Letters for May 6, 2004

Avoid discrimination but accept consequences

Re “Manhunt” by Joe Dignan (SN&R Cover, April 29):

I don’t care if it is homosexual or heterosexual sex in public, the point is that it needs to stop. I really wish the article would’ve chased this issue a little more by challenging men who have sex in public to be a little more classy by having consensual sex in private rather than in fields.

Hey, let’s face it: When a man gets hot, it’s helpful to have a release as soon as possible. But, at the same time, I hope that men, whatever sexual orientation, would pursue the virtue of self-control and patience. It’s easy and attractive to have sex with a stranger because we can dream of them in whatever way we want and live a fantasy life free of the hardship that commitment takes in a decided monogamous relationship. That’s cheap sex, though, because it costs nothing but 20 minutes. How noble it is, then, when two people can stick together and courageously learn to pursue a higher expression of love by living through the tears and hardships, issues that come up, and when it feels less attractive to be committed because it takes so much more fuel to maintain the relationship.

I sincerely hope that these men are not being unjustly arrested or prosecuted or purposely ridiculed before the public. It is true that the police should learn to communicate better, as in San Francisco, but why the hell would we want to save people from potential embarrassment if they need to feel it.

Let’s stand against discrimination, but let’s not turn these men into victims, because they may need to feel the stinging shame and embarrassment of their actions, especially those who are in committed relationships and have to face their partners or children at home after being caught. That’s real life—having to deal with our choices and take responsibility. But of course, who wants to do that?

R. Lundquist

Prevent, don’t persecute

Re “Manhunt” by Joe Dignan (SN&R Cover, April 29):

I would like to sincerely thank SN&R and Joe Dignan for covering this cover story in an extremely sensitive manner.

I’m a 50-year-old gay man, and every city I have ever lived in has had its “10th Street levee” or Del Paso Park. This activity has been around a lot longer than any of us. Not that its longevity should justify its existence, but we are discussing a behavior here, one that will never go away no matter how many police officers “decoy” themselves.

We are talking about the male species inherently seeking sex on an ongoing basis, regardless if they are gay or straight or in-between. That’s why some straight men pursue hookers. It’s not that a male loves his wife or male partner any less; it’s about physical passion.

I realize that some in the community are repulsed by “public” sex. However, those are usually the same folks who have not found themselves with these same urges, so they are quite quick in condemning something they really do not understand.

The real issue here is the misuse of the police department’s time (which we all pay for with our taxes) in posing as men interested in other men.

This is nothing more than blatant discrimination against gay men or men who have sex with other men. The numbers alone show this. And it appears that the biggest motivation behind these “stings” is to embarrass, ridicule and disgrace whoever is found out, sometimes causing suicide as a result. Does the police department really think this tactic is working?

What if our police force was more concerned about prevention instead of prosecution and degradation? What they did in Golden Gate Park and other areas of San Francisco may be the answer. What if the time our police force spends at the levee could be spent in tracking real criminals who have actually hurt someone else?

Dennis Grau

Not sludge—wet dirt

Re “The Dirty Dozen” by Cosmo Garvin and Melinda Welsh (SN&R Cover, April 22):

Your story on polluters in the Sacramento region has at least one glaring error: AKT Development should not be on the list.

It is true that we are one of the region’s largest developers of new home communities. As such, we work tirelessly to do the best possible job in accommodating our growing population, while protecting and even enhancing the environment. To this end, we have preserved thousands of acres of open space, constructed hundreds of acres of wetlands and planted thousands of trees.

With regard to the Anatolia project referred to in the article, we most certainly did not release “sludge” into Morrison Creek. At issue is our $600,000 effort to remove all soils that mixed into rainwater as it ran off the construction site during heavy winter storms.

Although state agencies had been sending trainees to Anatolia to study what they called “the latest and greatest” in storm-water cleaning technology (and at one point proclaiming it a “model site”), there were two instances in which the machinery temporarily failed or was overcome by heavy rains. Perhaps, but no one really knows, some dirt (non-toxic, uncontaminated dirt) might have escaped the site. There was no sludge.

Finally, though one inspector charged that we should be fined, the state has not yet heard our case or decided on the issue. It hardly seems appropriate for you to have not only judged us guilty, but ranked us as a polluter.

Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis
president, AKT Development Corporation

Editor’s note: The water-quality-control board’s staff report describes the substance in question as silt, sediment and flocculent—all fancy words for wet dirt or mud.

The dictionary defines sludge as mud “covering the ground or forming a deposit at the bottom of bodies of water,” which is exactly what is described in the staff report. We understand that AKT would prefer a different term, but we feel, based on the description in the staff report, that the word “sludge” is accurate.

No enduring truth in their reality

Re “No recruit left behind” by Paul Ferrell (SN&R News, April 22):

Operation Enduring Reality may be well-meaning, but Operation Enduring Truth it ain’t. Military recruiting practices haven’t changed much in 40 years. Yes, the mean old military can override your enlistment contract at any time, but it must have that power because if you’re a clerk, and the enemy is at the gate, they just might need you more as a rifleman.

The statement that 30 percent of the homeless are veterans is a complete myth. In 1997, New York City did a census of its entire homeless population and found that only 17 percent even claimed to be veterans of the military.

Veterans Administration (VA) statistics may show that 90 percent of women are sexually harassed and a third raped, but the VA is not part of the military and compiles its statistics from its non-military patients who seek medical help for injuries/trauma suffered on active duty. Therefore, the percentages cited would in no way reflect the percentages of incidence in the overall military. For example, if there are 10 broken legs among 20 former soldier patients, it doesn’t necessarily mean 50 percent of all former soldiers have broken legs.

Legend has it that more Vietnam vets have killed themselves than were killed by the enemy. Not a shred of scientific data supports that assertion, and every scientific study has concluded that our suicide rate mirrors that of our non-vet peers.

Due to its wide use in U.S. agriculture, civilian exposure to Agent Orange was comparable to that of our Vietnam vets. Consider also that Agent Orange likely saved far more lives (mine included) than it has taken.

As for the depleted uranium used in munitions during both Gulf Wars, there is no scientific evidence that its use has caused health problems, except among those people hit by such munitions when it was initially fired.

Michael Kelley
via e-mail

Editor’s note: Operation Enduring Reality’s contentions in the story regarding homelessness, rape and harassment all are consistent with statistics provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Of course, as with any statistics, they are subject to interpretation and debate.


Re “Fear of exposure” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R News, April 22):

Monica Brown was misrepresented as an epidemiologist hired by Delta Dental. Brown is researching a possible cancer cluster at one of Delta Dental’s offices as part of a public service offered to businesses and citizens by the state of California and paid for by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.