Postmarks

Contradictions Exposed

Chronicle Editor:

Wyatt Roberts is telling other people how to live when, as an admitted virgin, he's done no real living? ["Anti-sex Crusader," Vol. 16, No. 18]

Kurt Standiford recommends Edgar Cayce as "great reading", and he accuses someone else of using a false premise? ["Postmarks," Vol. 16, No. 18]

Have the Christians on the Austin City Council not read Matthew 6:5-6?

John Rush


Jesus Saves

Dear Editor,

Regarding the December 27 [Vol.16, No.17] article about religion in Austin, religion is man trying to reach God. Christianity is God reaching out to man. No amount of religion can ever save -- only Jesus can.

Sincerely,

Robert Holt


Paul Said It First

Editor:

In reading Elder's article "God on the Bench," (Vol. 16, No. 17) I was startled to see him characterize Scalia as having "a certitude that's more than strident; it's scary." And then -- to demonstrate his point -- he quotes Scalia as saying, "We are fools for Christ's sake." Now if that quote scares Elder, perhaps he should investigate further. After all, Scalia is just quoting the apostle Paul speaking in 1 Corinthians 4: 10.

I wonder if Elder knows that?

C.G. Stayton


A Date With Hate

Dear Editor:

Hate can be so cute, just look at Bruce Dye's photos of Wyatt Roberts (Vol. 16, No. 18). It's not enough that the Chronicle needs to promote one of the most obnoxious right-wing figures in Austin, but you have the best representative of Lifestyle journalism in Amy Smith to write it. As Smith serendipity gives us a biography of Roberts, we search for even the least bit of decent journalism. Nowhere is there even an attempt to report on how homophobia effects those he targets, how it leads to problems from Lesbians and Gays being rejected by their families and churches to violence including murder. No attempt is made to even tell us what in Roberts' background makes him an authority on what is traditional, conservative, and good for this country. Smith in her zeal to represent the best of homophobic Republicanism seems unable to write about Kay Longcope's ties to the GOP such as in her latest Triangle's bizarre front page article on how Southeast Austin's working class District 51 could be made into a Republican stronghold. Also it may have made the article a little literate if we could have got some information on when did a fanatic ever back down on what he believes and how fanatic hatemongers are somehow good Christians or citizens or what the difference between what he wants to be called "a Conservative Christian" and what the Ku Klux Klan now calls itself, i.e., "Conservative Christians." In time of rising hate crimes against Gays and Lesbians in Austin, an issue that the Chronicle has always avoided, including the recent anti-Gay murders, hate does not look quite so cute as Amy Smith and her kind seem to think. With the Chronicle continuing to support such people as Wyatt Roberts it's time the Progressive people of Austin looked towards putting their advertising money where they are given some respect.

Celeste Rowan


The Political Is Personal

Editor, The Austin Chronicle:

Not surprisingly, I was greatly distressed by your article on American Family Association Executive Director Wyatt Roberts. A single sentence in particular caused me to curse out loud and become agitated enough to write this letter. Roberts, in explaining the contradiction between his explicit homophobia and his personal friendships with queer people, is quoted as boasting that "It's very easy for me to separate people from policy." I am assuming that Mr. Roberts is telling the truth -- that he really does not think about the human damage that he does -- although I am not altogether certain that that is the case. Given this assumption, however, I would like to suggest to Mr. Roberts that he has a great, though not uncommon, misunderstanding of policy, and I would encourage him to rethink his position.

I imagine it has historically been "very easy" for many citizens of this country to cope with similar cognitive dissonances. How many people were able to separate their support for slavery from their perhaps genuine feelings for particular slaves? Later, how many people continued to be racist despite their affection for their African-American nanny, maid, houseboy, yardman, etc.? Perhaps not as many have personally known indigenous peoples who have been victims of centuries of genocidal policies. The point is that policy is about people! It affects people's lives! Roberts' outspoken homophobia makes my life -- as well as scores of thousands of others in Austin, including those of his so-called friends -- less safe. It helps to keep schools, churches, and homes the most unsafe places for same-sex oriented youth. It makes it more difficult for them to affirm their identities and become healthy adults, or perhaps even to survive into adulthood. Roberts' policies are not separate from people!

I can only speculate as to why any self-respecting queer person would befriend Mr. Roberts. I can only hope that they continually try to open his eyes to his own contradictions and to the ramifications of his actions. The saddest part is that he is but one of many -- including a large number of our current lawmakers -- who either do not get the connections or truly do not care about people. Neither is forgivable.

Michael Sala

Marxists in NW Austin

To the Editor:

I was pleasantly surprised when my butler (read: dog) brought in the latest Chronicle ("Mayfield Fights Back," Vol. 16, No. 18) to find that I had been elevated to the status of petit bourgeois by moving into the 78759 ZIP code. This is ironic considering that my family could not afford shelter in hip ZIP codes like 78705, 78704, 78751, etc. Even more ironic is that the Chronicle negatively portrayed a neighborhood that united to fight the corporate "bad boys" and won, a mantra that is written about week after week by your writers. Does it really matter what ZIP code a neighborhood falls into if its residents band together to fight for their community and standard of life? They used the same processes and fought the same battles as any Austin community taking on a big company. They should be applauded for their tenacity, not blasted because they worked hard to sustain their standard of living.

Speaking of which, having just escaped the masses, I have only one question: Am I supplied a proletariat to suppress or do I need to acquire one myself?

Sincerely yours,

Annemarie McCracken-Rudloff, III

[Ed. Note: Sorry, but since petit bourgeois is essentially French for "lower middle class," you don't get to suppress anybody.]


Atheist Zealots

Editor:

I found Kellen Von Houser's letter, "Atheist Rights," almost as laughable as the 12/19/96 piece on NPR about the Puritanical zealots who will not allow their children to celebrate X-mas because it is Pagan, materialistic, and an affront to Christ.

Mr. Houser's complaint that a brief prayer in prelude to a City Council meeting somehow denies him representation, harms him, or violates his civil rights is ludicrous, and reveals an intolerance he himself deplores in others.

I can respect the skepticism of an agnostic. But atheism is, at best, an arrogant assertion (and if mistaken, ungracious to our cause) and at worst a philosophy the social application of which (in Russia, China, Cambodia, etc.) has produced atrocities far surpassing those caused by all religious hysteria.

I just learned of the demise of Carl Sagan at 62 on
12/20/96. May the universe rest his... soul (?).

Sincerely,

Ken Kennedy


Heart of Judaism

To the Chronicle,

As a member of Austin's fast-growing Jewish population I found "The Light Is On, Is Anybody Home?" disconcerting. If I didn't know better, I would think from reading this issue that Catholics, Buddhists, and Protestants wrestle caringly with their spirituality and traditions, but that the last Jew in Austin left some years ago for L.A., and is so ambivalent about his identity that he can't even write coherently about his years in Texas.

Does the Chronicle assume that practicing Jews only read the Statesman? Or that the stereotype of assimilated American Jewry represented by Mark Gozonsky's befuddled article accurately portrays the average Jewish Chronicle reader? Or that Chronicle readers of whatever background are less interested in the spiritual vitality of Austin's Jews than in other religious traditions?

American Judaism is engaged in as much "God-wrestling" (Jewish Renewal scholar Arthur Waskow's phrase) as any other religion challenged by postmodern times. Recently the Austin community has grown enough to sprout diversities of Jewish expression that are already established in regions with larger Jewish populations.

For example, the Heart of Texas Havurah welcomes anyone who wants to explore Judaism in a small fellowship that is both experimental and traditional. This spring the Havurah will host rabbis from both the Renewal and Reconstructionist movements: hotbeds of lay leadership, feminist liturgy, progressive politics, traditional Jewish meditation, art, and music. Other lay-led congregations that offer a "grassroots" approach to being Jewish in Austin are Beth El and Ohev Tzedek (very traditional) and Aleph and Kol Hashalom (more experimental). Alterna-Jews seeking spiritual expression and egalitarian community in Buddhist, Native American, and Unitarian traditions might consider coming home, at least for a visit.

The established congregations -- Agudas Achim, Beth Israel, Chabad, and Hillel -- also struggle with contemporary issues and have articulate and thoughtful leaders who would make excellent interviews.

To find out more about us Jews who didn't move to L.A., the Austin Jewish Resources website at http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/ubiquity/jewish/ is a good place to start.

Judith Weiss and the Heart of Texas Havurah

ARCC Survival Strategy

Dear Editor,

I am writing in regard to your article about the Austin Rape Crisis Center [Vol.16, No.16]. I hope you will print my letter. As an ex-employee of the Center, I was there during these trying times, and may be able to shed some light on the events that took place. I was employed at the Austin Rape Crisis Center for nearly seven years. My title was Accounting Administrator and Office Manager, and I was well aware of almost everything that was happening.

I realize that the grassroots activists were very upset at the changes taking place at the center, but they very stubbornly refused to see that it was absolutely necessary in order to survive. Much has been said about money and fundraising, but if you don't have money, you can't offer services to the community. The grant which paid most of Amy Mok's salary was cut in half, so without the money to fund that position, the position had to be eliminated. It has been made to sound like a personal vendetta against these people who cared so much about the center, and gave of their time to help survivors of rape, and when some of them were let go, and others just up and quit because they didn't like the changes being made. Actually, I was very sad to find that they (in some cases) were the ones with personal agendas. They have caused much harm to the Austin Rape Crisis Center, which they profess to love and support, simply because things are not being done the way they used to be done. They seem to feel that it has to be their way or not at all. Well nothing stays the same, and no matter what happens now, it will never be the same as it was.

They cannot make things be the same as they were, and all they have done is cause serious problems for an agency that needs support, not people to destroy it for personal reasons.

The Executive Director, Ginger Eways, stepped into a very bad situation when she accepted the position. Funds from Bingo were seriously depleted, and new money had to be found to replace the many thousands of dollars a year that Bingo had been providing. She had to slash budgets, terminate staff positions, and
rearrange and restructure just about everything. As hard as some decisions were to make, in the long run it has proven to be for the ultimate good of the center. Even during the most austere times, the center continued to provide public education as well as counseling services. Although the staff was severely reduced both by downsizing due to business necessity and attrition, our services to the community were not seriously compromised even though the people remaining on staff were just about working themselves to death in order to accomplish so much with so little.

The center does a wonderful job of providing services to the community, and that never stopped! I think a lack of understanding on the part of a lot of people, and perhaps a lot of misinformation that was passed along, has been the cause of the unhappy situation that developed for a while. I can only say that I hope that everyone now understands that petty differences must be put aside, for the good of the center and the work it does in the community.

Charlotte Wheeler

The Truth at ARCC

Editor,

I am very concerned about misinformation and incorrect implications printed in the December 20, 1996 [Vol. 16, No. 16] article entitled "Crisis at the Rape Crisis Center" by Kayte VanScoy.

Your article misleads readers into believing that the Center no longer supports a grassroots, activist approach or that we are not concerned with looking at the causes of sexual assault or focusing on prevention of sexual assault. The article stated that we had cut back on grassroots public education. This is simply not true. We cut back on salaried positions. The work that was being done by Garlinghouse and others is still being done, by other staff and a great, dedicated crew of terrific volunteers.

As the Hotline and Speakers' Bureau Coordinator I am responsible for coordinating speaking engagements to schools and community groups. It was inappropriate for VanScoy to discuss Speakers' Bureau duties in her article without interviewing me. I would like everyone in the Austin community to be aware that the Center is still providing presentations, as well as staff training. In fact, this program is thriving, and not only did we keep doing presentations all the way through the end of the school year, but I already have presentations booked months in advance. Furthermore, I am maintaining previously established relationships with many schools, organizations, and agencies, while continually developing new relationships with various entities in the Austin community. If anyone would like to schedule a Speakers' Bureau presentation, please call me at 512/445-5776 x209.

I think it should also be noted that the Center is often represented in the media, and this kind of exposure is pursued by our Executive Director, Ginger Eways, and Jamie Avila, the Special Assistant to the Executive Director. Grand jury and judge training is still conducted by the Center on a regular basis, and brochures are still produced and distributed. ARCC is still pursuing outreach efforts in minority communities. We recently started a new outreach program entitled "Living Safe in Montopolis." Although I am not in charge of this program, I have been active on the planning committee. It is hoped that this program can soon be expanded into other minority communities, and plans for this program are well underway. This new program will have a dual focus of prevention and outreach. I also believe that it is important to note that many of the members of the planning committee are members of ethnic/racial minority groups.

It was pointed out in the article that our East Austin satellite location had been closed. Although that building has been sold, it is essential that everyone know that our primary location is in Southeast Austin, and is easily accessible by public transportation. I do not say this in ignorance -- I am a public transportation consumer.

When VanScoy wrote about the Personal Safety Awareness Center, she only addressed the intervention aspect of the program. The mission of that program also involves education and prevention. VanScoy also critiques the Center for choosing counseling with children over prevention. First of all, the children's program was not funded with public education or prevention monies. But more importantly, it is vital to remember that intervention services to child and adolescent survivors is a critical form of sexual violence prevention. Although the majority of childhood survivors do not grow up to be sexual offenders, the majority of sexual offenders are survivors of child abuse, usually sexual.

The mission of the Center has always been a dual one of prevention and intervention. It still remains as such. No choice has been made to favor intervention and counseling over prevention. Furthermore, I think it is misguided to imply that intervention cannot be an activist program, established through a grassroots effort. Having volunteered for over three years before joining the staff, I can say from direct experience that intervention with survivors is inherently an activist program. It wasn't very long ago that there were no services provided to survivors of sexual assault or sexual abuse. Every time, as either a volunteer or a staff member, I answer the hotline, "Austin Rape Crisis" I am actively choosing to commit a feminist, politicized act. Every time I validate a survivor or tell her or him that I believe them, I am being a feminist activist. Every time someone asks me about their abortion rights or how they can pursue this alternative, and I give them information or appropriate referral, I am committing an activist, feminist, political, pro-choice act. And by depending so greatly on our large number of volunteers and community support, we are inherently a grassroots organization, and will remain that way forever.

In your article you stated that individuals who would have gotten peer counseling must now pay for therapy elsewhere. This is false. Again, since I coordinate the Hotline, and am often the person who makes referrals. I wish VanScoy had spoken to me before printing this. Many uninsured survivors and loved ones are still seen at ARCC, even though we no longer have the peer counseling program, only now they are seen by professionals. When referred outside our agency, uninsured survivors and loved ones are referred to other non-profit agencies that charge minimal or no fees. When an insured individual contacts the Center for individual therapy or counseling, they can be referred out to private practitioners who specialize in the individual's area of concern and are approved providers for their specific insurance. Because so few treatment groups specialize in the areas we do, we often accept both uninsured and insured individuals to participate in our therapy groups.

By presenting a misinformed, poorly researched, biased perspective, you have violated your ethical responsibility towards the Austin community, sabotaged sexual assault prevention in Travis County, and destroyed any level of professional integrity and respect that your [newspaper] may have had.

Sincerely,

Samantha Supernaw-Issen

LMSW Hotline and Speakers' Bureau Coordinator Austin Rape Crisis Center

[Kayte VanScoy replies: Those who say that the focus at the Austin Rape Crisis Center on public education has not been diminished rely on the same argument which ARCC's executive director Ginger Eways fell back on in interview after interview, but which was roundly refuted by more than a dozen former staff, former and current volunteers, and former and current supporters of the center. As the article on ARCC stated, despite the total eradication of a four-person staff devoted to public education and despite the fact that Eways and her assistant Jamie Avila are now the only staff members who coordinate public education/outreach (in addition to their already overstuffed job descriptions), some maintain that the public outreach efforts of the center today match the quantity and quality of the efforts in the past. However, Eways, Phillip Poplin, Vice President of the ARCC board, and Amy Kite, the director of counseling services, made it clear that ARCC is now focusing more of its efforts and resources on crisis intervention than on public education. Though ARCC staff members continue to speak in schools and neighborhoods about sexual assault prevention, the fact remains that the perception of a change in philosophical direction at the center pervades the community of its supporters. Now that the peer counseling program has been done away with, sliding scale or no, it remains true that ARCC cannot provide free counseling to as many victims as it formerly did, and it must send the overflow of sexual assault survivors elsewhere for services.]

ARCC Needs Junior League

Dear Chron:

I must take exception to Tom Davis' letter concerning the role of the Junior League of Austin in the Austin Rape Crisis Center's current financial and organizational dilemma ("Postmarks," Vol. 16, No. 17). Mr. Davis laments the ARCC having become a "toy for the Junior League" and bases his decision to resign as a Center volunteer, at least in part, on this bit of organizational deterioration. Mr. Davis is speaking as an insider, someone who presumably understands the role of the League and how they seem to have wrested control from the board and staff.

I am not a member of the Junior League, but I have worked for two very fine non-profit agencies in Austin that have benefited from the League's support for many years. If Mr. Davis had simply asked how the League became involved in the ARCC, he would have discovered that the League had been invited by the ARCC.

Each year, the Junior League asks Austin non-profits to submit grant proposals requesting financial and volunteer support. Agencies then submit proposals for support of the area they feel would benefit most from the League funds and volunteers based on the agency's own need, annual plan, and budget. The League asks us to tell them what we need. The Junior League is not in the habit of storming the doors of charitable organizations and imperiously demanding that they accept funds for some member's useless pet project. If the ARCC finds that the League is primarily interested in the children's therapy room, it's because that's what the ARCC asked the League to be primarily interested in. If the League's help is needed in another area, then the ARCC should ask for it.

I doubt Mr. Davis has met any of the ARCC League volunteers. That's the only way he can dismiss them so easily.

I sincerely hope the ARCC can maintain the loyalty of past donors and volunteers and engage the help of new supporters to get through what must be an unbearably difficult situation for everyone involved, including Mr. Davis. It's natural to lash out in anger when you feel you've been betrayed, but attacking agency friends based on your limited knowledge of their role is counter productive. I also hope all of this bad press will not cause the Junior League to hesitate in approving any grant request from the ARCC that may be pending. Their help is needed now more than ever.

Sincerely,

Loretta Holland


Those Pesky Exes...

Editor:

Ba Humbug! The reaction of ex-disgruntled employees is so predictable! I was not surprised to find their names and those of their cohorts sprawled all over your article. In thinking through a succinct response I find myself struggling between addressing the forest or the trees. The distortions in the details are so numerous that it would take a sequel to your article, thus I've opted for the forest.

As the current employee with the most seniority and as a former Director of Public Education, Director of Client Services and current Clinical Director, I have witnessed and participated in the evolution of every program at ARCC. Despite the recent budgetary cuts ARCC is presently operating at a level of maximum efficiency and professionalism. Our ratings, both from survivors and funders, has never been higher. The current staff is the most skilled we have ever had. We are all thankful to Ginger Eways (ED) for the "housecleaning" she's done which has allowed us to move on with the important mission of this agency. It is indeed unfortunate that programs like Outreach and Public Education were altered. But, contrary to the implications of your article, they have not been eradicated. The counseling program has been expanded because that is where the need has been assessed to be. To ask survivors to wait six months for services, as has sometimes been true in the past, because we have "outreach" to do, would be unconscionable. Lacking the resources for dealing with all rape-related problems, focusing on the "aftermath" of rape, as the "exes" accuse us of doing, is exactly what we need to be doing.

The "anti-multiculturalism" allegations are unfounded. We now serve more ethnic and racial populations than at any time since I have been at the agency. Our statistics speak loudly to our ongoing commitment to serving all populations. To equate the outreach program with counseling abused children is irresponsible when 40% of our survivors are children. This inability to distinguish between symbol and substance and to focus on those in greatest need is why the "exes" protest the difficult but sound changes at ARCC. Good riddance to them! With their departure we no longer have to battle distractions and concentrate on the "real" work to be done.

Sincerely,

Ileana Corbelle

Clinical Director

Austin Rape Crisis Center


Study the Fine Points

Dear Editor:

I have been reading interesting comments from the atheist community concerning prayer sessions at City of Austin council meetings in at least the past two issues of The Austin Chronicle. Understanding this concern quite well, I thought I would respond and let these people and others know the reality of this issue.

There are items that are taken up before the City Council formally convenes for their session. The proclamations, live music, and the invocation are some of these items. Those who see the prayer session as part of the meeting and cite the separation of church and state as a valid basis to criticize the council are wrong to do so. You see, the Mayor does not formally call the meeting to order until after the invocation is presented. Therefore, there is no law broken nor rules or regulations infringed upon since the ministerial invocation is not done as part of the actual meeting.

If those who criticize the Council for this would bother to do their homework and pick up a City Council agenda, they would turn the cover page over and immediately see the "Order of the Meeting" listed. There, they would see that the invocation precedes the meeting which is called to order at 1pm.

I do hope this clears up the perception that the invocation is an integral part of the Council meeting.

Sincerely,

Lance Winters

Citizen Advocate


Flying Saucer Attack

Editor:

Re: the article on Space Rock that appeared in the Chronicle a few weeks back [Vol.16, No.14]:

You neglected to mention one of the fundamental purveyors of Space Rock in town, the now-defunct Flying Saucers. I'm sure members of more than a few of the bands you did mention would acknowledge their influence. The Flying Saucers were trafficking in the effects-heavy post-My Bloody Valentine thing as far back as 1991. Recommended are their two CDs, which are still floating around the record stores now.

Andy Schell


Father Scott Dinger?

Dear Editor,

You forgot the "Church of the Dobie" last week in your treatise on religion [Vol.16, No.17]. The spirituality of art, music, and film cannot be left out.

There are times when I get lethargic and dismal. Fear and inertia tempt me to explore darkness, to expand loneliness. Beyond the mild depression, beyond functional lethargy. Become immobile? Escape?

It is too dangerous and I have too much responsibility. I suppose it is how death is tempting. The senses are overloaded with annoyances and the desire to make it all still and quiet is enormous.

Back to the world of illusion; of care taking, of work, of comfort and pleasure. The middle world of time and measured space.

Go beyond that, to the other extreme: art. And the art and the darkness may meet: Sometimes art is the way to get into the darkness from other direction. Truly the better and more difficult way. It is simple to lie still and despair. To drift into madness. Simple and tempting. One can go there with pure self will. The other way requires the help of the muses or gods. Mysticism. Faith and risk must be explored. Either way, the middle world must be left from time to time. The world that nags at us like a needy child.

I see the need to go to a church or temple from time to time. Transcendence to another reality. I go to the theater often, a temple of sorts, to be included for those so disposed. The dark intimate space, thrown together in community with others of like mind. All desiring to transcend and receive inspiration, or escape. The joining of darkness and higher illusion. The good filmmaker the priest.

I'm driving home afterwards. The world seems somehow different. I turn on the car radio and an old world aria is playing. The space in the car is transformed. I watch the hands on the steering wheel and the forehead in the reverse mirror as if I were observing someone else. The illusion spreads or do I only realize that my life is the illusion? I want to grasp it, to watch each moment, to be here often.

Is there a religion that can put me there? I would gladly embrace it. But I only find it in the temple of the theatre, the private meditation of painting or being carried off by a lofty cello.

Linda Anderson


KFAN the Americana Flame

Editor,

This is in regards to "The Great Roots Rock Scare of '96" (Vol. 16, No. 17) where there was extensive coverage of the Americana radio format. It stated that an "...Americana station in Dallas is scheduled to go on the air in January." The next-to-last paragraph stated "...no one... could answer the question of why there isn't an Americana station in Austin -- ..." and "The anticipated Americana station in Dallas will be a big test...".

Several months ago I wrote the Chronicle after a "Dancing About Architecture" column referred to Americana but failed to mention the station nominated for "Southwest Americana Station of the Year." Where was that? Tuscon? Santa Fe? Tulsa? Try 75 miles west in Fredericksburg. Those lucky enough to be able to tune to 107.9 when 30 miles west of Austin have been able to hear what the "Americana Format" has to offer. KFAN is smart enough to mix their own idea of good music along with the format (they were playing this stuff six years ago before it was a format), so we get to hear other music, and local artists that Austin radio plays rarely (or totally ignores). When was the last time you heard Larry Joe Taylor, Rex Foster, Debbie Walton, Monte Montgomery, John Arthur Martinez, Volunteer Fire Ants, Geronimo Treviño, Mark David Manders, or Ben Beckendorf on Austin radio? Even KUT rarely plays these guys. And you think KGSR's "Daily Demo" gives airplay to unsigned bands? KFAN's "Local Licks at Six" plays five or six songs in a row by unsigned bands every weekday. Ask some bands that play Hill Country venues (Robert Earl Keen, Toni Price, James McMurtry) about KFAN. Many have dropped in for interviews and to plug their shows.

It hurts to see Chronicle articles that mention the Americana Format but neglect to acknowledge this station. Austin area radio is the best in the U.S., but when I drive west, there is a y'allternative, and I dial it all-de-way-plumb to the right (107.9).

From the Dripley-Bland Triangle,

Bob Simpson


Texas Radio & the Big Beat

Dear Austin Chronicle:

Re: Jim Caliguri's article December 27, 1996 [Vol.16, No.17] on the new Americana musical format... he mentions there is no Americana station on the Austin airwaves. Go west of town, and Americana is alive and well at 107.9 KFAN of Fredericksburg, Texas. I don't care what format they call it, their blend of truly likable music has me hooked. I hear a lot of Nanci Griffith, Robert Earl Keen, Trout Fishing in America, and other local artists. They had a wonderful, supportive presence at Kerrville Folk Festival. KFAN's fifth anniversary party in Luckenbach was 12 hours of great live music with Chris Wall, Don Walser, and many others on a warm December day.

I first spun my radio dial all the way to 107.9 after someone wrote a letter to the Chron and suggested it. Thanks, I guess it's time to do so again; if you are west of Austin, I recommend giving KFAN a listen. You'll get a chance to hear this Americana format that Jim Caliguri described in the last Chronicle, and hear Texas radio at its best.

Tamara Dwyer


The ROUTE to Safety

Dear Chron:

Just how safe are Austin area roads? According to official Texas Department of Public Safety data, they are relatively unsafe compared to most other Texas urban areas and are rapidly becoming more so. The number of traffic fatalities in Travis County went up no less than 50% in one year, from 62 to 93 between 1994 and 1995. These are the latest DPS numbers available.

Specifically, the per capita rate of traffic fatalities within Travis County is about 1.45 fatalities per 10,000 residents per year. This compares unfavorably with the Houston area (Harris County) which still had a considerably lower fatality rate of just under one death per 10,000 residents, although Houston's fatalities are themselves increasing fairly rapidly.

If our roads were as safe as Houston area roads, there would be about 30 less fatalities per year in Travis County. This is roughly comparable to the 40 or so yearly total murders in Travis County. To solve these murders, 12 homicide investigators are assigned. In contrast, not one person nor any governmental budget has been assigned to study and identify the causes of the excess traffic fatalities in Travis County. Nor are there any federal or state or local requirements to earmark any portion of Austin area transportation planning funds to study traffic safety.

If we take a still broader statewide perspective by averaging together the total traffic deaths in the six largest urban counties in Texas, we find that fatalities rose no less than 20% in one year between 1994 and 1995 (this was before the traffic speed limits were raised). Unless we assume that there has been a most unlikely epidemic of drunken driving in Texas cities, about the only reasonable explanation for such an increase is to admit that we are overloading our urban roadways at the expense of safety.

There is a tendency for agencies like TxDOT and DPS to focus public attention on individual drivers, and especially drunken drivers, as the main cause of traffic fatalities. Drunk drivers are indeed involved in a high percentage of accidents, but the most likely explanation is that as the roads become more overloaded and unsafe and tricky to drive on, impaired drivers are likely to stand out in the safety statistics. The fact that our roads are becoming inherently unsafe gets overlooked when we focus on drivers as the primary factor.

The fact is that new roads are designed to meet official standards only at the time they are designed and that even these designs may not always maximize safety. Unfortunately, roads can gradually turn into death traps due to increasing traffic volumes, as now seems to be happening to the central Austin portion of I-35. There are no retroactive requirements to review or upgrade these roads to meet current standards.

It is incorrect to imply that many individual traffic engineers are not very concerned about safety. The problem is better described by saying that the politics of transportation does not put much emphasis on maximizing safety for motorists, to say nothing of bicyclists and pedestrians. The primary goal of Austin area transportation planners seems to be on trying to synchronize traffic lights or to build and widen new roads to squeeze more cars onto Austin roads. This emphasis tends to satisfy suburban land developers who demand roadway capacity into Austin to help sell suburban houses, but the cumulative effect is that many lives, especially those of suburban residents who must drive the farthest, are being sacrificed.

Thus the political establishment distracts public attention from the true cause of the deaths that actually result from a lack of emphasis on transportation alternatives and land use development policies that could optimize overall safety. The bottom line is that if you want to get away with negligent homicide in Travis County, the best way may be to become a transportation planner. At least you'll have a lot of friends in high places willing to help out.

Yours,

Roger Baker

Rethinking Our Urban Transportation Environment (ROUTE)


Take the Sleigh Next Time

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Thank you for a magical no-cars Christmas.

My sweetie and I didn't expect anything special when we awoke on Christmas morning. We hadn't decorated a tree or wrapped gifts. It was just going to be another day off, biking to Town Lake to play around, then stuffing our faces at some eatery. But we had scarcely put our clothes on when we noticed a deep, awesome quiet. Where was that droning, relentless machine noise that always throbs along in Austin?

I was amazed when I took the recumbent trike out to get the cat a can of food. A no-cars Christmas magic had settled on the streets. It had blown away the acrid clouds of exhaust gases. A note of goodwill could be heard in the silent distances. A couple of cars appeared now and then, but they seemed less like a churning tidal force, bashing away at our doorsteps, and more like plain folks just trying to pilot a huge chunk of machinery through a public space. I felt so good that I got right on 45th Street and took the whole darn lane. It was great.

Riding our recumbent two-wheelers down to the lake was equally as grand. Even as we flew about searching for some food, we felt more wonder than hunger. The peace and serenity of that sublime no-cars Christmas was the best present I'd ever received. So thanks again, Austin, for that magical no-cars Christmas!

From your human-powered pal,

Mike Librik


Clearing the Air

Dear Editor,

Thank you to Nelson England for continuing to reward Chronicle readers with informative articles on local transportation and environmentally related issues. His updates on the decisions made by the Austin Transportation Study Policy Advisory Committee fill a void in the community for this extremely important information on how federal transportation money is spent.

I would like to clarify some relevant point sfrom his "Naked City" article on air quality from 12/13/96. The current ground level ozone standard is .12 part per million (ppm). For accuracy purposes the standard is not 120 parts per billion (ppb) because of mathematical rounding. For example, measurements in the range of 120-124ppb round to .12ppm and are not considered exceedences under the current standard. This same rounding formula is applied to the longer measurement time proposed by the EPA of eight hours instead of the current one hour measurement time for ozone levels. If for three consecutive years the average specified daily eight-hour maximum ozone concentration exceeds .08ppm Travis County, and perhaps the surrounding counties, will be reclassified as nonattainment areas. Whole numbers are more easily understood, i.e. 80ppb and this scale is widely used, but at the cusp of an exceedence it is technically inaccurate.

As stated, asthmatics and people with chronic lung diseases (bronchitis, emphysema, etc.) will benefit greatly from these proposed measures as will everyone's health.

Over 3,000 studies have been published on the health and ecological effects of ozone since the late 1980s and, according to the EPA, many of them show adverse health effects at lower levels than the current standard of .12ppm. Improvement of our national health is reason enough to lower the ozone standard to .08ppm, however, as convincing as many of these health studies are, the EPA also estimates that for every dollar spent between 1970-1990 on clean-air regulation compliance our nation received $45 in public health and environmental benefits.

Ozone is only one of six criteria air pollutants that the EPA monitors. Particulate matter is another standard they are proposing to lower in order to better protect human health. The health risks from exposure to particulate matter may be as great or greater than those of ozone.

Please show your desire to have the ozone and particulate matter standards lowered to better protect human health by contacting your federal legislators. For more information on these proposals, access EPA's homepage at http://ttnwww.rtpnc.epa.gov

Sincerely,

Scott Johnson

Chair, Air Quality, Austin Sierra Club



Freedom of Religion?

Attn: America

re: "Atheist Rights, Part 3," The Austin Chronicle Vol. 16, No. 18

Editor:

It does not require a "religious government" to engineer the "lusting for governmental power so they can enforce their beliefs upon everyone." It only requires a few empowered, manipulative individuals with no tolerance for others' beliefs, views, and practices. These individuals, being so engrossed in their own desires, are so self-centered that they should not be in a position of government. Could it be that the ones at fault are the ones that empowered said individuals?

In opposition to and regardless of my personal convictions and ideals, the Constitution states "...freedom of religion." Many appear to believe it is stated: "...freedom from religion." "The facts speak for themselves," as Howard Thompson wrote.

One might also educate themselves with a dictionary and note that religion does not equate God; religion does not equate prayer. The problem was not the prayer, but the deliverer was a minister.

Thank you,

Angela Miller


Jesus Plays Lotto

Editor:

So Diamond Shamrock and Stop 'N Go CEO Roger Hemminghaus suddenly got religion and now won't sell Playboy and Penthouse.

I think he is being a cowardly hypocrite and a whore for doing this because I do not believe he has all of a sudden adopted the so-called family values.

But there is one sure-fire way to prove that you are now a true believer in the Christian morality: Stop selling lottery tickets, too. Gambling hurts families. Poor people spend money on lottery tickets and deny their kids food and clothing.

And then you need to stop selling the evil alcohol which has caused countless thousands of tragedies. In fact, I wonder how many Christians on the way from home to church or back were killed by drunks who bought their alcohol at Diamond Shamrock and Stop 'N Go.

In fact, I hereby demand that all Diamond Shamrock and Stop 'N Go stop selling lottery tickets and alcohol immediately.

Robert Marcus


Radio Conspiracy

Editor:

I can't believe that on page 29 [Vol.16, No.18], in gorgeous 15 point type, 98.9's ad department has embarrassed itself with using "it is" for the possessive "its".

Not that long ago, Z-Rock was reviving those teenage memories of Judas Priest, the Crüe, Def Leppard, etc. I guess that shtick didn't work since they decided to establish themselves as "KLBJ Junior" (as one morning show calls it). They must have heard the joke; I mean, KJFK?

Chances for success: nil.

Alan Arvesen


Standing Alone With Kurt

Editor,

I was frankly stunned by the content of the latest published letter by frequent contributor Kurt Standiford (Vol. 16, No. 18), for several reasons. First, I believe it is the first letter he has had printed that doesn't focus on his usual obsession, i.e. his virulent condemnation of homosexuality. More significantly, I found (to my horror) that for the first time, I partially agreed with him, specifically in his praise for Michael Ventura's wonderful column entitled "An Off-Key Carol". Mr. Ventura is an impassioned writer with whom I frequently (and passionately) disagree. But his Christmas ruminations fascinated me with his earnest attempt to reconcile two apparently contradictory interpretations of Christ's message: on the one hand, condemnation of sin, and on the other, teaching tolerance, love, and understanding. I have struggled with this apparent duality throughout much of my life, and was truly taken with the eloquence of Mr. Ventura's writing. Apparently, so was Mr. Standiford. The irony here is that Mr. Standiford's previous catalog of letters has always come down firmly on the side of condemnation, with withering sarcasm, virulent hatred, and self-righteousness as him main weaponry (tools which are still in evidence in his third paragraph). I wonder, did he really agree with Mr. Ventura or did he just miss the point? I anxiously await the day when Mr. Standiford writes anything which might demonstrate that he knows something about love. I suppose there is a first time for everything, and I hold out some hope that it's not too late for him.

David Weems


Green Pastures for Kirk

Editor:

It's not surprising that candidate for mayor Ronney Reynolds would want to downplay the huge number of people who turned out for Kirk Watson's fundraiser at Green Pastures. The 800 people, who plunked down $35 and more to attend the stellar affair, constituted the largest gathering ever held in the 50-year history of Green Pastures.

Reynolds disputed the numbers, pointing out that Green Pastures co-owner Ken Koock had said that the restaurant can only hold 400 people. True. But what Reynolds failed to mention was the huge overflow of hundreds of people onto the south and east lawns of Green Pastures. It was a festive occasion, a perfectly beautiful night, with the moon filtering through the tall oak trees. Parents played with their kids outdoors and visited with old and new friends.

As it happened, I grew up at Green Pastures in the 1930s and 1940s, before my aunt (Mary Faulk Koock) fancied it up and converted the 1896 house into a restaurant in 1946. In the last 50 years, I've attended many affairs at Green Pastures. This was the largest crowd I have ever seen there, bar none. The ample parking area was overflowing, and cars were parked for two and three blocks down all the side streets.

What was even more impressive was the wide diversity of the people in attendance. Environmentalists and members of the business community, members of organized labor and CEOs; and Old Austin and newly arrived Austinites were represented. What they shared in common was a love and concern for the future of Austin. And they want to see Kirk Watson elected as Austin's new mayor.

Sincerely yours,

Anne C. McAfee


Love One Another

Editor:

I enjoyed your recent issue dedicated to the spiritual life of the Austin Community. The diversity was interesting and informative.

I was raised a Catholic. Left. Was Agnostic through college and most of my 20s. Started looking for answers down the psychic path in my early 30s that ultimately led me to a personal relationship with God, the Father and Mother, which I hold today.

It is only through personal relationship that we can know God; but it is through church activity that we gain community in thanksgiving with others and find the way to love one another. While it is true, there is much contamination in the world of religion and intolerance toward those who do not hold the same religious or spiritual belief we do; yet it is truer, that at the core of every international belief system, something greater than we, resides. In those systems, for the most part, are the same moral and ethical standards.

After a 30 year absence, I returned to the Catholic Church not because I support their political policies, but I know no other place where I can be in the company of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the angels, and all the saints. What a support system, and as far as I know of religious organizations, it's the only place that offers this. I love Mass and communion, too. I am also a fan of contemplative prayer and meditation.

Last Sunday, I attended the service at Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church and I loved it. I've always felt a deep root connection with my brethren of color. My soul has ached for their plight. The people there were kind, friendly, helpful, and definitely feeling the spirit. What a healing. The pastor talked about "What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do." It was wonderful.

I know that this kind of coming together happens all over and by people who are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Taoists, Buddhists, and those which I have not mentioned. It's not about dogma. It's about acceptance and loving one another. Maybe that sounds trite, but consider the alternative.

Whether it is in a garden or in a church, we must quiet ourselves and feel the presence of that which is greater. Truly, we are one, and there is one, whatever you choose to call it, that is greater than we.

Peace, tolerance, acceptance, justice, compassion, and love for 1997.

Judy Richardson

P.S. Thanks for your help to Casa Marianella and all the other worthwhile and otherwise overlooked non-profits. God bless you!

Exiled Again

Editor:

As far as Austin Jews are concerned, the answer to your cover-page question (Vol 16, No. 17) must be a wan and deflationary "No." Es schwer tzu zayn a Yid -- "It's hard to be a Jew" -- goes an old expression in Yiddish. And pleasurable. And transfiguring. And a whole complex array of burdens and satisfactions (or better, of burdens which are also satisfactions, and vice-versa). Here in Austin, however, in this most Jewishly enervated and Jewishly inert of cities, it's mostly just hard. One Jew's assessment, to be sure, but an observation that finds more than a little justification in the tellingly apathetic response quotient to the Chronicle's religion questionnaire: Not only did Jews end up at the bottom of the poll; evidently, Pagan/Wiccans outnumbered them 2 to 1.

And thus, was it conscious irony or not that led you to select a piece on "Jewish in Austin" by somebody who doesn't even live here? Worse yet, a stereotype-pleaser deluxe! E.g., Jewboys prefer whitefish to football, are Berkeley ex-radicals and comedy-writers, don't know "where to go with [their] Judaism," etc. Most egregiously of all in this formerly New York-but-now- Austin-Jew's book? The way-too predictable discursive choice of nostalgic reverie, a bargain-basement version of the very Jewish, and frequently quite sublime, drive toward Memory, accompanied by the obligatory trappings of familial/erotic schtick, i.e., "one girl gave me deep eye contact"/"we were honored for being the perfect family," and "it really blows to sit there in congregation... and be wishing you were back home, with your family, except that my family doesn't practice Judaism beyond enjoing a loverly smoked fish platter..." Ah, the vernacular Jewish sensibility that can collocate "it blows" with "shul"! Who needs Philip Roth?

As I look at the double photo shot of Bar-Mitvah boy and non-football playing, whitefish-eating, T-shirt-wearing luftmensch, my eyes glaze over, and I see images of Kramer/Jerry/George, Paul Reiser, Murphy Brown's station-manager, and half a dozen other TV Jewish nebishs of the moment (as installed there, of course, by Jewish producers and Jewish writers). Or else, I turn the pages to see the counter-photos of Priest, Reverend, Methodist roofers, Judge, Pastor, Choir-director, and Buddhist practictioner, and I ask myself, "What's wrong with this picture?" Indeed, the only article in your set on religions in Austin that Gozonsky's remotely resembles, structurally and impressionistically, is the other exercise in retrospective sentiment by Suzy Banks, a self-described atheist (actually, I liked hers a whole lot better)! And even here, the contrast is instructive: the photo is of her father, not of the self-involved self times two.

All power to Gozonsky's current Jewish experience in Los Angeles which "involves gradually doing something," though he's not sure what. But can the Chronicle take tip from him? The next time it serves up a story about "Jewish in Austin," instead of some gefilte fish appetizer about "Feeling Jewish" (the article head on page 2) can we get a heartier, more filling (dare I say "exquisitely finer") main-course about doing Jewish, or better, living Jewish by someone who actually resides here? Come on! It's not that hard to be a Jew here that you need a byline from someplace else. Isn't it bad enough that exile is so much a part of the Jewish condition, even while, especially around this Chanukah-time, "the light is on?" But do you have to tell us that no one's home in the bargain???

Adam Zachary Newton


Plant the Seed,
Legalize Weed!

Dear Editor,

It's time for this absurd marijuana prohibition to end. It should be, if not legalized, at least decriminalized. The marijuana laws are wrong, they have always been wrong, and some of the more reasonable and progressive members of this society are finally beginning to realize that.

Recently, in California and Arizona, the people voted that they want a change in the marijuana laws. They want the government to lighten up on those who choose to use. Some people believe that it's no one's business what others do in the privacy of their own homes with their own bodies, that doesn't hurt anything or anyone.

But do our elected representatives and their appointees respect the will of the people? No. Perhaps they've forgotten what their basic function is -- to represent the people and to support the will of the majority who elected them. Perhaps, they've been swallowed up by the arrogance and self-righteousness, which is the looming shadow of too much power. At any rate, Big Brother has decided to ignore the will of the people, and wants to force it's own ignorant, hysterical, and intolerant attitudes about marijuana down society's throat.

Whatever happened to democracy and "We, the People"? Whatever happened to self-determination? I fear that our founding fathers would be truly disappointed if they could see the ways that their most noble and enlightened ideas regarding personal freedom and rights have been ignored, abused, and trampled upon in this ridiculous and pointless effort to persecute and oppress harmless little pot users.

So, whether the people of California and Arizona voted to legalize for medicinal use, or if the vote was actually a consensus for legalization, period, the Feds should not interfere. We are not a dictatorship and the people have spoken.

Rebecca Clark


Boom Chaka Laka

Editor:

If there is one fact increasingly accepted as truth by the media and ourselves it is that the complexity of today's society has become overwhelming. Anyone who has bought a home or refinanced a loan has found themselves confronted with literally hundreds of single-spaced, incomprehensible forms to which they must affix their signature as if they understood and accepted every word. So many of us with even advanced college degrees have trouble following the directions to correctly program our VCRs or to put together our kids
10-speed bicycle that comedians have made lampooning the experiences a staple of their routines. And do you have any idea exactly what your health insurance plan covers? We are in a constant state of anger with the unseen "they" that created all these forms and imposed all these complex rules.

So who is it that drafted these multiple questionnaires and regulations that must be followed before our most basic desires can be achieved? Who has enforced these rules in stores, hospitals, banks, government offices, schools often with surprisingly little understanding of their true purpose, scant compassion, and only rare efforts at applying individual discretion to the situation? It is our generation, the baby boomers, now in our 40s and 50s. We have shaped American society for the last 20 years. We are the ones who've been in control. There is no one to blame but us.

But how did we, of all people, do this? We are the generation of the 1960s who came of age under Kennedy and the creed of service to others. We opposed the distant and cold establishment of our elders. We were going back to basics, to get in touch with nature and one another. And yet when we got over 30 and in power we somehow created, fed, and fostered this overwhelmingly complex society. I don't know how or why. I just know that we, not our parents or our children, did it.

It may be too late to unravel our creation. But we can and should humanize it. We need to draw on the wisdom we have gained with age and teach the younger generation (and boomers) we often see mindlessly implementing this form and now computer driven system in stores, schools, health clinics that they should not be martinets. (Everyone has seen them and has their own personal anecdotes). They must learn the essential purpose behind the rules and have the independence, discretion, and courage to act to achieve these goals when thoughtless adherence to the rule itself is counterproductive. The alternative is an increasingly alienated and frustrated population which is divorced from the idea of joining together to advance the common cause of the best nation on earth.

I would be remiss without adding the following: When we look at society, we should see as the starting point in attacking its problems the need to create a safe culture with internal security from crime and predators as we have achieved to a degree external security from the threat of foreign powers. It is only in this atmosphere that a culture can truly flourish. First things first. Back to basics is never a bad idea.

Ron Sievert


Last Temptation of Wyatt

Dear Editor:

I noticed after a quick perusal of your article on Mr. Wyatt Roberts [Anti-sex Crusader," Vol. 16, no. 18] that he referred to himself as a virgin and not a celibate. Now if he refrained from describing himself as celibate, one could infer that on occasion masturbation (or nocturnal emission) has occurred. Now, if the only sexual experiences he has had have been with himself (if he's a male), then that qualifies him as a homosexual male or at least exhibiting homosexual behavior. So the director of the American Family Association of Texas is a homosexual -- now that's some sensational news story.

Congratulations,

Jeff Burke


My 2cents

I have a wacky, way-out, over-the-edge friend living in Tulsa who told me he was uneasy about going to see the movie Mars Attacks! This attitude baffled me. Wasn't this the guy who had every Simpsons episode on tape and was the proud owner of an entire unopened case of Pee Wee Herman Wiggle-Toy bubble gum? His inability to express why he feared the movie was the call to action. I immediately phoned my sweetheart and booked a flight to the red planet.

Tim Burton's pop sensibilities are honed to razor-sharp acuity in Mars Attacks!, and the way Tim sees it, Las Vegas is the appropriate site for our Pop-Armageddon. Mr. Burton has taken all of society's inglorious infatuations -- the same ones that have driven the
X-Files
and Hard Copy to the top of the ratings -- and created a monstrous world where the earthlings are at least as wretched as the aliens. Yet for all its black humor, low-brow gags, and inspired casting, Mars Attacks!, is difficult to watch. The anti-Independence Day which Tim has wrought is not so much a pleasant diversion as it is a brightly packaged stink bomb. Danté would be proud.

One may miss the classic heroic mythos which permeates this film, and if that is the case, Mars Attacks! will leave you curiously empty. The absurd manner in which the aliens are dispensed symbolized the absurdities that occupy our lives and waste our time. Pogo said, "We have seen the enemy and he is us." Tim Burton says, "I have seen the enemy, and I'll bet he'll buy a ticket to see himself win one more time." I have a hunch my friend in Tulsa knows that the price of maintaining his pop-life illusions is already far too expensive.

Hey, what's with this green popcorn?!

Brett Anderson Barney


Love One Another

Editor:

I enjoyed your recent issue dedicated to the spiritual life of the Austin Community. The diversity was interesting and informative.

I was raised a Catholic. Left. Was Agnostic through college and most of my 20s. Started looking for answers down the psychic path in my early 30s that ultimately led me to a personal relationship with God, the Father and Mother, which I hold today.

It is only through personal relationship that we can know God; but it is through church activity that we gain community in thanksgiving with others and find the way to love one another. While it is true, there is much contamination in the world of religion and intolerance toward those who do not hold the same religious or spiritual belief we do; yet it is truer, that at the core of every international belief system, something greater than we, resides. In those systems, for the most part, are the same moral and ethical standards.

After a 30 year absence, I returned to the Catholic Church not because I support their political policies, but I know no other place where I can be in the company of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the angels, and all the saints. What a support system, and as far as I know of religious organizations, it's the only place that offers this. I love Mass and communion, too. I am also a fan of contemplative prayer and meditation.

Last Sunday, I attended the service at Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church and I loved it. I've always felt a deep root connection with my brethren of color. My soul has ached for their plight. The people there were kind, friendly, helpful, and definitely feeling the spirit. What a healing. The pastor talked about "What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do." It was wonderful.

I know that this kind of coming together happens all over and by people who are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Taoists, Buddhists, and those which I have not mentioned. It's not about dogma. It's about acceptance and loving one another. Maybe that sounds trite, but consider the alternative.

Whether it is in a garden or in a church, we must quiet ourselves and feel the presence of that which is greater. Truly, we are one, and there is one, whatever you choose to call it, that is greater than we.

Peace, tolerance, acceptance, justice, compassion, and love for 1997.

Judy Richardson

P.S. Thanks for your help to Casa Marianella and all the other worthwhile and otherwise overlooked non-profits. God bless you!

I, the Strawman

Editor:

Editors and publishers must long for the good 'ol days when they could sway public opinion with the stroke of a pen. Maybe the two-party circus of the late 1900s spoiled it for 'em. Nowadays people are too sorry to be suckered by rookies.

The subject in question is how the press pushed the homosexual agenda, only to be mocked or ignored by all but the shrinking choir they preach to. The real problem in this debate is that nothing is agreed upon... like when my friend had an argument with his girlfriend. She just wanted a small wedding and he never wanted to see her again. The warring factions of the homosexual issue don't even agree on the meaning of words (i.e., gay, homophobic, Ebonics... no wait, that's another letter, Ebonics.) Not only are we not on the same page, we're not reading the same book in the same language. Maybe this is what happened at the Tower of Babel. But let's cut to the chase. Audrey Duff ("Gay Friendly," Vol. 16, No. 17) quotes Richard Bates (whoever the hell he is) as saying "By the year 2020 this [homosexuality] will not be a big deal. Just as people are now apologizing for how they behaved with regards to blacks in the Sixties and how they treated them as second class citizens, so it will be with homosexuals."

Obviously, being a homosexual isn't the worst of his problems. Ya, see, Bates, being black isn't a behavior like homosexuality or alcoholism. A homosexual can change just as an alcoholic can. The proof is in the denial. Homosexuals sound just like the addict when confronted with their disease. If you've ever heard an addict at a probate hearing, you know what I mean. An addict in denial will use any and every ploy on the book to escape their diseased reality. The problem is not their behavior but the reaction of others to their behavior, they cry. Sound familiar? Another sure sign of disease is "hanging-the-strawman." Homosexuals build an evil strawman, the enemy if you will, and stereotype him with nefarious traits, then decree that anyone who doesn't agree with them to a "T" is that strawman.

Finally, on a less serious note, is it any wonder The Texas Triangle is going under? Austin already has a daily and weekly homosexual tabloid. Three's a crowd.

Homophobically yours,

Kurt Standiford

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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