Letters for July 10, 2008

Letter of the week
Don’t trust the scholars

Re “Crisis? What crisis?” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature, July 3):

Excellent piece! Academics, especially legal scholars, especially constitutional legal scholars, tend to cloak seamier and more sinister acts of wanton thugs, including this president and his ilk, in lofty conceptual jurisprudential argot, rather than the grimy, filthy stench which accompany such acts and their reality.

Such is the case with the local “scholars” and their comfy cozy armchair opining about the Supremes and their stuffy arms-length legal machinations to our nation’s fundamental architecture, all while sipping their steaming soothing Starbucks confection. While “scholars” play court speculator, there is real suffering and harm going on in the real world, especially with regard to any semblance of what we used to call civil liberties, which seem to have been yanked away as a result of the 9/11 spectacle.

But what saddens and depresses me is that so many among us cling to the status quo that brought us the decimation of constitutional meaning and reality, oblivious to the implications of that most profound loss. We’d just rather play with our iPods, or turn pruney in our Jacuzzis or do almost anything to ignore the reality of what amounts to a coup by the Bush administration, all fueled by fear and laziness, or just the energy and ergs it takes to survive in modern America.

We let this happen. We let whatever leaders we elect support this corporatist regime of inbred Bushes, and until we stand up and say “No more,” they will continue to have their way with us.

Just for the record, I’d like to reference Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, probably the most important work on the subject of the decline of American liberty, one element of which is and will be the Supreme Court’s enabling of this wretched administration, and the hopeful signs of a turnaround we so desperately need.

Alex Berg

Hipped out

Re “The hipping point” by Nick Miller (SN&R Arts&Culture, July 3):

I’m Avi, the guy wearing the vest in the top right photo with this story. The story is great, though my friend Kirstin made a comment about it that I can really get behind:

Jesus Christ, I am so sick of hearing about “hipsters.”

But what am I more sick of? Activism turned into fashion, neutralizing the power of the activism. Example: If I hear one more person from San Jose say “Let’s go for a bike ride this weekend,” I will puke. I have been “going for a bike ride” every day for years and years, and somehow it is just not something that makes me cool or that I ever mention to my friends. It is just how I get around.

I dress in the same damn clothes that I did when I was 14, still write my Amnesty International letters and write to my politicians; I still organize and I have dedicated my life to the research of a vulnerable group.

You can turn my outfit into a fashion spread and give some idiot suburban 16-year-old slut my haircut, but she will be popping out babies and working as a secretary in two years and I will still be minding my own business, punk as [hell], actually changing the world and not just doing it because my friends told me it was cool.

Avi Ehrlich

Don’t be a pink hater

Re “Pink couch” (SN&R Feature, June 26) and “Angry guy hates pink!” (SN&R Letters, July 3):

First, congratulations to SN&R for tackling marriage equality in such a community-oriented, friendly way. Your introduction to the photo essay made its point well: How can we vote against the rights of such nice, loving people?

And as for Mr. Angry “No Pink Couches for Me”: Well, he has a point. Too bad he had to make it in such an unkind way. Methinks he’s a bit too worried about his own butchness, or his lack of it.

There are some of us in the gay and lesbian community who have been hoping that the ultimate result of feminism and GLBTQI activism over the years would be, instead of joining in with traditional institutions, a transformation of those institutions. When the push for marriage equality started, I thought that it was a mistake. After all, how radical is marriage, really? Isn’t it pretty much impossible to transform the bedrock of traditional culture?

But now that I’ve seen all these happy married folks, I’m changing my mind. If some folks want tradition, fine. That’s the point of freedom and equality. Plus, seeing two women or two men marry is, in and of itself, pretty radical and transformative.

Jan Klein

Costly lack of empathy

Re “Walk the line” by Sasha Abramsky (SN&R Frontlines, June 26):

I’m very glad to hear that Mr. Jimenez is having a little compassion about people incarcerated for drug problems. I totally can understand, since my own son was given 25 years-to-life for a nonviolent crime. As of this date, he has served eight years of his sentence, with no chance for parole until the end of the 25-year sentence.

He was given this sentence for being under the influence of drugs with a small amount of drugs on his person, in violation of his parole. Then they went back 20 years, to a crime committed when he was 17 years old, to find a violent crime to apply the “three-strikes” law.

This is what the district attorney’s office used to sentence my son. Given that he had already served his sentence of five years for the original violent crime, it is double jeopardy to be sentenced again for a crime! He’s already paid his debt to society for that crime. Meanwhile, taxpayers are paying $30,000 to $50,000 per year to keep nonviolent offenders in prison, and there are approximately 4,500 of them. Do the math.

Irene Rodriguez
San Jose

It won’t be fixed until it’s profitable

Re “Walk the line” by Sasha Abramsky (SN&R Frontlines, June 26):

When reality hits home, the mood changes and common sense sets in. Jimenez has come to a crossroads where many inmate families have been (have suffered, have lost their children to the prison-system maze).

We need to heal our communities by building awareness, rehabilitation centers that work and by stopping [the high financial cost for] the families in the courts. If drugs were not so readily available, our kids would not come into contact with them, but we all know it’s big business and we all know who’s letting this happen. Those who have created this mess will never be held accountable unless they recognize that lots of money can be made in healing the society they have created due to their greedy love for money.

Alexis Endurance
San Bruno

Anybody’s eligible for ‘issues’

Re “Walk the line” by Sasha Abramsky (SN&R Frontlines, June 26):

It’s unfortunate that Mike Jimenez has learned about the system due to his son’s problems. He is now dealing with issues and the justice system we know all too well.

Rehabilitation? Unheard of. Fairness? Not likely, unless you have plenty of money and can hire adequate legal counsel.

Mike, we are sorry to hear about your son. It proves that “issues” can be had by all—addiction does not discriminate. What you have done for those who want and need a second chance is right on the mark and long past due. We can only hope that the example you set will be a precedent and lead the way for others to follow.

We commend you on your actions, insight and above all, honesty. Many thanks and blessings.

Carol Leonard

prison activist
via e-mail

Karma alert

Re “Walk the line” by Sasha Abramsky (SN&R Frontlines, June 26):

Nice that prison guard union boss Mike Jimenez has at least partly had his eyes opened, now that the blind destructiveness, unfairness and abuses of the system have hit him close to home. Maybe the son’s problems with drugs and law enforcement represent karma coming back to reap what the father has sown? Let’s hope that Gov. Schwarzenegger soon gets a chance to experience his own similar moment of clarity, before California comes to resemble a police state even more than it and the rest of the United States do now.

San Francisco

How much green to be green?

Re “Maximum cool” by Sena Christian (SN&R Green House, June 26):

I was curious about Sena Christian’s statement that a “green roof” was “too expensive” for SN&R’s new home. Did you mean that the up-front costs were prohibitive, or that the long-term savings did not justify the expense? If the latter, doesn’t that negate your central premise? If the former, could you discreetly reveal the percent of increase to the renovation project costs to give us an idea of the magnitude of retrofitting a building?

Bermed or “underground” houses have been around for quite a while, and they usually prove to leak, though they do save on heating and cooling costs. Seldom discussed is the issue of how much of an eco-waste a building is since it will be “thrown away” in a relatively short time. When was the “new home of SN&R” built, and what is its projected life span?

How about a bit more information about this green investment: When is it expected to be occupied? What is its location? How “green” will it be in operation?

I don’t intend that this “rip you to shreds,” but I hope we can get more information and less rhetoric.

Jack Parsons

Sena Christian replies: Yes, up-front costs for a green roof were prohibitive. The earliest section of the building was built in the 1940s, with parcels added through the 1960s. We expect to occupy the building by February 2009. It’s located at 1124 Del Paso Boulevard. For “more information and less rhetoric” about the process of selecting and refurbishing the new building, please see the Green House columns on www.newsreview.com or visit the green-building Web site SN&R is developing at www.sacgreenbuilding.com.

Classic Josh

Re “Sac after hours” by Josh Fernandez (SN&R Arts&Culture, June 19):

You know how it feels when you read a great line and think, “Man, I wish I’d thought of that”? So it is with Fernandez’s comment, “When she talked, her head moved in jerky circles, like the second hand on a bootlegged Rolex,” from his article on Sac after hours.

That’s a classic.

Ian B. Cornell
via e-mail


In “Maximum cool” by Sena Christian (SN&R Green House, June 26), we stated that Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was in command of Union troops at Gettysburg. George Meade was the general in charge of the Union army at Gettysburg, not Ulysses S. Grant. At the time of the battle of Gettysburg, Grant was busy with the siege of Vicksburg, Miss.