Letters for January 5, 2006

Happy holidays, bitter ones

Re “O’Reilly’s really right” (SN&R Letters, December 22):

Steve Basker’s letter claims Bill O’Reilly is fighting political correctness with his anti-“Happy holidays” crusade. But it is O’Reilly that is condemning everyone who says “Happy holidays,” regardless of whether they do so for “PC” reasons or because this best fits their own beliefs. It is O’Reilly who says that even saying “Happy holidays” is offensive to Christians, despite that “holidays” obviously includes Christmas.

Who is being PC? As usual, the right-wingers take PC stringency further than any liberals do, whether the media admits it or not.

Basker admits feeling gleeful that gays are being coded into law as second-class citizens. Scrooge and the Grinch had nothing on the supposedly pro-Christmas Basker. He must be really happy considering that his habitually lying hero O’Reilly is fooling many financially struggling Americans into being distracted from the conservatives’ war on their well-being by being whipped into a fervor over the nonexistent war on Christmas.

Happy holidays, Steve. Anyone with as much bitterness and avarice as you needs a little happiness.

Tom Soppe
Fair Oaks

Bravo, Jill!

Re “Tookie and the prize” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, December 22):

Bravo! This article was the most concise, to-the-point, factual piece I have seen concerning the uproar over Tookie Williams.

I hope more people will be exposed to the sham that is the Nobel Peace Prize nomination process. Its very title sends the masses into an eyes-averted, bowing, chanting cadence, as if it had magical power.

All this after-the-fact trial and evidence posturing about convicted murderers is ridiculous. Not only is their guilt washed aside with something as silly as this nomination; they somehow become martyrs, to be mourned and revered.

Enough is enough! Do the crime; spend the time—even if it is an eternity.

Bill Conner

Right on, Jill!

Re “Tookie and the prize” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, December 22):

Right on, Jill! I totally agree with you.

I don’t think I could be any more sick of hearing about “poor, poor Tookie.”

Just because you write some books, it doesn’t erase how you act in your life prior to that. His “fans” are sick in the head. If he was a Crip and murdered people, then he should be treated as a wild animal. And if he was a Crip, then he should be man enough to take what he himself used to dish out.

I’m not heartless. I am very compassionate, but my compassion comes out for those who deserve it, not those who “found God” whilst awaiting their death. Sorry, it just doesn’t seem very genuine. Now, had he found that path on his own, I’d be impressed. But since he was looking down the barrel, I didn’t believe him. He was just scared of meeting his maker because he knew he had done terrible things.

Kudos to Jill Stewart for putting my feelings in print so eloquently. This isn’t just for Stanley Williams—this goes for all idiots who think they can lead a life of crime and then get pardoned for it 20 years later.

Shawna Rodriguez
Citrus Heights

Awards are jokes; forgiveness isn’t

Re “Tookie and the prize” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, December 22):

Ms. Stewart expresses shock over the manner in which a Nobel Peace Prize nomination can be obtained, stating that her perspective of the award has been “forever altered” and maintaining that this revelation has spoiled her perspective of the Nobel award process.

Forgive me if I have a difficult time taking Ms. Stewart’s sentiments at face value.

Most of us over the age of 14 recognize awards for what they are: staged opportunities to leverage political capital. Oscars don’t necessarily go to the best screenplays, Emmys don’t necessarily go to the best TV shows, and—deep inhale—Grammys don’t necessarily go to the best musicians! Instead, these awards are shining examples (pun intended) of opportunities for those in power to lobby and reward on behalf of their own interests.

Don’t get me wrong; the exploitation of awards for political ends makes my stomach turn, too. I just find it hard to believe that someone as politically astute as Ms. Stewart would be shocked to find out that a prestigious award’s nomination process is not invulnerable to corruption. More likely, it appears that Ms. Stewart seeks to discredit the Nobel awards so that when a person takes a contrary viewpoint, he or she can brush the differing opinion off with a healthy dose of “guilt by association.”

Unfortunately, doing so would be just as shallow as the process that Ms. Stewart has chosen to critique. Instead of beating up on ancillary issues like the Nobel nomination process, more attention should be directed at the issues at the heart of the Stanley “Tookie” Williams case: crime, punishment and forgiveness.

Ed Sanders

Tookie didn’t kill as many as Kissinger did

Re “Tookie and the prize” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, December 22):

I was sure Jill Stewart was pretending outrage at the nomination of Tookie Williams for the Nobel Peace Prize until I came to the sentence that begins, “Williams has forever altered my view of that award.”

Has she ever heard of Henry Kissinger? If the creator of the concept of “plausible deniability” and primary architect of the secret war on Cambodia can be awarded the prize (which he was, in 1973), surely a slayer of a paltry four human beings should be considered for the same honor.

The time for outrage over such a meaningless award has long since passed. Ms. Stewart needs to do better research and find more important things to get her back up about.

Ed Hunter

Nice reviews, but what’s with the stars?

Re “Déjà vu all over again” by Kate Washington (SN&R Dish, December 22):

I sincerely enjoy the restaurant reviews by Kate Washington. They are insightful and provide a well-rounded review (service, ambience, location and food). However, I’m totally lost on her rating system.

I know, I know—our culture is totally obsessed with Top 10 lists, how many thumbs up a movie receives and how many stars are given to the new restaurant in town. I think it’s just an easily identifiable way to know whether it’s good or bad, given all the choices presented to each of us.

The thing is that her system confuses me to no end. For instance, her Touché Restaurant & Bar review, in my reading of it, was harsh. They didn’t even deliver all the ingredients that were promised on the menu, and it appeared the food was mediocre at best (lukewarm soup with hard bread and nasty cheese).

So, how does that deserve two-and-a-half stars? Her column states that two stars equals average and three stars equals good. I don’t call getting cold, disgusting soup and entrees without all the promised ingredients as “above average.”

That’s just one example. I can’t recall ever seeing less than two stars, and the ratings seem to constantly be two-and-a-half or higher. That begs the question: Just what constitutes average? I guess if you compare the restaurants to McDonald’s, then all of them would get above two stars, but I would hope you’d be better then that.

Feel free to bash the place. Your readers will appreciate the honesty, and the restaurant owners just might shape up. As we all know, it’s a competitive business. I’m just hoping this inflated rating system isn’t a directive from management as a way to appease the restaurant owners so they’ll advertise in your weekly.

Craig Rochette

Breaking barriers with Buddha

Re “The monastery” by Nancy Brands Ward (SN&R News, December 15):

As I read about the writer’s experience in Folsom Prison, I could imagine myself there with her, and I didn’t even have to meditate.

There are 2,000 different sects of Buddhism, including the one I practice. I have never heard of the Northern California Koyasan Temple, though I am somewhat familiar with the Rev. Seicho Asahi.

I took particular note that the article explained that this sect does not worship God, or even Buddha. You’re going to get a lot of letters on that one, considering the present political climate. Most will have missed the point that Buddhism transcends religious or sociopolitical barriers and teaches harmony among all people regardless.

With articles like “After the flood” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Feature story, November 23), the searing editorial and Ask Joey, SN&R is pulling me out of the disenchantment I had been feeling over the past year or so about your paper.

I’ll be chanting for you.

Curtis Hill
via e-mail