A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.

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Parsing privacy

Too many loopholes, too little logic

Editor, The Times:

Man alive! I’m glad my kids are grown. If parents aren’t allowed to monitor their teenagers’ activities, I guess we should not be hearing any more about parents being prosecuted for their children’s delinquent behavior (“Court: No eavesdropping, Mom,” Local News, Dec. 10).

Parents are told to monitor their children’s Internet activity. Will that be considered “snooping and invading privacy” as well?

I know many of us had harsh judgments for the parents of the perpetrators of the Columbine incident. “Didn’t they know what their children were doing?” Under our law, would it be “snooping and invading privacy” to enter a child’s room and discover firearms and threatening material? It seems the courts tie the parents’ hands and then blame the parents when things go very wrong.

I don’t wonder that many young people have so little respect for the law. Ask them; they’ll tell you the purse snatcher deserves his punishment. Unfortunately, the process seems to be more about loopholes and angles rather than justice.
— Ann Chessman, Seattle

An assignment

The unanimous state Supreme Court decision regarding phone-call privacy gives an assignment to the Legislature. The Legislature wrote the current law, which this decision shows is overly restrictive. It’s time to give back parents’ rights to raise their kids. Changing the law so that a parent has the right to monitor their kids’ conversations would be a good first step.
— Gregg Sorensen, Kent

Privilege, not a right

Nonsense. Children do not have a right to privacy from their parents or guardians. A child’s privacy is a privilege. It is earned by responsible behavior, and it is lost by irresponsible behavior.

The more responsible the child, the more privacy that should be granted by the parent. But the parent is responsible for the actions of the child, both legally and ethically, hence the parent must have the right to monitor behavior in order to exercise oversight and to intervene when appropriate to ensure the child’s safety and proper behavior.
— George Coulbourn, Black Diamond

Need for safety trumps other concerns

The girl in this case was 14 years old at the time, and the boy was 17. Attorney Douglas Klunder, who filed a brief supporting the boy, Oliver Christensen, says, “I don’t think the state should be in the position of encouraging parents to act surreptitiously and eavesdrop on their children.” Parents can find other ways to control their teenagers, he noted: “They can restrict the use of the telephone, for example.”

What an arrogant bonehead. If the girl knew her mother was listening, she would just wait and talk with the boy in private or she would just go to a friend’s house and use the phone there.

The only way the mom was going to be able provide oversight for her “out of control” kid was to act surreptitiously. This statute is unbelievable. What if the kid was planning to run away with the boy, and she ended up in another town caught up in drugs and prostitution and then maybe dead? Would the arrogant Mr. Klunder feel he was still doing the right thing then?

Doesn’t the need for parents to keep their child safe trump the right to privacy? If the parents of the Columbine shooters had known what their kids were planning, that tragedy might have been avoided.
— David Orbits, Redmond

Majority rules

In matters of religion, when in Thailand …

Danny Westneat has written yet another kind and compassionate column, “Bridging a holiday divide” (Dec. 10). I’m starting to really like his columns. If more liberals would say a nice thing or two about Christianity, they might actually win elections.

However, I would like to respond to the reader in his column who argued that it would be offensive to say “Buddha is the center of my being.” This is a perfect example of the left using minority views to force the majority to shut up. The fact is, Buddhism is a tiny minority in America.

The vast majority of taxpayers are Christian, or at least theist. We are censored from public schools because we might “offend” some tiny minority. Yeah, I guess it is better to offend and terrorize the vast majority. If I lived in an overwhelmingly Buddhist country, like Thailand or Laos, I would not demand that they put up Christian symbols in public.

But I guess that’s because I would respect the feelings of the majority. I am tolerant and not bigoted against majoritarian feelings.
— Tim Clark, Bellevue

Volunteer or not?

A matter of coercion

It has been interesting to notice the problems developing in the military as the country fights our first large-scale war with an “all-volunteer” army. When soldiers are drafted, there is coercion involved from the beginning. When young people volunteer for a military life, they have been promised a career with certain benefits (education, etc.). Reservists expect limitations to their time in active duty — say one year in the battle zone.

Being a peacetime soldier is one thing; serving in Iraq is another. One unit in Iraq refused an order to deliver supplies, saying the task was too dangerous. Some reservists are in court to avoid returning to Iraq after one tour. Recently a soldier questioned the secretary of defense about the lack of armor for vehicles.

With plans for a larger army, many question whether there will be new “volunteers” to fill the new units or refill the old ones. Current extensions of tours are already being called a draft of a sort.

At what point will we face a shortfall of willing “volunteers” for our “all-volunteer” army, and what shall we do then?
— Ellen Squillace, Shoreline

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Caffeine charity

Helping a cup at a time

To all you businessmen and businesswomen who work in the Land of Latte: Thousands of you spend $2 to $6 or $7, every day, on your daily Starbucks, Tully’s or Seattle’s Best Coffee and accompanying pastry. Since it is the holidays, take a day to fast from caffeine and sweets and stick those dollar bills in the bucket of a charity volunteer on the streets of downtown Seattle.

These organizations work with wholesale grocers to buy foods in bulk that can be spread over the greatest number of people for the lowest price possible. One dollar can go so far as to pay for 6 pounds of food. So, if every high-rise worker gave up their morning cup for just one day and instead gave the money to these charities, think of how many meals would be given to those in need.
— Emily Johnson, Kent

Amendment alternatives

Giving Bush gift of time

There seems to be quite a movement afoot for an amendment to the Constitution that would make it possible for a foreign-born person to be elected president. The assumption among my contemporaries is that this is aimed at the “governator” of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. While he could indeed be a worthy candidate, and there may be others out there who might fill the bill, allow me to make an alternative suggestion:

Why not repeal the 22nd Amendment (limiting a president to two terms) so that George W. Bush has time to complete the missions he has embarked upon — winning the war in Iraq and democratizing the rest of the world, one Axis (singular/plural?) at a time. We can only hope that, by this action, we will also have encouraged him to continue his assault upon the economy, the environment and the future of our young people.
— James King, Edmonds