Letters for March 7, 2002

First impressions

Re “Fashion Police” by Nick Roberts (SN&R Guest Comment, February 28):

Nick, just an FYI—The reason for the rather, let us say “unwelcome,” encounter at the city cemetery most likely is because the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department maintains a permanent Work Project at that site. I would estimate that they have an inmate work project crew that ranges in size from 15 to 20 or more individuals that are assigned there until they work off their sentences. They are there seven days a week.

The Sheriff’s Department will have several officers and vehicles (including at times a canine unit) at this site. Perhaps you spotted some vans with darkened glass parked, or moving about while you were there.

Considering your attire and your physical appearance, you must realize that the mindset of most law enforcement officers will undoubtedly cast you in a negative light regardless of their own ethnicity.

Needless to say, since September 11, 2001, your experience as well as the experience of another writer for SN&R at the Sacramento International Airport with the National Guard have demonstrated the dangers of American citizens’ unquestioning embrace of tightened security which limits our freedom of movement and access to public places.

Dwain Barefield
via e-mail

The “L” word

Re “Post Gay” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Cover, February 21):

Political philosopher Montesquieu once observed “commerce cures destructive prejudices.”

While the entrepreneurs profiled in your article cater to a largely gay and lesbian clientele, they stand as living testaments to the power of the market process where mutual consent is the primary catalyst for increased social tolerance. Individuals differ on a host of characteristics, including sexual orientation, and voluntary exchange is perhaps the most peaceable and beneficial form of non-intimate personal interaction.

In contrast, government action exacerbates existing social divisions by carving out categories of individuals and making characteristics like sexual orientation a “protected category” under statutory law.

Individuals should be treated on the basis of their actions, not their identity. Bigotry cannot be eradicated by legislation. That said, government should adopt a policy of strict neutrality when it comes to sexual mores, including what will be the last bastion of majoritarian exclusion: the prohibition of same-sex marriage.

To paraphrase Lord Henry Sumner Maine, the movement of progressive societies is traced by the movement from a law based on status to a law based on contract.

Finally, you incorrectly capitalized the word “libertarian” when describing the ideological “lens” of the Log Cabin chair. “Big L” libertarians are members of the Libertarian Party, while “small l” libertarians generally subscribe to the view that limited, constitutional government and the market process are the best guarantors of the wellspring of human progress.

The latter category applies to libertarian Republicans like myself. But you would be hard pressed to find Libertarians who describe themselves as “republicans.”

Nikos A. Leverenz
via e-mail

Hasty generalization

Re “Post Gay” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Cover, February 21):

Consider who R.V. Scheide cites as examples of the supposedly booming “post-gay” movement: the owners of a gay bookstore, the coordinator of a gay resource center, the chief lobbyist for the state’s largest gay political group. If these guys aren’t “really” gay, then who but Ellen is?

The principle error your article makes is assuming that gay identity is an all-or-nothing proposition. If homosexuality is not a gay man’s single defining characteristic, you seem to suggest, then it must not matter at all. But all the men you quote have combined a healthy complexity with a genuine commitment to gay identity—just look at their job descriptions.

You’d be hard-pressed to find an African-American who would say that race is the solitary component of his or her social, cultural and political life, but it would be absurd to call someone “post-black.” It makes far more sense to see race as one piece of the vast mosaic that makes up a human personality—bigger for some but important to all. What makes sexual orientation any different? Paradoxically, your version of the “post-gay” movement seems to pigeonhole gay people more than ever.

Adam A. Sofen

Innocents abroad

Re “Collateral Death” (SN&R Editorial, February 14):

Thank you for speaking of the innocent thousands who’ve died and continue to die in Afghanistan.

The big media ignore this human cost because it might well dampen the war fever they’ve been so intent on whipping up. But read Howard Zinn’s “The Others” (www.thenation.com) with on-the-ground accounts of the many unlucky thousands who didn’t die when the bombs pierced eyes, abdomens, severed spinal cords, arms, legs, hands of poor and hungry men, women and children. Many of us can imagine their suffering better now after that horrible day in September.

Gandhi wrote, “What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?”

The mad destruction that terrorized these innocents was done, we were told, in the holy name of liberty and democracy. But those innocent Afghans were no more responsible for the Taliban, or Osama and Al Qaida, than we in the U.S. are responsible for George Bush, since, in fact, we cast more votes for his opponent. Even in Florida—where Jeb and Katherine knowingly falsely disqualified 57,000 voters, 52 percent black (in a state with a 13 percent black population)—the recounts showed that Gore won.

This stolen election put an oil-igarchy in place that from its first weeks in the White House was negotiating with the Taliban for an oil pipeline through Afghanistan. In August 2001, a U.S. negotiator told recalcitrant Taliban, you can either have a carpet of gold (for the pipeline) or “we will bury you in a carpet of bombs.” September 11 allowed them to keep their word—at enormous profits to the weapons/oil/ megaconstruction/Wall Street corporations.

Enron reveals how U.S. policy is directed. How many more innocents must die before we take our democracy back?

Jeanie Keltner

Springer style

Re “Trial by Internet” by David A. Kulczyk (SN&R News, February 7):

I read the article published regarding reactions to the brutal death of Max, Ms. Denise Baltron’s family cat. My first reaction was that out of hundreds of people showing concern and support, Mr. Kulczyk carefully culled the most sensational comments to publish.

I agree that some comments were racist in nature and some called for more violence, but most showed support for Denise and her family and outrage for someone’s inhumane actions. For many people, a pet is considered a family member, just as a child. Pets are generally brought into a home at a very young age and for many years are nurtured and loved. The medicinal benefits of pet ownership are now being documented, their unconditional love serves to reduce stress and thereby lowers blood pressure and reduces heart attacks.

It is sad enough to lose one’s pet to old age or accident, but cold-blooded murder is another matter altogether. It enrages people. Mr. Lacy may be caught up in the backlash of public opinion. We can only know for sure when the case comes to trial, if it ever comes to trial. The case has been continued far too many times.

From the varying statements attributed to Mr. Lacy, it would appear that he was in the area at the time of the attack. I read where at one point Lacy stated that he was putting Max out of his misery after a vicious dog attack—an attack from one of his two unleashed dogs. Excuse me, but why would he not try wrapping the cat in a coat to comfort him or call for help or God forbid, use the club on his crazed dog before Max was inches from death? Was clubbing a dying animal a decent thing to do? If you see a dying child, do you club him or her to death to relieve the misery?

Compounding this disturbing story is that Mr. Lacy counsels this state’s troubled youth. How can he rationalize such violence? Where was the judgment that one who counsels troubled youth would be expected to possess? Mr. Lacy must have his day in court and if found guilty, be punished to the full extent of the law. More importantly, if Mr. Lacy is found guilty, he should not be in a position to counsel California’s troubled youth.

J. Carr