Letters for March 24, 2005

Nature, red in tooth and claw

Re “Too young to flirt” by Joey Garcia (SN&R Ask Joey, March 17):

I realize that Joey Garcia is not necessarily obsessed with the latest developments in science, but one of the paragraphs in Joey’s column was sheer delusion.

According to Joey, “Love does not involve manipulation. It does not make someone into the object of competition, nor does love insist on its own way.”

Somebody please get this lonely and bitter soul to a library, stat! And be gentle. The news of how animals reproduce and support their young will be quite a shock.

Shaal Mohammed Tarpeit

She needs dressing on that wound

Re “Wolf in chic clothing” by Sasha Abramsky (SN&R News, March 10):

When I saw the picture of Karen Hanretty and read the article about her behavior, I developed a picture in my mind of an abusive, mean-spirited person who must run on her narcissism 24 hours a day. You have to wonder what makes a person so emotionally vacuous and numb.

I wonder about the size of the wound she must be carrying around to enjoy getting under other people’s skin so much. Maybe she should spend more time looking at what is underneath her skin. All the chic clothing and political ambition in the world won’t heal the wounds of a bully.

Gerbz Wilson
Stepford Grove

Hack job on Christianity …

Re “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” by Jaime O’Neill (SN&R Essay, March 10):

The author of this hack job on Christianity apparently didn’t want facts to get in the way of a good story. “Thou shalt not kill” is an English translation of a Hebrew phrase that means more like “don’t murder,” which does not include killings done in self-defense or in defense of one’s country. Unfortunately, translations do not transfer 100 percent of the meaning over to the new language, due to slight variances in word definitions.

Beyond this, the author left any pretense of intellect behind and dove headfirst into Christianity bashing. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” refers to the sacrificial blood Jesus shed while on the cross (like numerous other Bible passages do), not the blood of random strangers that Christians bump into. “Whoever wishes to become a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” refers to the temptations people face, not the Sierra Club. I could continue pointing out how each biblical passage was blatantly and ridiculously taken out of context, but I think I’ve made my point.

Sean Lemar
Elk Grove

… must have come from an atheist homosexual

Re “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” by Jaime O’Neill (SN&R Essay, March 10):

You should really be ashamed for actually publishing something from a non-informed idiot: Jamie O’Neill. Either he is an atheist or a homosexual, God-hating individual, or just one of the individuals from one of those worshippers of the little fat guy. If he would just hush his mouth and pick up the book and not read it as a bedtime story, maybe he would get the real revelation of the word.

Tell him I said next time before he puts his foot in his mouth he should maybe do a little more studying and maybe he might even get a job with a more notable newspaper.

Evelyn Nance
via e-mail

Essay was bad, art was worse

Re “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” by Jaime O’Neill (SN&R Essay, March 10):

I’d have to agree that “reducing Christian beliefs to nine words is tricky business.” Mr. O’Neill took a few words from several passages in the Bible to try to make his point.

But that’s not what the man with the bumper sticker was doing—he was, of course, referring to the whole Bible. Taking a few choice words out of their biblical context to manipulate or distort their meaning is a very old trick: Satan attempted to do the same thing to Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11.

If Mr. O’ Neill was successful at distorting the actual meaning in each passage he cited, the artist’s depiction of Jesus telling a follower to “shut up” and “don’t think” reached an even higher level of misrepresentation. Try finding any passage from the four Gospel accounts where Jesus either said or implied such a thing. In fact, he instructed his followers to do the opposite (see Matthew, chapter 10).

If Mr. O’Neill’s essay was intended to make a man look ignorant for saying he believes the Bible, is it any less ignorant to assume that this man habitually quotes the Bible out of context, as he did in every case? Or that he also claims that Jesus said things that are nowhere found in the Bible, as the artist did? Is that ignorant, or just malicious?

David M. Houck

What’s next, sex police on the playground?

Re “New sex rules” (SN&R Bites, March 3):

I always enjoy reading about the silly things the right-wing Republican ideologists put into legislation.

Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy must have quite the life experiences to have such a list of sexual practices, although I did notice he missed a couple. Young people are always going to find out and talk about sex. I suppose the good assemblyman will want to put undercover sex cops on school playgrounds to catch kids talking about sexual matters.

James G. Updegraff III

Check the data

Re “Bilingual doesn’t work in any language” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, February 17):

SN&R readers deserve better than Jill Stewart’s column.

Her data citations are vague, referring only to “scores released by O’Connell’s office” and “national English reading tests.” Knowing which assessment instrument is being used—the California English Language Development Test; the Stanford Achievement Test, Edition 9; or the California Achievement Test, Edition 6 (CAT-6)—actually does matter to those truly interested in how well students are learning.

She confuses English proficiency with improvement “in all subjects.” Data from the California Department of Education’s Web site (www.cde.ca.gov) tarnishes her fabricated rosy picture. The department’s Web site publishes scores for English learners with less than 12 months of instruction (“recently arrived”) and English learners with 12 months of instruction or more (“established English learners”).

Using Ms. Stewart’s logic, established English learners should outscore recently arrived English learners, since they were “taking English immersion” and were improving “in all subjects.” In fact, in 2003, fully five years into the structured English-immersion program, more recently arrived English learners than established English learners achieved the 50th percentile in reading in fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth and 10th grades on the CAT-6, thus challenging claims about the benefits of “taking English immersion.” Similar instances are also evident in 2002 and 2001.

The real story, however, is how great the gap still is between “all students” and English learners. In-depth coverage of the realities of English learners in Sacramento County—with teachers’, students’ and parents’ perspectives as well as transparent analysis of available achievement data—would be a service to your readers, who surely want more than bias and polemic.

Pia Wong

Stewart’s sensible on bilingualism

Re “Bilingual doesn’t work in any language” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, February 17):

Thanks for Jill Stewart’s sensible column.

I don’t know what political ignoramus thought up this expensive bilingual-education nonsense, but I would like to inject some sense into the “program.”

It is unnecessary because young children absorb languages like little intellectual sponges from birth to about 7 years old—older if the child has a particular talent for learning languages and is eager to learn. Therefore, children should be taught English (and spoken to and expected to respond in English) from the time they start school until they finish high school.

It is foolish because it has cost the schools a great amount of money that could have been better spent on other things that should have held a higher priority. I had firsthand knowledge of the program when I worked as a substitute teacher in California. I was assigned to assist in such classes, even though my Spanish was not fluent. A large part of the cost is having two teachers for each of these small classes.

It is also foolish because it had the effect of coddling the children into thinking that it was good and right to speak a foreign language in America. The grown-ups around these children also developed the unwholesome attitude that America was eager to be fragmented by allowing illegal aliens to be treated as legal citizens by allowing them to have driver’s licenses without even being able to read road signs! We even print ballots in foreign languages.

Where’s the sense with this? I have no quarrel with whatever language our citizens speak at home, but if we are to be a united nation, America must have one common, official, public language: English.

I.B. Trafford
San Diego