Letters for December 21, 2000

What took CPS so long?

Re “Mom Slams CPS” by Amy Yannello (SN&R News, Dec. 14):

I feel bad for any parent who has a child wrongfully taken, but was Imogean Harlan’s “nightmare” really any worse than the nightmares her children have suffered? This was only one in a long string of at least 14 documented contacts with Child Protective Services in just the last few years. Given, maybe living in a filthy house with dirty dishes and food left on the counters did not affect the children, the youngest a mere infant. Maybe living with an unemployed person who’s taken drugs (husband Burnette Peteet) is no longer traumatic to the children, especially since he’s been in recovery for five years. But what about the rest of it?

Harlan claims that the kids were “well cared for and not abused,” yet admits that her home was “dirty” and in substandard condition, and that the children were subjected daily to damaged floors and walls, dry rot and the black mold. It was, in fact, the responding police, not the CPS, who took the children into protective custody. Police deemed the home so dirty, damaged and neglected that it presented an “eminent danger of harm” to them. This would not be the first charge of neglect, but the fourth in four years, the three prior ones being legally substantiated. The children were not taken during those three prior incidents, so how bad must the home have been this time to finally induce people to remove them for their own safety?

It has been alleged that the “informal supervision plan” was drawn up before Harlan’s case was ever evaluated, but if past history, 14 interventions by CPS and undeniable evidence of neglect are not considered good enough reasons to make sure that innocent children are safe, then what is? Yes, maybe Harlan and Peteet’s neighbor is trying to “make trouble for” them. Yes, maybe CPS did follow the spirit instead of the letter of the law. Maybe they were both wrong. Or maybe the neighbor wonders, as I do, “what took them so damn long?”

K.M. Torres

Rage against the radio

Re “A Slow Deathray” by Jackson Griffith (SN&R, Dec. 7):

I am a huge Deathray fan and was so happy to see them on the cover of the paper. I do wish, however, that it could have been under better circumstances.

I find it appalling that Sacramento radio had little to nothing to do with the major label release of a Sacramento band’s CD. I visited Austin, Texas, this summer and “Now That I Am Blind” was all over the radio there, but completely absent from the band’s hometown. How is that possible? Shouldn’t we tie the radio DJs up by their collective toes and throw Deathray CDs at them?

Gretchen Schueller

Organize and conquer

Re “International Activism” by Elizabeth McCarthy (SN&R News, Dec. 7):

I applaud the public activism of the Davis couple—Will and Jane Lotter—and their support of FAMEDEQUA and other Central American human rights workers. All law-abiding American citizens should take due heed of the evil workings of official and vigilante outlaws in their direct participation in mass murder and fascist repression in Guatemala; against the Zapatistas in Chiapas Mexico; and FARC in Colombia.

I am a seasoned activist and have been involved and concerned about human rights since the late 1960s when I worked with the United Farmworkers Union led by Cesar Chavez. And I was born and raised in Sacramento, the so-called heart of California. So I am no dilettante youngster.

I prophesize that America will become engulfed in what will be known as “Latin-nam” with continental proportions and intercontinental ramifications. We never really learned as a collective people from the 60,000 or more American lives lost in the “police action” of Vietnam.

We appreciate the School of the Americas Watch website at www.soaw.org.

The US Army School of the Americas, based in Fort Benning, Georgia, trains Latin American soldiers in combat, counter-insurgency and counter-narcotics. Graduates of the SOA have been responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America. Among the SOA’s nearly 60,000 graduates are notorious dictators Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola of Argentina, Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia. Lower-level SOA graduates have participated in human rights abuses that include the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the El Mozote massacre of 900 civilians.

I am also an American Indian Movement supporter and I know that Americans never deeply care about foreign issues until white American lives begin to be lost for no sane reason and Dick and Jane don’t come home.

Thank you and keep up the good educational work! Why is Leonard Peltier still in prison? Venceremos!

Peter S. Lopez

Mortuary inhabitants alive and kicking

Re “Hostel Takeover” (SN&R Capital Bites, Dec. 7):

Just to set the historical record straight, the International Hostel, which was once the Llewellyn Mansion, was never “bumped across the street by a mortuary.” The fact is it was a mortuary: Clark, Booth and Yardley. It metamorphosed into the University Club and still later into a restaurant called Mory’s Place. Finally, it was moved across H Street to its present location.

Stanley Gilliam

Don’t misquote God

Re “The Strange Loves of William T. Vollman” by Ben Ehrenreich (SN&R, Nov. 30):

William T. Vollmann’s “case against God” is based on a lack of knowledge and understanding of the three historical events he reviews.

He asks why God rejected Cain’s offering. The reason is because God can read the heart and discern one’s motives (1 Samuel 16:7). I found it interesting that Jude said men who “are speaking abusively of all the things they really do not know” are following “the path of Cain” (Jude 10, 11).

When Cain “grew hot with anger,” God warned him to get mastery over it. Cain hardened his heart to God’s admonition to turn to doing good and murdered his brother. His offering lacked the motivation of faith that made Abel’s sacrifice “of greater worth.” Cain’s attitude was bad because “his own works were wicked” (Genesis 4:3-8; Hebrews 11:4; 1 John 3:11, 12).

Vollmann is wrong in his statement that the soldiers of Israel were allowed to rape the captured virgins of cities that refused terms of peace. Deuteronomy 21:10-14 instructed the soldiers to remove the women’s “mantle of captivity,” to give them time to mourn their parents and to marry them.

God decreed the extermination of the Canaanites because, as the book Archaeology and the Old Testament relates: “The brutality, lust and abandon of Canaanite mythology … must have brought out the worst traits in their devotees and entailed many of the most demoralizing practices of the time, such as sacred prostitution, child sacrifice and snake worship … utter moral and religious degeneracy. …Excavations in Palestine have uncovered piles of ashes and remains of infant skeletons in cemeteries around heathen altars, pointing to the widespread practice of this cruel abomination” (p. 279).

Jesus at first refused to help the Canaanite woman because “I was not sent forth to any but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). He explained: “It is not right to take the bread of the children [of Israel] and throw it to little dogs [Gentiles].” The Gentile woman humbly persisted and Jesus honored her because of her faith, healing her daughter immediately (Matthew 15:22-28).

Romans 1:18, 21, 32 warns “men who are suppressing the truth in an unrighteous way … became empty-headed in their reasoning … know full well the righteous decree of God, that those practicing such things are deserving of death.”

Diane Church

Rewriting the reform

Re “Top Educator Needs an A” by Dr. Bernard Schur (SN&R Guest Comment, Nov. 22):

After my last contribution to SN&R, readers challenged me to submit my own “imaginative, challenging, and/or risk-taking ideas” that are not part of our current educational policy.

Let’s eliminate algebra, geometry, etc. as requirements, except for those students pursuing careers or a college education where such higher math skills will be needed. Instead, create higher math survey courses in grades 8 to 10. Teach bookkeeping, accounting, budgeting, economics, finance and investment, which are all now survival skills, to non-college-bound students who are about 80% of our high school graduates.

How about alternating two semesters of critical study of print, TV, film and computer media with the required three years of English/Literature so that students will be able to critically view TV, film, music videos and computer promotions.

Change graduation requirements to include a senior year of paid internship and/or apprenticeship at half the minimum wage, once the student has passed the GED, Advanced Placement Test or Proficiency Examination. Present all three certificates as part of completing high school, thus creating an all-inclusive graduation ceremony. In this way, students will be exposed to common-sense decision-making and work-place requirements prior to graduation via their internships or apprenticeships.

Are these ideas contrary to current educational thinking?

Bernard Schur