Letters for May 12, 2005

Give me blindingly obvious

Re “On lockdown” by Erik K. Arnold (SN&R Arts&culture, May 5):

The next time that SN&R runs a story about a gun-packing, beeyotch-hating, antisocial, race-baiting, speed-limit-exceeding rap dude, instead of the same tired old music-journo-wanking about how he’s keepin’ it real, and the same WTF-able claims that he’s somehow not glamorizing violent crime, is it too much to ask that the writer just say something closer to what is at once blindingly obvious and never expressed?

For example: Christ. What a dickhead that guy is.

Charlie Barnes

Why should state employees always take the hit?

Re “Cut hours instead of holidays” (SN&R Guest comment, April 28):

I’d like to offer the following comments regarding Mr. Tassinari’s comment.

I strongly disagree with the argument of cutting hours as opposed to holidays. As a relatively new employee of the state, I’ve come to realize that although the state boasts competitive wages, the fact is they are not as lucrative as similar positions in the private sector.

To suggest pay cuts of 10 percent borders on the offensive from an employee’s perspective. I’m willing to bet that the general public (outside of state service) is unaware that state employees in many bargaining units were already faced with pay cuts two years ago, but the cost of living didn’t go down.

It’s concerning to me that it always appears that the state employees are the ones who are expected to sacrifice to maintain the budget issues for the state. I believe that all citizens of the state of California should be involved in budget balancing. Recognizing that it may have been mishandling of funds by prior administrations or facets of state government, it does not reflect on state workers in general.

What will “uplift the spirits” of state workers is stable employment with competitive pay.

J. Wilson
via e-mail

He won’t disable his vengeance

Re “Disability in the Senate” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, April 28):

I have been reading Jill Stewart’s columns regarding our workers’-compensation system with increasing dismay and disgust.

The main point she misses and seems completely unaware of is the desecration an injured worker has to endure if he files a workers’-comp claim. Numerous injustices can be rained down on them from above.

Schwarzy’s new rules give insurance companies the decision on where to send workers and for how long to approve of treatment. Considering the same insurance companies have no stake in actually making injured workers feel better, but are interested in the highest profit margins and in dissuading workers from continuing treatment so that they can get back to work again, we can already see the system’s structure is flawed.

Furthermore, applicants’ attorneys who have a “dressed-up name” do real work for their clients, taking a large pay cut for the amount of work they do. The regulated rate at which attorneys can charge fees in the current system is 12 percent of the total permanent disability payment as opposed to the average 33 percent charged in personal-injury cases.

With the new [American Medical Association] guidelines reducing the permanent disability payments further, it will soon become apparent who really won out in this new deal. An injured worker who is getting screwed by his insurance-company doctors will have no one to represent him when his payments are late, his treatments are reduced or denied, and his disability income is inadequate to meet his house payment. He will certainly not be thinking about playing golf or moving heavy furniture. He’ll be too busy thinking of the next election for vengeance.

Nathan Jones

No such thing as too much poetry

Re “New voices” (SN&R Arts& culture, April 28):

Wow! Is all I can say

The words of the poets made my day

They didn’t rhyme in the Dr. Seuss way

But their landscape of emotions made me sway

Give me more of those few who wrote

Of events, and darkness, and society’s bloat

I will surely embrace their passages of words

This exposure of soul pummeled as a marauding herd

Patrick Powers

Harmon tells it like it is …

Re “My dinner with the white supremacists” by Harmon Leon (SN&R Cover, April 21):

Truly incredible. The value of Mr. Leon’s article to my education about the community I live in is tremendous. I went from wanting to cry because of the realization of the level of destruction these supremacists do, to wanting to throw up my lunch, considering the hate that is being passed on, to wanting to snatch that supremacist up and slap the crap out of him for the utter ignorance of not knowing that he is a disgrace to the human race.

It must have been difficult for Mr. Leon to be sitting at the table in the restaurant that day, but I am so glad that he did. Education is the way to beat this type of ignorance.

I understand the argument about not wanting to give the supremacists’ publicity, but, I would agree that it is essential to bring this story forward to educate people about what’s going on.

Kudos, Mr. Leon, for a fascinating, revealing article. I have read many of your other articles, as well, and they are just as excellent. I commend your bravery for infiltrating these groups and for stomaching the awful things that are revealed and bringing them to the community. How else would we learn about these things, to this depth?

John Fenes

… or like it isn’t …

Re “My dinner with the white supremacists” by Harmon Leon (SN&R Cover, April 21):

I feel as if this article had great potential, as well as great intent, but it could have been done in a much more intelligent manner.

Using the word “racist” prior to every printing of the family’s names got played out quickly. I understand that these people are racist, but constantly reminding us certainly has the effect of dumbing them down. The picture that Leon painted of them was no better than the picture they painted of other races. The issue that they do not see is that we are all human beings, and our lives are way too dynamic to say that we have definable personality attributes because of our skin color.

I think it is equally damaging to paint a picture of the white supremacists as being unintelligent Neanderthals that do nothing but contradict themselves all the time. Their idea of non-white races as impure animals is obviously untrue, just like I’m sure that the picture of them that your article painted was untrue. As human beings, I’m sure they are not 100-percent ignorant at all times.

The vast majority of us already agree that racism is incredibly illogical. However, a snide article like Leon’s may be just enough to push someone on the fence over the edge, only to land face first on the wrong side of the pasture. Patronizing someone’s beliefs does not persuade them to change; it only cements their ignorance even more.

Ryan Rake

… but everybody’s got an opinion …

Re “My dinner with the white supremacists” by Harmon Leon (SN&R Cover, April 21):

I don’t write that frequently, but I just wanted to send a quick comment on this article by Harmon Leon.

The writing seemed sophomoric and very mean-spirited. Most everybody has an opinion, but professional journalism mandates that you remain objective. Whether I personally agree with him or not isn’t, and shouldn’t be, the issue.

He also does a disservice to his “side” by being so trite; if anything, he’ll make his opposition seem persecuted. I would also be very upset if I was Applebee’s. Their name shouldn’t have so flagrantly been linked to such a topic.

I just don’t like seeing journalism being reduced to fluff without voicing an opinion.

Scott Terra
via e-mail

… about everything he writes

Re “My dinner with the white supremacists” by Harmon Leon (SN&R Cover, April 21):

I read Harmon Leon’s latest feature fully expecting it to be as terribly biased and shortsighted as his piece on Christians dealing with homosexuality.

I was pleasantly surprised (and disturbed) by his story of his encounter with a hate group. Leon appears to have gone into the meeting being as objective as a non-lunatic-racist can be, and he ended up with a compelling and frightening article.

Kudos to Leon for exposing, at least a little bit, the bizarre and hateful world of supremacist groups. Too bad he was unable to do away with his own hatred before writing his previous article.

Chad Vander Veen