Letters for April 12, 2007

Winning at all costs? Too costly
Re: “Fast break-up” (Cover story, by Evan Tuchinsky, CN&R, April 5):

Recent reports of the abusive mistreatment of members of the Chico State women’s basketball team suggest the coaching staff is in need of basic respect and reality training. If winning at all costs in their minds somehow justifies the personal insults and caustic criticism that have become their coaching “style,” they are delusional.

If such reprehensible behavior is beneficial in obtaining improved performance by increasing the intensity of others, why don’t they try it on the loan officer at the bank the next time they are in need of additional funds, or their dentist just before a root canal, or their physician just before a sigmoidoscopy?

No one—free or confined, student or professional—should have to tolerate the personal slurs and rude remarks the players have had to. To mistreat the dedicated students who represent this community and college tarnishes the Athletic Department and administration responsible. The December investigation of the “coaching problem” was as likely to find the truth as Richard Nixon searching for the “gap” in the Watergate tapes.

Amber Simmons, an immensely talented local multi-sport high school athlete and a collegiate All-American basketball player, wasn’t the first to object to abusive behavior from the coaching staff. Before granting Amber’s request for an athletic release, the Athletic Department should release those on the coaching staff who are responsible.

Doug Benson, M.D.

Abuse arises from a desire to control. [Coach Molly] Goodenbour’s statements show she desired to control Amber Simmons’ life against Simmons’ will. Usually attempts are made to justify abuse. However, even well-intentioned abuse is still abuse.

The urge to move beyond issues of abuse without airing them publicly keeps us mired in abuse by allowing it to happen in private. Schools should not tolerate abuses that home or work settings do not allow. Students arrive on campuses to learn—eager, trusting and open. When schools protect students from abuse, they safeguard the value of all their preceding education.

Irene Cardenas

Story just muddied the waters
Having spent 32 years in collegiate women’s athletics (1963-1995) as a coach, teacher and athletic director at Santa Clara University, I was very upset at your destructive article on CSU Chico’s women’s basketball.

Since first coaching teams that competed with CSU Chico before scholarships were given to any women anywhere, all I seem to read are the negative situations and not the positive outcomes of the expansion of women’s collegiate programs. Coverage of women’s sports is so difficult to obtain, and your article certainly does not help in the advancement of women’s collegiate programs.

There is no way I could take sides on the current issue when all I read are the “he says, she says, they say” from your interviews of both staff and families involved. All this does is “muddy the waters,” which hopefully will not make your readers turn against the Department of Athletics in general.

Having been involved in academics and eligibility for both male and female student-athletes for many years, I am well aware of the NCAA rules that must be followed in this issue. Regardless who is right or wrong, your article certainly has not helped the student-athlete involved or the university in trying to resolve the issue.

Marygrace Colby

Re: “Breaking the bank” (Cover story, by Richard Ek, CN&R, March 29):

Richard Ek’s in-depth exposure of Chico city employee salaries and benefits ranks among the top public-service, investigative reports within the past 20 years by any of the local papers. His former students at the university would be proud of him.

Dr. Ek was hired by the university in 1967 to be the cornerstone in an emerging Department of Journalism, which would in turn become an integral part of today’s acclaimed College of Communications. During Ek’s 25-year tenure—as an adviser and in his classes in reporting, media law and history of media—he attracted our top students, who in turn after graduation remained his close friends and admirers.

Our university and community are fortunate to have Dr. Richard Ek still in the hunt for a good story to bang out on his Royal typewriter.

John Sutthoff
Professor emeritus, journalism


Editor’s note: For the latest submission from Richard Ek, check out his essay “Strike one!”. FYI: It was written on a computer.

Police earn their pay
Re: “CN&R called to account” (Letters, by Chico Police Capt. John Rucker, CN&R, April 5):

My wife was initially a dispatcher for the Highway Patrol based in Ukiah. Eventually she was promoted to communications supervisor. I got to know a lot of the patrolmen stationed there and was impressed day after day by their hard work, dedication and a willingness to put their lives at risk.

That willingness to risk their lives to protect you, John Q. Citizen, is the difference between their job and yours. The Chico police take that same risk every day and should be rewarded, not criticized.

If anything, we should be doing everything we can to increase their salaries. I know, after exposure to the Highway Patrol, it would take somewhere between $80,000 and $100,000 to get me even mildly interested in the job.

Capt. Rucker, I salute you and every stand-up officer who works for you. Stay safe.

Don Linneman

Give DoP a chance
Re: “Naïve notion” (Letters, by Dave Larsen, CN&R, April 5):

People are entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. Dave Larsen’s concerns about my support for a Department of Peace are erroneous.

He makes the mistaken assertion that the State Department already does what a Department of Peace would do. Yet the mission of the Department of State is not necessarily first to solve conflict nonviolently, but rather to promote U.S. interests, whether peacefully or not. We all remember [former] Secretary of State Colin Powell’s performance at the United Nations in February 2003, which was instrumental in “greasing the skids” for war.

Mr. Larsen then erroneously equates the virtuous motives of a Department of Peace with the performance of the current administration’s “world improvers” (his words) in Iraq. He conflates a genuinely peaceful mission with the dubiously aggressive mission of this administration’s foreign policy, which trumpets altruism and the spread of freedom while doing exactly the opposite.

Mr. Larsen closes by saying that the very same policies that supporters of the Department of Peace espouse are “in practice in Iraq with less than stellar results.” And if sophistry were cash, we’d all be rich.

Tom Blodget

Sufi story
Re: “Rumi tunes” (Scene, by Robert Speer, CN&R, April 5):

I appreciate the good background coverage provided on Rumi, the 13th century Sufi saint/poet, now popular due to the renditions of Coleman Barks. As one who has hung out with Sufis since 1987 and studied with Shabda Kahn, pir/head of the Chisti Sufi Order in America, there are a few distinctions I’d like to make for your readers.

Sufism predates Islam; it is simply a mystical path, a spiritual imprint inherent in human nature that is uncovered generally with the guidance of a friend or sheik. Sufism cannot be claimed by any one religion. However, the term Sufi emerged to describe certain Muslims who practiced this spiritual path about 900 to 1,000 years ago in ancient Persia, Afghanistan, and Turkey. The initial prolific and ecstatic outpouring of Sufi poetry and music there caused the association of this path with Islam.

Sufism realized is love for God and everyone without exception. While aiming for the annihilation of the self in God, it expresses itself as spiritual freedom on Earth. Therefore Sufism has often been suppressed by the more orthodox sects of Islam, just as such suppression occurred historically among other faiths.

I am lucky and grateful to live in a nation that does not suppress Sufism, a nation with constitutional safeguards against the creation of a theocracy or government that would prescribe “acceptable spirituality” for everyone.

Insu Hyams

Still resonating
Re: “the dead” (Cover story, CN&R, March 15):

I just wanted to express my feeling about your tribute to the troops. I have recently left the service and moved to Chico. My heart bleeds for my fellow brothers who answered the call to serve their nation and died on foreign soil. Some of those on your list are not just names to me, but friends. Reading the name of a close friend leaves his laughter and irrelevant conversations engraved into my memory.

This piece angered me and literally brought tears to my eyes. I have disagreed with this war from the beginning, and that is one of the reasons why I left the service. To use my friend’ name to build a case against the cause he fought for is insulting and despicable.

I don’t see how you can get away with calling it a tribute while throughout the whole article you have statistics about how the money could have been better spent, how many pages it would take to list Iraqi civilians that died, statistics by ethnicity, and how California has the most casualties. If your intention was to truly write a fitting memorial, you should have used that space to thank the troops for their service, and some “how to support the troops” information.

This was a thinly veiled “stop the war” piece, and while I agree with your stance, you should not use America’s dead to make your case. Do me a favor: Next time you decide to write a “memorial,” consult with a veteran—he or she can certainly help. If you don’t know any, let me know and I’ll volunteer my time.

Nathan Methvin-Terry

Apparently those who are devoted to this illegal Iraq war don’t want any tallies made of those who gave their lives for the effort. The Chico News & Review has been criticized by some for printing the names of the war’s dead. Others who placed small crosses in a field or lined up rows of boots in a park also were criticized.

We aren’t permitted to see the arriving planes loaded with our fallen soldiers. I was a kid during World War II, and this is not how we honored our fallen and wounded soldiers. We had a huge sign right in the town square where all the soldiers’ names were honorably listed for all to see.

We keep hearing and seeing the phrase Support the Troops. That’s what we all do … well, except the absolute lack of support at Walter Reed Medical Center and elsewhere.

At this date, we’ve lost close to 3,300 soldiers with nearly 25,000 horribly maimed for life. Oh yes, we’ve spent over $562 billion (so far) and brought upon America the wrath of nearly the entire world.

Right now, we need to bring this illegal and unnecessary war in Iraq to a quick close and bring our military back to American soil where they belong. Then we wouldn’t need to publish page after page of the names of our brave soldiers.

Donald L. Ward

Thank you
I’m glad the Chico News & Review told us how much the Chico police make.

I’m glad the Chico News & Review published the names of all the Americans who have died in Iraq.

I’m glad the Chico News & Review is still covering the story of [Jeff] Sloan and how he was ousted from the Chico school system.

John Breen

Global warming counterpunches
Re: “Watts up” (Letters, CN&R, April 5):

I find it interesting that that both Tina Grazier and Anthony Watts only quoted the first part of my criticism of conservative views on the global warming debate. They quoted me writing “Anthony Watts and other conservatives are so skeptical about global warming. On this issue they demand absolute, iron-clad proof before any action should be taken.”

Neither addressed the more important next part of my comment, “Where was this skepticism when our country really needed it? Why is it that the threshold for going to war is so much lower?”

After all, Anthony Watts summed up his response to me by stating, “It’s policy change via panic that I don’t advocate.” Doesn’t that describe the war in Iraq perfectly?

They both seemed very concerned about malicious, emotional attacks to discredit and silence dissenting views. A commendable sentiment. Tina Grazier even compared the scientific majority to Nazi scientists. But how does Tina deal with those with different views on the Iraq war? Take a look at some of her blog comments ("Post Scripts,” www.norcalblogs.com). People who don’t agree with her are “anti-American,” “hate mongers” and “traitors.

I have found nothing in Watts’ blog that is nearly as distasteful. However, at least Tina has the courage to proclaim her stand. One wonders if Anthony is also just a transparent pundit. Are Tina’s comments offensive to him? Is he truly against panic-based policy? Would he like to step up to the plate and state his views on the decision to invade Iraq? I think it might bolster his credibility much more than putting solar panels on his roof.

David Linzer

The response by Anthony Watts to my letter (March 29) states, “He takes me to task for using the word ‘thermodynamics’ incorrectly, implying that it has no relevance in meteorology. Mr. Sharma, I respectfully suggest reading Atmospheric Thermodynamics, by Craig Bohren, or do a journals search on the topic.”

Mr. Watts, Brahama D. Sharma did not state that you used the word “thermodynamics” incorrectly, rather that the principles of “thermodynamics” were applied incorrectly.

Furthermore, the conclusion by Mr. Watts that somehow Brahama D. Sharma implied that “thermodynamics” has no relevance in meteorology is beyond belief. It is best to simply ask, why did he promise not to write again on this issue? Mr. Watts has the right to express political implications without debunking the science involved if he thinks Letters is not the place to have a rigorous scientific discourse.

The response by Tina Grazier is again based upon complete misrepresentation of what was stated. At no time was it implied that those who do have healthy scientific interest in these matters not comment. The point was not to confuse the science with politics.

Brahama D. Sharma is fully cognizant of the scientific works of Dr. S. Fred Sanger, not Singer. Ms. Grazier misrepresents the scientific works of Dr. Sanger in regard to this issue, even though he is critical of very small parts of claims made by others. Albert Einstein’s admonition is misplaced in the present context.

Again, one has all the freedom to express political and economical consequences, but to debunk scholars en masse by quoting secondary citations is not in the best interest of life on this planet.

Brahama D. Sharma