Letters for June 5, 2008

Letter of the week
A big grin for God

Re “For this writer, it’s always about abortion” (SN&R Letters, May 29):

Thanks a lot, Terry McDermott, for that incredibly hateful (not to mention nonsequential) response to “The worst cuts are the deepest,” by Estee Lee (SN&R Frontlines, May 22).

First of all, what does abortion have to do with cutting art and music from the public school budget? I understand your point, Terry, that the state might have more money if we stopped subsidizing Planned Parenthood and put that money toward our schools—but the same would be true if we cut Medi-Cal or food stamps or any number of things that young, poor women need.

Second, whether it is because a fetus has Down syndrome, or because the mother is only 15 years old, or maybe because she just plain doesn’t want a kid, any reason for an abortion is enough cause to have one. For free, if that’s what it takes. Abortion is costly; the minimum is about $400 (plus another $80 for the requisite ultrasound), and the procedure can get up [to more than] $700. That’s at Planned Parenthood, with no income and no insurance. Luckily, if a woman is under the age of 22, she can receive a type of emergency Medi-Cal called “minor consent,” which means that the procedure, the ultrasound and any follow-up visits are free (hey kids, ask about this at your local Planned Parenthood!).

As far as parental notification goes, has it ever occurred to you that young women might not want their parents to know about their pregnancy for a reason? Some parents beat their kids. Some will kick them out. Some might even be neurotic and judgmental.

Another thing you have not considered, Terry, is that Planned Parenthood provides other services. For low-income women and families, Planned Parenthood is an excellent resource for birth control, gynecological exams, condoms (free!) and even ultrasounds and prenatal care. Do you find these services worthy of your tax dollars?

Since Terry is a gender-ambiguous name, I can only assume that you are either a man or a woman who has never had an abortion. In either case, what right do you have to judge something you know nothing about? Would you like to foot the bill for the care of all those unborn babies? Will you pay for college for the mothers and day care for the babies, so that both might have a future? And what about groceries, doctor’s visits, braces, summer camp?

Will you also take the place of these women in getting morning sickness, stretch marks, saggy breasts and a crappy sex life? Even if that was possible, I’ll bet you still wouldn’t do it. Pregnancy sucks; abortion sucks. Any woman who has terminated a pregnancy can tell you that it is one of the hardest—but also one of the wisest—decisions a person can make.

Lastly, how the hell do you know what would and would not “put a smile on the face of God”? (Is it possible to libel a deity?) I don’t really know either, but I’d venture a guess that no more unwanted children, Terry, would put a big silly grin right on the Almighty’s face.

Ari Ambrose

Police overkill

Re “Policing Critical Mass” by Emily Page (SN&R Green Days, May 29):

Having ridden on Critical Mass several times, the police presence has become plain silly. Several squad cars, several motorcycle cops, two horse police and a handful of bike police all escort us and honk and yell at the smallest infractions. It’s such an expense for the city to underwrite month after month and a good indicator of the priorities of the city (not).

If a couple of police on bicycles wish to accompany us, they’d be welcome, and their presence could be a boon to the city’s reputation as a bike-friendly (ahem, I-5 closure), progressive city, but these people are here only to intimidate and browbeat and dissuade. A police escort some 20-strong, with cars, motorcycles, bikes and horses, is a Keystone Kop charade, and the overkill just begs for derision.

I’d prefer to give police the benefit of the doubt (they do have an interest in pedestrian and biking safety and in biking becoming more popular), but c’mon, they’ve chosen to be authority figures (“You kids get off my lawn!”) and not partners.

Russ Carter

Insane pot prohibition

Re “Healing power of pot” by Nick Miller (SN&R Feature, May 22):

That was a terrific piece Nick Miller wrote about medical marijuana.

I’ve been following the story for a long time and haven’t read anything that better conveys the “good-means-bad” insanity of prohibition.

Fred Gardner

Can’t choose what we fight for

Re “Healing power of pot” by Nick Miller (SN&R Feature, May 22):

I’m glad that marijuana works for Sgt. Franks. I wish he had freer access to the drug. I would remind him, however, that, as soldiers, we don’t get to choose what we fight (or fought) for. For every soldier like Sgt. Franks who fought for the freedom to choose an illegal drug to alleviate their symptoms, there is surely another soldier who fought for the rule of law and the benefits it provides.

Don’t wrap your argument in your uniform, Sarge.

Don Hall

Don’t call it ‘pot’

Re “Healing power of pot” by Nick Miller (SN&R Feature, May 22):

As a long-time reader and first-time writer, I am very disappointed on the way you used a slang word to catch my attention to the latest copy of your paper.

I work for two highly-recognized and honored doctors who treat medical cannabis patients here in the Sacramento area. The words “weed,” “pot,” and “marijuana” are all slang words to describe a naturally growing plant. We call it cannabis.

The article in itself was very informative as to the large range of patients who get relief from this plant. There are so many ways that cannabis can be used for not only “getting stoned,” as it seems so many would like to think that it is its only use, but for the pain that so many people suffer through each and every day.

I understand that you thought that by using the word “pot” in the headline of the article, it would grab the public’s attention (and it worked), but it really makes the advocates of this plant and its uses feel as if we are being made fun of by your choice of words.

Please do a little more research into the history of cannabis and the words used in describing it. Better yet, go to Barnes & Noble and pick up a copy of a book titled How-To Marijuana, by Carol S. Bott, R.N.; and read up on some of the history of the cannabis plant and its many uses throughout the history of mankind. Or go to www.canorml.org to get even more information regarding this issue and what we have to fight for each and every day to be able to use this naturally growing plant that will not rot your organs with man-made chemicals.

Thank you for letting me put in my two cents’ worth.

Kellie D. Bott

A student who longs for arts

Re “The worst cuts are the deepest” by Estee Lee (SN&R Frontlines, May 22):

This article about the state government cutting music and art programs really struck a chord with me. As a high-school senior about to graduate, I have taken one art class in my four years at McClatchy High School. That photography class provided an outlet for me and really was a haven where I could break from the rigid math and writing mode that controlled the rest of my day.

For me, this article just highlighted the lack of focus on arts programs in schools since they are always the first cut. I received no end of encouragement to take classes that fit the A-G requirements (classes that made you eligible to apply for the University of California college system); the only reason I took the photography class was because it was required by the UC system. As an overworked, high-achieving student, I wish I had been able to slow down a little and take classes that challenged my creativity. Thank you, SN&R, for focusing on an issue that many people overlook in our “No Child Left Behind” world.

Kelsey Knox

Josh missed the point

Re “Empty pews, breakfast blues, clappin’ fools” by Josh Fernandez (SN&R Sound Advice, May 22):

While the Festival of Joy and Peace was a total bust with very little attendance, I think Josh Fernandez’ comments were harsh and unduly rude. I mean, the guy shows up to the thing at 10 or 11, sees that indeed there is a deejay and some microphones set up yet no crowd and leaves before any of the bands even played (granted to an audience of about 15 people).

Why review an all-day event and totally slam it without even experiencing it? The fliers advertised a poetry “open-mic” until noon. Hoping that maybe some of the poetry crowd would wake their lazy asses up before noon was a mistake. Yet Josh showed up, a poet, but I guess the poor little sound guy and the couple old ladies weren’t enough of a crowd to be deemed worthy of hearing one of his masterpieces.

What Josh missed after he left may not have been groundbreaking or super exciting, but the event had heart and an intimacy that is seldom experienced with a band or a poet. He missed Terry Moore, who delivered one of the best spoken word performances I’ve seen in a long time in Sacramento. He interacted with the audience as if we were all in on the conversation and the joke of an “all-day festival,” together. Josh missed several of Sacramento’s best live bands hanging out with each other and sharing their music, regardless of the attendance debacle.

I don’t normally write letters to publications, but I felt hurt by the cynicism of his offhand, pseudo-suicidal blurb dissing on a little ol’ event that tried. We can’t all be packing [the] Memorial Auditorium, but at least we’re doing something—something fun and productive and good-spirited.

Even $320 goes a long way in Africa. We can at least feel happy about that, can’t we?

Drew Walker
via e-mail

Scheide should stick to porn

Re “Down on the street” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Frontlines, May 15):

An article on the Freeport conversion could have been a public service. Instead, Scheide made a hack job of it.

Scheide begins his article on the Freeport conversion with the truism “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” But Freeport was broken, which is the reason a vast majority of residents supported the conversion. And it is still being fixed, as motorists figure out the best route for their particular situation and the city researches the remaining problems and figures out what to do.

Scheide’s article provides no context or history, lacks any interview of the organizers of the conversion and identifies with the worst drivers who just want to floor it and make everyone get out of their way. The only journalistic motive I can detect in this article is the obvious desire to use the term “clusterf**k.”

Scheide, save it for the porno pages and stop insulting the neighbors.

Peter Kirkup

No sympathy for the shooter

Re “Guilty until proven innocent” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Race to the Bottom, May 15):

Are you kidding? You want my sympathy for this clown? I’m glad he is off the streets where he can’t also shoot me in the leg!

I’m so sorry for his mother that they can’t put him up at the Sacramento Inn, where she can easily visit.

Perhaps experts disagree about the deterrent effects of locking him up, but he is sure as hell deterred now! This “kid” won’t be shooting anyone today, will he? He is deterred!

Instead of whining about the system, teach these innocent “kids” not to shoot people. If they do shoot people, don’t expect tears from me or from 99 percent of the public.

David Wright
via e-mail