Letters for July 27, 2006

Thanks for the rest of the story

Re “Shouting toward Bethlehem” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R News, July 20):

I was glad to see your coverage of Israel’s assault on Gaza, which precipitated its assault on Lebanon. It seems the mainstream media have totally forgotten the role that Israel’s most recent attacks in Gaza played in what has become a bloodbath in southern Lebanon.

In fact, this latest flare-up in the Middle East started on June 24, 2006, when Israel abducted a Palestinian doctor and his brother from Gaza. In response, the Palestinians captured a Jewish soldier. Yet, consistent with typical U.S. coverage of the Israeli occupation, only this retaliatory abduction of the Israeli soldier received coverage in the American press.

The rest is history: Israel began a bombing campaign in Gaza. Hezbollah got involved by capturing two Israeli soldiers. Israel, with the green light from the White House, proceeded to bomb Lebanon back into the Stone Age, killing hundreds of people, mostly innocent civilians.

As a Jewish-American, I want those in the Sacramento Arab community to know that I am ashamed and appalled by the continuing repression and brutality perpetrated by the Israeli government.

Jonathan Turner

Fingers crossed for art houses

Re “Art-house blues” by Jonathan Kiefer (SN&R Feature Story, July 13):

This is a wonderful article! Reading about the Varsity made me oddly nostalgic for my junior-high days in Davis, when I frequented the Varsity quite a bit. I’m glad it’s up and running again. Fingers crossed for its survival!

Dayna Goldfine
via e-mail

What an issue!

Re “Art-house blues” by Jonathan Kiefer (SN&R Feature Story, July 13):

This issue of SN&R was excellent. The thoughtful commentary by Cosmo Garvin (“The city,” SN&R Editor’s Note), the touching and illuminating article “A good death” by Kel Munger (SN&R Essay), the informative and entertaining feature “Art-house blues” by Jonathan Kiefer and finally the Poet’s Corner entry (“My Shorts” by Thomas Goff) are all a credit to your paper and reflect your recognition of and respect for the varied interests and tastes of your readership. Thank you.

Sharon Goodnight

Right to choose a good death

Re “A good death” by Kel Munger (SN&R Essay, July 13):

What many people don’t know is that Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, which legalized “physician-assisted dying” and was approved twice by Oregon voters via its initiative process, did and does promote better hospice and end-of-life care. In fact, the biggest supporters of good palliative care and hospice are right-to-die groups.

That’s because PAD is a palliative-care measure. Oregon does mandated, annual reports of the Death with Dignity Act, and terminally ill patients report that having access to the medications that end their suffering serves as a “comfort care” in and of itself. They want autonomy and choice—this is what provides comfort and dignity.

Why deny someone with ALS [amyotrophic lateral sclerosis], who faces the very real possibility of choking to death, the right to choose? And this is just one disease among many that can produce a painful, miserable death. Munger writes, “I’m wary of making death an option when we haven’t fulfilled our obligation to life.” Does she mean that those dying with intractable pain should endure it as an “obligation to life”? For the terminally ill, the only choice is a good death versus a bad death. Is my “obligation to life” to judge how a terminally ill person dies? I don’t think so.

Munger is lucky that a beloved parent had a good death. The Tibetans have a culture that embraces both life and death. America is still in the infancy stages of accepting death as part of the life cycle.

Mother Teresa said we should marinate the dying with love. If we really believe in unconditional love, then we have to stand back and allow terminally ill adults the right to do what they want. That is a worthy “obligation to life.”

Devara Berger

Right to live, right to speak …

Re “A good death” by Kel Munger (SN&R Essay, July 13) and “Role reversal” by Rachel Gregg (SN&R News, July 13):

There are two articles in your July 13 issue that I found interesting and worth commenting on.

The first was “A good death” by Kel Munger. Kel is right on in her observations. There are too many of us rushing to legalize suicide or, worse, legalize euthanasia, because we are too busy to care for that person or it is too expensive to have someone else care for them while they die in their own time. This attitude is just plain wrong; at its best it is ignorant, and at its worst it is homicidal!

The second article that caught my attention was “Role reversal” by Rachel Gregg. I think we all need to be more tolerant of others, including the Slavic Christians. They have just as much right to be heard as the gays, and frankly, I am tired of having the gay agenda shoved down my throat! I believe being gay is a matter of choice, just like being married in a religious ceremony or just like being conservative or liberal. If someone wants to talk about or protest for or against a particular position, ideology, political agenda, God bless them and let them speak—all of them, not just the ones we agree with!

B.J. Foster

… right to go to school without harassment

Re “Role reversal” by Rachel Gregg (SN&R News, July 13):

I find it absolutely horrific that young Ms. Nadia Chorney seems to think that her First Amendment rights were being taken away when “she is not trying to take away any rights, just exercising hers.” “They have a right to choose. Some people say they are born that way. That is not true. God never makes any mistakes,” Ms. Chorney told your reporter.

I’m sorry, Ms. Chorney, but that is incorrect. Nobody “chooses” to be gay. One is born either gay or straight.

Nobody is denying her First Amendment rights. What I find appalling is that a young person is being told what to think. As a gay Christian, I know I was born gay, just like others are born straight.

I’m glad that the Day of Silence was approved and allowed to take place in the Sacramento City Unified School District. It gives gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students a chance to, in silence, express how they feel when they are beaten, harassed, shoved into lockers and subjected to extreme verbal abuse, simply because they are GLBT.

The school administrators had every right to ask Ms. Chorney and her friends to turn their shirts inside out, as it was a matter of complying with the dress code and keeping peace on the school grounds. All students, be they gay, straight, African-American, Caucasian, Buddhist, Shintoist, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, Christian, etc., have the right to a harassment-free education.

Ms. Chorney, hate is not a family value.

Alex Brown

Cool secret history

Re “Secret history of Sacramento music” by Jackson Griffith (SN&R Feature Story, July 6):

Kudos to Jackson Griffith for a great article filled with wonderful memories. Those days were really good times for me and my friends. He mentioned so many cool things (clubs, bands, people, my cousin!) from the day and beyond. I have to show the article to my kids (one of whom was recently mentioned in his Trust Your Ears column).

Just a great issue of SN&R for me.

Cassi Lyn

Educate incarcerated youth

Re “Prisoners of ignorance” (SN&R Editorial, July 6):

The California Department of Corrections has a new name (adding “Rehabilitation”), but not a new focus. Governor Schwarzenegger proposes to build still more prisons.

The Los Angeles Times reported last month that at Lancaster State Prison, a rehabilitative program that once won praise for reducing prison violence and drug use, teeters on the verge of closure. When the program started five years ago, 600 inmates lived in relative harmony in the honor yard at Lancaster, where those who vowed to stay away from drugs and fighting could participate in classes and receive mail and canteen privileges.

Over the last two years, prisoners who did not meet the criteria were allowed in, marring the once-calm environment with fighting, drug use and an uncooperative attitude.

But the greatest scandal is the rapidly growing number of juveniles incarcerated as adults. They need access to effective rehabilitation facilities, support services and educational programs, including vocational, career and technical education. Instead, they face a 50-percent chance of being raped and threatened with a weapon.

Young people who are incarcerated should receive a quality education, including training that leads to employment. A healthy environment, education programs and other support services can make it possible for young people leaving the system to succeed as contributing members of society. Without these supports, prisons create a vicious cycle of recidivists.

Politicians like Schwarzenegger benefit from a “tough on crime” stance. But how do we the people benefit from locking up tens of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders, leading to a seven-fold increase in prisoners in one generation?

George Sheridan
Garden Valley