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Here we are again. Our criminal “justice” system ruining lives. Austin J. Hagen and Brian D. Hiltner will now be immortalized as the crux of all evil in this state. Why? Because they were charged with having edible THC gummies (“THC-laced gummies making inroads,” Minnesota section, Feb. 7). The fact that the products were gummies serves as a useful tool for fearmonger Jim Backstrom, the Dakota County attorney, who said that “[t]hese are very dangerous and can easily be found and ingested by children.” He continued, saying that “[t]he chance for accidental overdose … is also very high.” You know what else can be found by children? Guns. Alcohol. Cleaning supplies. An open second-story window. A crack on the sidewalk they can trip on. And we won’t even discuss here how an “overdose” of THC is not like dangerous drugs, including alcohol, where you see respiratory depression and heart failure that lead to death. Stop criminalizing marijuana and stop using kids as an excuse to oppress Minnesotans. If we are truly concerned about substance use of any kind, a public health approach is far superior to policing.

Joseph DeBoer, St. Paul

TRUMP’S MILITARY PARADE

Priorities, priorities. What about Puerto Rico and our veterans?

Today, 400,000 American citizens in Puerto Rico are still without electricity 4½ months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island (“Desperate Puerto Ricans restore power themselves,” Feb. 8). Many still do not have safe drinking water. FEMA and our military are there but still lack the resources to fully restore power in what has become the longest power outage in U.S. history. Imagine for a moment that this was happening to your family and neighborhood. Your mayor and your governor have pleaded with the federal government to send more aid, as you and your family suffer. Meanwhile, our president, who pledged to put everyday Americans first and put America first, seems to be putting his own ego first. He saw a military parade in France, and, by gosh, he wants one, too — like a spoiled child. It’s not about honoring the military (although that’s his cover). It’s about his ego. As a veteran, I would much rather we spent $12 million (estimated parade cost) more in aid to help our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico, who are still without power, than on a D.C. parade to satisfy the ego of our billionaire president. If it was your family without power, how would you want the $12 million spent — to finally restore power to you and your neighbors or on an unbudgeted military parade in D.C.? Whatever your party, ask the president to actually put Americans first.

Alan Anderson, Northfield

• • •

An appropriate parade would be a phalanx of ambulances carrying our wounded and a column of hearses for the dead. A platoon of powered wheelchairs for maimed veterans and a rolling display case of assorted prostheses, illustrating the repair parts so many veterans use. A battalion of marchers would represent those fighters who have had their minds and spirits wounded and addled by PTSD and struggling with trying to have an orderly life. The more fortunate of these marchers would be accompanied by someone in their lives who helps them stay on track, while most of the others would wander randomly through no fault of their own. Following these unfortunate wanderers would be a ragged corps of homeless vets who have been discarded by society, wearing and carrying everything they might still own or manage to keep. The saddest part of this parade would be the emergency responders, picking up those who have killed themselves. This last number of fatalities would outnumber those killed in battle, and would come from the ranks of all the other marchers.

Thomas V. Koehler, Two Harbors, Minn.

• • •

The sports page is the only reason I read the Star Tribune. I can get all I need to know online, so reading the actual paper is becoming slimmer. I will start my letter with the usual snowflake word “so.” So, you couldn’t find a letter that was in favor of a military parade? President Donald Trump did not say it was to honor him. He wants to show off our military. What is wrong with that? Two of the letters were hateful, with the usual name-calling and divisiveness. The third was juvenile. Pathetic.

Karen Linsmayer, Golden Valley

SEXUAL BOUNDARIES

Mixed messaging won’t help men and women move forward

Batya Ungar-Sargon’s commentary on the #MeToo movement contains some thought-provoking ideas (“Will #MeToo spell the end of 50 Shades of Grey?”, Opinion Exchange, Feb. 8). One such notion is that it is a woman’s right to firmly reject rape culture in real life while enjoying its guilty pleasures in literature and film. While that’s certainly true — it is their right — if such mixed messaging and muddled thinking are a takeaway from the #MeToo movement, both men and women are headed for plenty more pain and suffering before things get better. We need to extract some clearer lessons as we move forward or reject rape culture both in reality and in our entertainment for the time being.

Certainly, the latter is the safer approach. Decades from now, as beneficiaries of a healthier culture, we could decide whether to revisit rape culture from a historical perspective, as a reflection of a darker, more dangerous time. We might still find it titillating, or more likely, revolting.

The author takes a different and more dangerous path, insisting on a future in which “women can both enjoy rape fantasies and expect not to be actually raped.” Presumably, men could enjoy rape fantasies as well, while adhering to an entirely different set of rules in real life. That would all work well if reality conformed to the author’s preposterous notion that rape fantasies don’t have much to do with rape culture. While there may be an “obvious distinction between fiction and reality,” the record shows we’re simply not very good at following separate rules for each.

John L. Ibele, Minneapolis

• • •

The premise of Ungar-Sargon’s piece is appalling and illogical. Replace women with men in the name of gender equality, and this is what you get: “An epoch in which men can both enjoy rape fantasies and expect not to actually rape, or pursue without women’s consent, would truly be the best of times.” Reverse genders, and this line of thought is dangerous and unacceptable.

Wendy Johnson, Minnetonka

• • •

The commentary has left me somewhat unsure of what she means to say. What does she mean when she refers to “one person chases another?” Does she mean that a college student who sees a young woman he knows from class and walks rapidly down the hall to catch up with her to ask her to a movie is “chasing” her? And what, pray tell, is meant by “enthusiastic consent”? If a young man wants to invite a woman to his room, perhaps to make love, must she then shout “Oh, yes, please take me to your room so that we can make love!” What manner of enthusiastic consent is required? Perhaps Ungar-Sargon will publish a list of approved enthusiastic replies.

Boyd Beccue, Monticello, Minn.

PEPPERMINT PATTY

Note to writer: It’s a comic strip

A letter writer bemoaned the advice given to Peppermint Patty by Charlie Brown to the point that it made her sad and uncomfortable (Readers Write, Feb. 8). Please remember that this a comic strip, not a University of Minnesota lecture series. The strip also has a dog that thinks he is a World War I fighter pilot and a kid who believes in the Great Pumpkin. The author died 18 years ago, and the disturbing installment was written in 1971. The attitude on many things has changed in 47 years, but comic strips then and now poke fun at absurd situations and characters. Rock on, Charlie Brown dude.

Jim Schultz, Maple Plain