As a society that is defined by the manner in which we treat our most vulnerable, we are clearly frozen in the ice of our own ethical and moral indifference.
Peter C. McVeigh, Oreland, firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert W. Patterson writes that "the unraveling of wedlock has stunted economic growth by slowing family formation while turning Camden into a basket case and impoverishing formerly viable Philadelphia neighborhoods like Fishtown" ("GOP should stand with marriage," Sunday). He laments that "the Republican nominee has yet to highlight these correlations." Maybe that's because it sounds ridiculous to suggest that the conditions in Camden and Fishtown have anything to do with gays wanting the right to be married.
Phil Everson, Media
Stand up for all marriages
Robert W. Patterson makes a number of valid points about the demise of the family and its negative effects on America in general and the middle class in particular. The desire for stronger relationships between men and women so that fewer families are torn by divorce is shared among virtually all Americans, regardless of political affiliation. Unfortunately, Patterson makes an undocumented and, yes, hateful, leap from noting a problem to placing its cause at the feet of a population that, for the most part, isn't allowed to marry. That's sort of like blaming people who don't eat ice cream for an ice cream shortage.
Like most Americans, I know all too many couples who have divorced. When asked why they split, I heard a variety of answers, including married too young, grew apart, financial problems, infidelity, and the all-too-popular "we fell out of love." Not once did I hear, "We got divorced because gay people can now get married."
So, yes, the GOP should stand for marriage. Not just "heterosexual marriage," but any marriage between two consenting adults.
Joe Pugnetti, Perkasie
Get in line for playground equipment
About five years ago, there was another playground fire in another part of the city. Kemble Park, in the Summerville section of Philadelphia, was a victim of arson. The wooden children's jungle gym was burned to the ground. It was not an "act of evil," as Mayor Nutter called the recent arson at FDR Park in South Philadelphia, just an adolescent act of stupidity ("Arrest is made in playground arson," Tuesday).
But no mayor came to visit Kemble Park. No reward was offered. No promise to rebuild was given. I personally wrote to then-Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller. In subsequent years, I've written to Councilman Bill Greenlee, at least two other elected officials, and the Department of Parks and Recreation. These efforts produced no results.
In 2011, a new jungle gym was erected in Kemble Park, but then it was moved to another location. Again, I contacted my councilman's office and was given a bogus reason for removing the equipment.
If FDR Park is in line for new playground equipment, then it should be in line behind Kemble Park.
David O. Byrd, Chew Park Association, Philadelphia
Time to privatize State Stores
While liquor sales remain under the state's control for the time being, privatization of the state's liquor stores is an idea that should be seriously considered in the future ("LCB judge; nice ‘work,' if you can get it," Sunday). The proposal, which has been pushed back until the fall, has taken several steps forward and has even been modified with input from the state's own House Liquor Control Committee.
The sale of the new licenses could go a long way toward closing Pennsylvania's budget gap. In addition to a one-time windfall, the introduction of market competition would create a new annual revenue stream from alcohol-sales taxes, with initial revenues projected at $350 million.
Legislators should take a serious look at privatization the next time it comes up. State-run stores are an anachronism whose time has passed.
Matthew Glans, senior policy analyst, Heartland Institute, email@example.com
Taking fantasies too seriously
Robert Benne's op-ed "Protect the religious from the secular elite" (June 17) reminded me of Leonard Jeffries' characterization of Caucasians as "ice people" and Africans as "sun people." This kind of sophistry seems to permeate much of academia. Benne extended the label of "secular elite" to other labels, such as "Swedes." Religious people were referred to as (South Asian) "Indians." Very clever, but not very enlightening.
While demonizing reason as "secular rationality," Benne indulged in his own rationalized fears of eroding institutions and "the increase of dependent and malformed individuals who then have to be tended by the expanded state." Since I collect Social Security and am almost eligible for Medicare, I suppose I am one of those malformed individuals.
I don't disagree with some of Benne's observations, but I don't share his fears of change. He should spend more time away from academia. Living in a world of abstract thought tends to make you take your fantasies a little too seriously.
Jim Tweed, Ocean City, firstname.lastname@example.org
Government vs. religion
The headline on Robert Benne's op-ed should have been "Make the U.S. government put the priorities of religious institutions ahead of that nonsense about a citizen's right to ‘pursue their own happiness' before it's too late."
Benne is quite explicit in his argument about what is at stake. If you are not a member of a religious institution, then you cannot be a part of a loving family, or have a long and happy marriage, and you certainly have no shot at being a good citizen or a decent person, because all of those things depend on the guidance only a religious institution can provide.
Benne says the key goal of a religious institution is maintaining the stability of the community, and if that means squashing an individual's right to pursue his or her own happiness, then so be it. This is directly at odds with the U.S. government's goal of protecting an individual's right to pursue happiness. No wonder Benne sees a government not controlled by religious institutions as a great villain.
Neil Giblin, Downingtown
Sledding with Calvin and Hobbes
It is heartening to see letters from a third grader, a 78-year-old woman, and others seeking the return of Calvin and Hobbes.
Count me in as one of the thousands who want that comic strip back. Please accomplish this by winter so we may enjoy Calvin and Hobbes' harrowing sled rides.
Herman Axelrod, Blue Bell