Letters to the Editor
Rick Santorum says American law should never violate Biblical commands and often it doesn’t. For example, both prohibit murder and theft. Yet, the conflicts are enormous. American law nourishes capitalism while the Bible would destroy it by commanding us to sell all we own and give the proceeds to the poor. The Constitution protects Freedom of Religion, while the Bible requires death for non-believers. Pre-marital sex is not a crime in the United States, but the Bible says women who are not virgins at the time of marriage must be executed. It is not against the law to work on the Sabbath in the United States, but the Bible proclaims death to Sabbath-workers. And the list goes on and on.
What Santorum advocates is theocracy, a form of government which claims to represent God’s will as found in scripture. It was tried in the American colonies until the Constitution outlawed it, and it is in effect today in such countries as Afghanistan and Iran. A common result of theocracy is merciless suppression of even the most basic human rights, religious hatred and violence spanning centuries, and death and more death.
Do Americans really want the United States to go down that road under a President Santorum? Probably not, but lest we grow complacent, he is winning primaries – while the media virtually ignores his theocratic blueprint for the United States.
My contact information:
Bloomington, IL 61704
The increase in gasoline prices is not attributable to worldwide supply problems. Threats by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz are partly responsible for the increased prices, but another culprit is our oil industry.
In 2011 U.S. refineries exported a record amount of refined fuels to foreign markets. In December 2011 fuel exports averaged 2.89 million barrels a day compared to an average of 1.25 million barrels a day in 2007. Higher prices paid in foreign markets attracted U.S. exports.
Fuels exported overseas means less fuel in this country and higher gasoline prices. Our oil companies have put profits ahead of our economic health. It is estimated the five largest U.S. oil companies had profits of $38 billion in 2011.
U.S. refineries closed some facilities or reduced production in 2011. We continue to be constrained by old refineries, which require major maintenance, and thereby increase the cost of refined fuels. The last new refinery to come on line in the U.S. was in 1975.
We need the Obama administration to pressure U.S. oil companies to upgrade refineries and sell more refined fuels to U.S. markets to help lower our prices.
Donald A. Moskowitz
Welcome to Amherst in springtime! The daffodils and new buds on the trees usher in the town’s loveliest season, and whether this is your first spring here or you’ve been here for a few already, I encourage you to explore and enjoy.
Have you discovered our extensive network of local and regional hiking trails? Have you been to the Emily Dickinson Homestead? Have you seen the world’s largest collection of dinosaur tracks at Amherst College’s Museum of Natural History? Have you golfed at Cherry Hill? Have you eaten lunch on a bench by the fountain in Sweetser Park?
All of this and more is right in your own backyard. For as long as you are here, Amherst is your home, and you should make the most of it. Enjoy it, explore it, engage with it and respect it.
That “respect” part is just as important as the “enjoy” part.
Just like in your other home, where you grew up or where you live when you aren’t here, certain things are Not OK. Being so loud that you wake up the neighbors? Not OK. Throwing litter in the street or in other people’s yards? Not OK. Having 250 people in your house and on your roof and hanging out your windows? Not OK.
Pretty simple, really. Imagine if your Mom found a kid peeing in her yard late at night, or if your Dad couldn’t sleep because of music blaring at 1:30 a.m. Imagine if your grandfather had to pick a bunch of cups and broken bottles out of his garden. Imagine if your little sister or your nephew woke up frightened in the middle of the night to the sound of screaming and F-bombs. Anything that doesn’t pass the “family test” is Not OK – not someplace you call “home,” not anywhere.
Often, when people forget that stuff like this is Not OK, they are reminded by the Amherst Police Department. That reminder could be a verbal warning, a $300 ticket or an arrest. If you receive such a reminder from the Police, you will also be reminded by the Dean of Students office. And long after you needed reminding, you might find that graduate programs, job opportunities and Google searches won’t let you forget. Because when grad schools or employers are winnowing down a field of fantastic candidates, it doesn’t take much to put your application in the rejection pile.
Harsh, right? I know – welcome to life. Just another way that the college experience helps to prepare you for everything that comes next. In this effort, the Town of Amherst and UMass are partners in teaching that your community – your home – is a place to enjoy, to explore, to engage with and to respect.
So embrace spring. Celebrate this year’s hard work and be proud of your accomplishments. Seek out all the great local stuff you haven’t had a chance to experience yet. And when you are having a party or attending one, heading downtown or passing through the neighborhoods, remember that you are surrounded by your neighbors: people who need to get up in the morning to go to work or church or third grade; people just like your family. Behavior that doesn’t pass the “family test” is Not OK, and it can have serious consequences.
If you would like more information about great spring attractions in Amherst and the surrounding towns, please feel free to contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org (Note: 2 Fs, or it won’t get to me.) Very best wishes for the end of your semester!
Chair, Amherst Select Board
Trayvon and Jason
Imagine going to the corner store for a snack and getting accosted on the way home by a man with a gun, who chases you down, attacks you and ultimately shoots you in the chest, leaving you to die. Then imagine that when the cops arrive, multiple eye witnesses describe the incident, but no forensic analysis of the scene is performed and the shooter is let go because he claims self-defense.
Now imagine that you are a young black male and try again. (My apologies to the young black males reading this.)
The shame of the Trayvon Martin incident is not only that it happened, but that it happens too often. By ‘it’ I mean that a black male is singled out because of race, attacked and then law enforcement officials fail to make arrests or pursue appropriate prosecution.
Let us remember that the UMass campus has a classic example in its recent history. In 2008, Jason Vassell, an African American UMass student in good standing, was sitting in his dorm room minding his own business when two drunk white men visiting campus saw him through his dorm window. They shouted racial slurs, broke his dorm room window and challenged him to a come out and fight. While Jason called a friend for help the attackers gained entrance to the dorm, punched Jason in the face breaking his nose, causing a concussion and chased him around the entrance area. Jason warned them to back off and declared he had a knife, and after they attacked him, Jason defended himself with his weapon.
What did the cops do? They figured it was a drug crime, let the white guys go and charged Jason with attempted murder. Two and a half years later, after an uproar from the community and several legal rulings in Jason’s favor, the prosecutor finally dropped all charges. Only one of the two white attackers was ever charged, and he was convicted of simple assault.
How is this like Trayvon Martin, a black guy minding his own business attacked by a white guy looking for trouble, no charges filed, and miscarriage of justice? You decide.
Don’t think these things only happen in some parts of the country. They happen all around us and we all should suffer the shame of it and work much harder to fix it.