Letters for August 26, 2004

Farewell to bullfights!

Re “A farewell to Hemingway” by Frank Marquardt (SN&R News, August 19):

First, I was horrified to learn that bloody bullfights had ever been legal in these United States.

While bloodless bullfights are certainly an improvement, they are still cruel. Teasing the bull to make him mad (and frightened, too) is emotional abuse. Wrestling the bull could injure the animal. And if I had a tail, I don’t imagine that having it pulled would feel too good.

Bullfights of any kind, as well as rodeos, should be outlawed. If the matadors and cavaleiros must fight someone, let them become professional boxers or wrestlers. Then at least their opponents would have a choice.

Liz Purcell

No time for fatigue

Re “War fatigues” (SN&R Editorial, August 19):

Your editorial cites “unimaginable violence” in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Violence in Iraq is not unimaginable at all. For decades, Iraq was a brutal and violent society under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Saddam used weapons of mass destruction to kill thousands of Iraqi citizens and bury them in shallow graves. There were rape rooms, executions of political opponents, amputations and other atrocities.

Thanks to the United States and our coalition partners, Saddam was removed from power. Now there is a fledgling representative government working to establish itself. Iraq has a chance at democracy for the first time in recent memory.

Given Iraq’s history, it is understandable that instability and violence continue during the transition to a new government. Time will tell whether democracy takes hold; it undoubtedly will be a work in progress for many years.

Nevertheless, your editorial finds nothing positive about the situation in Iraq and predictably suggests that we need to change presidents. I know it’s an election year, and it wouldn’t be an official issue without the anti-Bush political rhetoric, but you might try to be a little more evenhanded as you discuss complex events in the Middle East.

Gregg M. Wardrip

Car wars

Re “Fight club” (SN&R Bites, August 12):

Bites incorrectly identified me as the person who dismissed the city of Sacramento’s proposal to charge for residential parking as “another form of taxation.” Maybe Bites got this quote from another of the 25-plus people at our neighborhood meeting with city staff.

Residents voiced many concerns (planning, enforcement, safety, traffic, transit options, etc.), which Bites portrayed as loud whining for guaranteed street-side parking spots. The problem: The city wants to start charging residents to park in front of our homes, at the moment when shortsighted city planning has made parking impossible.

City leaders crow about “bringing people downtown” yet avoid dealing with the vehicles they bring with them. Unless the Rapture is imminent, there is no magical way to get people out of their cars. Both the city and the state of California intentionally “under-park” new development and wait for inconvenience to force people onto public transit—transit that is inconvenient.

The effect of these policies on our neighborhoods: Customers and employees of seven restaurants within four blocks compete with residents for street parking. Outsiders park carelessly in any available un-metered space, hogging enough room for two or more vehicles. Pairs of East End state workers trade parking spaces to cheat the two-hour time restrictions. Closing-time crowds from misplaced bars disrupt the neighborhoods and turn the streets into freeways. For residents, the hazards of parking blocks away from home go way beyond inconvenience.

If infill projects degrade the quality of life for residents and create obstacles that discourage visitors, redevelopment efforts will backfire.

Responsible civic leaders and government agencies can provide effective transportation alternatives with irresistible incentives. The city council and the Planning Department can stop over-saturating neighborhoods with under-parked redevelopment projects and quit pretending that the foreseeable traffic and transit problems will just work themselves out.

Marion Millin

Editor’s note: The quote referring to residential-parking-permit fees as “another form of taxation” should have been attributed to Fremont Park Neighborhood Association Chairwoman Pamela Van Camp.

Protest boring parades

Re “Protest this law” (SN&R Editorial, August 12):

The problem with the parade ordinance is a no-brainer—you’d think.

I took a few moments in thought and Web surfing to enumerate how parades will suffer. A juggler (balls are illegal), Boy Scouts carrying too thick a flag pole, a clown shoveling horse manure (shovels are illegal), a drum major (with too thick a baton), the queen of the Rose Parade with a large symbolic key to the city, a knight in shining armor (body armor), ROTC and veterans’ honor guards (rifles)—all are illegal.

I could go on, but what seems apparent to me is that brains were not factored in the drafting and adoption of Sacramento’s parade ordinance.

Paula Lomazzi

Government fears the people

Re “Protest this law” (SN&R Editorial, August 12):

I find it interesting that our government uses the words “ordinance,” “statute,” “regulation” or some other confusing word or phrase for its scams. It seems that whenever these particular bits of law are due to be discussed, they are announced very shortly before the meeting and very quietly. Why is our government afraid of us, the people?

All I know is that if I did what our government does (at all levels), I would be arrested on charges of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, mismanagement, terrorism and anything else the government could think of. On top of that, I would be labeled a dictator.

James Logan

It’s all Eve’s fault

Re “Neither food nor bombs” (SN&R Letters, August 12):

Does Diane Church’s letter mean I can blame all of society’s problems on a woman, Eve, for not having any backbone? I’m sorry, wasn’t there a snake and an apple in this fairy tale?

You really screw it up for the real Christians when you spout this kind of crap. It makes the story of Jesus sound implausible if you tell both stories in the same breath.

David M. Schantz
via e-mail

Where’s the anarchist?

Re “Anarchists get fed up” by Dale Nelson (SN&R News, July 29):

Thanks to SN&R, I am considering becoming an anarchist!

Well, not really, but having now been twice so labeled by association, I am getting pretty confused about political labels.

In the July 29 issue, Dale Nelson wrote a feature on Food Not Bombs, calling it an “anarchist collective.” As editors usually write headlines, I attribute the subsequent headline, “Anarchists get fed up,” to the editor, not Nelson. Although Nelson wrote that Food Not Bombs focuses on feeding people, not teaching anarchy or having anarchy meetings, the editor who titled the article skewed the article sharply. Most readers would assume they are reading about anarchists who are involved in a political skirmish, as they would not know what Food Not Bombs is before reading the article.

I am not an anarchist. Neither am I ashamed to be associated with anarchy. However, I am unwilling to be part of SN&R’s brand of journalism, which includes last year’s Bites column, which labeled bike riders in Critical Mass (including myself) as anarchists.

I commend SN&R for achieving its goal, as evidenced by the Christian fundamentalist who wrote in recently claiming (in other words) that God says no to Food Not Bombs. SN&R has stirred the conservative readership of Sacramento up, not by earning it and writing liberal material, but by tacking inaccurate and incendiary headlines onto average features.

I say “average,” because Food Not Bombs is just one of several groups that feed people in Cesar Chavez Plaza. Would SN&R label the church groups that wander into the park and hand out food in a seemingly decentralized fashion as anarchist? What is the difference between a club with no appointed secretary and treasurer, such as a book club or hiking club, and Food Not Bombs? Why not call every single antiwar, or anti-abortion, demonstrator an anarchist?

Every demonstrator hears some information, which comes from a source, and then acts autonomously in the name of a cause. This is exactly what people do when they decide to feed others and themselves through Food Not Bombs. Most literature of Food Not Bombs does not describe its group as anarchist, and you do not have to be an anarchist to come cook, serve and eat food with Food Not Bombs.

Nova Reeves
via e-mail


Re “Voting while paroled” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R News, August 12):

The story stated that on June 10, 2004, Edward Jefferson was arrested in front of the William R. Ridgeway Family Relations Courthouse. Jefferson actually was arrested at his home.