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Monday letters: Rapper's right on family values

Cheland "Rhymefest" Smith in 2014. File photo by Chandler West for Sun-Times Media.

A rapper appears to have identified the root cause of much of Chicago’s violence, contradicting Spike Lee’s cinematic effort to define it as a crime war (“Rhymefest to Spike Lee on ‘Chi-raq’: ‘You owe Chicago an apology’ — Nov. 5). According to Cheland “Rhymefest” Smith, “It’s senseless violence. People feel disrespected and not validated. They’re poor. … Because guns and drugs are cheap, senseless violence happens.”

He said much of crime stems from the disintegration of the family unit that’s prevalent in society. “If the family can’t be healed then we cannot begin to quell the violence. We have to begin by finding the fathers, the mothers, because some of these children don’t have mothers either.”

Why don’t others get it?

For a father to be in a child’s life, providing love, support and encouragement, means the child has a chance to develop self-respect and confidence, making it easier to face adverse situations without even thinking about finding a gun to settle differences. It takes time and effort to raise a child with character and values, and a woman shouldn’t be expected to do it alone.

J.L. Stern, Highland Park

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Say no to hotel tax increase

I am writing to voice opposition to the proposed 1-percent increase on the hotel tax. I travel frequently and am very sensitive to the extra costs and taxes attached to staying in a hotel. Increasing the Chicago tax will have a negative affect by focusing more attention on the already high cost of staying in Chicago as a visitor. Friends or business associates coming here quite often comment on how Chicago has such a large variety of add-on taxes, making the visit unnecessarily costly. Let’s not chase people away from visiting our beautiful city.

Mitchell Dulin, Winnetka

Legalizing drugs needs close look

Gun control and tougher gun sentencing won’t stop the execution of youngsters like Tyshawn Lee. But legalizing drugs and taking the profit out of the drug business might, by undercutting gangs that thrive on drug prohibition profits and by removing the motivation of gang members to compete in illegal drug markets with guns, killing and endless retaliation.

In a June 22, 2010 editorial declaring that “America’s war on drugs is over — we lost” — the Chicago Sun-Times wisely wrote: “The police will also tell you that the lifeblood of the gangs is the sale of illegal drugs. The gangs are the Al Capones of our day, peddling an illegal product for which the demand is enormous. … For thousands of high school dropouts who might otherwise be washing dishes for minimum wage, the money in drugs is just too good.”

Yet, Chicago public officials, police brass and faith leaders, who all abhor the violence, are silent on the subject of reforming drug prohibition laws that are at the core of Chicago gang violence, the misuse of guns, and “flash-bang grenade” and SWAT-raid drug policing.

James E. Gierach, former executive board vice chair, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

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