Letters for August 23, 2012
Freedom Summer’s legacy
Re “Freedom Summer in the segregated South” (Cover story, by Jaime O’Neill, Aug. 16):
Thanks for your excellent article on Freedom Summer. While almost a lost chapter in our history, for those of us who participated that summer it was truly a life-changing experience. I too remember Rita Schwerner’s words about the missing volunteers, and her prophetic words that they would not be found alive are burned in my memory, too.
At a recent Freedom Summer reunion in Oxford, Miss., I was able to reassure Robert Moses that all of us had done much soul-searching and knew what we were getting in for and, although we were not looking to be martyrs, the great injustices that we recognized called for great sacrifice.
When I was arrested in Laurel, Miss., a couple of weeks later and not too many miles from the location of the murders, I knew that I was doing what I had to do to try to help bring the attention of the country to the conditions particularly (but not solely) in the South.
We must remember, however, that the work is not yet done—hatred and violence are still with us, even locally. My work in Freedom Summer still ranks among my most important life’s experiences.
Jaime O’Neill’s cover story was very powerful, very touching, and very well written. The vivid descriptions of the ferocity with which many white Americans have clung to white privilege are an important reminder of some of the ugliness of the American past. And, as Robert Speer points out in his column [“Today’s modern poll tax,” From This Corner], Mr. O’Neill’s article is very relevant for today; as Republicans try to disenfranchise as many black and other minority voters as possible; some of our past American ugliness is still present.
I am not as courageous as Ms. Duncanwood. But in the summer of 1964 I helped register voters in a black ghetto of Los Angeles. One of the routine questions on the registration form concerned birthplace. I remember being amazed at how many of the registrants were originally from the South.
Most of us, except for Native Americans, are descendants of immigrants. African Americans, however, were brought here against their will, as slaves. Many of their descendants later became “immigrants,” leaving the South and its institutionalized discrimination and hatred to seek the American Dream elsewhere in the United States.
Mr. O’Neill’s article and Mr. Speer’s column are reminders that the American Dream has been and continues to be deliberately kept out of the reach of many Americans.
They serve Jews too
Re “Here come the rabbis” (Newslines, by Tom Gascoyne, Aug. 9):
The visitor to Chico who stated that Chico has only two institutions serving Jews is misinformed.
Chico Havurah was founded nine years ago and is an affiliate of the Reconstructionist Movement, a liberal branch of Judaism. One of the distinguishing features of the Havurah is our “radically inclusive” philosophy in which individuals and families who have felt marginalized in more mainstream synagogues can find a welcoming spiritual home.
This includes interfaith families, members of the LGBTQ community and anyone interested in exploring Judaism. A visitor is not asked if they are Jewish or not. All are welcome.
Look at the evidence
Re “Whole-body dentistry” (Healthlines, by Evan Tuchinsky, Aug. 16):
Silver fillings contain some mercury but are safe and effective for filling cavities. It is considered unethical for dentists to advise their patients otherwise.
The mineral fluoride was discovered to be essential for maintaining strong teeth, and the National Institutes of Health declared this to be one of the top 10 health-care advances of the last century. It is the standard of care that dentists and pediatricians prescribe it to their patients under 16 years of age. Dentists who fail to prescribe fluoride or who advise removing serviceable silver fillings are increasing revenues at the price of harming their patients.
Obamacare rightly emphasizes evidence-based heath care to reduce costs and improve our patients’ outcomes. Let’s cut the superstition and think of our patients first. The Europeans do it; so can we.
Michael Jones, DDS
Re “Noisy neighbors” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, Aug. 9):
I am a musician in favor of a strict noise ordinance. Music can be beautiful, but has also been used as torture.
The last thing people with jobs and kids need to hear is someone else’s music at … any time of the day. Low-end frequencies (bass) especially has the potential to travel long distances and go right through walls.
A modern dance song is usually 120 beats per minute. That means if you can hear your neighbor’s stereo, that’s 120 interruptions a minute, 7,200 an hour. Give the Chico police the tools they need to promote the greatest music—silence.
Wait for the referendum
Re “Board gets tougher on pot” (Downstroke, Aug. 2):
Supervisors Wahl, Connelly and Yamaguchi have done Butte County a huge disservice by trying to jam their new marijuana ordinance down the voters’ throats.
Obviously this new, restrictive ordinance will not be allowed to be enacted. The growers will now not only mount a referendum against it, but they will draft their own ordinance to be passed at the June election that certainly will be more liberal to the backyard grower than what would be able to be negotiated with them right now, and that ordinance will not be able to be challenged or altered by anyone but the voters themselves. This is exactly the opposite of what is intended by these supervisors.
Another obvious ramification is that the voters will express their disdain at these self-indulgent supervisors who have told the voters to put their votes where the sun don’t shine by also efficiently using their signature gatherers to remove them from their positions—especially Larry Wahl, who has done virtually nothing for this county. Furthermore, great care will be taken in the November elections to stop any like-minded candidate from membership on the board.
The rush to adopt this new ordinance is obvious, and the voters will certainly be slapped in the face once again at the Aug. 28 meeting when it is adopted regardless of the lack of adequate venue, overwhelming opposition and inadequate vetting process. I would encourage the supervisors to capitalize on this opportunity by rethinking their actions.
Looser laws, less crime
Re “Supervisors got it right” (Letters, by Tom Fitzwater, Aug. 16):
Tom uses economics as a justification that pot causes crime. It’s like saying solar panels are expensive and people like to steal them, therefore they need to be outlawed.
In 1995 cannabis sold for $5,000 a pound due to heavy policing and unforgiving laws against it. People ripped it off back then, too.
There are far fewer cannabis-oriented robberies per grower these days. Relaxed liberal laws on cannabis reduce its value, and it is worth less than 20 percent of what it was in 1995, when you take inflation into account. That allows law enforcement to concentrate on meth, domestic violence, car thieves and other such crimes.
The trimmers and processors of cannabis make $15-$35 an hour, bringing increased revenue to the area.
My tax money is being wasted on a plant that’s less dangerous than coffee or tobacco just to punish citizens for daring to resist an irrational government policy.
He’s not ‘one of us’
I just read about the $8,000-a-plate dinner congressional candidate Doug LaMalfa is holding. His slogan that he is “One of us” struck a sour note.
It also made me wonder what these rich attendees expect for their money. If LaMalfa is selling his influence, a lot of us are going to be left behind.
Doug LaMalfa receives hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in welfare. (The wealthy like to call their free money “subsidies.”) If he is “one of us,” then I am waiting for my $200,000 check.
Having a burger on the campaign trail does not make you working class—i.e., “one of us.” It is fine to run for Congress, but please don’t patronize the voters.
Romney’s good tax deal
Apparently, Mitt Romney earned approximately $20 million last year. The estimated taxes owed by average American taxpayers with $20 million in earnings would be nearly $7 million, which would represent nearly 35 percent of their total earnings.
News flash: Mitt Romney announced yesterday that he has paid at least 13 percent of his earnings in taxes (on average) each year for the past 10 years.
Applied to the 2012 tax year, approximately 13 percent of Romney’s $20 million in earnings would result in about $2.6 million owed in taxes, successfully avoiding paying nearly $4.4 million dollars more.
In comparison, my wife and I – with our combined middle-class earnings—have consistently paid closer to a 20 percent tax rate.
Moral of the story: I need to either find myself a much better tax lawyer or look into some good Bahamas tax havens—like Mitt.
Mark S. Gailey
Due to an editing error, our Newslines article last week, “‘Zombie’ drug hits Chico,” states that, following that infamous Florida face-eating incident, only marijuana had been found “in the victim’s system.” It should have read “the assailant’s system.”
The error has been corrected online.—ed.