment of our collective imagination. In reality, the idea that significant injustices do not continue to occur in America is a figment of their imagination.
I want the white people reading this letter to do me a favor. Close your eyes and imagine the exact same set of facts. But this time, imagine that George Zimmerman was black, and Trayvon Martin was a white teenager, wearing a hoodie and walking from the store to his father’s home.
Imagine this black Zimmerman was carrying a gun, had been told by the police not to continue following white Trayvon, and continued to follow him anyway. Then imagine this white Trayvon confronted black Zimmerman and was ultimately shot to death by Zimmerman.
If, under those circumstances, Zimmerman was found “not guilty,” you would probably be more outraged about his acquittal than you were about O.J. Simpson’s. You would have a right to be outraged, just as black people all over this country have a right to be outraged.
This can’t keep happening. Where there is no justice, there can be no peace. The Zimmerman acquittal has just informed the entire world that America is still a very racist place.
William Wheeler, Bellevue
A better-trained Zimmerman could have diffused the situation
I find the juxtaposition of the front-page article on revised training of police recruits [“Police academy 2.0,” page one, July 14] with the piece announcing the innocent verdict in the Zimmerman trial in Florida [“Joy, sorrow as jury lets Zimmerman be free man,” page one, July 14] to be most interesting.
What really struck me was this: How much better would the encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin have gone if Zimmerman had been through the training now being offered by the police academy in Burien?
Surely, Zimmerman viewed himself as a “guardian” of his community, but he lacked the skills he might have acquired through such training that would have enabled him to handle the situation without resorting to using his firearm.
Consider this quote from the article: “ … The academy is focusing on neuroscience and teaching recruits how their brains function. Before they can control others, the thinking goes, they first must understand self-control.”
Maybe we should require some of this basic training for anyone wanting to volunteer or be employed as a security guard, whether for a building, a neighborhood or a gated community.
Sarah Weinberg, Mercer Island
Prosecution, jury mishandled case
I think the recent decision to acquit George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin is a matter of very poor judgment. It was a choice that, in my view, does not fit the justice that the victim deserves.
The jury should have taken a harder look at testimonies of those witnesses who overheard the struggle and the fatal gunshot.
The prosecution has not done a good job in the way they handled this trial; the evidence they collected and presented only served in setting the defendant free in the end.
The law in this area needs a strong and detailed overhaul.
Miriam Pruce, Olympia
Jury made the right, but difficult, legal call
A couple of months ago, I served on a jury for a civil case heard in King County Superior Court, in which neglect of a very elderly patient in a nursing home was alleged. I was surprised, on following the George Zimmerman trial, how similar the dilemma we faced in reaching a verdict was to the one faced by that jury.
The informal consensus of our group was that the nursing home was not anywhere any of us would want ourselves or our families to reside. Nevertheless, we found inadequate grounds to support the allegations of culpable neglect by the nursing staff.
We did not award the suffering woman a dime, and we felt very sad about it, but we had no legal qualms about our evaluation.
This difference between our personal feelings, taking into account everything that we had learned about the nursing home and its staff, versus precise application of the law seems to be exactly the same type of dilemma as was faced by the jury in the Zimmerman trial.
The verdict of this jury was a proper one. A conviction based on a hypothetical scenario for the entire encounter and the sanctimonious idea that “someone must pay,” regardless of the specific application of the law, is simply inconsistent with the instructions issued by the judge.
The women of this jury did not fold under presumptuously moralistic, blatantly racially based pressures, and I, for one, salute them. No one who has not served as they have has a right to be critical.
Ken Meyer, Seattle
If you are white, and want to get away with murder, move to Florida.
Kevin Walsh, Seattle
July 5, 2013 at 6:00 PM
Laws don’t affect supply and demand
The Times addressed the patchwork of (practically unenforceable) laws banning most fireworks along with some related injury statistics, but offered nothing suggesting any effort to eliminate the major source of the problem: reservation sales. [“Fireworks: fun, risk and a mess of laws,” NW Wednesday, July 3.]
As long as the availability and sales of such fireworks on nearby Indian reservations goes unchallenged (something the federal or state government could do but lacks the political will to) and people wish to buy the stuff, the proliferation of illegal fireworks will continue unabated.
The situation is much like historical Prohibition laws against alcohol and the current marijuana mania. No matter how illegal a product is declared by various laws, so long as the product is easily and readily available and “the people” want it, laws intended to curb usage are essentially meaningless.
Just as untaxed tobacco products and liquor are typically transported by truck on Washington highways, so too are large quantities of “illegal” fireworks destined for tribal reservations. If the state so desired, such shipments could be intercepted en route and confiscated.
Bruce Elliot, La Conner
Illegality and irresponsibility
Illegality and irresponsibility seem to go together when people buy fireworks. [“North Lake Union boatyard fire destroys 14 boats,” seattletimes.com, July 4.]
Not only were 14 boats burned by careless fireworks antics, but explosions were heard into the wee hours of a workday.
It seems that the never-do-wells who get pleasure out of making other people’s lives miserable cannot tell time. Those of us living near Lake Union are special victims of these irresponsible people.
William McPherson, Seattle
Fireworks upset neighbor
I am writing to express my extreme disappointment and dismay with many of my neighbors in West Seattle who deployed fireworks on and around the property I rent on the Fourth of July.
Several of them justified their activities as being part of the “freedom” the holiday commemorates. Folks, your specious “freedom” to deploy flammable materials illegally is not what your ancestors sacrificed their lives to achieve, and to suggest so is disrespectful to the memory of those who sacrificed their lives for true freedom.
Your right to celebrate does not trump your responsibility to obey the law, or your neighbors’ right to not have their houses set on fire and not be disturbed by loud noises well into the early hours of the morning.
You need to refine your concept of “freedom” and add some other words to your vocabulary, such as “respect,” “consideration,” and “common sense.”
Cynthia Lewis, Seattle
July 3, 2013 at 4:30 PM
Florist’s right to choose should be protected
I am writing this letter in regards to the story about the gay couple who was turned away from their favorite florist due to religious beliefs. [“Florist seeks fourth recusal,” NW Friday, June 28.]
What is this country turning into? Yes, what this business has chosen as its morals is not the popular ideals of our ever-changing country, but it is their freedom of choice to do so.
Limitations on choice seems to be the answer for the people of today, people who think it’s their business to find what is wrong with society and pass laws to “fix” the problems. We pay Superior Court judges $148,832 each year in the state of Washington. That is how much we are paying each of these government employees to tell us if what this florist has chosen to do was legally right or wrong.
What would have been a better choice? Perhaps what the couple did do: tell their family and friends, maybe write a review of the business. From reading the story, you can see a huge show of support for the couple. I’m sure one of the many other florists in the area would welcome the couple’s business.
Choice is what defines a person; choosing right or wrong, good or bad, soda or water. What will we become as a country when we take choice out of the equation, if we reach a fork and continue down the path chosen for us by those long dead and gone?
Mickey Myers, Anacortes
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