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I am appalled at how the writer of “Numbers argue against repeal” (letter, May 31) uses disease as one of his reasons for not wanting homosexuals in the military. Disease is pitiless and indiscriminate, and any pro-exclusion argument should never be based on the risk of disease of the group or groups in question.

If you want to look at the top two groups most at risk for HIV, they are homosexuals and African-Americans (who make up 44.1 percent of people living with AIDS in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), but I don’t see anyone lining up to bar the latter group from service simply because they’re at risk for a disease. It’s a skewed view when weighing the moral complexity of whether to enact the repeal.

However, if we’re going to tread down this road, why not exclude fair-skinned and blond- or red-haired people from service (or at least from desert deployment) because of their highest risk for developing skin cancer? Or turn away smokers because their lifestyle choices put themselves and others at significantly higher risk for lung cancer and emphysema? Why not give a resolute “no thank you” to African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, American Indians or Native Hawaiians because they run a higher risk for heart disease?

Why do we allow 17-to-24-year-olds to enlist when the CDC claims they account for almost half of the new cases of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States? Because, again, basing any argument for excluding groups from an organization on the prevalence of a disease is so widely applicable that anyone may be targeted.

Using disease as a touchstone for this issue makes for a tenuous argument at best. I hope that servicemembers and their families disregard this particular angle of approach when considering this matter.

Spc. Andrew Strider

Victory Base Complex, Iraq

Cartoon was racist, not funny

So it’s OK to publish cartoons that encourage or humorize discrimination and racism? The June 4 “Knight Life” cartoon seems to encourage that.

In the strip, a police officer grins, [substitutes baseballs for people and] states: “We’re better at catching & hitting black & brown ones!!”

Thanks for encouraging racism and discrimination and for publishing a cartoon that shows a white man as the oppressor and thug. Thanks for undermining the military’s attempt to truly make us feel equal.

Sgt. 1st Class Donald Fleming

Camp Liberty, Iraq

Writer shortchanged shoppers

Regarding the June 2 letter “Shoppers on the up and up”: It is not as easy as the writer makes it out to be for retired military personnel/dependents to shop in the PX/BX and/or commissary simply by showing a valid ID card (with those privileges marked), and then paying German customs on these items you’ve purchased (not to mention you’ve already paid a surcharge in the commissary). One doesn’t come here for a visit/vacation and be allowed to show a valid ID card and buy what they want with the exception of rationed items.

I am a dependent of a retired (now deceased) servicemember. In order for my “valid” ID card to be used in the aforementioned facilities, I had to get a visa, then on to customs for a pink card. I return to the customs office once a month with my Army and Air Force Exchange Service receipts to pay my German taxes. They in turn place an up-to-date stamp on my pink card.

This card has to be shown with my ID card each time I make purchases in these facilities. The visa gives me the privilege to stay longer than 90 days.

I choose this route to be independent and pay for my own purchases.

The system is broken versus “bent a little” — as this is not the year I was born, 1945, but 2010. Even I can use a computer and realize change is good. We just need people with proper expertise to come forward and make a positive change for all people who have been privileged with a valid ID card.

Agatha N. Porterfield

Grafenwöhr/Netzaberg, Germany

Stripes in 7

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