Letters for February 7, 2008

Consider the officers’ predicament
Re: “The fight of his life” (Newslines, by Ginger McGuire, CN&R, Jan. 31):

The recent sympathy article continues the blatant disrespect for those who protect us.

This article describes how this “honor roll” cage fighter was somehow assaulted by the Oroville P.D. He was tased five times due to his “excited delirium” because he had both cocaine and oxycontin on board. His “heart attack” and subsequent kidney failure are the result of his own stupidity. He appeared as he did because when someone’s kidneys fail, they are prone to puff up and look “like a ball” as his father described.

The pure fact that his toxicology screen showed evidence of these drugs completely invalidates his account. His fear of sleeping alone nowhere compares to the fear the officers had upon approaching this tweaked-out youngster with more brawn than brain. He should be happy that he is alive.

I choose to withhold my name in order to protect myself from this “victim.” My concern is that he chose to fight the police and was hospitalized and likely has no way to pay for the days of ICU care he received.

Please give some respect to the men and women who have to respond to the antics of punks like him.

Name withheld by request

Editor’s note: The CN&R expects letter writers to stand behind opinions they make public, so we withhold names only in rare instances. We do not feel Mr. Bias would harm this writer, but out of respect for the expressed concern for personal security, we’ve accorded anonymity.

Another take on the tasing
Two-hundred-ninety people have been killed by tasers in the past half-dozen years. It is a lethal weapon. Police have found a way to electrocute people without going through the trial and sentencing phases.

Why can’t we use tranquilizer darts and nets instead of guns, clubs, etc.? This works on animals.

And why can’t we address the problem of crime at its source? Seventy-one percent of the criminals in California come from single-mother families. Why aren’t social workers doing intervention?

Michael M. Peters

Kudos to critic for key question
Re: “The Internet’s a killer” (Reel World, by Meredith J. Cooper, CN&R, Jan. 31):

Congratulations to film reviewer Meredith Cooper for asking about a film’s morality! She notes, intelligently: “Some of the scariest and most disturbing movies leave the blood and guts to the viewers’ imagination. In not doing so here, Untraceable falls into its own trap of feeding curiosity. Where then, I ask, are its morals?”

Hear, hear! When one compares, say, No Country for Old Men or 3:10 to Yuma with Beyond the Gate or The Kite Runner or Atonement—all of which deal with violence—I think it’s apparent which support humanity and which simply, meaninglessly and immorally degrade humanity.

I believe it is very important in this era of Vietnam, Darfur, Rwanda, Iraq and Palestine for reviewers to help guide us about how violence is handled—whether more or less just to appeal to our worst instincts (merely to sell tickets for the sick titillation and adrenaline rush) or to help us actually learn about how to cope with today’s violence, be it on the personal or world scale.

What does watching the bad guy kill in No Country have to teach us? The blessing of Beyond the Gate, by contrast, is that rather than drowning us in Rwanda’s genocidal mania, it has us identify with two antiheroes who are struggling with their responsibilities.

Hooray for Meredith in leading your reviewers in actually questioning the morality of films!

Jamie Hollomon

Editor’s note: Mr. Hollomon wrote a Guest Comment on this subject in the issue of Oct. 11, 2007.

Up with trickle down!
Re: “Change agents … to a degree” (cover story, by David Moberg, CN&R, Jan. 31):

Regarding the comment on “a fairer sharing of the nation’s prosperity"—as I’ve said before [including Jan. 31 Letters], raising taxes by ending Bush’s tax cuts only reduces the capital available for job creation. One must accept rich people’s wealth if there are to be surplus funds that owners can afford to risk those funds as venture capital.

Middle-class people can’t bear this kind of risk, and government definitely can’t. To spread prosperity, therefore, the first requirement is for available capital. This creates more high-paying jobs and opportunities for more people to earn good incomes. Higher taxes subtract from that capital and those opportunities.

Second, require public schools to tell pupils which career skills are in demand and earn more—and how to get those skills and qualify for those careers—beginning in first grade. Tell kids the choices they make will determine whether they are poor or well off.

Cut out the touchy-feely stuff and get back to rigorous teaching of “the three R’s.” Standardize the curriculum nationally to prepare kids for professional and technical postsecondary education.

Being educated in skills that are in demand and making good choices are what make for prosperity, not soaking the rich. (Funny how only the middle class feels it when the “rich” are soaked!)

Chad Wozniak

‘Fee hikes affect all’
Re: “Freeze, fees!” (Campus, by Seth Sandronsky and Monica Unhold, CN&R, Jan. 31):

On behalf of Tuition Relief Now headquarters, I would like to offer an immense amount of appreciation for your wonderful article about our campaign.

Fee hikes affect all of California, not just students, and it’s up to us to make sure that a college education is affordable for all students. We are making history—our movement is the first-ever student-led, volunteer-driven, hi-tech initiative campaign; check us out at www.tuitionreliefnow.org. It truly is inspiring to see students in the bright yellow T-shirts hitting the streets for a cause they believe in.

Ami Patel

Editor’s note: For more information on the local effort, contact Julia Murphy at juliam@tuitionreliefnow.org or (510) 485-4765.

Priorities, people …
Re: “An American education” (Sifter, CN&R, Jan. 24):

The Jan. 24th issue included a barely noticeable listing of the U.S. ranking among the 10 worst nations for mathematics education according to the Program for International Student Assessment.

Disappointing news, but not surprising given the deplorable curriculum our students and schools are forced to follow. It teaches kids math by rote memorization and step-following. There is no connection to the real world. All we’d have to do is ask our neighbors to the north, Canada, how they are teaching math; they are among the 10 best.

I notice that when the Chico Police Department got an ordinance passed that allows them to disperse party-goers, a protest group arose. Are parents, principals, teachers and students in Chico going to feel strongly enough about this issue to protest our ranking among the 10 worst? Although I think there ought to be protests all over California, I’d be surprised if it happens.

Lisa Chambers

Wright got wronged
Re: “Teen gets hard time” (Downstroke, CN&R, Jan. 24):

Gregory Wright’s mother broke into tears of shock and grief when she saw his attorney go forward with the plea of no contest. It was shocking because Gregory intended to withdraw his plea.

Just before calling his case, Judge Sandra McLean cleared the courtroom. During this break and without the public [to] notice, she assembled his enemies. Whatever was said or done, the outcome was Gregory felt intimidated and took their “deal.” He sat mute in his chair and offered no resistance as his sentence was pronounced. It was horrible to watch.

We expect a judge to be fair and unbiased. How much effort did she invest on his behalf to get a balanced look at the case? Why did she use the highest levels of punishment rather than midterm or lower term? The highest levels are usually given to repeat offenders or really bad characters. If she listened to the voice of the prosecution, only then she was deceived.

Many of us continue to work on Gregory’s behalf, and we will still be working when it comes to election time.

James J. Adams

Still blowing a fuse
Re: “Turn down the lights” (Editorial, CN&R, Dec. 20):

A few issues ago, you wrote an editorial about Christmas lights. I have tried to let it go, but I can’t.

Only the News & Review could equate Christmas lights with global warming. I have been enjoying Christmas, Christmas trees and, yes, lights, all my life and didn’t know I was causing global warming.

So, editor, as soon as possible, put on your rain coat, jump in your car, drive as fast as weather permits to Northstar [at Tahoe Resort] and yell real loud: “Get off the slopes—global warming is coming.”

Gimme a break! As I have written to you before, if it weren’t for Chico State, you would be just another empty building gathering cobwebs. No, by golly, you would be another Starbucks.

John Keeling

Consensus on caring
In many ways, our nation is still paying the price for the mental-health problems suffered by some Vietnam veterans. Studies consistently show they make up a large portion of the homeless we see on the streets of our nation’s cities.

Many in today’s new crop of vets are reporting mental-health issues as well. Recent reports show a sharp spike in suicides by troops in or returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

So how is the Bush administration addressing the problem? Defense Department lawyers went to court arguing that veterans have no specific right to mental-health services. Even though Congress has appropriated the money, the administration’s argument is there’s no obligation to provide the service.

I suppose the thinking is that we need the money to wreck the lives of more young men and women; we can’t waste it caring for the ones we’ve already wrecked.

Whatever one may think of the Iraq occupation, or the size of America’s military budget, there should be one thing that we can agree on, across the political spectrum: the obligation to care for those whose bodies and minds have been damaged in the service of our country.

David Welch, R.N.

Klamath compromise
For more than two decades, the people of the Klamath River Basin have been in turmoil over water. Up-river tribes, down-river tribes, commercial fishermen and irrigators in the Klamath Reclamation Project have all taken major hits in the form of lost fisheries, massive fish die-offs, or loss of irrigation water. Bitter water wars have become a defining feature of the Klamath in the eyes of many.

More of the same is not what we want. It’s time to fight for peace. That’s why a diverse coalition of farmers, Indian tribes and conservationists has come together to develop a bold, long-term solution, called the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement (KBRA).

We came together and hammered out a grassroots solution in the KBRA. It equitably shares water among farmers, fish and refuges, restores salmon runs, protects affordable power rates, implements collaborative approaches to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and strengthens rural and tribal economies.

Some people on the extremes—left and right—don’t want a solution. They oppose compromise and want to continue the divisions that have only brought economic and environmental hardship to the Klamath Basin. But everyone else realizes that the status quo isn’t the solution, it’s the problem. If you oppose progress you have an obligation to propose a better alternative, and we haven’t heard one.

If we fail to act now, farmers and ranchers will go broke, and fish, and those who rely on them, will continue their downward spiral.

The Klamath Tribes are a partner in helping craft this consensus plan. But one of the most disturbing tactics being used by certain opponents of a common-ground solution is to attack the tribes and anyone who associates with them.

Nothing about finding common ground among diverse interests has been, or ever will be, easy. But it has been accomplished in the KBRA, which the Klamath Tribes has officially endorsed. Now it needs the support of our government leaders and, most important, the public, the residents of the Klamath River Basin.

Joseph S. Kirk,
Klamath Tribal Chairman
Chiloquin, Oregon