Letters for March 3, 2005

Looking for decency in ‘Old Hangtown’

Re “A gay ole time in ‘Old Hangtown’” by Jason Probst (SN&R News, February 24):

I’m very puzzled by the attitude of the Christian protesters in Placerville. Somehow, they have equated the argument that all human beings should have the same rights with a belief that anyone who doesn’t agree with them sees the Bible as “hate speech.”

While I am neither Christian nor gay, I am familiar enough with both topics to see absolutely no correlation between the idea of equal rights for gay people and the notion of Bible quotations as “hate speech.” Luke Otterstad is simply searching for a rationalization of his behavior in denying basic human rights to anyone who does not share his sexual orientation. If Mr. Otterstad wants to “make a stand” for human decency, perhaps he could publicize real problems, such as homelessness or the fact that in the richest country in the world numerous children still go to bed hungry every night.

Susan Mills
West Sacramento

No cars, no parking problem

Re “Confessions of an ex-meter maid” by Kel Munger (SN&R Essay, February 24):

It’s about time the people of Sacramento, if not the entire state of California, opened their eyes to the damage we’re doing to the environment, land and lifestyle. It is understandable that the average daily commute in Sacramento is at least half an hour each way; there are so many people populating this area. As more people move in, there are more cars on the road, which means more congestion in driving and parking.

I do own a vehicle; however, I am in the process of selling it. When I bought my car, I looked for a vehicle that was compact enough to fit between giant SUVs and get good gas mileage. Now I intend to use Sacramento Regional Transit and my motor scooter, which gets 100 miles to the gallon. There are areas in Sacramento that I won’t be able to reach, but I have more than enough friends and family who drive. And, as mentioned in the article, there is always car rental!

It is so easy to get stuck in the convenience of automobiles. Any health-conscious person should really consider how to cut back on vehicle usage before it’s too late.

Michelle Reyes

3 bd, 2 bth, 1 parking spot

Re “Confessions of an ex-meter maid” by Kel Munger (SN&R Essay, February 24):

This article did a good job of describing some of the parking-related problems in the Midtown area.

Some time back, the city fathers passed an ordinance requiring landlords to provide space for off-street parking for each living unit in their structure, with the intent of easing the on-street parking problem. This code is not being enforced as well as it should. In addition, landlords skirted the intent of the ordinance by charging rent for the garage separately from the dwelling. Rather than pay extra for the parking space, renters continue to park on the streets. The garages are rented for storage of things other than cars or for occupancy by shade-tree businesses.

I wrote a letter to my councilperson, Steve Cohn, proposing the ordinance be amended to require the monthly rent for the parking be included in the rent for the dwelling. If this were done, renters would have no reason for not using the off-street parking as intended. I got a polite brush-off for my efforts. Councilman Cohn recommended I take the matter up with my neighborhood association. I was not aware that the association had the power to write or amend ordinances or building codes. It’s a case of—once again—the council foisting its responsibilities off on others.

Larry North

Saving checks and balances

Re “Judge not” (SN&R Editorial, February 24):

The Republican quest for total control of all three branches of government is truly a cause for alarm.

Without checks and balances, one half of society will be able to freely dictate its will on the other half. The rights that many of us now take for granted—won with sacrifice not that long ago—could be endangered.

There is much debate among progressives as to how things were able to get this bad. Why can’t we reproduce what we have in California across the nation?

I agree that targeting moderate Democrats for balanced courts is a good idea. Many of them are willing to listen if the right approach is used. We also need to start preparing for the 2008 presidential elections now rather than waiting until a few months before election time.

Paul Kekai Manansala

Fussing in Land Park, suffering in Iraq

Re “Under siege” by Bill Forman (SN&R News, February 17):

Predictably, something important has been ignored in regard to the Pearcys’ anti-war displays at their Land Park home: the Iraqis. Yet again, pro-war and anti-war factions engaged in the tiresome argument as to which side supports the troops more. Admittedly, the exploitation of our troops for the purpose of colonizing Iraq is a great tragedy, and there are many sad stories of families having to deal with the deaths of loved ones. Other soldiers are returning with lost limbs, impaired eyesight and permanent brain injuries. Like many, I can only react with a profound despair.

Even so, there is something perverse about emphasizing our own suffering while ignoring the horrific consequences of this war for the Iraqi people. Tens of thousands, and possibly as many as 100,000, Iraqis have died as a result of being subjected to the deadly force of the U.S./U.K. military. Child malnutrition is returning to levels observed during the worst days of Saddam’s regime. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been detained at U.S. facilities, with many documented instances of rape and torture.

Recently, there have been reports of sexual abuse of Iraqi women by U.S. forces, and reports that Navy SEALs had killed a male detainee by beating him and hanging him from his wrists, with blood gushing from his mouth as if “a faucet had been turned on.” As reported by the [American Civil Liberties Union], some of these cases have been investigated, however cursorily, but rarely prosecuted.

[Jean-Paul] Sartre’s morbid comment about the French war in Algeria can be aptly paraphrased for the present day: “No two Americans shall meet without a corpse coming between them.”

Richard Estes

Got criticism?

Re “A dangerous sickness” by Seth Sandronsky (SN&R Words, February 17):

Seth Sandronsky’s review of The Liberal Virus: Permanent War and the Americanization of the World by Samir Amin is not a book review. A review does not simply consist of uncritically quoting dubious innuendoes and applauding a writer for critiquing an “ideology.”

There are many times when we read books and profess to like them, and when asked why, we simply say, “Because I did.” This response is perfectly acceptable in casual conversation, but not in a book review. The reason we like most books is because they reinforce our deeply held views of the world. A reviewer’s job is to get past this simple affection and analyze the book.

Sandronsky’s review is simply not critical. It takes at face value many hypotheses and vague abstractions that may be interesting when viewed through the lens of critical analysis, but when they are simply repeated with no analysis, there is no review. We could have read the book jacket and gained as much information as was contained in Sandronsky’s review.

On second glance, Sandronsky’s review can be seen for what it is: an advertisement for his particular worldview and, I think, for SN&R’s, since it also so uncritically printed this “review.” You guys can do better than this.

Marc Mason


Re “Power struggle” by Bill Forman (SN&R News, February 24):

Jason Leopold was credited with breaking the story of Ken Lay’s meeting with Arnold Schwarzenegger. In fact, the story was reported first by Christian Berthelsen and Scott Winokur in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Re “SMUD wrestling” (SN&R Editorial, February 17):

SN&R reported that a new study estimated it would cost SMUD $180 million to take over for PG&E in bringing electric service to Yolo County. The actual estimate is $108 million.