Letters for August 2, 2007

What’s in a name?
Re: “Poor choice of words” (Letters, by Stephan R. Wattenberg and Carl Ochsner, CN&R, July 26):

Usually I feel I “get” Anthony Peyton Porter’s humor, or his art in exposing thoughts as they are. However, like others who have objected, I feel pain when the terms he uses touch an issue close to my heart.

Some terms may be disrespectful because they objectify people in negative ways. To efficiently refer to a whole group of different humans, we turn them into an object with a simple label—be it “crippled” or “disabled.” You’ll notice both terms are negative, though the latter is more accepted. The term “special needs” may be more neutral, but I still think it analyzes people from an outside perspective, like objects.

People are affected by how they are defined, so it’s important that labels are positive. Perhaps a term like “pure hearts” would honor people who have developed trust instead of intellectual defenses. Compare this term to “developmentally disabled.” Which conveys more appreciation?

All people who pull through in life develop strengths. Why not refer to those instead? Terms that include words like “heart” connect us to people from the inside, instead of objectifying them from the outside.

Deciding which label to use is a challenge. I think the responses to Porter’s column generate important discussion.

Irene Cardenas

Editor’s note: This discussion continues below and with the point-counterpoint pieces “From The Edge” and “Christine LaPado’s Guest Comment.”

More on Mr. Porter
Anthony Peyton Porter, I quote: “ … stereotypes. We all make assumptions about each other based on something superficial, like skin color … or someotherdamnthing.”

Your own words from your first column, which is still online.

Your recent column (“Masochists,” July 19) was filled with that very kind of stereotyping—hateful words meant to hurt.

Tardos? Cripples? Please.

I would never advocate censorship—but, if you claim your column was meant as humor or satire, I would simply say, “It was poorly written.” The News & Review is too classy to publish this kind of amateur rubbish.

Peter Berkow

It’s apparent that the strain of churning out a weekly column, albeit a brief one, is beginning to affect Mr. Porter.

I used to enjoy listening to Mr. Porter’s pre-recorded messages on KZFR. They were original, pertinent and often amusing. So were his early biweekly columns for the CN&R.

Lately, however, his pieces have turned mean-spirited, revealing what appears to be an angry, bitter man, with little kindliness toward women, children, the disabled community and other human beings.

Perhaps the CN&R’s readers, and Mr. Porter, would be best served by a reduction in his workload.

Laura Lukes

I liken Mr. Porter to Ann Coulter. They both like to see how outrageously they can express themselves. The difference, I believe, is that Ann knows she is putting people on.

Norm Dillinger

Differing definitions
Re: “Unique resources” (Letters, by Randy Larsen, CN&R, July 26):

With all the buzz about sustainability, greening our community and the focus on protecting our natural environment, seeing last week’s letter to the editor about vernal pools and fairy shrimp titled “Unique resource” made me think the CN&R missed the point.

Our culture has become fond of referring to the natural world in a hierarchy that places humans above all other living creatures. Humans tend to view land, water and the many species that inhabit the earth as Our Resources.

I am whole heartedly behind measures that reduce the negative impact we are having on this earth. Perhaps a first step is to recognize that unless we learn to live with the natural world, not conquer it, we will not only destroy ecosystems but ultimately ourselves.

Tami Ritter

Editor’s note: We apologize if our broader use of the word “resources” conveyed a negative connotation. Included in the Merriam-Webster definition of resource is “a natural feature or phenomenon that enhances the quality of human life,” which is why we consider Bidwell Park a unique resource (and perhaps why the environmental-impact report for Mountain Vista/Sycamore Glen listed vernal pools among natural resources).

Rock on!
Re: “Chico rock city” (Cover story, by Mark Lore, CN&R, July 26):

I picked up the CN&R today more excited than ever because of the cover story. Little did I know about the roots of “Chico rock city,” and I have to say your article was the most entertaining and educating piece of journalism I have read since that fateful day I started picking up the CN&R to find out about when my favorite band (the Red Robot) was coming back to town, circa 2001. That’s when I instantly became hooked on reading about people who play music in this town, and art in general.

Your article was something I thought might be needed since there is so much history behind the bands that I grew up on (Isabel, The Americas, NOG, etc). I figured Deathstar couldn’t be the only band that existed before the North Magnetic and Micromagnesia! What [place] was the D.I.Y.R.G.? Zeke [Rogers of the Makai] was in Stars Upon Thars?

I guess I’m a geek about it, but I hope you know how much it means to me to hear about the history of this precious town we cry tears of joy over. The pictures of the older bands like 28th Day and Vomit Launch we’re awesomely timeless, and I really enjoyed reading about the bands before the bands before the bands that I grew up listening to.

Cameron Ford

Church teachings
Re: “Will Latin Masses return?” (Newslines, by Emanuella Orr, CN&R, July 19):

The article was very disappointing and riddled with half truths and untruths. The following are some of the most glaring errors:

1. The Church did not return to the vernacular (local language) to reach younger people influenced by various movements. It was a return to the authentic teaching and practice of the Early Church. The first languages would have been Aramaic and Greek because that was the vernacular of the participants. Latin would have been the vernacular of local churches in Rome. To call the Latin Mass “traditional” may be traditional for the Middle Ages but not the lifespan of the Catholic Church.

2. The notion that lay people (non-ordained) should not be active participants in the Mass defies all Church teaching.

3. The notion that the Second Vatican Council trivialized the Mass or encouraged disregarding the essential core of Catholic Church or the teaching of Christ demonstrates that the holder of those beliefs does not have a clue about what Vatican II decreed or what the documents actually say.

I certainly hope readers of the article accept the views of [churchgoer Jeff] Culbreath for what they are: personal views. If he chooses to go to only Latin Masses (which are valid), hold the belief that the Church leaders were collectively wrong when they convened for the Second Vatican Council, that women are second-class Christians, and that vernacular masses are invalid, he may certainly hold those views, but he should be very careful to identify them as merely personal opinions.

Roger Conley

Why cover this guy?
Re: “The making of a killer” (Cover story, by R.V. Scheide, CN&R, July 12):

I was greatly disappointed in your story on a number of levels. Most important is that I think it did your readers a disservice. That story made me ill—both for the content and the knowledge that a large portion of the community would be reading it and also feeling negative.

Running that story was a community-wide energetic downer. Running that story on the front page was a sensationalist tactic unnecessary and beneath you. Honestly, I didn’t even read the whole piece. I got disgusted and, knowing that there are countless better ways to spend my time, chucked the whole thing in the recycling.

This is a great community to live in, and there are so many positive things going on that I can’t see the draw of writing about a bad man and his bad life. How about seeking out people who are making a positive impact on the community for your cover stories? I would forgo disgust for inspiration any day.

Rachael Morgan

‘False propaganda’
It’s sad that truth is often the first casualty in the struggle between sides of a political issue. Witness the current debate in California over single-payer health insurance. To get to the truth, you have to go beyond the language.

The governor has hit on phrases like “government-run health care” and “socialized medicine” as labels he believes will elicit a knee-jerk reaction from the public to defeat SB 840.

Fact: SB 840 creates a state agency that would receive health-care monies in the form of taxes paid by employers and individuals, and it would pay the bills submitted by private heath-care providers, in the manner of the Medicare model. It would not employ doctors or other health service personnel. A state board would have power to negotiate drug-price controls and provider-reimbursement rates, but it would make no decisions regarding patient care.

By contrast, in the case of the U.S. Veterans Administration, medical personnel are indeed employed by an agency of the federal government. You could call this a form of socialized medicine. To apply that term here is false propaganda.

Carolyn Dorn