Oh, no! It’s a Catholic conundrum! (“With letter on sex abuse, Benedict returns to public,” April 12). Catholics have been taught to accept without question the edicts and opinions of just one paternal authority at a time, but now two living popes disagree. Which pope is infallible? I’d pick the new guy. Seems logical that infallibility is a thing handed off like a baton (or a scepter?), but what do I know? I’m not even Catholic! Maybe the faithful shouldn’t think too hard about this. Be like many American voters; choose the truth you are used to believing.
D.C. Smith, Minneapolis
ARREST OF JULIAN ASSANGE
If only he’d been more kempt, he wouldn’t have worn out welcome
Here is what we know for sure about Julian Assange (“WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange arrested on hacking charge,” front page, April 12): He has been eating very well while staying at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past seven years. He has not been shaving; neither has he been cleaning his bathroom nor controlling his unruly cat.
Here is what we know about the Ecuadorian Consulate in London. It will harbor Julian Assange for seven years because the U.S. wants to prosecute him for hacking into personal computers and the Pentagon, stealing e-mails, possible espionage, etc. But it draws the line and throws him out when he won’t clean his bathroom and keep his cat under control. Feeling confused!
Eileen Biernat, New Brighton
How can it be ‘public’ if it’s not operated by the government?
In response to the April 7 article about the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority’s plans to move nearly 650 homes to a nonprofit (“Mpls. would hand properties to nonprofit”). The government is trying to get out of the public-housing business. I am sensitive to the matter of reduced funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the difficulty of managing single-family homes across the city, but if public housing is operated by a nonprofit entity, then it has been privatized.
I do not doubt that the MPHA and the city of Minneapolis have the best intentions with this move to continue delivering effective housing and services to these residents. What I am concerned about is how we are living our values through the decisions we make. Public housing is a government program that is funded with taxpayers’ dollars. A core tenet of government is to provide goods and services that individuals cannot provide for themselves individually. When we shift a public good like housing over to a nonprofit, we are effectively saying that housing is no longer a right and priority for the public, but a philanthropic gift.
Let’s stop talking about the wonders of philanthropy and start talking the responsibilities of government. The nonprofit-industrial complex has profited off the exploitation of social inequities throughout the world. This situation is no different. We need to reevaluate our priorities and start prioritizing what’s best for the public and not our bottom lines.
Robert Harris III, Minneapolis
• • •
What happened to home construction at Heritage Park? As a Near North homeowner for more than 40 years, I was excited to see all of the new, high-quality construction in nearby Heritage Park on the site of former public-housing apartment projects starting in about 2000. The recession stopped all of that in about 2008, and since then, virtually nothing has been built. There must be more than a hundred buildable lots still available, many with spectacular views of the downtown skyline, all with nearby parks and excellent access to transportation. And beautiful Sumner Library across the street! Housing shortage? Perhaps part of the solution is in Heritage Park!
Christopher J. Born, Minneapolis
COLLEGE ADMISSION CRIMES
Rather than scheming sentences, address the larger inequities
Three April 11 letters suggested alternatives to prison for actress Felicity Huffman and other well-heeled parents in the college admissions bribery and fraud cases. The letter writers want these people to give scholarships to a few needy students. This would go to a certain few, but it wouldn’t solve most people’s problem that college is not affordable and that our society is rife with inequities.
Rather than a few scholarships provided by these parents, tuition made free for public colleges and universities would go a lot further in addressing inequities. If everyone could go to college, it would decrease the opportunity gap between the wealthy and the rest.
One of the letters expressed concern that Huffman could get beat up in prison. Why isn’t there equal concern for for all who go to prison? Here again is an area of inequity in our country. Prison violence is not acceptable for anyone to suffer from.
The only purpose for prison should be to protect society from those who pose a threat to others. Prison reform and college tuition reform are two reforms that could go a long way in addressing society’s inequities.
Paul Rozycki, Minneapolis
‘YOU DON’T SAY’
Reevaluating ‘muddled syntax’ in multiple contexts
L.K. Hanson quotes Marya Mannes (“You Don’t Say,” April 8) to accompany another Trump-bashing illustration: “A candidate for office can have no greater advantage than muddled syntax; no greater liability than a command of language.”
However, recent history shows that Barack Obama’s command of English (“articulate,” as Joe Biden would have it) did not prove to be a liability in any way. Trump’s English as a candidate was all too clear and direct for those who couldn’t stand him, but refreshing for his supporters.
But Hanson’s quotation really makes me think of a “Doonesbury” cartoon from 1980, a time when Ted Kennedy had decided to mount a doomed primary challenge against President Jimmy Carter.
The cartoon’s setting is a news conference in which candidate Kennedy (off-panel) is asked a question about the Afghanistan crisis. After two panels of “muddled syntax” a reporter pleads, “A verb, Senator, we need a verb!”
David Rathbun, Minneapolis
LANGUAGE, IMMIGRATION AND CHEER
You say ‘sugaring,’ I say ‘syruping,’ and go back whence you came
The April 8 letter writer who takes such umbrage at “maple syruping” should choose both his battles and his sources more carefully. It may be “sugaring” in Vermont, but “syruping” has been the usage in Minnesota for the 25 years I have lived here since moving from the Northeast. The first written appearance, according to the Oxford Living Dictionary, was in a 1970 budget for Sugarbrook, Ohio. Whether the letter writer’s spell-check likes it or not, it is standard usage. So, as he might say to one of those “illegal aliens” he also cannot abide, if he cannot master the local language, perhaps he should go back to where he came from.
Rich Furman, St. Paul