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As one who grew up in the Natural State, I am of course accustomed to political insanity and religious madness and general squalor. Given that most everyone who can scrape together a few I.Q. points gets the Hell out of Arkansas as fast as that mule will trot, one should not be too surprised that most people now associate Arkansas with Mr. Huckabee. Not a bright or good man, particularly, but a few notches above Tony Alamo. What surprised me this week, becalmed as I am down here among the nutria, gators and crazy Cajuns, is this apparent epidemic of religious insanity that has broken out among the Republicans in my native state. I am used to the local "conservatives" being mean-spirited, homophobic, hopelessly ignorant and self-righteous, but I am a bit puzzled by the psychosis that they seem so proud of. One nut case is reported to have recommended that defiant children should be executed? Did I read that correctly? Well, this is not the kind of publicity that Arkansas needs, but I have been saying that for about five decades, since the glory days of Orval Faubus and Justice Jim Johnson, and the madness just continues. Unabated. One can only recall with a bitter smile the famous characterization of Arkansas by H. L. Mencken. "The Apex of Moronia." Some things do not change.

James Means

Natchitoches, La.

Improve informant program

Criminal informants can expose crimes. This may improve police efficiency. If they are not handled effectively, informants can go bad quickly.

The informant concept originated as early as 1650 in Britain where it was called a "Plea of Approvement." It is still a widely used and legal concept today in America.

Informants can provide intelligence, insight, and information that can lead to arrests and convictions. They receive money and/or reduced charges for their work. Their job can become a good gig.

Sometimes informants are not handled well. Innocent people they target are unfairly listed in crime information systems. The handlers allow this; as a result, the innocents have their rights violated. The informant suffers no consequences. The general public can be victimized by the informant and thus become collateral damage.

If a citizen tries to recover money lost to an informant via scams, poor quality or incomplete work, etc., the attempt can be futile. He/she may never know why his/her court judgment is never collected.

The criminal informant program is not going away. One way to improve this program is for responsible citizens in all walks of life to get involved. More honest people available to aid in crime fighting would mean less opportunity for thugs and felons to gain from their actions.

Gail Kelley

Heber Springs

Vote yes for medical marijuana

There was a story on page one of the Arkansas section of the Democrat-Gazette dated Oct. 12, 2012, entitled "Group to run TV ad on Pot."

According to this story, Jerry Cox, spokesman for the Family Council, is behind the effort to get people to vote against the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act, Issue 5, on the ballot for the Nov. 6 election.

I just watched the ad these clowns are running and must say it is misleading, false and clearly shows how ill-informed and misguided Jerry Cox and the Family Council are.

The ad states that marijuana is a dangerous drug. It is not. In over 5,000 years of use, nobody has ever died from smoking marijuana, unlike the 450,000 Americans who die every year from smoking tobacco, which is legal.

Then the ad states that there would be no medical oversight. This is not true. To receive this medicine, you have to be certified by a doctor, and this certification must be renewed yearly.

But the most insane statement made in this ad is that criminal activity will be the result of legalizing marijuana.

Legalizing the use of marijuana will result in no criminal activity.

We do not have to go very far back in American history to see clear evidence of this. When the federal government made the manufacturing and sale of alcohol illegal, America had a crime wave on a Biblical scale. This misguided law only resulted in making criminals rich and violence rampant. Once this law was repealed, the incentive for the criminals and therefore the crimes ceased to be.

That is what is so insane about people like Jerry Cox. They cause the very thing they say they want to prevent. It is part of their hypocrisy.

Vote for the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act on Nov. 6.

Butch Stone


Housing rule bad for UALR

As a journalism major at UALR in the early 2000s, I had the opportunity to interview new UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson. After reading Doug Smith's story ("Freshmen will pay more at UALR," Oct. 10), about UALR imposing mandated housing conditions on incoming freshmen, to the tune of over $7,400 a year, I'm as unimpressed with Anderson now as I was then. 

UALR has survived and grown over the years because of its diversity as a non-traditional campus, and this move will do nothing but stunt the growth.

Anderson says many forms of financial assistance are available to offset this added cost. Great advice, chancellor; let's have students either borrow or apply for government, taxpayer subsidized monies that will go toward your purchase of the new "University Village," rather than having them actually go out into the community, obtain jobs, choose where they live, and learn about balancing time and resources — something they'll have to do at some point in their lives.

Go Coach Shields and Coach Foley, as a UALR alum, I support your programs and attend games every chance I get. But Joel Anderson's vision for UALR sounds more like a short sighted business model for failure, which is the case with most business models when they are put in motion not with someone's own money, but that of taxpayers and students.

Anthony Lloyd

Hot Springs

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