Letters for July 22, 2010

Letter of the week

Good writing, no screen

Re “Screenworld” by Michael Ventura (SN&R Feature, July 15):

Wow! What a powerful article this is!

Michael Ventura wrote brilliantly of the dilemma of the “technologically connected” world that is our modern lives, where face-to-face active, verbal interchange becomes less common, as disembodied working at home, work cubicles, IM-ing and texting makes interacting less inter-acting. Our reading and writing skills are further undermined by the prevalence of so-called social networking mediums, such as texting (which encourages abbreviated script), Facebook (promoting short phrases) and Twitter (allowing only 140 characters).

In contrast, Mr. Ventura’s finely structured sentences, well-crafted paragraphs and in-depth concepts require the reader’s time to physically focus on his erudite writing and engage with his profound ideas. It was a special treat.

Mr. Ventura is to be commended for offering us, through his writing skill alone, a way out of our insidious “Screenworld” lives, even if only briefly.

Thank you, Mr. Ventura, and you, SN&R, for providing us with a chance to “feed” our souls.

Anne Rhodes

And now for a bit of Beck-ian pseudo-history …

Re “Van Jones comes to town” by Jeff vonKaenel (SN&R Greenlight, July 15):

Jeff skewers [Glenn] Beck while totally avoiding the actual reason [Van] Jones, the self-avowed communist, got cut loose: Beck’s disclosure that Jones believed that [former President George W.] Bush was responsible for the 9/11 twin towers destruction (after all, the racist bastard blew up the levees in New Orleans).

It is indeed unfortunate that this fact wouldn’t have fit the administration’s image of the “hip patriots” that the red, white and blue Andy Warhol-esque “Hope” posters had conjured, but a 9/11-truther wouldn’t have played well even with some of the Obama Kool-Aid/purple-drank crowd. And since racist Fox News insists on exposing the spoken or written word (totally unfair to use their actual words) of the radical black activists while the rest of the “mainstream” media try their best to ignore, downplay or justify whatever wisdom is being related by these incredibly deep-thinking nonhypocrites, the administration had no choice but to accept his resignation. At midnight, on Saturday, during the holiday weekend, so the media could conveniently ignore it, much like virtually every story that doesn’t fit the narrative. Can anyone say New Black Panther voter intimidation?

I say, “No justice? No peace!” Daddy needs some new shoes! Print that. Bitch.

Steve Guay

The governor can live with it

Re “Will welfare still work?” by Amy Yannello (SN&R Frontlines, July 8):

I am sorry. I am a mother of two, and used CalWORKs when I moved to Sacramento, even though I only used it for a short time. It helped a great deal.

Why would the governor take something so useful away? He does not know poverty, obviously. Taking CalWORKs or any other aid is not an option. People look for options in this recession and help from the Department of Human Assistance or agencies through the county. More adults and children will be without.

I guess he can live with that.

Allyson Caputo

Just say, ‘No, thanks’

Re “One mall under God” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Frontlines, July 8):

It’s a rare day indeed that I agree with a position taken by the Pacific Justice Institute, but the mall’s action here smacks of a First Amendment violation. If one can’t strike up a conversation in a public space—and haven’t malls become the main streets and town squares of our culture?—then we’ve got no freedom of speech. The same could happen to people trying to make political or social statements instead of religious ones.

And frankly, I’ve always found that “Not interested” or “Nope, I’m an atheist” works quite well with evangelizers, no matter what their stripe. If this preacher wasn’t observing basic courtesy and was forcing people to talk to him, it’s quite another matter, but the story sounds like he was behaving with courtesy and not forcing anyone to talk to him.

Jan Kline

Is the bridge worth a sundae?

Re “A bridge from West Sac” by Jeff vonKaenel (SN&R Greenlight, July 8):

While it may make for entertaining press to skewer a neighborhood association representing an affluent area for its opposition to regional amenities like a bridge and zoo, Mr. VonKaenel’s essay on the Land Park Community Association requires a several important corrections.

As pointed out to reporter Cosmo Garvin weeks ago, after Mr. Garvin assailed the LPCA in this paper for its opposition to a Sacramento River bridge (quoting liberally from the predictions of an “LPCA representative” who was not even a board member), the LPCA has taken no position on river crossings. Moreover, there is no proposal to take a position on.

In truth, the LPCA was invited by the city of Sacramento to participate in a small working group to provide input on a variety of options to improve connectivity between Sacramento and West Sacramento, from the Pocket area up to Natomas. The LPCA has been participating and actively encouraging all neighbors to express themselves at public meetings sponsored by the city and by the LPCA.

Regarding the LPCA’s position on a Sacramento Zoo expansion, when an independent proposal was floated late last year suggesting Funderland and other regional amenities in William Land Park be sacrificed for a small gain in acreage—a proposal mirroring one considered by the city just seven years ago and rejected because of environmental damage and traffic—the LPCA voiced its concern about eroding the overall functionality of the regional park. The LPCA board is actually working with zoo officials on measures to improve zoo amenities.

The implied affluent socioeconomic makeup of Land Park was also nonfactual. The LPCA neighborhood includes everything from the low-income Marina Vista and Alder Grove communities (formerly known as Seavey Circle and New Helvetia) to tonier blocks just north of William Land Park.

Ironically, instead of encouraging dialogue on an issue important to the region, the editorial fostered a misconception that discourages the kind of participation needed to generate broad community input.

The LPCA is hardly the entrenched board of opposition the editorial suggests it to be. Only two of the 11 board members have served for more than 16 months, and some have lived in Land Park for less than two years (myself included). Had the author dropped by a meeting of his neighborhood association, he’d discover the LPCA is a thoughtful, vibrant organization that welcomes community input, whatever it may be, before taking the very serious step of adopting a position on behalf of its neighbors.

Dave O’Toole
president, Land Park Community Association

Jeff vonKaenel responds: I didn’t say that the LPCA had taken an official position on the bridge. What I said was the criteria they used for evaluating the bridge was inherently rooted in NIMBYism. It would be great if the LPCA became the world’s first neighborhood association to take a stand against NIMBYism. Sundaes at Vic’s are on me if this happens.

Reefer (legal) madness

Re “An ad that worked his nerves” (SN&R Letters, July 8):

Like letter writer Mark, I, too, feel skeptical concerning the full-page ad in the July 1 SN&R, paid for by the CannaCare folks, urging the defeat of the California [Regulate, Control and ] Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, which will appear on the ballot this November.

What bothers me is the ad’s very first sentence: “In 1937 the Tax Act on Marijuana was passed to allow all citizens the right to import, produce, manufacture, give away, administer or prescribe marijuana.” (The second sentence goes on to clarify that doing any of those things required a tax stamp that proved unobtainable.)

It may well be that the law included such provisions. But by saying that the 1937 act “was passed to allow” those activities, the wording strongly suggests that prior to that time, those activities were prohibited. The impression left by the ad is that the act was a legalization effort that passed at the polls, yet failed in its purpose due to government intransigence. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Prior to the 1937 act, marijuana was under no legal restrictions whatever. It was not widely known or used in mainstream American society, but cultivating it, harvesting it, importing it, buying it and selling it were all perfectly legal, and no special documents were required.

So the 1937 act was certainly never intended as a legalization effort. On the contrary, it was a major illegalization effort. It was promoted with a campaign of propaganda that included the movie Reefer Madness, as well as fabrications about peaceable souls turned into psychotic killers by the demon drug. (Nowadays, we know enough to laugh at Reefer Madness as high camp, but in those days it was taken quite seriously indeed.)

Based on those lies, the 1937 act was passed. Thus were enacted the marijuana prohibitions that have been with us, in one form or another, ever since.

The purpose of the upcoming 2010 act is just the reverse: It aims to loosen the legal restrictions on marijuana, not to tighten them. To suggest that the 2010 act is simply a repeat of the 1937 act is ludicrous.

The remainder of CannaCare’s ad cites more reasons to oppose the 2010 act, some of which may be valid points. But when the ad’s very first sentences are so thoroughly misleading, I have to wonder what else in their arguments is false or distorted.

David Urman