Prosecute animal abusers

If you think the rampant animal abuse and torture occurring in St. Louis doesn't affect you, think again.

Overwhelming evidence shows that human abusers, murderers or violent criminals began their first abuse on animals. A study by Boston's Northeastern University and the Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found 70 percent of all animal abusers have committed at least one other crime, and that 40 percent had committed violent crimes against humans. Studies also found that a history of animal abuse was found in 25 percent of male criminals, 30 percent of convicted child molesters, 36 percent of domestic violence cases and 46 percent of homicide cases. And 30 percent of convicted child molesters and 48 percent of convicted rapists admitted animal cruelty in their childhood.

In 2000, 7 percent of animal cruelty cases involved child abuse. The perpetrators either abused the children or forced them to witness cruelty to animals. Thirteen percent of animal cruelty cases involved domestic abuse.

Reporting, investigating and prosecuting animal cruelty can help take dangerous criminals off the streets. You can help stop the cycle of violence by recognizing that animal abuse is an indicator of serious problems. Reporting animal abuse can help authorities stop other types of violence, and vice versa. Encouraging law enforcement and prosecutors to take crimes against animals seriously is the key to creating safer communities.

Connie Davie • Creve Coeur

Animal Shelter Volunteer

Love and acceptance

Regarding "Bisexual pastor, softball don't mix for churches" (May 16): If the remark by the Rev. Ben Kingston, Bethel Baptist pastor, that his church "calls its softball league a Christian league and, if we call ourselves that, we want to be that" weren't so sad, it might be frightening. Where does he get the idea that Jesus was a homophobe or preached anything but love and acceptance? As Mark Twain once said, "If Christ were alive today, he wouldn't be a Christian." I, for one, would not want to be a part of any heaven that accepts such bigoted souls.

Anne O'Connell • Chesterfield

Separate marriage from civil union

Kathleen Parker identifies a significant term in her column "Evolution of a narrative" (May 15), about President Barack Obama and same-sex marriage. In her review of the president, Ms. Parker writes that same-sex marriage is a legal contract wherein treatment for all Americans should be the same.

Marriage is an event that has its origin in religion. Governmental entities usurped marriage for means of health, taxation and census statistics. The voluntary joining of two people in marriage occurs in a religious environment. The event recorded at the courthouse is a legal contract. If the parties in that contract decide to break that contract, their attorneys present arguments before a civil judge. A civil divorce judgment is rendered. They do not take their divorce to a church.

Please separate marriage from civil union. Marriage is an agreement, or contract, that brings God and faith into the union about to be formed. Civil unions are agreements or contracts created and entered into by men and women. God is not involved with civil unions. Governments may accept and record the civil union that occurs between members of the same sex, but some religions never will conduct a marriage of same-sex individuals.

I strongly advocate that the terms marriage and civil union be separated forever. Marriage is a religious event, or sacrament; civil unions are secular, governmental events.

Karl Zickler • St. Louis County

Put a helmet on it

A recent letter warned about youth sports-related concussions. Adults sustain concussions, too.

Recently, my husband, a bicycle commuter for nearly 20 years, had a nasty accident. Miraculously, his bike and his bones came out unscathed. His helmeted head, however, wasn't quite as lucky, as it took the brunt of the impact. Consequently, he sustained a severe concussion, the full repercussions of which are not yet known. After seeing his shattered helmet, I am certain I would be a widow had he not been wearing it.

It seems we eschew helmets for many reasons: vanity, hubris, a sense of invincibility, wanting to feel the "wind in our hair." We need to put all of that behind us. Buy a helmet. Wear a helmet. Save a life.

Melissa E. Miller • St. Louis

Soda tax should be considered

I commend the effort in educating the masses on the seriousness of obesity. Recent data form the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicates that overall obesity rates among adults and children seem to be leveling off. Still, the numbers are alarming because nearly 32 percent of children ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese.

A study by Project Hope finds that a tax on soda would not substantially affect soda sales, but that is true only for children from moderate- and high-income families. For children from low-income families, soda consumption could be decreased by removing soda from food stamp eligibility.

Obesity eradication requires a series of control measures, including a suggested tax on products, such as soda, with excessive calories.

Let's not feel sorry for manufactures of high-caloric beverages that might be experiencing declines in sales. Eliminating sugar-rich beverages would not necessarily mean that we are demonizing these nutrients. The only balance in the energy equation is to expend excess calories through physical activity or limit the calories that enter the body.

This is a serious national problem, and all options should be on the table. A soda tax would discourage some purchases. Though taxes on addictive products do not necessarily lead to a large decline in purchases at all times, there is a noticeable decline. A tax in this case is a form of constructive reinforcement, although it may not be appreciated by consumers.

Timothy Makubuya • St. Louis

Department of Physical Education, University of Missouri-St. Louis

Now, wake up the president

The editorial "Malefactors" (May 16) blames "the nation" for being "more engrossed" in then-President Bill Clinton's affair with an intern than his signing the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, a very successful banking regulation that had existed since the 1930s.

The Post-Dispatch was doing the same thing it now is accusing "the nation" of doing: focusing on the affair. Instead of blaming "the nation" or us, why not blame Mr. Clinton for messing with a young intern and for signing into law such disastrous legislation?

Place the blame where it belongs, starting with the Post-Dispatch editorial board, which was defending Mr. Clinton whenever possible. Where was the Post-Dispatch when North American Free Trade Agreement was signed into law? It has been devastating for U.S. middle-class manufacturing jobs.

The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal warned about the disastrous repeal of Glass-Steagall and spent years warning of the dangers of unregulated derivatives and federal guarantees to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. All these combined to create the debt bubble that exploded in 2008. Unlike the Post-Dispatch, others were warning about serious errors being committed during the Clinton administration.

The editorial concludes with a suggestion for a campaign slogan: "Bring back Glass-Steagall." Please send this to President Barack Obama's reelection committee. Mr. Obama has had four years to do the simplest thing. Instead of a new and weak Dodd-Frank bill, he could have worked to reinstitute Glass-Steagall. Three-and-a-half years into the Obama administration, a large bank like JPMorgan still can be reckless.

I'm glad the Post-Dispatch has woken up. Now do Americans a good service and wake up Mr. Obama.

Michael Sertich • Marlborough