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A controversial cross at Camp Pendleton; California's overcrowded prisons; waterboarding as torture

November 15, 2011
  • Scott Radetski, left, Karen Mendoza, Jon Gross and Shannon Book, right, carry a cross to the top of a mountain at Camp Pendleton to honor Marines killed or wounded in combat. A fire destroyed the previous cross, and three of the seven people who put it in place have since been killed in Iraq. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Scott Radetski, left, Karen Mendoza, Jon Gross and Shannon Book, right,… (Rick Loomis, Los Angeles…)

Debating a cross

Re "Marines restore memorial to fallen comrades," Nov. 12

As a Christian and a patriotic American citizen, I am offended by the installation of a cross on government property.

Camp Pendleton is government-owned land, and the cross is intended as a memorial to "all military personnel sent to foreign lands." But a cross, the universal symbol of Christianity, is an inappropriate choice to pay tribute because not all military personnel are Christians. What memorial is offered to Jews, Muslims or atheists?

I favor a memorial to our military, but it should be non-religious. The line separating religion from government in America has become dangerously blurred lately.

The photo evokes memories of Iwo Jima. That's offensive.

Carolyn Gordon

Van Nuys

Come on, radical lefties! Come on, ardent secularists! Come on, rights-defending ACLU! Bring on all your letters protesting the raising of this "unfair" Christian symbol on federal land, honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country in the Marine Corps.

I await your ongoing pettiness, this week after Veterans Day.

Jeffrey Jagels

La Cañada Flintridge

I am offended that once again Marines at Camp Pendleton have chosen the cross as a symbol to honor their fallen.

During World War II, my uncle, Ted Myers, was killed in action in Europe. He was a 28-year-old Jewish second lieutenant, and for his bravery he received the Purple Heart.

Jews and people of many other faiths have died defending our country. None of them are honored by a cross, including Uncle Ted.

Joan Walston

Santa Monica

No simple solution on jails

Re "Jails may run out of room within weeks," Nov. 11

According to The Times' analysis, 16 people out of the more than 150,000 released early from Los Angeles County jails were subsequently charged with murder during the period covered by their original sentences.

Is it reasonable to believe that keeping those 16, along with the 149,984 others in jail for their full terms, would have improved public safety? It's far more likely that additional time in overcrowded, violence-filled jails would turn many nonviolent offenders into violent ones.

A majority of those jailed have substance abuse or mental illness problems. Treating these as the public health issues they are — preferably outside of jail, but inside if necessary — is a smart way to improve public safety.

Elizabeth Wall Ralston

Los Angeles

I don't understand L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley. He rails at Gov. Jerry Brown's solution to the federal court order on prison overcrowding, which is to keep the most serious felons in state prison and bump the lesser ones down to county jail, thus resulting in the release of only those inmates convicted of the least serious offenses.

Should we instead release the most violent from state prison? And didn't Cooley's office ask for Conrad Murray to be jailed before sentencing? What was he afraid of?

Robert S. Henry

San Gabriel

Penn State's scandal

Re "Why did they do nothing?," Column, Nov. 12

While we will have to wait until the investigations into the Penn State child molestation scandal determine what happened, Sandy Banks correctly questions the patriarchal system of silence in place. She also points out that campus officials have been long aware of the allegations but that none came forward.

This old-boy network apparently had little concern for the child allegedly harmed, only with protecting each other.

I am reminded of the quote attributed to Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Bob Ladendorf

Los Angeles

There is more than a culture of silence about rape in sports. There is a culture of minimizing it.

The words referring to virtually all forms of sexual activity, which also include power, are used constantly as insults. The slang terms for sexual abuse are part of locker-room banter. I cannot use the words because so many are obscene, but people know them.

The result is not taking sexual abuse seriously. It is a way of teasing, not an actual crime.

Cynthia Helphrey

Duarte

Decision, please

Re "Deficit panel may put off a deal," Nov. 12

Our congressional leaders formed a special Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to put to rest once and for all what to do about this nation's deficit crisis. The "goal" was set for Nov. 23.

But now, this courageous committee wants to put off any real tax hikes or revenue enhancements until after the 2012 election — another charade to preserve their jobs.

The electorate deserves better — better government, better leadership and better elected officials than this spineless crop. And they wonder why their approval ratings are so low.

Patrick Lewandowski

Valencia

It's torture

Re "Perry seizes chance to rebound," Nov. 13

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