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Originally published Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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"My life does not belong to the state or the church."

A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.

Your life story

An ending you didn't see coming: the death sentence

Editor, The Times:

Seeking the right to choose the manner and time of death due to a terminal diagnosis may sound good, but question the wisdom ["Just don't call it suicide, initiative's backers say," Times page one, Jan. 9].

The Dutch are an interesting example of such compassion. Having unlocked the door, they have gradually opened it to allow for physicians to euthanize those who have lost "quality of life," regardless of diagnosis or personal consent. Do we think that can't happen here?

Former Gov. Booth Gardner [the Death With Dignity initiative sponsor] acknowledges that his own chronic, not terminal, diagnosis, prompts him to adopt this as his "last campaign." The goal is to pass, then broaden, the boundaries of the measure. Thus the opposition from many disabled-rights coalitions.

I'm more appalled by Gov. Christine Gregoire's response to the proposal: "It's not my place to impose my morality on others." It's political doublespeak to announce that not taking a stand on whether people have a right to kill themselves isn't imposing a morality.

It's especially misleading in light of her ultimatum to the Pharmacists Board members that they approve regulations to require pharmacists to fill "Plan B" prescriptions regardless of personal moral objection or she would dismiss them from the board. That seems to pave the way to require pharmacists to fill prescriptions intended for suicide.

Progress indeed.

— Tim Meagher, Fircrest

Letting slip the sacred

Although the emotional opposition to the Death With Dignity initiative was predictable ["Final accounting," Northwest Voices, Jan. 11], it is discouraging.

It is hard to see how claims of euthanasia (arguably a socially condoned and externally imposed form of murder) have any relevance to the present proposal. One might ask those opponents who base their opposition on religious beliefs — i.e., God gave life and it is not our right to end it — how a benevolent God could scorn the dignified end of a life well-lived; demand that his creature endure not only pain (and often the destruction of assets aging parents carefully acquired in hopes of helping children achieve a better life); but also the rejection of the rational free will that Christians believe he endowed us with.

— David Echols, Kirkland

Dedicated to my principles

"Inalienable right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" are not just words. My life does not belong to the state or the church. It does not belong to my neighbors, my parents, my children, or even my spouse.

The Death With Dignity initiative preserves my voluntary legal choice as a mentally competent adult. When neither happiness nor liberty is possible due to untreatable physical suffering, the law must support my right to control the course of my life with dignity and appropriate safeguards, even if it means ending my life by my own hand. The Death With Dignity initiative does just that!

— William Herman, Auburn

Bowling over

The linchpin wobbles

Our family laments the closing of Sunset Bowl in Ballard ["Sunset Bowl in Ballard will close in April," Local News, Jan. 5]. Sunset was far more than a bowling alley. Sunset is our community center.

Our family began the holiday tradition of visiting Sunset 22 years ago. Our oldest was 18 months old. Friendly competitions, rotating teams, pure, family fun! The toddlers would roll the ball from crouching. Bumpers helped. Each of our three children was so proud when they no longer required bumpers, around 4 years old. It remains our collective fondest memory. Sadly, we did not realize that Christmas '07 was our last time.

Countless birthday parties, high-schoolers on the bowling team for Ballard (fourth in the state), many moms' days getting the kids out on a hot day or a school holiday or a whim. Always within walking distance, always open.

Please, DCLU and architects, design and approve a building that retains the bowling alley. Design it below-grade, if necessary. Build up from a foundation of history, of community. Sunset Bowl is so much more than bowling.

— Mary Hillyer, Seattle

An easy split

It is all about money. It is not about the quality of the community or life. The selling and imminent closing of the Sunset Bowl is a tragedy for the Ballard community.

I guess high-school students will have to stay at home for another game of Halo III rather than go out on that first bowling date.

The senior citizens who use the facility for recreation and fellowship can go to the new high-tech gyms for a workout. Yep, I can just see my 82-year-old father-in-law and bowler down at the new high-tech gym, going in behind Mike's Chili Parlor on a treadmill, or taking Taebo.

All those fun family nights with big sister bowling against little brother can be replaced by a video. Those 50 jobs can be replaced by high-paying contracting-type jobs, but for only two years during construction.

"It's real hard for the employees to understand." What is to understand? It is all about money. Avalon Ballard, LLC, is not interested in the community. It just wants to make a lot of money and the rest of us be damned.

— Thomas Haff, Ballard

Pull of the gutter

The Local News on Jan. 5 contained the following two headlines: "Seattle teen fatally shot at party" and "Sunset Bowl in Ballard will close in April." I was struck by the irony of this juxtaposition and was reminded of my own conundrum regarding my 14-year-old son and his high-school friends.

Indeed, with the disappearance of safe, fun public places to go, such as Leilani Lanes and Sunset Bowl, as well as the anticipated 2009 closure of the Fun Forest at Seattle Center, where are the teenagers to go to have inexpensive fun in a safe environment? Are they to go to private parties where there may or may not be adult supervision or security and where tragedy can strike, as it did last week to Allen Joplin?

Should teens hang out at the malls, where there is nothing to do but eat and shop, walking in mobs that often annoy other shoppers? Should teens hang out at home, left to their own devices? Or should they just spend money at increasingly expensive movie theaters?

Society is constantly talking about the problems of teen sex and drug use, as well as childhood obesity. Is there any wonder teens are bored and engaging in negative behaviors when there are fewer and fewer fun and inexpensive things to do and fewer and fewer safe places to go?

What values are we teaching them when we take away their gathering places because the adult world sees a "better way" to make money?

— Erica Jonlin, Seattle

Nice fretwork

Kids caught by the ears

The fifth annual community concert of the Seattle Symphony at West Seattle High School was a resounding success. The house was packed with an enthusiastic audience the evening of Jan. 11. The program was outstanding and drew a standing ovation. Quinton Morris, featured violin soloist, won the audience with a masterful Mozart concerto ["Violinist emphasizes mentorship, community," Northwest Life, Jan. 8].

We were especially gratified by the attendance of many children.

— Warren Lawless, host; secretary, Kiwanis Club of West Seattle

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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