Letters for January 23, 2003

The rap on KZFR
I read your interview with DJ Rubbaban from KZFR [“The trials of Freedom or Death,” Music, Dec. 12, 2002], and as an experienced programmer there feel a need to share some truth and observations with his long-time audience and the community at large.

First, it was not “the programmers” who didn’t like his show or who wanted it off the air. What I heard from most of the programmers I encountered was anger, irritation, sadness and general upset that the Program Council succeeded in railroading him out. They targeted him months before he left because they didn’t like his material and he didn’t conform to their ever-narrowing sense of proper taste.

The white, middle-class, middle-aged club that made this decision has broken the principles that make KZFR unique and a community asset. Playing a little world music and some liberal talk shows will not smooth it over. DJ Rubbaban has been with the station far longer than any of the present Program Council [members] and has proven himself an asset in many ways. He has conducted interesting and lively interviews, brought members of the community into the studio to sing and rap with him, brought the HERE program for runaway kids to his pledge-drive shows, and has been one of the very few programmers to attract younger listeners to KZFR.

With the passing of Freedom or Death, we have lost a vital connection to the African-American community. Because of the bigotry of a few, the voices of many are stilled. The powers-that-be at KZFR can make up for this dishonorable and shameful episode by apologizing to DJ Rubbaban, inviting him to come back in his old time slot and once again adhering to the principles that made our community station what it is.

Name withheld by request

Draft proposal
Should the draft be reinstated [Streetalk, Jan. 9]? Yes.

An Army is composed of people whose function is to kill other people. This is an unconscionable act for most of us, one that most people hold to be abhorrent but can accommodate when necessary. An Army composed only of volunteer killers is frightening. Without the calming influence of those who have been forced to become killers, an Army can become an unrestrained brute.

It brings to mind images of a petty dictatorship in which murder and torture are the routine rather than the extreme.

Roger Graham

SUV psychology
All human activity is driven by emotions. The votes we cast, partners we choose, sitcoms we watch are choices impelled by emotions. Choosing to buy an SUV ["Sitting high and mighty,” cover story, Jan. 9] is an emotion-driven decision.

Two fundamental emotions are involved in the choice to buy an over-large, environmentally disastrous, socially intrusive vehicle such as an SUV. John Lavezzi’s letter to the editor [“I gotta be me,” Jan. 16] exemplified both of these emotions. The first is fear; the second is disgust.

Research supports the belief that people who make a choice to overuse scarce resources are driven by fear, and in particular fear of death. A research study gave experimental subjects a two-paragraph essay on death to read, while controls read two neutral paragraphs. Both groups were then asked to decide how to manage the trees in a small forest. The subjects who had read about death immediately cut down all the trees in their forest, while the controls selectively cut trees. Mr. Lavezzi, and SUV buyers in general, fear death. They are unaware of their fear and equally unaware that their fear motivates their action of buying an SUV. The SUV is a machine; it does not age so fast, does not have clogged arteries. If something breaks, a replacement part is available.

Disgust is an emotion we feel when we consider death and dead things. It evolved from the response to eating rotten food. SUVers feel disgust at the thought of their own dead, decaying bodies, but they are unaware of this. Disgust is a very powerful emotion. Disgust can overwhelm a person, and so disgust-driven people find a way to manage it. Emotions are social phenomena. One way to manage an emotion is to get someone else to feel it for you. SUVers are consumed by disgust, and so they buy a disgusting vehicle and get others to feel their disgust for them. I feel the same emotion toward SUVs and their owners that I feel when I see a clear-cut forest or read that yet another tanker has fouled yet another beach and killed more sea life: disgust.

John Omaha, Ph.D.

Size matters
While Tom Gascoyne might suggest that people buy big ol’ SUVs to compensate for their “shortcomings,” could it be that Tom’s obsessive disdain for them stems from a classic case of “big thing” envy?

Scott Huber

Last word on SUVs
Enough already about SUVs! Yes, I am one of the many hated SUV drivers! I have a (gasp!) Suburban. You have been hammering on us for long enough now, and the Jan. 9 article was very insulting.

We have a 17-year-old, 15-year-old twins and a developmentally disabled brother, plus my husband and myself, in our home. When was the last time you tried to fit six adults in a car? Would you be happier if we took two cars everywhere we needed to go, or should we just leave half of the family at home?

You reported that SUV drivers don’t care about other people’s kids. That’s a good one. Who is the first to be called when drivers are needed for field trips and sporting events? Who are the ones who take your child on trips out of town that they wouldn’t be able to go on because of your transportation restrictions? Who drives without reimbursement for gas and has to carry higher insurance coverage so we can do this? You got it, those greedy SUV owners!

Are we bitter? Heck no! We enjoy doing things with our kids as much as we enjoy taking extra kids with us. We don’t continually knock your choice of cars, and a little respect for our choice would be nice. After all, you’re the one who stays at home while we take on the responsibility of getting your kid around. Remember us, the greedy SUV people, the next time you tell your kid to “find a ride!”

Debbie Ritchie
Received via e-mail

Slave ships
On Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday I heard Mumia Abu Jamal talking on KZFR about Illinois Gov. Ryan’s death-row clearance. Mumia is a black man on death row in Pennsylvania, accused and wrongly convicted of murdering a white Philadelphia police officer in 1981.

Mumia likened the prisons of this nation to the slave ships that used to ply the seas between Africa and the Americas carrying their suffering cargo that was exploited by white economic interests to make the rich richer. Our prisons are not unlike those slave ships, and the prison industry needs inventory (convicts) to operate at profitable levels.

Blacks and other minorities are way over-represented in prison populations. This is because minorities (unless they are the O. J. Simpsons) have poor access to decent legal representation and are thus likely to be found guilty and punished. Minorities are not less law-abiding than whites, just more apt to be prosecuted to the fullest. Death row in Illinois had 266 men that Gov. Ryan saved: More than half are black.

This will not be a nation of true freedom until all the governors do what Gov. Ryan did. It’s your turn, Gov. Davis. Stop the industrial prison system of this nation: It is no better than one large slave ship.

John Burge