Letters for July 28, 2005

Don’t blame the legislature for Arnie’s vetoes

Re “Laws of unintended consequences” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, July 21):

Perhaps if Jill Stewart actually would spend a day or two at the state Capitol once in a while, she might occasionally get some of the facts right in her stories.

Ms. Stewart says “the Legislature once again failed to address … the high costs of prescription drugs. For years, our Legislature has ducked the issue.”

Wrong. The Democratic Legislature passed several measures last year designed to lower the costs of prescription drugs, only to see them vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. This year, Assembly Democratic Leader Dario Frommer has again pushed forward a series of bills to control costs that are expected to reach the governor’s desk.

Whether the governor—who has accepted more cash from prescription-drug companies than any other politician in America except George Bush—will veto them again remains to be seen.

Steven Maviglio
office of Speaker Fabian Núñez, California state Capitol

Beautiful noise

Re “Outside noise” by Christian Kiefer (SN&R Cover, July 14):

Kudos to Christian Kiefer for another excellent entry in his sporadic survey of Sacramento’s ever-evolving music scene. “Outside noise” was a very worthy successor to his Americana piece a few years back, not to mention his recent excellent “foothill tangent” exploring the life and career of U. Utah Phillips.

Much as I appreciate the diversity and frankness of Kiefer’s weekly Clubber column, I hope SN&R will continue to offer him the space and freedom to document our local musical movements in more detail.

J. Greenberg
via e-mail

No compassion without fear

Re “Torture fatigue” by Silja J.A. Talvi (SN&R Essay, July 14):

Thanks for this article. The cathartic value in desensitizing us to violence does explain in part why compassionate action is difficult to muster. By agonizing over distant atrocities, we avoid the anger and/or fear that might induce action.

Compassion will never save lives in Darfur. Only when the world fears for its own safety will anyone step in to destroy the forces that now commit genocide. We did not enter Iraq out of compassion, but out of the fear that the enemy would attack us. Only after we found the mass graves were there glimmers of compassion in the eyes of Americans. Even the innocent victims of the war in Iraq can hardly generate compassion in Americans. How can we expect humans to show compassion to Sudanese?

How, then, to stop the genocide in Darfur? Convince the world that those who are destroying the Sudanese can easily turn to destroy others, perhaps even us. As for our government, perhaps the fear of the next election will motivate action. But do not expect officials to show feeling for the sufferers, regardless of their spiritual poses, unless they are threatened.

It is a curious situation when those who already feel compassion must generate fear in others to counter the threat to the Darfurians. To plead in vain for compassion from others who feel no threat seems productive to only a limited degree. By the time they shed tears, Darfur will be a footnote in history.

Bernard A. Goldberg

Trust your heads to the docs

Re “Don’t trust your head to the meds” (SN&R Guest comment, July 14):

I don’t know much about the Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Sacramento or what its agenda truly is. However, the Guest comment by Greg Patton indicates an organization feeding half-truths to support its own anti-psychiatry stance.

The very thought that I or anyone should listen to the “medical advice” of a certified public accountant (CPA) or a Hollywood actor is insulting and irresponsible. Mental health already has a tremendous stigma attached to it, which often prevents people from seeking help and allows insurance companies to not provide adequate mental-health treatment.

It is true that there have been warnings placed on antidepressants because of a risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Not everyone responds the same to medication. All medication is serious and has risks. What Mr. Patton failed to add was that as antidepressant use has increased over the last decade, suicide rates have dropped.

I do believe that as a culture, we too easily take a pill for a quick fix, and too many children are on medication. I also believe that some children and adults are greatly helped by psychiatric medication and can live happier, more productive lives with this help. Whether or not to use psychiatric medication is a decision that should be left to parents, individuals and medical professionals.

I will certainly trust my head to a medical professional before I trust it to a CPA!

Diana White
via e-mail

It’s only ‘pseudoscience’ to the uninformed

Re “Don’t trust your head to the meds” (SN&R Guest comment, July 14):

On behalf of people who hold knowledge in high esteem, I would like to express my shock upon reading the Guest comment in which Greg Patton communicated his fear of psychiatry. He called psychiatry a “pseudoscience,” claiming that “there is no scientific evidence that supports psychiatry’s basic principles.”

I ask Mr. Patton to support this claim with a definition of “science” that does not also describe psychiatry. The community of psychologists and psychiatrists, following the standards set out by Plato and Aristotle, continue to use the scientific method to propose testable hypotheses and collect data. These methods match those of physics and biology. The experiments are subject to peer review and continue to be replicated in order to prove results.

He should follow his suggestion that people be more informed by visiting his local library, specifically the section of journals dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge in all fields. I would no more suggest going to a dog trainer (regardless of her merits in her field) for psychiatric information than I would suggest going to Tom Cruise.

All drugs have side effects and must be used carefully with guidance from a doctor. Treatment for cancer often involves chemotherapy, which can be very toxic. When well-monitored, however, it is often the best option. The same is true for drugs used to treat psychological disorders. Medication in all forms should be treated with respect and used as prescribed, but absolute fear and dismissal is not a useful or intelligent response to a lack of knowledge.

Kendra Speicher-Eisenstark
via e-mail

Natural progression of repression

Re “Round up the hood!” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, June 23):

I read this article and the subsequent letters to the editor with much interest and a little anger.

While the court order issued in West Sacramento is unconstitutional and un-American, giving law enforcement the power, without judicial overview, to label persons they wish as gang members and subject them to an injunction to not congregate, associate or be out after a curfew, it is also the natural progression of political forces that have been gaining steam since the 1980s. The law is the grandchild of the “war on drugs” and anti-gang initiatives adopted in our schools and on our streets by politicians using fear to gain votes.

When these unfair and unconstitutional practices ravaged our schools and streets in low-income neighborhoods, the rest of America cheered. To middle-class America, we were the criminal element and deserved to live in a militarized zone with unreasonable search and seizure, police violence, racial profiling and drug violence. Our schools became prisons where, if a child did not dress properly or caused a little trouble, he was labeled trash and tossed in the trash bin. The rest of America did not dream that these laws and policies were to come full circle and bite them in the ass.

Now there are laws like the one in West Sacramento, and the big daddy of them all is the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act enlarges all this racial profiling, unlimited police powers and violence to a national scale. The Patriot Act goes further and makes certain speech and political thought, as determined by politicians, criminal.

There you have it, America. We are now all living in the police state that us folks in poor neighborhoods have lived with for 20-plus years. Talk about justice. When will Americans quit listening to the talking heads on television and radio and look out at the world to see what really is going on? Land of the free, indeed.

Tim De Herrera