Letters for August 17, 2006

He doesn’t need to apologize

Re “My Christian apology” (SN&R Guest Comment, August 10):

I fully understand P.C. Walker’s sense of shame when representatives of his chosen faith behave in the sorts of disgusting manners he described, and I certainly relate to his desire to say, “Please don’t judge all Christians by the actions of these folks. We find their behavior just as appalling as you do.”

I hope Mr. Walker will rest assured that only a very narrow-minded and shortsighted person would judge all Christians by the actions of, say, the Rev. Fred Phelps (of “God Hates Fags” fame) or of the many, many other reprehensible people one could easily name. On the other hand, we can’t accept an apology from someone else on his behalf.

Mr. Walker claims that because of his faith, he is “compelled to apologize on behalf of other Christians,” and his heart is certainly in the right place. But the simple truth is that Mr. Walker doesn’t speak for them, any more than they speak for him. Apologies cannot be done by proxy.

His feelings are common, though. I have hundreds of free-thought articles online, and over the years I’ve received many e-mails saying very much the same thing. I’ve told all of them: We non-believers cannot accept such an apology because no one can apologize for someone else. Not only is it not anyone else’s responsibility; it’s not anyone else’s right. The only apology that bears any meaning is an apology from the offender, not a well-meaning bystander.

Condemn the actions of these cretins, of course. That is within the rights of anyone, and I think it’s safe to say that one’s faith makes it one’s responsibility to do so. But I urge Mr. Walker and others who share his feelings to demonstrate Christian goodness to the world by personal actions, not by offering empty, though sincere, apologies for those of others.

Vincent M. Wales

Historical accuracy is not a bad thing

Re “Sex, politics and textbooks” by Stephen James (SN&R News, August 3):

I am an openly gay 16-year-old high-school student in the Sacramento area. I was disappointed that this article did not express the alternative viewpoint typical of SN&R articles.

In general, it expressed the opinions of right-wing conservatives who see equality and historical accuracy as micromanagement. It lacked commentary from those who understand the impact that such legislation could have. Surely SN&R, a newspaper that attempts “to have a positive impact on our communities and make them better places to live,” can appreciate Senator Sheila Kuehl’s efforts with Senate Bill 1437.

A GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender)-inclusive curriculum benefits not only gay people, but also the communities in which they live. Having students learn that GLBT people are active and contributing members of society is the first step toward building communities that uphold values of tolerance and respect. While inclusive curriculum is ideal and will hopefully be realized in the future, the amended S.B. 1437 acts solely as a non-discrimination policy.

Perhaps it is my foolish idealism that leads me to believe there is still some good left in the world, but I have a hard time understanding why anyone opposes a non-discrimination policy toward such a marginalized group of people.

Garrett Rubin

Plastic facts

Re “Plastics challenge” (SN&R Editorial, July 27):

SN&R was right to suggest that there is mounting evidence on the safety of Bisphenol A, a substance used to make a wide array of shatter-resistant polycarbonate plastic products. But the overwhelming consensus of scientific and government bodies worldwide is the exact opposite of what you claimed: Trace levels of BPA in consumer products are not a risk to human health.

From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to the European Union to the Japanese Ministry of Environment to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis—all are unanimous in supporting the continued use of products made from BPA.

BPA is one of the most extensively tested of all substances and has been used safely for more than 50 years. In light of all the scientific findings, the continued use of polycarbonate products—including baby bottles, bicycle helmets, eyeglass lenses, and incubators and other life-saving medical devices—is just common sense.

The unproven speculation in your editorial also formed the basis of San Francisco’s ill-advised action banning children’s products made from BPA. By fully examining the scientific evidence of BPA’s safety and efficacy, rather than merely conducting a cursory review, state lawmakers should not make the same mistake.

Steven G. Hentges
executive director, Polycarbonate Business Unit, American Plastics Council


Re “Visages” by Saunthy Nicolson-Singh (SN&R Night&Day, August 3):

We misprinted the titles of Betty Nelson’s self-portraits. The correct titles are “Self Portrait # 9” and “Self Portrait # 15.” Katsura Funakoshi is male and does not use his saliva in his artwork. We regret these errors. This has been corrected on the Web site.