Letters for December 27, 2012
The dangers among us
Re “Crazy people, insane society” (Guest comment, by Jaime O’Neill, Dec. 20):
Teaching at some of the same colleges where you [Jaime O’Neill] have taught, I have had a few scary moments as well. Right after Columbine and its evil twins, I remarked it was strange nothing like that had happened recently on a college campus. I spoke too soon. Very shortly afterward, a current student of mine came to Chico State with a gun but was apprehended before he came to my class.
I also sat in my remote Butte College main campus portable classroom one night after an evening class listening for an hour to two jocks who were unhappy with the failing grades I had “given” them discuss how they were going to attack and kill me when I exited the classroom.
I had a student whom I handpicked to walk me to my car after night classes (for safety, ya know) get convicted of raping comatose managed-care-home patients. I had a student urinate in my car when I made the (huge!) mistake of offering him a ride home when he missed the bus. I later discovered that he had been calling my house all semester when I was in class and talking to my then-5-year-old son, asking him what I look like in the shower and what kind of underwear I wore.
These are just a few of the stories I have—and I am only one person. There are so many unstable people who absolutely have to be kept from easy access to killing machines. Surely even the “pry it from my cold, dead hands” folks are starting to see it, right? Please?
Re “Making Chico ‘clean and safe’” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, Dec. 20):
It’s troubling when misplaced fear bends into reality. Caution is seldom misguided, fear most often is. Being afraid to walk through the City Plaza because people are gathered is hyperbole based on prejudices and perceptions of homelessness that have no place in a decent society.
Satire or sincerity?
Re “The killing of innocents” (Letters, by Chad Wozniak, Dec. 20):
I want to thank Mr. Wozniak for his satirical letter suggesting arming school employees. As a former school employee, I got a chuckle about the ridiculous idea of us walking around schools with bandoliers across our chests and AK47s on a sling while we mopped the floor and cleaned the toilets. Maybe we could even carry a few fragmentation grenades for supreme kill power.
Of course, if Mr. Wozniak’s intent was not satire, then I would be one of the “bleeding hearts” who sympathize with this “poor misguided @#$%&*!!” who must be oh, so unhappy and misunderstood to write what he did, expecting any sane person to take him seriously.
As for his specious statements about Australia’s gun laws, I quote from conclusions of a study done by the University of Sydney in 2006, 10 years after the first laws were enacted: “Australia’s 1996 gun law reforms were followed by more than a decade free of fatal mass shootings, and accelerated declines in firearm deaths, particularly suicides. Total homicide rates followed the same pattern. Removing large numbers of rapid-firing firearms from civilians may be an effective way of reducing mass shootings, firearm homicides and firearm suicides.”
‘It’s just a rifle’
Re “Our ‘obligation to try’” (From This Corner, by Robert Speer, Dec. 20):
In stating “nobody needs a military weapon,” I assume you are referring to assault rifles such as the AR-15. That gun fires a .223 caliber bullet. Most hunting rifles fire bullets that are far more powerful, and will do so as often as the trigger is pulled. The biggest difference is simply how the gun looks. An “assault rifle” has a scary name and, to some, a scary look. But it’s just a rifle.
As for your comment about 30-round magazines, I’d suggest a review of the case of Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter. He carried 10-round magazines, but happened to have 17 of them. It takes less than five seconds to drop one magazine out and insert another. Oh, and Mr. Cho used two handguns, one of which was a .22 and the other a 9mm, not an assault rifle.
The point? Getting rid of guns you find scary or asking for a national ban on large-capacity magazines isn’t going to accomplish anything. It’s time to stop pretending “gun control” will change gun violence. Chicago has the strictest gun laws in the country, yet 500 people were killed there by guns this year, more than all gun-related troop deaths in the war zone of Afghanistan during the same time period.
Passing new gun laws would be like placing a Band-Aid over a wound that needs surgery. The problem will never be fixed if we stay so shallow in our conversations on violence.
We’re all mentally ill
The response to the most recent mass killing is the typical editorial stance—this happened because the person had unaddressed mental illness and access to guns. One percent of the world’s population has schizophrenia. This number has remained stable since record keeping began.
When you add depression, bipolar, PTSD and personality disorders, closer to 10 percent of people qualify as “mentally ill” at any one time. All countries have mentally ill people with access to guns, yet we are the one with the distinction of nearly 100 mass shootings in the last three decades.
The actions of these people reflect the mentally ill society they live in. Believing you can solve your problems with violence is a sickness, and U.S. society gravely suffers this mental illness. We have the world’s largest military, the world’s second-largest prison system of all time (after Nazi Germany, and quickly gaining), the most armed police force ever (largely to pursue nonviolent substance users), police- and military-themed movies and television shows where we witness thousands of unnamed people killed for our entertainment, our children playing video games with the goal of killing as many strangers as possible—these are all symptoms of a sick society.
The mental illness that needs to be addressed is the one that pervades our culture—our addiction to violence.
R. Sterling Ogden
A matter of morals
A short time before the presidential election, Tim Ruhl, senior pastor of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, posted a sign outside his church that said, “Vote for the American.” This posting was wrong on many levels, not the least of which that it’s illegal for churches to support any candidate because of their non-tax status.
A short time after the election, in mid-November, Tim’s son, Jesse Ruhl, a minister himself, pleaded no contest to engaging in lewd conduct in a public place. Jesse was accused of sexually touching a 16-year-old female congregant. Perhaps the sign should have read, “Vote for the non-child molester.”
This month, a local group called “Coalition of Reason” placed a dozen billboards around Chico stating, “Don’t Believe In God? Join the club.” One of the billboards was soon vandalized. I’m assuming this was done by some believer, as it required a lot of time and energy.
All this has me thinking: How can believers ask non-believers, “Where do you get your morals from?”
Repubs: Try honesty
Steve Thompson, the chairman of the Butte County Republican Party, recently asked for “honest” input from Butte County voters about what they would like to see from the Republican Party in the future. More specifically he asked, “How can we earn your vote?”
Here’s a thought: How about vetting a Republican candidate for the 4th Senate District who actually resides within the district? Unfortunately, the current Republican candidate for the 4th District, Jim Nielsen, lives year-round in the 5th Senate District, which includes all or parts of the following counties: Napa, Solano, Yolo, Sonoma, Contra Costa and Sacramento. Lois Wolk, a Democrat, is the current state senator from that district.
I think a little honesty is always the best policy.
Mark S. Gailey
Conflict of interest
Here we go again. Corruption seems to be forever.
I was contacted by phone by an unnamed person revealing another Tehama County cover-up. My letter, published in the Sacramento Valley Mirror on Dec. 1 and the Red Bluff Daily News Dec. 6, listed the names of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 grand jurors. This person recognized the name of a juror who was having legal entanglements with District Attorney Gregg Cohen.
Conflict of Interest? Absolutely! That person should never have been sworn in.
Mr. Cohen, how do these people slip through your vetting process? My complaint on Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, in my opinion, could have been easily compromised, and I believe it was.
The details of how this person knew of this matter wasn’t discussed. However, I was told this person would keep in touch and come forward and cooperate if someone filed a complaint.
District Attorney Gregg Cohen and you judges, obey your oath. If anyone else is aware of this allegation and should contact me, I might consider getting involved. God help us if Gregg Cohen ever becomes a judge in Tehama County.
Walgreens’ other problems
Re “Walgreens whacked for eco-violations” (Downstroke, Dec. 20):
Thank you for this article. Walgreens is fast becoming a pharmacy America doesn’t trust. I am in Arizona, and after working at the company for three years I was forced to quit because of workplace hostilities. I was 57 at the time, and the company did nothing to help resolve the situation.
As a result, I have been protesting and boycotting. I have concerns regarding patient privacy as well. Walgreens’ Topix forum had a thread about antidepressants and was taken down because of employee gossip regarding who is on what medication.
Green Valley, Ariz.