Letters to the Editor

Readers share views on body cameras, Gov. Sam Brownback and violence in Mexico

Body camera folly

I’m not sure adding body cameras on police officers’ uniforms to record encounters with the public will accomplish anything.

Recorded on camera was professional football player Ray Rice, who knocked out his wife with a wicked hook to her jaw in a casino elevator and who was reinstated in the National Football League by a judge.

Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson, another NFL player, who disciplined his child with a “switch,” and then-Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot Michael Brown, have both lost their careers with no recorded evidence.

It just shows how naive passion, preconceived opinions and a distortion of facts by the media can turn monsters into people and people into monsters.

Terry Kliethermes


Brownback’s delusion

I was incredulous as I was reading about Gov. Sam Brownback’s inaugural speech in The Star (1-13, A4, “‘Crisis of the family’ cited”).

The biggest challenges facing the state are cultural and moral? I thought the state had a budget crisis, credit-rating issues and inadequately funded public schools.

The governor talked about “family values” and “social issues.” What are family values?

How does he define family? A husband, wife and two kids?

He mentioned protecting “the weakest” of our citizens. What about people who are disabled and had their benefits cut through KanCare?

Brownback continues to blame “big government” for people who are struggling economically. What about Kansas’ decision not to expand Medicaid to people who don’t make enough to qualify for subsidies?

And, finally, I’m not sure I understand how “Native Americans hunting buffalo” is a guide in how to deal with today’s challenges.

The Native Americans did not fare very well.

Susie Rawlings


Violence in Mexico

It was touching to see world leaders and millions of citizens around the world join to protest violent extremism in Paris (1-12, A2, “World leaders join Paris rally”).

I can’t help but wonder, however, why the apparent massacre of 43 education students in Mexico a few months ago has not gotten anything like this response.

Are some lives worth more than others? Do we care more about Europe than what happens in a nation right next to the United States?

Shouldn’t the constant ongoing drug violence concern us every bit as much as religious fanaticism?

Don H. Compier


Gun shop hero

Jon Bieker is a hero (1-12, A1, “Suspects facing murder charges”). He died after a gunbattle with four robbers who assaulted his wife and tried to rob him Jan. 9 in Shawnee.

He is remembered as a kind and gentle man by his family and those who knew him.

But he is more than that.

He protected his wife and stood up to evil. He is a hero and should be so recognized by the entire Kansas City community.

We need more men like Jon Bieker.

God bless his family, and may his soul rest in peace.

Robert Stumpenhaus


Voting realities

Increasing voter registration among minorities would not change the formula for power. That sounds like a reasonable avenue to pursue, but it runs afoul of political reality.

Gerrymandering is manipulating voting districts to achieve an advantage of one party over another.

This process has been occurring for years to ensure that majority-minority districts are created that essentially hinder a particular demographic, such as a racial, religious or class group, so that federal voting district boundaries include a majority of constituents who are Democratic.

Increasing voters in these districts would not change the representation in Congress because each district gets only one representative, regardless of the actual number of voters per district.

Another impediment is our party system. By tradition, there exists a well-regulated state process that sanctions a candidacy or issue as legal for balloting purposes.

To engender change within this system, registered minorities would have to physically move from a blue district into a red district in enough numbers to affect the outcome. These movers would have to insinuate their way into the party system in order to proffer an alternative candidate.

Racism is political, not cultural.

Paul Struxness

Kansas City

Republican magic

The majority of voters in November’s elections missed some things.

First, a progressive Democratic agenda has brought our economy back from the edge of collapse while cutting the deficit in half (from 2008), stopping spiraling gas prices, decreasing unemployment and rallying the stock market.

Second, the GOP agenda drove our economy into a ditch in 2008, and previously in 1929. Yet, GOP voters, on an unwarranted anti-President Barack Obama rampage, gave the GOP a green light to re-energize its agenda.

That agenda includes:

1) Rolling back the middle-class and social-safety nets.

2) Deregulating the financial industry.

3) Reducing and privatizing Social Security and Medicare.

4) Eliminating subsidies to agriculture, education and defense.

5) Cutting aid to the disabled, at-risk youth and early childhood development. (“Who Stole The American Dream,” Hedrick Smith, 2012)

“Although you won’t find it in their platform, the GOP’s mission is to protect and further enrich America’s plutocracy.” (“The Party Is Over,” Mike Lofgren, 2012)

The GOP won by getting voters to vote against their own interests — without offering a solution to anything. Republican-leaning voters obviously missed that.

James W. McBride

Rolla, Mo.

Meat consumption

I enjoy reading Cindy Hoedel’s essays and hope to do so for many years to come. For that reason, I wish she would choose to eat less meat, not more (1-11, Star Magazine, “I love red meat and science says it’s OK”).

The “evidence” that Nina Teicholz presents about fat in her book, “The Big Fat Surprise,” is not as definitive as Hoedel suggests. For example, for years Dr. Dean Ornish has provided data that a plant-based diet can reverse heart disease.

Furthermore, Hoedel does not address other health consequences of eating meat. Meat eaters have higher rates of colon cancer, and to question the oxidation of vegetable oils without acknowledging the evidence that grilling meat at high temperatures creates carcinogens seems disingenuous.

Health issues aside, raising livestock consumes enormous quantities of water, requires a large amount of land and creates dangerous levels of methane, and thus meat is not a sustainable source of protein for the world’s population.

If you choose to eat meat, by all means, enjoy it. I’m not advocating that people totally remove it from their diets. However, I would ask you to consider cutting back on your meat consumption at least a little, for your own health and the health of the planet.

Jennifer Halling


Value state workers

I have been a state employee for six years. I started at the Kansas Veterans Home in Winfield, Kan., when I was 18.

I used to love my job. When I started, we were fully staffed every day. Employees used to be happy as well.

We are so overworked because of short-staffing that people are either hurting themselves or working themselves ragged with overtime. I pull doubles quite a bit, and that’s hard with a fiancée, a 2-year-old and nursing school on your hands.

I also have yet to receive a raise in my six years. In fact, I make less now because I had to switch to first shift because of my son. I’m not trying to sound greedy, but not one raise in six years?

I have been a faithful employee who rarely takes a sick or vacation day. It’s not like I could use one of my days anyway because we are so short-staffed.

How dare anyone say that state employees are a problem? How can anybody working be a problem?

Amanda Neal

Winfield, Kan.