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Newsday letters to the editor for Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A demonstrator stands next to an empty pedestal

A demonstrator stands next to an empty pedestal after workers removed the statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims from Central Park on April 17. Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Thomas Urbain

Legal marijuana will lead to unsafe roads

I am against the legalization of marijuana for recreational use proposed by Sen. Chuck Schumer and being considered by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo [“Legal pot is rolling in,” Editorial, April 29].

Schumer said, “If smoking marijuana doesn’t hurt anybody else, why shouldn’t we allow people to do it and not make it criminal?”

I would remind the senator that alcohol is legal. Driving while intoxicated is most certainly not, yet people are injured and killed by drunken drivers all the time. Keeping marijuana illegal at least stops more open use and acts as a deterrent for some.

Cuomo supports Schumer’s bill to decriminalize marijuana. I am shocked that Schumer and Cuomo are willing to chance someone feeling he or she is OK to drive after inhaling a “legal” substance.

I am against allowing yet another legal way to impair the ability of people on the roads where I and people I love and care about also drive.

Michele Brass,Bethpage

No! Marijuana slows your reactions and will cause auto accidents. If you think people will not smoke it when driving, you are on another planet. I knew many people who smoked it, and the majority were in auto accidents from minor to major. Think first!

Joseph Taormina,Levittown

Dr. J. Marion Sims, monster or pioneer?

Columnist Cathy Young’s defense of J. Marion Sims relies on a very partial reading of the historical record [“21st century lens can distort history,” Opinion, April 24].

His experiments in the South on enslaved women without anesthesia were just the beginning. In New York, his subjects included destitute, mostly Irish, immigrant women. In packed medical theaters, using Barnum-like theatrics, he performed operations — with anesthesia this time — with no discernible purpose: ovariotomies to cure epilepsy? A “uterine guillotine” for amputating the head of the cervix? “Splitting” the cervix for infertility?

As his reputation grew, his clientele grew more elite. Daughters of the wealthy were among those subjected to his “cures.” For vaginismus, a condition of his invention in which the vagina was too tight for easy entry, he performed hymenectomies. For “frigidity,” he administered anesthesia facilitating marital rape. For nymphomania: the clitoridectomy. All fully documented in Sims’ own words and biography.

Yes, curing fistula was indeed a service to humanity, but despite his public reputation and the fact that he has no lack of defenders even today, Sims appears to have been a monster. Was he as bad as Josef Mengele? Perhaps not, but a statue is certainly not how he should be remembered.

Kendra Hamilton,Clinton, S.C.

Editor’s note: The writer is an assistant professor of English and director of Southern studies at Presbyterian College in Clinton.

There was irony in Cathy Young’s column about the removal of the statue of J. Marion Sims. Young is a contributing editor to Reason magazine, and reason is precisely what is missing from this debate.

While there is little question that when viewed through the 20-20 hindsight of history, the surgeries that Sims performed on African-American women without anesthesia can be viewed as both inhumane and racist, there is also little question about the huge contributions he made to medicine.

Young makes a cogent point when she asks, “Are we moving from a simplistic idealization of past figures to an equally simplistic demonization?” Her suggestion about recognizing Sims’ patients provides an excellent compromise. There needs to be some balance in the discussion, but as it seems with virtually every issue today, balance and reason have been replaced by blind one-sidedness.

Arthur M. Shatz,Oakland Gardens

Journalists risk much to report the truth

In reading of the killings of nine journalists in Afghanistan by an Islamic State suicide bomber, I’m reminded of the risk these professionals put themselves in out of their passion to get the world’s stories to the public [“Journalists killed in bombings,” News, May 1].

Without these brave men and women, we would be living in a vacuum of information. Their dedication should be appreciated by the free world and never taken for granted, but always supported.

Diane McGuire,Northport

How Long Islanders can help reduce litter

I agree with the letter writer who expressed dismay about road and neighborhood litter [“Why so much litter on our roadways,” Just Sayin’, April 28]. I also agree that we pay some of the highest taxes in the country. But I disagree that it is the government’s responsibility to pick up the trash on our streets.

Long Island residents need to become responsible and not discard trash out car windows, thinking someone else will pick it up. We need to be proactive and spend a little time cleaning up our neighborhoods. If we all pick up just a few pieces each day, Long Island will be a more beautiful place to live.

Tony Fleck,