Letters for April 16, 2009

Letter of the week
Justice, not vengeance

Re “Catch and release” by Janelle Weiner (SN&R Feature, April 2):

“Catch and release” didn’t quite land the big shark, though we see his teeth as he glides by in the third paragraph, where Weiner notes the resistance to deincarceration and changing “three strikes” among those who have a financial conflict of interest, including the [California Correctional Peace Officers Association] and all kinds of politicians (not to mention drug lords in Mexico and Afghanistan).

But why have voters clung to three strikes? Why are they more interested in vengeance than justice? Why are they acting just like an abused wife, clinging to a possessive husband who has brainwashed her into fearful compliance with his protection racket?

And why are we still addicted to Prohibition, which cements us in the war on drugs? Why stick to a cure worse than the disease? Why continue to support laws based on such atrociously bad science? These laws are themselves the most common cause of crime nowadays. Such irrational obstinacy must be a very bad example for youthful minds.

While I’m sure the Folsom Transitional Treatment program is estimable, it can’t address our societal self-abuse via continued criminalization of self-medication. Mammals have been self-medicating since long before apes appeared on the scene, let alone men (women of course were created after men, making them the most fully evolved). Acting like legislation and enforcement can change human nature indicates that drugs are not the worst enemy of rational thinking.

In any case, the kind of behavior that is the alleged reason for drug prohibition is already illegal. But if those laws can’t fix offensive behavior, more laws about partially related activities that are intrinsically human solve nothing.

Also hidden between the lines (of “nonserious, nonviolent” in the first paragraph) is the reality behind the standard phrase “serious or violent.” Law enforcement and the news media use this phrase all the time but people don’t realize that “serious” in this case includes practically all nonviolent drug crimes. In effect, whoever uses this phrase is lying by being very misleading.

One way to make the Folsom program even more effective could be to expand it to also address our addictions to fossil fuels and double standards.

Muriel Strand

Don’t forget Sac’s other sister city

Re “Vouching for Bethlehem” by Patricia Daugherty (SN&R Frontlines, April 9):

This is the latest installment on the heroes of SN&R: the “Death to Israel” Palestinians. You remember them—they’re the ones who were dancing in the streets and passing out candy when the World Trade Center and over 3,000 civilians were incinerated by the heroes of these heroes.

One issue overlooked by the article is the Christian population of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. In 1998, shortly after the Palestinian National Authority took control, the city was about 85 percent Christian. By 2005, the Christian population had dropped to about 20 percent. Christian émigrés cite the imposition of Shariah law, along with violence, intimidation and confiscation of land by, um, well, by the designated heroes of SN&R. (Anti-Israeli propaganda counters that the Christians, but for some reason not the Muslims, have fled because of Israeli security measures taken against suicide bombers launched from Bethlehem.)

The article urges that Sacramento adopt this formerly-Christian-now-Muslim city as a sister city, because it would “[give] Sacramentans a chance to connect to people in a part of the world that is too often misunderstood.” Ironically, Sacramento already has a sister city in that part of the world: Ashkelon. You’ve probably heard of Ashkelon. It’s one of the Israeli cities whose civilians have been under rocket attack by, um, well … that would be SN&R’s Palestinian heroes again.

Fred Hayward

Like thepersonal touch

Re “Why I don’t need church” by Burt Wilson (SN&R Sacreligious!, April 9):

I loved the picture and found it interesting to hear an account of a person’s spiritual history. I’m not so sure about a 10-year-old’s [spiritual] epiphany, though; I’m sure he had it, but not sure it is true.

Thank something that Burt Wilson acknowledged he didn’t know everything, but I think he meant “yet.”


More than onekind of Sac music

Re “No love for the spinners” (SN&R Letters, April 2):

Chad Williams takes after the Sammie nominations for Turntablist and Outstanding DJ Dance Night, referring to them as the “musical equivalent of a retarded monkey.”

OK, Chad, my band does a fair amount of bitching and moaning about the lack of recognition we think we deserve, too. But you know what? I recognize hip-hop as being a valid form of music, even though I don’t play it and don’t actively seek it out for a listen. I do know that a great turntablist is crucial to the presentation of hip-hop in both recording and live performance. I’ve seen some really good ones who know exactly what beat to drop a sample or when to set up a nice polyrhythmic groove. You have to know something about music to pull that off, so yeah … they are musicians in their own right.

As for the deejays who host the “dance nights,” I have had some great conversations with Shaun Slaughter and Roger Carpio who never fail to impress me with their depth of knowledge and passion for the music they present. If you think that these guys are just wedding mooks spinning “Celebrate” for drunk uncles of the bride, think again; it’s my opinion that they are the last link to the old-school “free-form” radio guys. They think about the mood and arc of what they present and actively seek out new and interesting music to play; that and they are huge supporters of local bands and songwriters and often work local songs into their programs.

Those of us who most likely will never see a Sammie nomination can always find some reason to complain about the process (I gave that up; waste of energy and the time is better spent on writing new songs). But railing against categories that in fact do represent a part of the overall fabric of Sacramento music is just sour grapes.

Don’t like it? Don’t vote on it.

Warren Bishop
Citrus Heights

Deejay soul kissing

Re “No love for the spinners” (SN&R Letters, April 2):

Never thought I’d be writing SN&R to respond to another reader’s letter, but I think Chad Williams needs some support as to why we need our music categories.

I understand Chelsea Wolfe better by knowing that she writes her own songs, but I don’t sneer at all the fine singers who don’t. It’s no easy task being a deejay, trying to find the right mix of music to please Sacramento’s notoriously eclectic and fickle music crowd. [Williams] is a case in point.

I have to wonder if it’s the attitude or the music that ticks [him] off. If the former, I hope [he] develops a sense of humor. After all, he’ll still be creating music while the fadistas are desperately scrambling to join the Next New Thing. If the latter, I invite him to listen to “Final Home” by DJ Krush, from his Kakusei album. This is not dance noise; this is kissing-your-soul stuff.

Crystal Friedrichs

Sustaining our sushi

Re “Unsustainable sushi” by Alastair Bland (SN&R Green Days, March 26):

If U.S. consumers stop eating all bluefin, will this save the bluefin from extinction?

No. The quantity consumed in the United States is insignificant.

Will it send the message to [the International Commission for the Conversation of Atlantic Tunas], the Japanese, etc.? Has it so far?

No. The best way is to differentiate fisheries and to provide economic incentives to those fisheries that are more sustainably fishing their tuna. After all, they are migratory species that travel in international waters, and if you think we can protect them from slaughter in the open ocean when we cannot protect the men, women, and children of Rwanda from slaughter, you are misleading yourself.

The last two years have seen Chinese buyers pay record prices for tuna at the first auction of the year at Japan’s Tsukiji market. We do not have much time. You can send all tuna fishers to the corner of the classroom or you can just punish those breaking the rules. It is your educated choice that matters most here, as it the only thing that will save these animals. Demand to continually pull more and more fisheries toward sustainable management.

Oh, and if you think your yellowfin and bigeye are sustainably fished, think again! Next time you are about to eat your (often carbon-monoxide-gassed) tuna (unnaturally red and carcinogenic), ask your chef where it comes from! You have a right to know and a choice: Bury your head in the sand or be part of the solution.

Alistair Douglas
via e-mail