Letters for May 17, 2001

Uh, was it a remake of Shampoo?

Re “Rock of Ages: A Knight’s Tale” (SN&R Film, May 10):

That was a good review of A Knight’s Tale. Although I haven’t seen it, I have seen a movie recently that unsuccessfully tried to mix cutting sarcasm with social commentary and feel-good stuff. It was—hey, I’ve forgotten the name already—the one with Alan Rickman about a hair styling competition set in a small town. It was set up to be cutting and deliciously backstabbing, then turned soft and gooey. It wasn’t a good mix and wasted the talents of Alan Rickman, who evidently will never again get a part like he had in Die Hard. You are very perceptive. Thanks for the tip. If I do decide to see the movie, I will know what I’m in for.

Crystal Friedrichs
via e-mail

Nothing Gray about this

Re “Would Arnold Schwarzenegger Have Made a Good Governor?” (SN&R Streetalk, May 3):

In response to Lisa Luperini’s answer to the May 3 Streetalk question, I must say “Bravo!” Bravo for daring to perpetuate an unfounded, centuries-old stereotype that insists that persons involved in portraying the lives of others are unable to put forth an honest sense of self in their own right. Why don’t we just send ourselves back to the Puritan age and condemn actors right along with murderers and thieves?

Ms. Luperini’s “logic” asserts that actors are by nature liars, deceivers, that they are incapable of telling the truth, that they cannot separate themselves from the performing self, and thus they do not have the ability to be political leaders. Well, I’m sorry to burst her bubble, but many politicians are guilty of the very thing she accuses actors of doing, and on the opposite end, many actors are vital to the activism of their political interests.

Take Susan Sarandon, for example, who is the spokeswoman for Amnesty International specifically and an advocate for human rights generally. There’s also Warren Beatty, who was a potential presidential candidate.

I would rather agree with Amey Davis’ position that politicians these days are just as much about show as actors are—even more so, in my opinion. I have heard too many politicians put so much spin on what they say that it’s hard to know what they stand for. At least I know what Arnold Schwarzenegger stands for; some people may not agree with him, and some others might. But at least we know where he is in the political spectrum, because he doesn’t hide his beliefs; that’s more than I can say for Gray Davis.

Perhaps that is why I must say that, in the end, Schwarzenegger would not make a good governor. Politicians have to dance around and back down from a lot of issues for which they care deeply, or from those which they oppose, in order to please the most voters. I’d hate to see Schwarzenegger, Beatty, Sarandon—or anyone for that matter—do that. It sickens me even now that our political “leaders” do it every day. And this is whom Ms. Luperini wants in office?

Beth Dean
via e-mail

Truly a nonbeliever

Re “True Nonbelievers” by Ching Lee (SN&R News, May 3):

Seeing atheist Emil Bernstein described as “a rather petite, older Jewish man … ” was worth a guffaw or two. Either he’s Jewish or he’s an atheist, but not both.

It’s not necessary to attend a quasi-church group made up of self-proclaimed atheists to understand that religion equals superstition. Could it be these collective atheists are mere agnostics? The regular gathering of such people into support groups suggests they may lack faith in their belief that a god or a bunch of gods don’t exist. Perhaps the people involved feel there’s safety in numbers. After all, the church-going believers in the god idea have murdered millions in the name of their assorted deities; they often hate people who don’t profess the faith of belief in the same god. When told that one doesn’t believe in any god-thing, the religionists usually go berserk in one way or another.

The whole thing of being an atheist is a personal choice. Atheist missionaries? What a foolish idea. A simple application of logic, observation of one’s surroundings, a knowledge of history and of the insane gibberish being spouted by all the religions that make up our superstitious human comedy, is all it takes.

If a person must pray to feel good about things, why knock it? If they feel like they’ll go to hell if they don’t attend church Saturday, Sunday, or whatever day, confess their ethical and moral failings and give their money to the pious free loaders who have chosen to dictate to them how to think, to save themselves from the devil, it simply serves as a crutch to keep another potential loose cannon in check. Simply, if they can’t control their day-to-day behavior without religion, they’re just caught up in what humans, basically primitive savages, are.

John Morrison

We pray that you read

Re “True Nonbelievers” by Ching Lee (SN&R News, May 3):

How refreshing to have an article written about the growing free-thought community here in Sacramento devoid of hellfire and damnation! I loved that the “alternative” to religion was covered in such depth in Sacramento’s leading alternative weekly.

I thought that the headline “proselytizing to the faithless” was strange. Wouldn’t atheists proselytize to the faithful?

Also, Ms. Lee seemed to be drawing a distinction between what we say we value and how it appears to her. I seem to recall a couple of times that atheism was referred to as a “religion,” and that we have “faith.” This is a valid viewpoint from a religious viewpoint, but it seems to me that the article would have been much more interesting had it dropped all the comparisons to religion, as atheism/agnosticism/humanism doesn’t need any of it to stand on its own.

Keep up the great work!

Kevin Schultz

Concerning Cindy

Re “Just Another Homeless Death” by Steven T. Jones (SN&R Cover, May 3):

Just wanted to let you know that a co-worker, Cindy O’Bryant, left the flowers shown on your cover story. We work at 1911 F St., the building right across the railroad tracks from where Michelle’s body was found.

Cindy watched that day as Michelle’s body was taken away and thought it was awful that she had been there and was unknown. After reading your article, she said, “I still want to go and plant a tree there for her” and that “she was glad to know the woman’s name.” Your article brought much needed closure to the situation for her. Cindy always has a concern for others, even those she has never met. I thought you might want to know her name.

Trish Black
via e-mail

Exposing the wrongs …

I am writing in response to an article in your April 12, 2001, edition by Cosmo Garvin titled, “Mary-Alice Doesn’t Work Here Anymore.” While the article does not expose government misconduct with any ironclad certainty, it is extremely effective in increasing our awareness of the ability of our state government to be corrupt and act in improper ways. It makes us aware that we as citizens of California are not immune to, as Mr. Garvin puts it, “ … a murky and complicated conspiracy … .”

In addition, the story presents to us the courage of one of our own. Whatever the outcome of this case, Mary-Alice Coleman has shown a tremendous amount of courage in disrupting not only the course of her everyday life but the course of her future career to expose what she believes are a number of wrongs being enacted upon others by a faceless bureaucracy. Win or lose, I believe this type of courage should be applauded and urge others not to simply turn away when faced with a perceived injustice.

While I felt compelled to expound on my reaction to the article, the ultimate point of this correspondence is to urge you to follow up with either the progress or the resolution of this case. It is a story that deserves to be told and I look forward to reading more about it in your publication.

Stephen A. Strain
via e-mail

… and the rights

Re “Mary-Alice Doesn’t Work Here Anymore” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, April 12):

I am writing to commend the Sacramento News & Review and author Cosmo Garvin on his excellent story about how doing the right thing can lead to ruin in public service. The fact that Mary-Alice Coleman reported real workplace death threats to her superiors is unquestionably the right course of action. Any action short of that would be the stuff of moral, probably legal, failure. Further, that she continued to pursue an investigation that in every way seemed full of serious question ought to be applauded and rewarded, not punished. It is this kind of person we want working for us as taxpayers and public servants.

Thank you for writing this important story.

Lily Roberts