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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, March 03, 2019 1:00 am

Letters to the editor

Indiana Senate again fails its citizens

“INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana's state Senate has removed sexual orientation, gender identity, race and a list of other characteristics from a hate crimes bill.”

On Feb. 19, the state Senate failed its citizens once again.

After watching the hate crimes bill pass successfully from committee, I had hope. It was short lived.

What many in our fine state can't seem to grasp is that not everyone is treated as equally as they are. I will grant for many it's a hard concept to grasp, as it's their “normal.” I can tell you from experience I was treated one way in society when I was viewed as a white man for 26 years. I am viewed and treated a different way by society over the past 30 years as a woman.

For one, I am much more concerned for my personal safety. The days of transition, when I was sometimes recognized as transsexual, I was treated the worst. I was spit at, threatened with physical violence for smiling at a child who was happily playing with his mother. I was called names I can't put in print, just because something seemed off in my appearance to the other person. I've had conversations interrupted in public so someone could “out me” and put me at risk. At work (in a power plant), I would have things dropped at me from overhead.

But it goes beyond me. It also puts cisgender women at risk. I watched a friend who was rather masculine be challenged in a woman's restroom because the individual thought she was transgender. Why? Simply because she did not look feminine enough in jeans, T-shirt and a ball cap.

A hate crime is not just about the individual. It's a message to the community that you are not welcome. A message that you do not belong here.

Indiana has one of the worst ratings for LGBTQ people in the country. It costs us business talent and productivity. It's hard to give your all to your employer when you have to hide who you are. It also makes you think twice about accepting a job offer in Indiana. In an ideal world there would be no need for a hate crime bill, but we do not live in an ideal world.

Melissa Damerell

Fort Wayne

Tragedy a reminder of need for gratitude

Sometimes I read something that makes me take notice. It will nudge me just enough to realize how fortunate my life is and how precious the most simplest things in life truly are.

This happened to me as I was enjoying my cup of coffee, reading The Journal Gazette in my wonderful little cozy kitchen like I do every morning,  anticipating nothing more than maybe some exciting updates on the new riverfront plans or a few interesting obituaries (yes, I read them, and, yes, they can be quite fascinating – some people live extraordinary lives).

But then I saw it – the unfathomable, the inconceivable, even more so for all of the parents out there, and it literally took my breath away.

It was the article about the two siblings who tragically lost their lives in icy road conditions. I thought about their families and the suffering and the anger they must be feeling.

At that very second, my beautiful daughter Ellie said: “Mom, guess what day it is – It's Brussels sprouts day”!

Normally, I would say “Oh please, not today. Wait to cook them until I will be out of the house for at least 12 hours or so.”

This day was different, though. I will be fine. More than fine, I will be thankful.

As life moves forward, let's all keep in mind how wonderful our lives are, even if your trash bin has to sit on the curb a few extra days or you're sitting in road construction wondering why it seems Fort Wayne does every road at the same time (they really don't do it to annoy us, I am sure of that) or if you have to shovel snow again for the umpteenth time (it is winter if you have forgotten). Take a deep breath and be thankful.

Because the unthinkable reality is it could've been one of our families enduring that horrible loss.

Christine N. Miller

Fort Wayne 

Right mix of socialism would improve US life

I am writing in response to the Los Angeles Times editorial “Good reasons to ignore GOP wolf-cry of 'socialism' ” of Feb. 21.

Most Americans older than 30 can remember the time when the USSR existed. These people can remember photos in newspapers and magazines taken looking toward the east side of Berlin, along the wall the Russian government constructed, dividing that German city. It looked bleak and deserted in comparison to the western side.

The editorial provided an excellent definition of a true socialist government as one that “takes over the means of production in a country, owning all the factories, employing all the workers and dictating prices and wages.”

I remember seeing evidence of the failure of the Soviet system of socialism in pictures of bare shelves in Russian grocery stores and the gaunt faces of the customers in them.

The editorial cites the partially socialistic stance the government has taken toward programs such as Social Security, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, all of which were favored by the majority of the U.S. population and became law despite the cries of “That's socialism!” by the opponents of these programs.

It is time for the United States to adopt a democratic socialist stance to broaden programs that are beneficial to all of our citizens – Medicare for all, addressing climate change, providing free college educations to those who wish to participate, and finally really addressing our deplorable infrastructure needs.

I believe people who cry “wolf” to the idea of programs that sound socialistic are equating “socialism” to the definition provided in the editorial, and by extension think we will fall into the Soviet model.

There are plenty of examples of democratic socialism the U.S. can emulate. Countries in the European Union (including the Scandinavian countries) and Canada have successfully incorporated free tuition, free health care, and solid practices addressing their infrastructure needs.

We don't need to fear adapting a more democratic socialistic outlook in this country. We can achieve a proper mix of capitalism and socialism while retaining our democracy.

John M. Watson

Fort Wayne

Fear-mongering no substitute for vetting

In December we learned that a number of undocumented immigrants have been working at the president's golf club in New Jersey. His staff evidently found them to be at least equal to native-born workers in their ability and willingness to work.

I don't have as much trouble with that as I do with the hypocrisy of the president's pronouncements. He is telling Americans these people are rapists, murderers, drug dealers, human traffickers, etc. I have a friend who put out a message on Facebook asking why anyone wouldn't believe in the need for a wall to protect our lives from these people. While the use of fear may be a potent political tool, it drives people apart.

The use of a “national emergency” on our southern border seems an attempt to stoke fears and appear to his base to be tough on immigration. Actually, according to Customs and Border Protection, there were more than four times as many people apprehended on the southern border in 2000 than last year. Among undocumented people in the U.S., the number who overstayed their visas has outnumbered those who crossed the border every year since 2007. We do have some national emergencies, but not having a wall all along our southern border isn't one of them.

Does the president's base not realize that labeling a group of people as immoral, criminal, etc. is the very definition of racism? And yes, there have been individuals who have broken the law and done some terrible things, but as was demonstrated by the Cato Institute's study of people in Texas, “Criminal convictions and arrest rates for immigrants were well below that of native Americans.”

The U.S. is entering a period where our population is aging and we need younger workers to help support the system. Talk to someone in the farming industry about what would happen to them if all undocumented workers were expelled. I have no problem with vetting people who come in, but please, no fear-mongering at the expense of any group of people.

Dean Beery

North Manchester