Our Pledge To You

Letters to the Editor

‘I refuse to accept hatred as a new standard for political discourse’

A Cook County Sheriff's vehicle sits in front of one of the enterances of the Orland Square mall while police investigate a shooting that happened earlier inside the mall, Monday, Jan. 21, 2018, in Orland Park. State Sen. Elgie Sims was at the mall with his family at the time. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

I will be among the first to concede that even with shared objectives, legitimate policy differences exist among well-meaning legislators, advocates and citizens. Sadly, these distinctions are sometimes overshadowed by negative, hostile and divisive rhetoric.

Instead of attempting to reconcile these differences, some resort to fearmongering and making misguided pronouncements dripping with racist rhetoric. This reality was driven home for me recently when my family was near the scene of another senseless act of gun violence.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

In the incident’s aftermath, I made some comments on social media about the shooting and the need to address trauma and the underlying causes of gun violence. Some responses were vile and reinforced the reality that we have entered a moment in our history where the ability to engage with each other over legitimate policy disagreements is under serious attack.

Unfortunately, some are comfortable defaulting to demeaning those whose opinions differ rather than attempting to find common ground. I refuse to accept that political division and hatred are the new standards for political discourse.

We have and will only continue to advance as a community, state and country when we start celebrating our differences and having authentic, yet sometimes difficult conversations about destroying the barriers and systemic disadvantages which have been erected to sustain a system benefitting a privileged few.

I stand ready to have these conversations because future generations expect and deserve nothing less than our very best.

State Sen. Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago)

No more gambling, Governor

Governor J. B. Pritzker wants the Illinois General Assembly to immediately legalize internet and sports gambling.

The last time state legislators moved quickly to pass a massive expansion of gambling, the state began borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars against the anticipated revenue, according to a ProPublica investigative report, “How Illinois Bet on Video Gambling and Lost.” It took eight years before the state collected the minimum amount expected from video gambling, and it was $1.3 billion short of what lawmakers expected.

Almost 31,000 video gambling machines are now operating in 6,800 neighborhood establishments. Municipalities have enacted moratoriums, banned or limited video gambling parlors, and increased fees to pay for costs.

Legalizing internet and sports gambling will expand gambling in homes and on mobile devices and cell phones.  Access to sporting events worldwide 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, makes gambling just a touch away and fuels gambling addiction.

Underage gambling also could increase. There are 25,000 children aged 11 to 16 who are pathological gamblers in the United Kingdom, where internet and sports gambling is legal. One 13-year-old boy used his phone to take a picture of his dad’s company credit card and set up an account to gamble in a matter of minutes.

More than one-fifth of 18-to-24-year-olds in the United Kingdom are gambling at work. About 15 percent of the men who are gambling have set up 5 gambling accounts. Recently, a 20-year-old man withdrew more than $2,500 every few minutes from PayPal and lost more than $195,000 gambling in one night.

People check their cell phones frequently throughout the day, and gambling apps entice them to gamble. Gambling companies target young people with free spins, free sports bets for trying casino games and multiple “nudges” to bet.

Gambling is an unstable source of revenue. Tell legislators to reject more bad bets.

Anita Bedell
Executive Director
Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems