Letters for September 19, 2013

Attack Syria

Re “Syria, seriously” by Nick Miller (SN&R Editor's Note, September 5):

As a Republican, I agree with President Barack Obama: We must strike Syria. We have moral and practical imperatives to do so. Morally, the blood-stained Assad regime committed a crime against humanity, using the same nerve weapon that even the Nazis found too abhorrent. Are we so indifferent to basic decency that we're willing to countenance the criminal slaughter of defenseless women and children? And with a weapon universally declared unlawful? Even Russian President Vladimir Putin is telling Syrian President Bashar Assad to end this despicable behavior.

America's spent much blood and treasure since 9/11 to secure our safety. What safety, if we back down on basic moral and legal issues? What happens if such attacks are made on us or our allies? What of our credibility as a nation? As Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” We must defend those principles of morality and humanity that are the touchstones of the American people.

Donald Sizemore


Different kinds of rape

Re “Stop the teenage slut-shaming” by Rachel Leibrock (SN&R Editor’s Note, September 12):

As a feminist of many years’ standing, I find myself troubled by this Editor’s Note.

The editorial characterizes as “stomach-turning” the light sentences handed down in two recent cases of what the editorial refers to only as “rape.” What is never quite clarified, though, is that the “rape” in those two cases was not forcible rape, but statutory rape. There is a world of difference between the two.

Forcible rape accomplished through violent coercion is indeed a stomach-turning crime that naturally arouses our feelings of horror and revulsion, regardless of the victim’s age. Statutory rape, on the other hand, is a more legalistic concept; it is far more perplexing to contemplate, fraught with social and philosophical complications too intricate to be discussed in the space of this letter.

Used alone, the word “rape” evokes terrifying mental images of a violent crime. When it is statutory rape that is being discussed, using the word “rape” without the qualifier “statutory” is loaded language that stirs up people’s emotions while obscuring the facts of the case. When people who have been misled by such rhetoric discover the truth, a good many of them inevitably become skeptical toward all claims of rape. Thus, this linguistic sleight of hand has real consequences, robbing the word “rape” of its power, and ultimately doing a grave disservice to all victims of the forcibly coercive type of rape we all rightly abhor.

For the sake of those victims, then, we should all be careful to avoid conflating these two vastly different phenomena.

David Urman

via email

Sick of prison talk

Re “Slaves to the system” by Raheem F. Hosseini (SN&R Essay, September 5):

I am so tired of hearing how inmates in the California prison system are so mistreated and how we should be investing more in rehabilitation. The reason why California has such a huge population of inmates is because we have created a society that relies on government funding to survive. Then, when the government-funded income doesn’t cover the things that people want or need, they take it. Or they turn to other illegal activity to fund their wants and needs, or to numb the depression they feel from their “lot in life.”

How about investing money in the education system to teach kids from a young age that it isn’t someone else’s responsibility to take care of them; that if they choose the entitled path where they feel they can do whatever they want, and that not only is it someone else’s fault but that they should be taken care of afterward, that they will come to the realization that life will be significantly harder and uncomfortable for them?

I have been a recipient of welfare and had many loved ones in the system, and I have heard my whole life how hard it is for them. How about how hard it is for the ones left to clean up the messes? How about how hard it is for a single mom who works two jobs while trying to take care of her kids so that she can give them more than welfare provides? We make choices. All of us do. It isn’t someone else’s job to feed the children I chose to bring in this world, and it isn’t someone else’s job to provide cable to my loved ones who made bad choices because they didn’t like how hard life is when you have to work for what you want. I say it isn’t hard enough for them, and that if they could expect having less rights when getting in the system, maybe they might think twice before doing whatever it was that got them there in the first place.

Danielle Ratkowski

Fair Oaks