Letters for May 8, 2003

Home cooking

Re “Embedded with the Kings” by Jeff Kearns (SN&R Cover, May 1):

Kearns did a yeoman’s job of putting this article together, but it is definitely an idealistic and unrealistic analysis of sports reporting.

Of course, there is a connection to the team; after all, it’s hometown reporting. This is no different than hometown reporting throughout the nation.

After reading the article, I have a two-word comment: So what?

J.T. Sykes
via e-mail

A happy miserable cartoonist

Re “Weasels and frogs” (SN&R Bites, May 1):

I loved the Bites column’s forthright assessment of my skills as a “miserable cartoonist.” It made my day! Blunt and crusty journalism lives! Do you mind if I quote that line on my Capitol Weasel page? It is not a ringing endorsement, but it’s better than being ignored.

I might wish to offer a clarification that I personally am not at all miserable and am, in fact, quite content—a happy cartoonist, as it were, just utterly lacking in skill. Thank goodness for clip art to tide me over until I can log countless hours with pen and ink and books on cartooning.

Ken Umbach
Citrus Heights

Malls are for recalls

Re “Hounding Gray” by Amy Yannello (SN&R News, May 1):

In Amy Yannello’s article on the Gray Davis recall [campaign], she mentions that it is illegal to circulate petitions on private property.

Actually, as far as I know, it is legal to circulate petitions in shopping malls. In PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74 (1980), the California Supreme Court ruled that “the California Constitution protects speech and petitioning, reasonably exercised, in shopping centers even when the center is privately owned and that such result does not infringe appellants’ property rights protected by the Federal Constitution.”

Shopping malls, while privately owned, have become de facto “commons” in this age of disappearing public space and privatization. Their owners freely invite the public onto their property and have little right to limit the public&$146;s exercise of free speech while there.

As an organizer, I have circulated petitions in shopping malls, in front of grocery stores and post offices and in any other place the public gathers. On numerous occasions, I have had property owners try to intimidate me into leaving. I have always stood my ground, and nobody has jailed me yet.

Society would be better served if owners of shopping malls celebrated public involvement and encouraged the public to be engaged in our political process rather than trying to intimidate [activists] and treating them like subversives. Freedom of speech is a basic right for American citizens, and it is the cornerstone upon which our system of government is built. Don&$146;t let anybody bully you into giving it up.

Pat Veesart

Barbarism, not liberation

Re “When the bombs hit home” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, April 24):

I would like to commend Ms. Beckner on her cover story. Where else are we going to read about how the United States’ brutal invasion of Iraq has affected the Iraqis?

This family lives thousands of miles away from Iraq, yet the brutality the United States inflicted on their native country will leave a permanent scar. In contrast to their families in Iraq, they have running water and electricity, their home is intact, they can go to school and work for wages, and they can easily treat illnesses with medication.

These and other simple comforts of life are denied to Iraqis since we destroyed their infrastructure and bombed their hospitals. Under the pretense of searching for Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction (WMD), we managed to destroy life in Iraq yet found neither Saddam nor his WMD.

I shudder at the horrors our administration has inflicted on my fellow Iraqi citizens for the past 13 years. The genocidal sanctions that we imposed on Iraq have sucked the enjoyment out of living for the Iraqis. We senselessly culminated that with the inhuman and brutal destruction of the country and its civilization. We insist on calling this act of aggression “liberation.” History books will call it “barbarism.”

Samira Al-Qazzaz

Not all are terrorists

Re “When the bombs hit home” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, April 24):

Thank you so very much for the insightful article in SN&R about the experience of the Iraqi family in Davis during these recent weeks.

We need to remember, in today’s increasingly polarized climate, that the Iraqis being attacked may well be our neighbors’ close relatives.

We need also to remember that not all Iraqis, Arabs or Muslims are terrorists.

Maurine Huang
Opening Doors Inc.

Pack the flag

Re “When the bombs hit home” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Cover, April 24):

I found it unusual that Chrisanne Beckner would interview members of an Iraqi family who were living in this country because of their request for political asylum and not provide much depth as to the reasons for this.

One can only assume this request was made because of fear of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Hopefully, with this no longer being a factor, the family should be able to head back to Iraq with their pride and flags as soon as possible.

Karl Liebhardt

Support troops—support Bush

Re “Now, let’s review” (SN&R Editorial, April 17):

It has become commonplace to say that folks who consider anti-war protesters unpatriotic are somehow against free speech. The last I heard, free speech allowed me to say that not only are many in the anti-war movement unpatriotic, but un-American, as well.

I even have a First Amendment right to boycott the business ventures of those whose views I don’t like. Tolerance of opposing views does not mean that I have to support them.

SN&R claims that we can’t differentiate protests against the political leaders who sent the troops to war and the troops. What nonsense! The fact is that banners have been carried in San Francisco proclaiming, “We’ll support the troops, when they shoot their officers!”

SN&R’s logic goes this way: Protesters claim President Bush is a murderer, [but they] support the troops. It long has been established that “we were just following orders” is not a defense to murder. Of course, if Bush is a murderer, then the troops must be murderers, too!

When the Gulf War veterans returned, anti-war protesters flashed signs at them calling the returning troops “baby killers”! No, I didn’t read it in the papers or see it on TV. I was there.

H. Michael Sarkisian

A massive missive

Re “Critical morass” by Ayah Katherine Young (SN&R News, April 24):

Regrettably, Sacramento’s token Critical Mass ride is a farce that does nothing to further the cause of bicyclists in Sacramento.

To be effective, a Critical Mass must, by necessity, be massive enough to seriously defy conventional constraints or at least considerably strain law-enforcement resources. The presence of two dozen bicycles traveling in an orderly fashion down the street while herded by half the Sacramento Police Department is merely an oddity. It enhances anti-bicycle hostility on the part of automobile drivers, does little to enhance public awareness of bicyclists as legitimate co-users of roadways and doesn’t help educate the public about why human-powered alternatives to the automobile are so urgently needed.

Still, it angers me to read about the overt police harassment of these misguided activists. The Sacramento Police Department tactics are aimed at wearing down the demonstrators through attrition. Anyone with a sense of proportion couldn’t help but be indignant to learn about the numerous nuisance-infraction citations handed out to the Critical Mass riders.

California’s law-enforcement agencies and communities must eventually take a more enlightened attitude toward the benefits of bicycle riding. It’s either that, or we will continue to choke on air that is increasingly becoming hostile to basic human health.

Chris Carey


A graphic that appeared along with last week’s cover story, “Embedded with the Kings,” misrepresented The Sacramento Bee editorial board’s stance on plans for a new downtown arena. Although the board appeared to favor the idea in the past, more recent editorials on the topic would be better characterized as skeptical.