SN&R Letters 2012-03-29

Radio responsibility

Re “Rush to the door” by Natalia Mercado (SN&R Guest comment, March 15):

When considering the controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh and his lecherous comments, a larger question yet to be addressed is the role and responsibility of our local radio stations to inform and educate the voting public, especially during a presidential election year.

Commercial media ownership groups are directed by their [Federal Communications Commission] licenses to serve the public interest in return for reaping huge profits from use of the publicly owned radio spectrum. Alternative political speakers are seldom heard, as local radio “talk stations” choose to exclusively dedicate blocks of prime time to daily conservative rants by Rush and others. Without being challenged, programs often devolve into politically motivated “bully pulpits” and reap criticism when the bullying becomes unacceptably offensive.

But doesn’t management of the station share in the responsibility for programming the pulpit itself? When male arrogance and extreme political agendas dominate all speech, should we be shocked when a female college student is labeled a “slut” or the president a “terrorist”?

Where are complex issues to be discussed and debated as we make critical decisions about leadership in an election year? As we proclaim outrage at “bullying in our schools,” how do we justify one-sided radio demagoguery and name-calling as “entertainment”? Are these local radio stations being challenged to step-up and educate and inform as a neutral party or does the ownership group serve as the exclusive loudspeaker for conservative ideologies, candidates, and extreme examples of social engineering?

I support all individuals retaining their constitutional rights to debate their political opinions freely. But individuals who own and manage radio and television stations have an obligation to present more than their own profit-driven political agendas. Outrage should be directed at not only what Rush said but the cavalier way in which local radio management, entrusted to be the stewards of this precious public air-wave resource, encourage one voice to dominate all others. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Ron Cooper

Josh needs evolved religion

Re “Are you there, God? It’s me, Josh.” by Josh Fernandez (SN&R Arts&Culture, March 22):

I really enjoyed this “open letter” by Josh Fernandez to God. It made me laugh and also made me think about why established religions tend to be disconnected to everyday life for so many of us. I admit that I believe there is more to reality than what we see, hear and feel. I’ve studied quantum physics to understand the nature of energy that connects the basic fabric of the universe and researched a wide range of ideas to gather my own thoughts about the divine.

It seems to me that the problem with religions is that change and knowledge has accelerated to the point that any institution, which all religions become as soon as they are organized, is inflexible because it is bound by rules and rituals. Without flexibility, religion gets lost in the dust as the world races toward the constantly evolving future. And maybe in this more highly evolved future the notion of separate religions will melt together into a vision of our shared humanity.

Ellen McMahill

Prevention and early intervention for mental health

Re “The stigma” by Jeff vonKaenel (SN&R Feature, March 15):

California is fortunate to have in [Senate President Pro Tem Darrell] Steinberg a leader who not only understands that prevention and early intervention of mental illnesses are more compassionate and cost effective than institutionalization and homelessness, but who also had the vision to begin transforming our underfunded and crisis-driven mental-health system with Proposition 63.

Working together with leaders like Darrell Steinberg and stakeholders statewide, California’s counties are putting the Prop. 63 transformation plan into action with services that enable our diverse communities to see mental wellness as essential to overall health and to deliver the tools individuals need before they reach the crisis point. Through the California Mental Health Services Authority, more than 40 counties have joined together to efficiently and effectively implement three statewide prevention and early intervention programs. These programs save and improve lives by reducing suicides, increasing community support and acceptance for people with mental illness of all ages, and promoting mental wellness in young people with from elementary through university campus programs.

This innovative Prop. 63 approach will reduce future unnecessary costs in our health, social services, education and criminal-justice programs due to untreated mental illness.

Dr. Wayne Clark
board president

California Mental Health Services Authority

Expand Prop. 63

Re “The stigma” by Jeff vonKaenel (SN&R Feature, March 15):

[Proposition] 63 is currently being limited exclusively to voluntary patients. The homeless psychotic individuals who are on the streets too sick to accept treatment are not being served. Other than Nevada and Los Angeles counties (which implemented Laura’s Law), not a single county offers community services for those too ill to accept it.

“Whatever it takes” is a wonderful slogan, but counties have refused to recognize that doing “whatever it takes” may [mean] helping people too ill to accept services rather than simply turning them over to police. Counties should implement Laura’s Law and fund it with Prop. 63 proceeds.

D.J. Jaffe
executive director

Mental Illness Policy Organization

Bravo, Steinberg

Re “The stigma” by Jeff vonKaenel (SN&R Feature, March 15):

I had the pleasure of meeting [Senate President Pro Tem Darrell] Steinberg several years ago when I lived in a house for the homeless and mentally ill which was called the River City Homeless Program. I was thankful I had shelter and food to eat.

There were about 15 women living there. We cooked together, prayed together and became a family. Although some used drugs and alcohol, others learned cognitive skills and had hope for the future. I learned a lot about myself during that time. I live by the motto, “Never give up hope!” And I realized that even though I have a mental illness, I am a very strong person.

I would like to see more emphasis on creating funds for research for psychiatric drugs and their horrible side effects. The ones I take have caused me to gain so much weight, that it adds greatly to my depression.

Thank you, Steinberg, for all your hard work for the homeless and mentally ill. I am glad you are on my side!

Sherrie Tyler