Letters for February 28, 2008

Death penalty broken; here’s a fix
Re: “Twenty-five years on death row” (Newslines, by Amy Runge Gaffney, CN&R, Feb. 21):

I certainly agree with the assessment by former Chief Justice Gerald Kogan that the death penalty is assigned in far too many cases. I have to believe that any thinking individual would agree that, used as either a deterrent or a punishment, the death penalty has proven to be a complete failure. The fact that we have, as the article stated, almost 670 pending death penalty cases proves that point.

However, I am not opposed to the death penalty. Instead, I think we need to approach its use from an entirely different point of view: the protection of society.

There are individuals who deserve the death penalty simply because they are such a threat to society that we cannot take the risk that somehow they may escape or be erroneously released to once again terrorize us. Examples that come to mind are Richard Allen Davis [Polly Klass’ killer], [Alfonso] Rodriguez [Dru Sjodin’s convicted killer], the BTK Killer, etc. In these cases, the appeals process should be swift and final.

Robert Grignon

Professor Sharma focuses debate
Re: “Origin of the specious” (Letters, CN&R, Feb. 21):

It is worth pointing out that under the guise of the U.S. Constitution, each and every person has all the rights to express anything that individual wishes to. However, it is of import to understand, the Constitution is a political document and gives one the freedom in the social and political setting, not in a specific academic subject in which one lacks expertise.

The continued controversy about Darwin’s theory and the so-called creationist or intelligent design theory is based upon the false premise that one is at liberty to expound across domains that have no common boundaries.

The term “theory” in scientific parlance has no relevance to the term “theory” used by journalists, politicians, lawyers and the public. One is based upon pure faith as per each individual’s perception, and the other is macroscopic scientific study.

Darwin never in his original manuscript, published as The Origin of the Species, implied a ladder-step transformation of lower living things to the stage of what we now call “man.” In view of the molecular perspective, evolution talks of a tree with multitudes of branches; man is one branch of this tree. Unless one has a clear understanding, the bitter back and forth of touting one’s viewpoint is meaningless and intellectually dishonest.

Finally, those who quote other scientists, without having expertise in the science quoted, irrespective of the side on which the science is quoted, are indulging in utter folly. Politicians do it, but that is where politics and science do part instantaneously unto death.

Brahama D. Sharma

Rhesus, not Reese’s
Re: “Dueling dissents on Darwinism” (Letters, CN&R, Feb. 14):

In their letters against Darwinian evolution, Gary Rayome and Larry Carmichael continue the attack on science by religious believers. Religion has long been used to fill the gaps in understanding we have for the world around us. Science explains more every year; the gaps narrow, and devoutly religious people fear that their way of life and beliefs are being threatened.

There’s nothing wrong with religion, and there’s nothing wrong with science. In fact, if you choose to believe, science might just be the God-given method for understanding the God-given universe.

It doesn’t have to be “one or the other"—but if it is, how about this: If you keep your religion out of my science, I’ll keep my science out of your religion.

Jason Reisinger

A heavy message
Re: “Having a cow over editorial” (Letters, CN&R, Feb. 21):

While the debate rages in the Letters section of this newspaper over what constitutes a decent diet, our kids continue to bow to the diseases of obesity and childhood-onset diabetes—both nearly unheard of 40 years ago. Local studies show more than half our kids are overweight by fifth grade, 25 percent of kids of color are showing early signs of diabetes onset, and 10 percent of babies show signs of heart disease.

All rates are even higher for Native Americans. Trends hold true for all groups and don’t stop at graduation.

Next Friday (March 7) at 4 p.m., retired Cornell nutrition professor T. Colin Campbell will be speaking at the Enloe Conference Center. Raised on a dairy farm, he has studied both animal and human nutrition, in the world and in the lab. Professor Campbell authored, along with his son in medical school, The China Study.

If you care about kids and can read, I suggest you read his book. If you can’t read, then attend his talk. If you can’t attend, then don’t just sit on your ass and munch what author Michael Poland calls “food-like substances"—do something! It is not just our kids who are sickening and dying.

Richard Roth

Artist’s impression
Re: “The candidates on Cuba” (Editorial, CN&R, Feb. 21):

While visiting my sister who lives in Chico, I picked up the CN&R. I very much enjoyed the Cuba editorial. Having done a lot of research for my Fidel sculpture [shown on Castro postcards she’s made and sells], I discovered that Fidel did much to pull Cuba out of poverty and ignorance. It’s good to know the candidates’ stands on Cuba. Time for change.

Laura Harling

Eyewitness’ analysis
It is ironic to witness the elite chomping at the bit to re-establish the kind of “democracy” I witnessed under the rule of our stooge Batista half a century ago, ceding U.S. control of that sovereign country’s resources and causing absolute poverty for most of its people.

Joe Bahlke
Red Bluff

Editor’s note: Mr. Bahlke explained in a separate note that he was a merchant marine in his 20s. He visited Cuba multiple times, the last in 1958 for a whole month—"it took us that long to load a cargo of brown sugar, because of the prevailing unrest.”

Sorry, no do-overs
Re: “Monster in the making” (Newslines, by Robert Speer, CN&R, Feb. 14):

While I like and respect Jim Adams, his opinion regarding Greg Wright and his 22-year sentence is a bit misdirected. Jim of all people should know about accepting responsibility for one’s actions.

You cannot blame the police, district attorney, probation and the judges for your actions. It would be nice if we could all throw the dice and, if the outcome did not suit us, we could have a do-over.

What if the recent Northern Illinois [University] shooter had a history similar to Mr. Wright’s and had received the leniency of the court as Jim and letter writers have suggested? Would saving one troubled young man be worth the lives of the five or six students?

I have a daughter in junior high school, and I know of students who are angry bullies who torture and beat up others at school. The current way to deal with them is to send them over to continuation school for a while and then allow them back at a later date.

I am not as concerned about their education as I am about my daughter and the rest of the students’ safety. If Greg Wright’s removal from society saves the lives of students on campus, it is worth it to me. I know for sure that I will sleep better.

Brice Del Faro
Hamilton City

Hmmm …
Re: “ ‘Sexist’s cop-out’ “ (Letters, CN&R, Feb. 14):

Lareina Reyes’ letter, [which mentions her] not hearing that 71 percent of the criminals in California come from single-mother families (source: state Attorney General’s Office), brings out a good point: the suppression of news by the feminist-dominated media.

Here’s some more news women don’t want known: Women comprise 91 percent of grade-school teachers (source: Teacher magazine) and 75 percent of K-12 teachers (source: Secretary of Education)—and as a result 80 percent of high school dropouts are boys and boys get 70 percent of all the D’s and F’s (source: Scripps Howard News Service columnist Diana West), and boys account for 71 percent of all school suspensions (source: Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson).

Two-thirds of the people in prison are high school dropouts (source: Secretary of Labor), so any way you approach it, women are creating the vast majority of criminals in our society.

I could go on, but space limits me. The point is: Feminist propaganda does not constitute news. An ignorant press is no press at all. We need accurate data to address our substantial societal problems.

Michael M. Peters

Hmmm, hmmm …
Is punishment meted equally?

If you live in Chico, you’ve seen the signs on The Esplanade: $350 minimum fine for running a red light. Let’s say Subject A nets $20,000 a year and Subject B nets $200,000 a year. Both run red lights on The Esplanade; both are fined the minimum. Subject A pays 1.75 percent of his/her yearly income, whereas Subject B pays .175 percent.

Maybe it’s just me who thinks there’s a serious disparity in the logic.

Garth Talbott

Here, here!
I just read that the war in Iraq is costing us $338 million dollars a day! We are borrowing $343 million more every day to pay for it.

It seems obvious to me that the best way to get out of this recession is to end the war in Iraq so some of that money can be spent on people here at home for things like health care and job revitalization to help prevent foreclosures.

Anna M. Deroski