Extra Letters

Words for columnist—and CN&R
Editor’s note: Anthony Peyton Porter’s perspective on how readers react to his word choice has sparked heated debate. One such reader contacted Dave Hingsburger, a prominent advocate for people with disabilities; his letter plus some advice from another CN&R reader follow:

Hurt feelings are decisions a victim makes.

Is Anthony Peyton Porter kidding when he says this? Hurt feelings are the intent of those who use words that denigrate others. “Tardo” is a word that owes its existence to the meanness and disrespect of others. Peyton Porter sees words that demean the value of those with disabilities or mental illnesses as being somehow neutral, that if someone takes offense, it’s their issue not his. Really?

From reading Mr. Peyton Porter’s two columns on this, what leaves me surprised is not the fact that there are bigots out there who have a wish to hurt others but that a newspaper would choose to print articles that use hurtful words against a vulnerable group.

I had composed a long letter on this and have trashed it. I ask instead of having opinions of people like me who express outrage that the newspaper take Mr. Peyton Porter up on his word. He says that the only people who would be upset would be cripples not tardos, he intimates that those with intellectual disabilities wouldn’t even know about it—he can get away with kicking them, poor dears. I challenge the editorial staff to meet with a self advocate committee of people with intellectual disabilities from Chico, read the words and get the reaction of those who get called hateful names like these. Would Peyton Porter have the courage to explain to those who get called words like “tardo” and “retard” that their hurt is their fault?

If you truly wish to be a community paper, then consider all the community. Consider this meeting. Consider speaking directly to those you demean. But I’m betting on cowardice here.

Dave Hingsburger

A word for the editors: I appreciate your paper and value your willingness to give public voice to any and all perspectives on our community and this life we share. If I see too many more such base and shallow broadsides, though, I will follow the advice of an early mentor, Dr. Harry Ingham: “Just because you understand certain behavior doesn’t mean you have to tolerate it.” Good words for Mr. Porter, and for you.

Abe Baily

Stop the madness!
Editor’s note: Our “Reefer madness” editorial, published Aug. 2, drew responses from across the country. Here are some that didn’t fit in the print publication:

Kudos to the Chico News & Review for your editorial. Truly, the charade that is the war on pot has gone on long enough.

At a time when interstate bridges are falling and an estimated 25 percent of our nation’s bridges are in need of repair or replacement we must begin to trim the fat. And we cannot leave the task to politicians. Ending cash cows like the drug war may be our saving grace and such mandates must come from we the people, la gente.

Can we continue to allow John Walters and his ONDCP minions to interfere in state ballot measures, to deny researchers access to suitable selections of cannabis so that medical researchers can begin, unimpeded by priggish bureaucracy, to seriously investigate the plethora of medical uses this plant promises to offer humanity?

Malfeasance is one thing but lies and obstructions are another and that is exactly what federal cannabis prohibition is: a lie. End cannabis Prohibition, end the drug war and close down John Walters and the ONDCP.

Allan Erickson
Drug Policy Forum of Oregon

Your editorial hit an arrow-splitting bull’s-eye.

The supply and demand are stronger than the laws of the land. Not only is there lots of money to be made from cannabis prohibition, but there are also lots of government jobs to protect. Since evidently the drug czar’s leading role is to perpetuate cannabis prohibition, persecution and extermination, one job that would disappear overnight is that of John Walters. Overnight never seems to come.

Stan White
Dillon, Colo.

If health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms, marijuana would be legal. Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. Like any drug, marijuana can be harmful if abused, but jail cells are inappropriate as health interventions and ineffective as deterrents.

The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican immigration during the early 1900s, despite opposition from the American Medical Association. Dire warnings that marijuana inspires homicidal rages have been counterproductive at best. White Americans did not even begin to smoke pot until a soon-to-be entrenched government bureaucracy began funding reefer madness propaganda.

By raiding voter-approved medical marijuana providers in California, the very same U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that claims illicit drug use funds terrorism is forcing cancer and AIDS patients into the hands of street dealers. Apparently marijuana prohibition is more important than protecting the country from terrorism.

Robert Sharpe
Common Sense for Drug Policy, Washington, D.C.

Kudos to the News & Review for questioning the wisdom of multimillion-dollar pot eradication efforts like Operation Alesia, and calling for common-sense alternatives such as taxing and regulating cannabis like alcohol.

While law enforcement may have indeed seized a record 284,000 pot plants during its three-week campaign, this fact alone speaks to the abject failure of cannabis prohibition. State and federal law enforcement personnel now arrest approximately 800,000 Americans annually and spend some $10 billion per year enforcing marijuana prohibition. Nevertheless, the U.S. government reports that domestic marijuana production has increased tenfold in the past 25 years from 1,000 metric tons (2.2 million pounds) to 10,000 metric tons (22 million pounds). Is this the sign of a successful national policy?

By contrast, legalizing the commercial sale and use of cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol would dramatically and almost immediately bring an end to the more egregious and adverse black-market effects of the plant’s criminalization such as the production of pot by criminal enterprises and its clandestine cultivation on public lands.

Paul Armentano
Pleasant Hill

Mr. Armentano is a senior policy analyst for NORML, a lobbying organization based in Washington, D.C.

If we acknowledge that it is time for a new approach to marijuana, we must abandon the Reefer Madness propaganda used to keep marijuana illegal:

“Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice.” (Hearst newspapers nationwide, 1934)

“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana can cause white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”

“The primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”

“Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality and death.”

“Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”

“[Smoking] one [marijuana] cigarette might develop a homicidal mania, probably to kill his brother.” (See: U.S. Government Propaganda to Outlaw Marijuana)

Marijuana fictions make those supporting marijuana prohibition look like the idiots they really are.

Ralph Givens
Daly City