Letters for May 12, 2011

Gays and Christians

Re “Tearing down a ‘big tall wall’” (Cover story, by Jerry Olenyn, May 5):

Thanks for the thoughtful and nuanced article on gays and religion. My thoughts on the subject are informed by my knowledge of history. In the year I was born, the vast majority of white American Christians firmly believed that scripture dictated the separation of the races and the supremacy of the white race. Today, most would be embarrassed to say such a thing.

A year before my birth, my parents were ejected from the church in which my mother had grown up for the sin of speaking up for racially integrating the church. They were the only members of a good-size church to take that position. The minister denounced them from the pulpit for their un-Christian ideas and quoted scripture to prove his point.

As an agnostic, I know nothing of what God (if any) wants from us. But I do know that beliefs evolve. And I strongly suspect that 50 years from now, fully equal rights for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters will be as accepted in church as fully equal rights for African-Americans are today.

David Welch

I am offended by your choice to put a big, flashy, controversial question on the cover: “Is being gay a sin?” This is an issue on which people disagree, an inflammatory issue. This is an appropriate article for the CN&R to publish, but by choosing the sensationalist cover, you add fuel to the fire.

Thanks to great progress in our culture, same-sex couples are so much the norm in some circles of our society that this flamboyant question implants doubts that may never have arisen before for some of our young people. My grandchildren, growing up in San Francisco, danced at their Uncle Tony and Uncle Phillip’s wedding on the courthouse steps several years ago. They are bright kids who know how to read and think. At 12 and 15 years of age, I don’t want our local paper to implant ideas in their heads that never would have arisen on their own. I’m sure they are aware of prejudice, but sin? Please!

The gay community and their supporters have worked for many years for our society to become respectful and inclusive of all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. I see this choice for your cover as a setback in that work.

Emily Alma

I am often appalled by the exiguous mindset of many Americans when it comes to homosexuality. When I was a teenager growing up in Pittsburgh, gays and lesbians were always present in our community. They were accepted and actually enjoyed.

“Is homosexuality a sin?” The question reminds me of my deceased cousin in Portland, Ore. He was one of the finest individuals that one could know. My aunt, his mother, was very religious. She always looked at his lifestyle as a sin and could never accept it. Even on his deathbed she begged him to repent and renounce his homosexuality. He refused, and I am proud of him.

Jerry Harris
San Francisco/Chico

I cannot see what positive effect this ongoing debate can provide. There will never be a solution. Personal opinions simply are part of the biological makeup of humans and, as such, I will not always agree with you, or she with him, or they with us, etc.

One has to choose to sin. The hardships endured by those of the gay community should be a clear indicator that homosexuality is not a choice. More than that, your sexual preference has no effect on my life nor is it any of my business, and this should be the stance we all take toward each other. Does it really have to be this hard to get along? Celebrate the commonalities with your fellow man instead of crusading against your differences. As Christians, isn’t the first consideration “What would Jesus do?”

Steve Ross

What good is served?

Re “Bad news for Castle” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Graham, May 5):

The conviction of Joel Castle highlights much of what is wrong with our criminal-justice system. We, according to the police chief, do not have enough officers to keep Chico citizens safe from violent crime, yet we can spare an officer to trap a 63-year-old man in a guitar-for-pot trade. California is cash-strapped, yet we spend thousands of taxpayer dollars prosecuting, defending and adjudicating this man’s pot-for-guitar trade. Two police officers are taken off the streets to testify against Mr. Castle to assist in getting a conviction for this silly setup of a crime.

Mr. Castle is poor, not able to afford a meaningful defense; of course he is convicted. He is facing a possible sentence of four years in prison at a cost to taxpayers of $200,000. California’s prisons are bursting at the seams. Many of those housed in its cages are poor and serving time for convictions similar to Mr. Castle’s, nonviolent drug offenses. Where is our collective common sense, our sense of fair play and justice?

Evanne O’Donnell

Wally’s wasting her time

Dear Rep. Herger, I do not support your use of time representing me to pursue the anti-abortion agenda. This does not help me get a job, save the economy or do anything of value to me. I am surprised the Tea Partiers let you do this, as it constitutes more government intervention in my personal life.

To summarize:

1. This bill is a waste of valuable time, as it will never go anywhere (but you knew that, huh?).

2. This bill represents additional governmental interference in my personal life (don’t you make a point of reducing governmental interference in personal matters, let alone business matters?).

3. I need a job, and you did nothing about that (doing nothing is what you do best, isn’t it?).

Marne Bass

Political murder as policy

Re “After bin Laden, what?” (Editorial, May 5):

The lasting significance of the OBL hit is that political murder is now an open and official policy. If, as the experts tells us, international law is based on the law of contracts, then all nations now have the legal option to pursue political murder as official policy.

So far as making anybody safe, well, now no one is safe. One can only speculate, but because the people who have forged this breathtaking new condition are educated adults, it does seem that this was the goal of the OBL hit. Whether or not this was a deliberate goal is interesting, but irrelevant. The world now has a new legal principle—murder.

It’s obvious that nuclear-armed Pakistan was, at some level, hosting OBL. His murder in an illegal raid, in Pakistan, invites the unspeakable. Was that the goal?

Larry Sellers

Mustangs need thinning

Re “What will be the fate of the wild mustang?” (Newslines, by Melissa Daugherty, April 21):

I always find it interesting when the “wild” horses and burros show up for adoption. If one is looking for an expensive government program created for the wrong reasons, this is a great one.

While there is a nostalgic view of mustangs as descendants of the horses brought over by Spanish explorers, the vast majority of them are the progeny of escaped and/or abandoned domestic horses gone wild. In fact, a large number of them came from U.S. Cavalry horses that were let loose in the West as the Army began to mechanize.

The herds do need to be thinned from time to time, since they have few natural predators. That is money well spent. What is a waste is not offsetting some of that expense by utilizing them as a source of protein. They make excellent pet food and food for zoo animals, and there is no small foreign market for human consumption.

To spend money feeding and maintaining and transporting and in some cases doing this for the balance of the animals’ normal life is foolish. If folks feel strongly that these animals merit the treatment they are afforded, we should let them do so at their expense, not the taxpayers’.

Tim Edwards

Encounter with racism

Beware, Chico.

Under our tolerant, NPR-loving openmindedness and our all-around American niceness, racism and ignorance continue to raise their ugly twin heads.

Friday, while I was enjoying a sunny midday in Chico, reality suddenly hit me square in the face. Thankfully, I did not get my butt kicked as well.

As a result of a faded Obama sticker on my car, I ended up (after some animated hand gestures) being called by the racist go-to phrase, “nigger lover.” This supposedly inflammatory term was shouted by a high-school student, who, along with his similarly overfed sidekick, was ready to take off my head.

Give an opportunity for civil discourse, violence (in an unfair punch-out with a retired guy) was their automatic response.

So, get to know your neighbors, Chico. Keeping Chico “white” may be on their agendas.

My final retort in the head of the moment was unknowingly clichéd and false: “It’s all good!”

Jim Howell

Measure A is wrong

Letters on Measure A have covered the politics, fairness to which group(s), money and power (associated with making and/or spending money). I’m strongly inclined to agree with the “NO on A” analyses in this debate.

There is another power that’s even more important, the power of an idea, especially when coupled with a fundamental value. The inception and long history of our idea of America (some prefer “The American Experience” or even “Experiment”) has a strong element of struggling with giving practical effect to a value such as “all men are created equal.”

Up to this point in that shared struggle the direction has, with some strong interruptions, been toward doing all that can be done to be inclusive and engaging; encouraging genuine civic involvement of all legally competent and legally defined adults and therefore all such groups of such adults.

Measure A is designed, and advertised by its proponents, to dampen participation by one group of such adults in our “college town” city.

I would be against such an effort to minimize or discourage any group at any level of public policy-making regardless of extra costs or some savings.

As is oft cited, we all would pay more money, a lot more money over time, to thus discourage full Chico citizen involvement. Know the facts, the short- and long-term effects, and vote. It’s your right and responsibility in this great, evolving idea. I’m going to vote “No”; Measure A is wrong by my values and understanding of America.

Abe Baily

Dairies’ manure pollution

It’s no wonder that so many of the “most polluted cities” on the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report are located in California: There are approximately 2,700 dairy farms throughout the state. The excrement produced on these farms emits harmful gases such as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia into the air.

According to a report by the California Senate, animal-waste lagoons release toxic airborne chemicals that can cause inflammatory, immune, and neurochemical problems in humans. A Scripps Howard report included this warning about animal waste: “[I]t’s untreated and unsanitary, bubbling with chemicals and diseased. …Every place where the animal factories have located, neighbors have complained of falling sick.”

Animal factories also contribute to climate change, water pollution and other environmental problems that affect our quality of life. If you want to breathe easier—and help stop animal suffering—choose soy milk and other vegan options instead of dairy products. See www.peta.org for more information and product suggestions.

Heather Moore
PETA Foundation

Norfolk, Va.


Due to an editing error, the Newslines story last week about Chico High School wrestler Nahshon Garrett (“The making of a national champion,” by Vic Cantu), incorrectly stated that Garrett, like his brother Isaac, was a ballet dancer. The brothers do perform together in song-and-dance numbers, but only Isaac Garrett is a ballet dancer. Our apologies for the mistake.—ed.