News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Letters

March 1, 2014

Readers’ Forum: March 2, 2014

Candle still burns at St. Ann’s Clinic

In the fall of 1997 an editorial in this newspaper about the opening of St. Ann’s Health Clinic was titled “A Candle in the Dark.” No one knew how long the clinic would be needed or last taking care of those without resources.

The clinic was an outreach of the Sisters of Providence who have been helping those in most need in this community since a group of six nuns first settled here in 1840. An unused building ,which had been a school and church , empty for many years, was transformed into a medical and, eventually, dental clinic that has served thousands from this community.

The support from so many volunteers, local industries, union workers, motorcycle clubs, veteran organizations, foundations, hospitals, laboratories, organizations, mental health center and health care professionals has truly been remarkable. Being at a recent dinner at Kramer Hall to see the thanks given to many of the volunteers was a very humbling experience.

Now, a new chapter begins as the clinic becomes a federally qualified health center whose mission will be to continue to serve the underserved. This status will help allow the clinic to serve this community for decades to come, although it will still need the help of donations for some time to come.

We want to thank all those who made this clinic possible and then continue to thrive. You know who you are. We also have to believe that the light from that candle will continue to shine brightly and that Saint Mother Theodore has to be smiling at the everyday miracle in Terre Haute of St. Ann’s Clinic.

— Dr. Randy Stevens and Dr. Jim Turner, St. Ann’s Clinic

Thanks to all at Sarah Scott

We have read with interest the concerns and challenges that must be addressed for the future of our most precious asset — our children. Our society preaches that teachers must be held accountable; however, teachers, parents and students need to be responsible if learning is to take place.

We must work together. Education cannot be “force fed.”

Our family has children attending Sarah Scott Middle School. The teachers are outstanding. They have always gone the extra mile to assist students and help them to meet their needs. As a family, we applaud the teaching staff and know our children are in good hands. Thank you, Sarah Scott teaching staff.

— Doris Williams, Terre Haute

How should we define marriage?

In recent months, this newspaper has printed several opinion pieces from its editorial board (and people on both sides of the argument) regarding changing the definition of marriage in Indiana. Some have stated very passionate reasons for their position on this issue. I appreciate having the Trib-Star so that I can read and learn from other people’s points of view.

Many individuals (and the editor) have stated concerns with the current definition of marriage: Discrimination, injustice, denying a sub-set of people the same rights given to everyone else, and marriage inequality, to name a few. There is one very important question that I have yet to see addressed by anyone who disagrees with the current marriage definition.

If the current one must be changed, what do they feel Indiana’s new definition of marriage should be? Obviously, that is a question that needs to be answered. I have only seen same-sex relationships mentioned. Do they, or do they not, think that other relationships deserve the same status. Should all of the other marriages banned by Indiana law also be included in the new definition? For example, are those who support inter-family marriage not also being discriminated against? How about the supporters of group marriage? Are these people (who think three, four, or even more people could all be married to each other) not a denied sub-set? Should they be included, too?

There are also those who would propose marriage definitions (that I won’t describe here) that people on both sides of this argument would find very offensive or maybe downright repulsive. Are all of these different relationships deserving of marriage equality? The truth is that the issue here is not about love, the validity of relationships, homosexuality or even religion. It is about what actually constitutes a marriage.

As I see it, there are three positions available regarding this issue: 1. We can keep the definition of marriage as it is and always has been. 2. We can accept the rhetoric used to support changing the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples only. Then we can continually try to explain in the courts how we are not lying hypocrites for not also recognizing all other proposed arrangements. 3. We can let every citizen call whatever they want a marriage and have the state recognize it as valid. I choose number one.

— Warren Brown, Rosedale

An argument of science and law

Since 1888, the Supreme Court has consistently held that marriage is a constitutionally protected fundamental right of every citizen. In the case of Loving v. Virginia (1967), the Supreme Court ruled that the powers of a state to regulate marriage are not unlimited. Specifically, the marriage laws of a state have to comply with the 14th Amendment. The marriage laws of a state have to apply equally and make available the same benefits of those marriage laws to every citizen of that state.

Preventing a person from exercising a fundamental right is discrimination. A group of citizens can be excluded from exercising such a right if it furthers a legitimate and rational state interest. In Loving v. Virginia, the Court ruled that such a group cannot be defined by race. The Supreme Court has also determined that such a group cannot be defined by sexual orientation. The affirmation of this began with the case Romer v. Evans (1996) and was fully affirmed in Lawrence v. Texas (2003) and again in United States v. Windsor (2013).

Sexual orientation is not a lifestyle choice. The professional stance of The American Psychological Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Medical Association, and The American Psychiatric Association is based on at least 81 peer-reviewed published research and professional papers dating from 1957 to 2013. Their stance is “that homosexuality and bisexuality are normal expressions of human sexuality and pose no inherent obstacle to leading a happy, healthy, and productive life, and that gay and lesbian people function well in the full array of social institutions and interpersonal relationships” (Amici Curiae, United States v. Windsor, pp. 8-9).

Sexual orientation does not determine parental fitness. “Assertions that heterosexual couples are better parents than same-sex couples, or that the children of lesbian or gay parents fare worse than children of heterosexual parents, are not supported by the cumulative scientific research in this area. Rather, the vast majority of scientific studies that have directly compared gay and lesbian parents with heterosexual parents has consistently shown that the former are as fit and capable parents as the latter and that their children are as psychologically healthy and well adjusted” (Amici Curiae, United States v. Windsor, pp. 18-19).

In Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court noted that regardless of how long a cherished definition has been held or how long an honored tradition has been practiced, such definitions and traditions do not empower the majority to use the government to force all citizens to obey and comply with those definitions and traditions and, consequently, squelch the constitutional rights of a minority. The Court said, “The issue is whether the majority may use the power of the State to enforce these views on the whole society through operation of the criminal law. ‘Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code.’”

The Court declared the following two-prong reasoning to be controlling and in doing so rejects procreation arguments: “First, the fact that the governing majority in a State has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason for upholding a law prohibiting the practice; … Second, individual decisions by married persons, concerning the intimacies of their physical relationship, even when not intended to produce offspring, are a form of ‘liberty’ protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

There is no constitutional, rational or objective basis for any person, because of their sexual orientation, to be rejected, excluded, stigmatized, discriminated against, or in any way have their constitutional rights denied or restricted. This is not personal opinion. This is science and the law.

— Douglas C. Sloan, Terre Haute

Chance to expand your knowledge

Are you curious as to how we got here? Ever think about Big Bang cosmology or the implications of quantum mechanics? Speaking of QM, do you get confused as to how the Copenhagen interpretation differs from the many-worlds interpretation? Ever scratch your head pondering Supersymmetric Grand Unified Theories? Have you purchased one of those “Cosmology for Dummies” tomes only to discover that it raises more questions than it answers?

Well, gentle reader, if that has been your misfortune you are in luck. One of this country’s foremost theoretical particle physicists, Stephen M. Barr, will be speaking at ISU’s University Hall on March 4. (Admission is free.) Professor Barr is a member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware and Director of its Bartol Research Institute.

It has been my good fortune to develop an online acquaintanceship with Professor Barr over the years. Admittedly, it’s a decidedly one-way relationship inasmuch as I’m usually peppering him with questions about complex (for me) concepts that are no doubt old hat to him.

Fortunately, Professor Barr is very adept at making such concepts understandable to laymen. Most of my queries receive a timely, even immediate response, though there have been occasions when I will receive the following: “Reg, do you really need to know this right now?”

That’s Stephen’s way of saying, “I’m busy, but I’ll get back to you.”

Sure enough, a day or so later I’ll receive another illuminating reply. It’s refreshing to encounter an individual who has such a thorough command of his subject. But what is even rarer, is a person willing to take the time to help less intellectually gifted individuals grasp formidable subjects that can be hellishly intimidating.

In addition to being one of the world’s top physicists, Professor Barr is well versed in medieval philosophy. And it is here where he is, in my opinion, at his best, as he weaves a fascinating survey of modern physics and its relationship to religion.

One of his books, Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, has been termed “an extended attack” on what Professor Barr calls “scientific materialism.” One reviewer describes it as “a stunning tour de force, a scientific and philosophical breakthrough.”

(This is not your father’s physics teacher.)

In his presentation Professor Barr will argue that the supposed conflict between science and religion has really been a conflict between scientific materialism and religion. He will then discuss “five great discoveries of the twentieth century, primarily in physics, and argue that they are more consonant with traditional theistic views of the cosmos and of human beings than with materialist philosophy.”

So rouse yourself from that rumpled recliner and get to ISU the evening of March 4. I assure you Professor Barr’s remarks and the lively Q&A that is sure to follow will prove much more interesting than reruns of Seinfeld.

— Reggie McConnell, Terre Haute

Excellent service from paper carrier

The reason for this letter is to comment on the service of one of the Tribune-Star’s carriers.

Sometimes it never crosses our mind about how the paper gets to us, but with the worst winter we’ve had in years, my neighbor and I have commented several times about how dependable she is and how she always lays the paper on the porch next to the door.

We were amazed, with the frigid temperatures, that she still was so faithful at getting the paper to us.

Her name is Vickie Snead and we feel she needs recognition for her hard work. We try to tip when we can but we wanted to inform you of her excellent service.

— Lola McCullough, Terre Haute

Central time zone makes more sense

It is time for state Sen. David Long, the Senate’s president, to bring up daylight-saving time and quit putting it on the back burner. It makes no sense to be in the Eastern time zone. Maybe someone in Indy just wanted to get in another round of golf.

The kids are going to school in the dark. It makes no sense to be on Eastern time when Indiana is a 1,000 miles away from the East Coast. To the senator and legislators, let’s go back to Central time zone.  

— Butch King, Terre Haute

Summer adult baseball league for all ages

Snow.

Cold.

Wind chill.

Ice.

Summertime. Warm sunny days. Green grass.

Baseball!

Yes, baseball, that icon of summer, that most American of pastimes. Pitchers and catchers have reported in the Major Leagues, college seasons have begun, high schoolers are throwing in the gyms and the MABL/MSBL is gearing up for another season.

What? MABL/MSBL, what is that?

The Men’s Adult Baseball League (MABL) and the Men’s Senior Baseball League (MSBL) is what that is. Men (and a few women) in leagues all over the United States and in many other countries are playing baseball again, under the auspices of the MABL/MSBL, a national organization that sanctions league play plus local, regional and national tournament play (the MABL/MSBL World Series draws more than 300 teams to Phoenix every year).

The MABL is for players 18 to 38 years of age, and the MSBL is mainly for players over 38, although some older players compete in the younger, or even in both, leagues. Many leagues are adding a 50-and-over division now.

And yes, it’s real hardball.

In Terre Haute, we play at the former South Babe Ruth diamonds, which are a quarter mile south of Bogey’s, west of the Fairgrounds. We have six teams in each division. Most games are on Sundays. This year a 50-and-over division will be added and will probably play Saturdays and maybe a few Sundays; 38 and 50 divisions use wood bats. Everyone bats, and there is free defensive substitution. Courtesy baserunners may be used for some players; otherwise, it’s regular baseball.

Our league is extremely well run by Dr. Darren Brucken, president.

We want you. Come out and play in the dirt with us. New players are the life blood of our league and are heartily welcomed, no matter what their skills may or may not be. We have guys who never played the game before they joined our league. It’s a competitive league for sure, but mostly we play for love of the game and our buddies in the dugout. We all realize there are no scouts in the stands and that we all have to go to work on Monday, so we have fun.

All of us old guys are excited about the 50 and over division. While some of us will continue in the 38 also, it will be lots of fun to play with our own (more or less) age group.

If you are 50 or over, we’d love to have you play with us. You don’t have to be “good,” so don’t be intimidated. If you were in our league before, come back. We have players from as far as Evansville, mid-Illinois, etc. It’s worth the drive to play hardball again.

Most teams have at least some sponsorship, which helps to lower cost to the players. We pay a fairly modest fee to cover league costs like balls, umpires, etc., but the league is a non-profit organization, so we don’t want you for your money. We just always want new players.

Check out our website for contact numbers and other stuff (THMSBL.com), or call me if you like at 812-448-3757.

— Dr. James E. Stephens, Brazil

Recognizing that all people matter

March is National Professional Social Work Month and this year’s theme is “All People Matter.” According to the National Association of Social Workers, the American social work profession has a 116-year commitment to improving social conditions and quality of life opportunities for everyone.

Additionally, social workers across the globe believe that all people have dignity and deserve respect. Social work professionals help people in their personal and interpersonal lives to achieve social improvement. They also pursue social change to benefit a wide variety of individuals, families and communities. Social workers believe in the importance of human relationships in civil society, and that each person has dignity and worth.

The Indiana State University Department of Social Work continues to grow its undergraduate and graduate programs. We recognize the commitment of others in our growth and take the time now to recognize that indeed, “All People Matter.” We recognize students in their pursuit of a degree in social work, faculty at Indiana State University who educate our students, university administration for their support of our growing program and community members who help train our students (consumers of services and supervisors of student interns) and participate in our advisory committees.

It is important to take time to recognize that all people really do matter around the globe, just ask a social worker.

— Peggy C. Weber, Associate Professor and Interim Chairperson Indiana State University, Department of Social Work

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    March 12, 2010

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