Letters for February 5, 2004

Frivolous choices

Re “Inside the abortion clinic” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, January 29):

The most disappointing aspect of your cover article on abortion, which purported to be about the politics of abortion, was that it dealt strictly with the politics of one side.

It didn’t delve at all into the aftereffects of abortion on women, which has spawned post-abortive support groups such as Silent No More, Project Rachel and Rachel’s Vineyard.

Also disappointing were the several frivolous reasons used to justify “choice” in this country, (i.e., legally murdering an innocent child because, in most instances, the parents screwed up, and so the child has to pay).

Our hearts weep for the women who underwent this procedure; for the medical personnel who violate the Hippocratic oath by their cooperation in murdering these children; and for our country, which has turned a blind eye to the deaths of 43 million babies over the last 31 years. May God have mercy on us for callously allowing this unspeakable crime.

Brian and Karyn O’Neel

An A+ for Tupperware skills

Re: “Guerrilla rock lives!” by Becca Costello (SN&R Cover, January 22):

In October of 2003, I went to a pub for a few birthday drinks with my friends, which, in turn, led to a few more drinks and some funky late-night dancing at the Press Club. After closing time, while being herded and barked at to go outside, the usual curbside banter and haziness hit with the realization that home time was nigh.

Then, suddenly, up rolls the band Sacramento for several great songs on the sidewalk. Fabulous can only describe the sidewalk-band interaction. Their enthusiasm and Tupperware skills shone through. What a great night. Rock on, Sacramento!

Roberto Fabulouso

It’s a real Iraq-o-potamia

Re “Between Iraq and a hard place” by Andrew Scutro (SN&R Cover, January 15):

What an insightful article this was. I now have a much better picture of what our troops are facing over there; the challenges are mind-boggling. They are combat soldiers, diplomats, dispensers of funds, negotiators, teachers, liaisons, etc.

Mr. Scutro had a complex story to relay, which he did concisely and clearly. And the photos emphasized the story; the faces and body language gave credence to the words.

As comedian Jon Stewart might say, “What a Mess-o-potamia we have gotten ourselves into.” Our soldiers are the ones caught in the midst of it—and doing remarkable work under very trying conditions.

Thanks for featuring this article.

Doris Fodge

American turtle vs. Iraqi scorpion

Re “Between Iraq and a hard place” by Andrew Scutro (SN&R Cover, January 15):

Reading through Andrew Scutro’s article on Iraq reminded me of my own expatriate Middle Eastern experiences. American soldiers’ frustrations in Iraq are real and understandable, for they reflect oversimplified American expectations.

Bush’s neoconservatives have perpetuated a view, common to all American foreign policy from the early 1900s, that American-style democracy is a model for the rest of the world to emulate. It follows that they believe establishing a democracy anywhere is simply a matter of instituting free elections and allowing people to vote, without regard for cultural nuances.

To any expatriate with experience in that region, this outlook appears abysmally stupid. Scutro’s real gem is the tale of the turtle and the scorpion, for it perfectly illustrates an important aspect of the area.

I well recall when, during my 10 years of work for the royal Saudi government, a good friend of mine (Crown Prince Abdullah’s nephew) took me aside to explain that the paradoxical, sometimes insanely contrary attitudes of the Arab peoples could be best understood as a product of climate. Observing that the mood swings of the Arab peoples are as variable as the extremes of heat and cold that are part of their world (daytime 120-degree highs to bone-chilling nighttime 30-degree lows), my friend’s apt analogy helped explain how the mood of the Arab peoples can swing wildly in the span of a heartbeat and how their whole civilization is proportionately influenced.

This insight served me well on numerous occasions in my dealings with the desert people, and it provides a context within which to gauge the intense frustrations that our ground troops feel in Iraq. Sadly, if the Bush administration had sought counsel and guidance from experienced Arab specialists before committing America to an Iraqi invasion, we not only would not be sending home body bags well after the “final battle,” but we also would not have invaded Iraq in the first place.

Chris Carey

Marketplace rules!

Re “Why American Idol sucks” by Jackson Griffith (SN&R Arts&culture, January 29):

In this article, I see the same basic fallacy that I see in virtually all “anti-consumerist” literature: a denial of the consumer’s free will.

The power ballad was not “shoved down the public’s collective throat,” as Jackson Griffith claims. The music industry did not perform a Jedi mind trick to make people want to listen to this musical genre. Today, anyone can take his or her pocket money into the nearest Borders, Virgin or Tower superstore and choose from just about any form of music in the world. The customer is king.

Brian Sorgatz

Bites wears blinders

Re “Bad con, no donor” (SN&R Bites, January 22):

I love the way Bites describes the Bee as if it’s partisan to right-wingers. That must come from the fantasy land your writers and editors live in.

Have you ever read anything in the Bee? Ever seen their editors speak? I’m going to let you in on a well-known secret: It’s as liberal-leaning as the [San Francisco] Chronicle or the Los Angeles Times.

If you don’t think they lean only one direction and just want them to cut out the political nonsense in general, then point out something the Bee does that is extremely liberal or left-leaning now and again. If you do, it will lend your argument of fairness more weight. Otherwise, pointing out and criticizing only the right-wing things the Bee does just shows your own political blinders.

I love the arts calendar and all the concert information. Keep up that good work.

Dan Staley

They’re people, not problems

Re “Can’t get past the shopping carts” (SN&R Letters, January 22):

I am writing in response to the Midtown resident who wrote that his “urban strolls” are a “teeth-clenching ordeal” on account of an “army of homeless beggars.”

I have lived in Midtown and worked in downtown for over 20 years. I walk through these neighborhoods nearly every day with no ill effects. Though panhandlers approach me, I am rarely harassed. My typical response to an appeal for funds is, “Sorry, I can’t help you. Take care.” Then I continue on my way without disturbance.

Most street people I meet push carts of cans or meager belongings. They do not panhandle. Some of these folks appear to be ravaged by alcoholism or mental illness, or both. Most of these folks appear to be suffering.

On my walks, I see hardworking gleaners, collecting cans and bottles in all kinds of weather. Folks like José, a dignified, elderly former farmworker who lives with family but collects cans because work is all he knows.

I am sorry this writer has had such negative experiences and am at a loss to explain why they differ so markedly from my own. Perhaps it is because I see human beings, each with a story to tell, rather than “street bums” looking for “free rent and a well-stocked liquor cabinet.”

Stella Levy