The editorial ``Message to Drug Users'' April 1, simply sloughs off the use of drugs by students at the University of Virginia, calling them ``silly college students.'' Yet I firmly believe the majority of Americans see the use of drugs - illegal or not - as a serious problem for our country. It is a waste of money, and a waste of human beings. It does little good to punish the drug kingpins; as soon as one is jailed, another pops up to take his place. These people are simply reacting to a demand. To punish them may make our society feel satisfied, but the real criminals are the people who use the drugs, the consumer.
Punishing people who participate in the drug trade is similar to punishing the people who kill elephants for their ivory; it is satisfying to society, but does little to solve the problem. What must be done, in both cases, is to eliminate demand for the end product. No demand, no supply, simple as that.
Donald Bradley, Plainfield, N.H.
Millions of Americans, many of whom are now in positions of responsibility, experimented in their youth with mind-altering substances, apparently without too much harm. Many of these adults probably see nothing wrong with their earlier days of searching for a deeper, meaningful understanding of themselves and this mysterious world in which we find ourselves. As long as we treat the symptom, which is a nation searching through substance abuse for some grander significance to life, instead of the cause, which is a cancer-like materialistic pettiness invading every aspect of our lives, this will continue to be a hypocritical nation.
Darryl Centers, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Hold public officials accountable The exclusionary rules defended by the editorial ``Far From Harmless,'' March 29, are based on two fallacious premises: 1) that someone who obtains or uses improperly acquired evidence, rather than society at large, is the one who is punished when an otherwise valid conviction is overturned; 2) that a criminal who becomes the victim of a crime committed by those charged with upholding the law is entitled to some special consideration to which victims of other crimes are not entitled.
I think we can all agree that our society should be free of the scourge of coerced confessions and similar medieval practices. Public officials who resort to these practices are themselves common criminals. From our law-enforcement officials, as a minimum, we are entitled to scrupulous compliance with the law. We should establish and support institutions that will see to it that they are promptly relieved of their duties and punished severely when they abuse their office.
The growth of crime during the past four decades proves that letting other criminals go free is not the right way to solve the problem.
Klaus Kubierschky, N. Reading, Mass.
Spring break change of pace Regarding the article ``Spring Break: Sun, Sand - and Beer,'' April 3: How heartening to hear of college students doing community service work during spring break instead of sun, sand, and beer. Let's hope they start a trend toward volunteering. Young people have so much more to give and to do their part. They are needed.
Nancy Leussler, Milwaukee
Dump dwellers give new perspective Regarding the article ``A Manila Trash Heap Called Home,'' April 4: I sat in my comfortable easy chair this evening lamenting my unemployment. I was bitter about my situation and angry with President Bush for his shameful waste of world resources, squandering them to free a repressive monarchy from a cruel dictatorship, all in the name of democracy. I picked up the Monitor, hoping for some good economic news, when the story on Manila's Smokey Mountain trash dump caught my attention. My heart was t ouched by the pictures of the children who were growing up on this putrid pile of filth.
I will find another job and continue to enjoy our wonderful standard of living, but what will happen to the 18,000 people who call this horrible smoldering heap their home? The tone and content of my prayer have been altered forever.
James A. Sawyer, Avon Park, Fla.