Unlike memories, DNA doesnt fade with time

Readers' Letters
by: L.E. BASKOW, Forensic scientist Michael Koch processes a DNA identification at the Portland Forensic Laboratory. Letter writers weigh in about the growing acceptance of taking DNA samples from people convicted of crimes, and the ethical issues surrounding that practice.

In my august opinion, there should not be any statute of limitations where DNA is definite (When suspects can't be indicted, their DNA can, Oct. 29). The old saw of 'memories fade' may be true, but now we know that DNA does not fade. … Defense attorneys have missed (the fact) that DNA also has been exonerating quite a few people.

DNA gives us a large degree of fairness that may have been missing in the past. I enjoy watching DNA convict putrid people, and also (enjoy) that it exonerates innocent people.

Dan Maher

Southeast Portland

Don't forego liberty for sense of safety

I'm all for finding people who commit crimes and convicting them, but this Susan Hormann quote scares me:

'It allows us to provide investigative information to police, so they're able to do their job tracking down people who may be suspects, or even excluding someone who didn't leave (DNA) evidence.'

I read that, and the one thing that springs to mind is Benjamin Franklin's statement that those who would sacrifice essential liberty to obtain some sense of safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Anyone can make a case for violating basic civil liberties on the premise that it makes us safer, it benefits society, etc. But at what point is that violation worth the cost?

Of course, those who defend this practice without question and accept and support it wholesale will say something stupid like: 'Tell me which of your civil liberties are being violated by this practice?' or 'Why does it bother you unless you're a criminal?' or, even worse 'If it was your wife/mom that was raped, you wouldn't say that.'

To which I say - that's not the point. I don't have to be personally affected by something to be concerned about it. Bad things that might happen to me or a loved one do not inform my decisions about what is right and wrong. The principle of freedom is far more important than some slight modicum of safety, more important than 'what's in it for me.'

Nobody takes these types of things seriously until their liberties are actually gone, and then they only have themselves to blame.

James M. Gregg


Test inmate DNA for unsolved crimes

Why not run inmate DNA on unsolved crimes (When suspects can't be indicted, their DNA can, Oct. 29)?

DNA solved a horrific rape/murder/arson of a beautiful young woman who moved to St. Johns some years back. The murderer had been recently released after serving a rape sentence. He was arrested for raping another woman (after killing my friend) and sent back to prison.

Years later, his DNA sample matched the DNA taken from the murder scene.

David Gillaspie


Hunter might prefer Iraq

The article about Bitsy Kelley and her passion for hunting big game made me cringe (Bitsy Kelley's love of the wild shines in TV's spotlight, Oct. 29). I am not against hunting, but there is no need to hunt exotic animals. She is a rich girl from Hawaii who has a ranch in Oregon, also living in other states. She wants to change Oregon's hunting laws to resemble the lax laws for hunting that Hawaii has.

Most of us want to protect non-game animals in Oregon, not kill them off to extinction.

If she so much loves the 'war games' strategy of big game hunting, she should volunteer to go to Iraq or Afghanistan. She would get a real rush there. The targets shoot back.

Robert Buhl

Southwest Portland

Love - or hate - of the wild?

A love-hate-love story right there on the front page of Portland Life (Bitsy Kelley's love of the wild shines in TV's spotlight, Oct. 29). Bitsy Kelly loves the wild. What? There is a picture of Bitsy with a dead tahr. Is that true love or is it really just a desire to kill?

Does she really love her husband? I notice he appears to be alive in the photo on Page 3B, where one can see how she has treated many other creatures she loved dearly enough to kill and have stuffed to increase her fame, recognition, pride and career.

Her claim of bird hunting being a nice social sport seems ridiculous. One would not be hard pressed to think of things to do with the dogs and friends that do not include the killing of harmless and defenseless birds. Think of photographing them perhaps.

Later she speaks of adding wolves to the top of the (predator list). I would like to know if she means right below humans like herself who feel it's right to 'spend a week or two scouting, selecting what to go after, trying to outwit that animal, stalking it.'

I would like to make a suggestion to Bitsy and others like her: If you are not feeding or protecting yourself and family with these hunts, try it with a paint gun or a camera. You may get the adrenaline you are jonesing for, and something more when you realize that you didn't just commit a sick crime against the beauty of life on this planet.

I feel it would be in better taste if the Tribune were to headline the story 'Bitsy Kelley's love of killing wildlife shines in TV's spotlight.'

Wesley D

Southeast Portland

(Editor's note: 'D' is the writer's legal surname.)

Don't just point finger at cyclists

I am a cyclist and a automobile driver. I find all of the discussion on how to make bicyclists 'behave' quite fascinating and laughable. I have heard suggestions of 'numbers on cyclists backs so they can be reported.' If that would work, all automobile drivers would behave because that is called a license plate.

If Terry Parker's suggestion of 'having to pay for the use of street' would make cyclists behave, then automobile drivers would never speed, run stop signs or for that matter right hook cyclists (Bicyclists must respect cemetery, Oct. 29).

It is very apparent that everyone is at fault and no one is exempt.

I would guess that the drivers complaining about cyclists don't always do the speed limit or come to a complete stop at stop signs. I would also guess that the cyclists who complain about the behavior of automobile drivers don't always follow all of the traffic laws as they are obliged to do.

Perhaps if those complaining would keep their side of the road clean and behave themselves, they might serve as an example. More rules and a laughable 'if they paid they would behave' mentality won't fix anything.

Start obeying the laws yourself and stop pointing your finger at everyone else.

Rand Henrichs

Northeast Portland

Rude behavior has no link to taxes

Letter writer Terry Parker suggests that bicyclists should be 'directly taxed to pay for what they use' (Bicyclists must respect cemetery, Oct. 29). Like most bicycle commuters I know, I own a home and two cars and pay all the appropriate taxes.

Rude cycling behavior has no more to do with paying taxes than does rude driving behavior. Both have so much more to do with lack of maturity and respect for the rights of others.

Matthew Miner

Northeast Portland