The Sun's editorial "Ethics 101" (Jan. 5) states the obvious about integrity in children but seems to dump responsibility for the problem on our education system.
However, integrity stems from ethical training - which comes from the home and the rest of the environment.
From their birth, children are constantly observing and learning from the world around them.
And one need only ask, "What do they see?" to understand why a lack of integrity abounds.
Children observe what passes for integrity from the top of countless organizations on down. And what do they observe about the consequences of unethical activities?
Simply that sometimes, only sometimes, people are caught - and even then, the consequences of their misdeeds may still be quite modest.
Simply put, integrity is doing what is right even when no one is watching.
Society's general lack of integrity is consuming countless resources that could more productively be used elsewhere.
Ethics 101? I don't think so.
Ethics is a kindergarten class that should be required of everyone.
It is completely understandable that our youths think cheating is OK. Just look at their role models.
In baseball, cheaters make millions and almost nothing is done. In football, the New England Patriots cheat, and the coach is fined. Then the coach and quarterback get rewarded and are named Coach of the Year and Most Valuable Player, respectively.
What should we expect from our youths when these individuals are rewarded by society for cheating?
Condoning misdeeds sends kids a signal
The Sun's editorial "Ethics 101" (Jan. 5) addresses what the paper describes as a "character deficit" - i.e., teenagers seeing no problem with cheating or lying. But such attitudes should be considered more than "troubling."
Adults should be instilling in our children the values of honesty and integrity every day by our words and example. Moreover, we should condemn the actions of those who do not set those examples.
Unfortunately, our business and community leaders often don't denounce cheating and dishonesty.
For instance, The Sun publicly opposed some sanctions against former President Bill Clinton for his admitted cheating and, far more egregious, his admitted lying while under oath to tell the truth.
How can our children be expected to uphold higher virtues when the message they have been taught is that cheating and lying by our nation's leader is OK and is condoned?
J. Shawn Alcarese
Trip to Middle East won't bring peace
The editorial "Substance, not smiles" (Jan. 7) is correct that President Bush's Middle East visit needs to be more than just a photo-op if there is to be any chance for an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement. Unfortunately, there are several indicators that the president's trip will be a wasted one.
First, Mr. Bush is obsessed with Iran. Even after the recent National Intelligence Estimate reported that Iran ended its nuclear weapons program in 2003, he still threatens hostile military action against that country.
Second, Mr. Bush refuses to pressure Israel into making peace and is unable to understand that Israel's brutal occupation of the Palestinians is the root cause of the region's violence.
Instead of promising Israel another $30 billion in U.S. aid over the next 10 years, as Mr. Bush recently did, he should have held back such an offer until a firm peace settlement is in place.
Israel doesn't want peace, and Mr. Bush always seems to do what Israel wants and demands.
Weekend balloting could boost turnout
In lamenting the usual low voter turnout in this country, I have often thought that non-voters get exactly what they deserve for letting a very small percentage of the population determine our leaders.
However, I am sympathetic to those who want to vote but simply cannot do so on a Tuesday, without hardship.
Many countries with much higher voter turnout rates hold elections on Sundays.
Should we give this a try?
Stephen L. Hecht
More clean needles would save lives
Thank you for your excellent editorial "More clean needles" (Jan. 8).
The efforts of the mostly volunteer-driven needle exchange programs around the country in helping stem the injection-drug user HIV epidemic are exemplary.
However, it is tragic that such an effective and inexpensive public health intervention remains grossly underfunded and unable to meet the full need 20 years after such programs first proved their efficacy.
The federal ban on syringe exchange increases the number of people who will become HIV-positive, and could be lifted with a stroke of a pen this year. Each year that passes, another 8,000 people are infected with HIV through sharing syringes.
All the Democratic presidential candidates have said they support lifting the ban; now it is time for Congress to take such a stand.
The writer is western director for the Harm Reduction Coalition.
Death penalty cruel, meted out unfairly
The death penalty is not only state-sanctioned murder but is applied by a criminal justice system rife with racial and economic inequalities, not to mention outright fraud by prosecutors, police and forensics officials bent on winning a conviction at any price, including ruining innocent lives.
The writer of the letter "Texas shows how to handle crime" (Dec. 28) should listen to those who have been exonerated after years of wrongful imprisonment and ruined lives - then see if he still thinks executions can solve any of the ills of our society.
Editorial integrity called into question
I've come to expect changes at The Sun, but New Year's Day brought a bombshell. The position of editorial page editor just disappeared.
A search revealed a short article in the business section, which announced that the editorial page would now be under the control of Sun Editor Tim Franklin in order to "streamline the management staff" ("Editor of The Sun's editorial page leaves," Dec. 14).
But don't we readers of the editorial page deserve to know more about the fact that one man now has absolute control over both news and opinion at The Sun? Doesn't giving one person the power to emphasize or omit a story throughout the entire paper limit the opportunity for public debate?
The editorial page was one of the last vestiges of The Sun's former greatness. Now it is suspect.