Readers respond to Zero Tolerance, the Longhorn Pipeline, and Being John Malkovich.
Had a call in my voice mail today from none other than Brigid "Stomp on Something" Shea publicizing another Longhorn Pipeline community meeting. Wouldn't have been so bad 'cept 90% of the message was spent vilifying Longhorn and spreading disinformation, i.e., "Longhorn has never operated a pipeline." 'Scuse me? So what, do they just build them and turn over operations to a contract company? Please, spare me the cheap grace, Brigid!
Ever see a land survey map of Southeast Texas? Looks like a damn underground spider web with all the pipeline matrix. How many times in the last 30 years have you heard of an explosion or a major leak? And it's not just because they are used all the time. I smell a petroleum-soaked rat. Environmental protections are greater now than ever, thanks in no small part to the Sheas of the world, but this again appears to be a case of fomenting unwarranted fear and painting a picture, blurry at best, of Goliath eating poor, helpless David. You cannot legislate risk.
Onward thru the pipe,
Jones in His Own Words
Thank you for your editorial reply to that nonsense in the Statesman. Those were nurturing sentiments indeed. I hope I may continue to fulfill your expectations.
Robert Singleton said I should fold up your words and put them in my wallet. These are mine. Barton Springs is a spiritual well. It serves us all and so it shall.
I am outraged! Alexander Windle, a 25-year-old man with a two-year-old son, who was awakened by a loud beating on the front door of his home at 5am, was shot to death by Wimberley's police force. His crime was that he had sold or given away almost an ounce of marijuana.
"Marijuana," for those who don't know, is a plant. God invented it.
And he invented a pretty good thing, there, when he did. It is the ultimate renewable resource. It is an annual that grows quickly, and abundantly, and widely. It can be processed into durable fabrics, into inexpensive paper, and into industrial-quality oils; even medicines. Some varieties, when smoked, also make people feel a bit lightheaded and silly.
The growing and possession of marijuana, or "hemp" as George Washington used to call it when he grew it at Mount Vernon, has been illegal since 1935 or so, when a low level government employee got scared about black jazz musicians smoking the stuff, and led an ignorance-based fear campaign to it's culmination: Prohibition, Part II.
We can argue about legalizing the other drugs later on. For now, legalize marijuana! Say it with me: Legalize marijuana!
Perhaps, in some sick, perverted way, Barry McCaffrey and the anti-drug zealots are right: Illegal drugs do drive people crazy and cause them to go out and kill people.
Just Another Victim
Thanks for running Nate Blakeslee's "Zero Tolerance Takes Toll in Hays County." ["Drug Warriors," Nov. 5] Unless a drug can effectively be used as a weapon, there is no clear and present danger, and cops should not be executing no-knock warrants (not to mention suspects). Rusty Windle obviously didn't deserve to be gunned down for delivering small amounts of cannabis to a paid informant. To the contrary, I suspect he was entrapped. But now he's dead, so the cops won't have to worry about him trying to defend his actions in front of a jury.
Militant drug prohibition causes violence. Nothing the prohibitionists say or do can change that. If you wish to defend such policies, look up the fates of a few righteous citizens first. Rusty Windle's death is not unprecedented, and it isn't even one of the most outrageous homicides perpetrated by drug warriors. Search for Mario Paz, and you will learn that the LAPD shot him in the back while he was unarmed. Ezekiel Hernandez was sniped by Marines. And Donald Scott was killed by a multi-agency task force hoping to confiscate his land using our corrupt forfeiture laws.
Santa Cruz, Calif.
Mike Emery's review of the video release Office Killer ["Video Reviews," Nov. 12] is not exactly wrong, but he's not looking at the movie from the right perspective to get the most out of it. He calls director Cindy Sherman "a photographer by trade," but it would be more accurate to say she is a famous visual artist who works in the medium of photography. Her photo series consist of pictures of herself costumed and posed in settings evocative of movie stills. When a viewer brings knowledge of her other artwork to the film Office Killer, it gets both funnier and more interesting. What Emery dismisses as "frequent images that are typical of most horror movies" are more like artistic drawing on, evoking, and transforming of scenes from the horror genre into characteristically deadpan Cindy Sherman-style shots. I had the good fortune to see Office Killer on a large-ish screen at the Austin Museum of Art about a year ago, and what lingers in my mind is not the plot but the distinctive palette of colors, the incidental objects, the peculiar use of depth-of-focus, and of course that one amazing scene when the hapless heroine plunges her hand into the red jellied innards of a corpse.
Not a Dump
With respect to Rebecca Cohen's review of the Austin Museum of Art's current glass exhibition at Laguna Gloria ["Holding Light: The Seen and the Unseen," Nov. 12], please know that I respect and encourage serious art criticism. Good writing on art educates a broad public, draws audiences, and provides a qualitative measure of the value of an institution's programs. But I take serious issue with Ms. Cohen's naming of the front oval of Laguna Gloria as a "most uninspired sculpture dump." This is one of the historic site's most handsome spaces, and it has been the temporary home to the work of such reknowned sculptors as Jesus Moroles and Luis Jimenez. By placing Priour's sculptures at the entrance to the galleries, we have introduced the exhibition with the work of this important artist, rather than "relegat(ing it) to a spot outside," as Ms. Cohen suggests.
The Dr. and Mrs. Ernest C. Butler
Austin Museum of Art
Where's the Beef?
I am afraid that in this case, Brendan Sinclair has come up a couple of tacos short of a combo plate. He wrote an article on Macintosh gaming ["Game Over for Mac Gaming?" Nov. 5] and he didn't make one very important phone call to add meat to his story. Metrowerks Corporation is right here in Austin and develops the software that all Mac programmers use to write games. He also mentions Bungie Software: "The odds of Bungie making more Mac-exclusive games are slim, but perhaps there is a new Bungie on the horizon." One stop at Bungie's Web site would have informed him that this spring Bungie will launch Halo, maybe the most anticipated game for the Mac ever. Where's the beef?
No Joking Matter
I walked out of Being John Malkovich because I was appalled by repeated scenes of graphic spousal abuse, during which one of the lead characters, played by Cameron Diaz, is bound and caged with an animal. She remains captive for a considerable portion of the film, which is unapologetic about this absurdly pointless violence disguised as humor.
I left the theater disappointed with the Dobie, which normally screens cutting-edge, insightful films. Sadly, Being John Malkovich has hypnotized the newly corporatized film house, along with the Statesman, Chronicle, and Texan reviewers and a sizable chunk of America. I, for one, am not amused. I choose not to support films that glorify violence against women. What is more, I expect enlightened, progressive publications such as these to warn readers about such horrifying images in what may be an otherwise lighthearted film.
This movie asks viewers to laugh at a crime that is rampant in our society. I am tired of seeing the abuse of women, whether real or fictitious. Being John Malkovich is, frighteningly, one more brick in a massive wall. Boycott violent images.
I must take issue with the glowing review of Being John Malkovich I read in last week's Chronicle. I went to see the movie myself last night and was horrified to see a gratuitous "comic" scene in which the leading woman (Cameron Diaz) was assaulted and caged, in her home, by her husband (John Cusack). It seems that Hollywood will never tire of portraying women as weak and worthless, and this is shameful to us as a society. But I do expect more from the Chronicle, on which I depend for a progressive voice, and which I hoped would carry over even to the film reviews. If we all accept the gross mistreatment of women (or anybody) as entertainment, how can we expect anything better for ourselves?
I was wondering why the editor chose to use a picture of an obviously very well-used revolver with Kevin Wood's article about a new semiautomatic pistol ["A Way With Guns," Nov. 12]? As if the article itself wasn't depicting all of the inherent evil in the handgun, the editor had to add his two-cents worth. Sad, really sad!
The article Mr. Wood wrote, "A Way With Guns" [Nov. 12], seemed to be an attempt to be anti-handgun, but in fact was a statement on why we have a gun violence problem and I think a cry for help or maybe even a warning sign.
1. A child is given a gun with no proper instruction or parental supervision.
2. When this child violates the primary safety rule of not pointing any gun or weapon at another person he:
a. gets to keep the gun
b. still gets no formal instruction
c. gets a more powerful weapon
3. When as a young man goes deer hunting for the first time has adults smear blood on him (not my idea of good parenting)
4. As an adult is given a handgun to shoot again with no training.
It's no wonder that when Mr. Wood fires a handgun all he thinks about is its potential to hurt other people and thinks other people are watching him because he looks "funny." I think he should take some firearms, hunting safety, and conservation classes, but first get some therapy; that blood smearing deal had to leave some things that soap and water cannot wash.
Guns are not the problem,they are only tools.When I was growing up, my father taught me how to safely use guns, power tools, autos, fishing poles, and how to properly respect nature and my fellow man.
War on Some Drugs
Your article on the tragic consequences of America's zero-tolerance drug policies ["Drug Warriors," Nov. 5] was one of the best I've read on the subject. If Alexander Windle had never sobered up he would still be alive today. I know many a former alcoholic who has turned his or her life around by putting down the bottle and picking up the marijuana pipe. They may still have a substance abuse problem, but at least now they can get up in the morning without a hangover and lead productive lives. Nor do they run the risk of drinking themselves to death. It is not possible to consume enough marijuana to die from an overdose. Not even aspirin can make the same claim. I pray that those friends of mine who prefer marijuana to martinis are not gunned down like Mr. Windle as a result of their preference.
Unfortunately, we can only expect more of such tragedies. The War on Some Drugs is more than an intergenerational culture war. It is a money-making machine for both drug dealers and drug warriors. Thanks to federal forfeiture laws, police have license to steal from illegal drug users. The profit motive has turned what should be protectors of the peace into predators. Law enforcement is not the only group profiting from draconian drug policies. The for-profit prison and drug testing industry wield considerable clout on Capitol Hill. It is time for policymakers in Congress to ignore the special interests clamoring for zero-tolerance policies and acknowledge the parallels between drug prohibition and America's disastrous experiment with alcohol prohibition. The only winners in the War on Drugs are the drug warriors and dealers who profit from prohibition. The big losers in this battle are the American taxpayer, civil rights, and people like Alexander Windle.
Draconian Drug War
I am not at all ashamed to say that I cried upon reading the story of Rusty Windle ["Drug Warriors," Nov. 5], who was shot and killed in a drug warrior task force raid of his home. I cried not just for Rusty, but also for those who have already died and are yet to die in the same fashion. The foot soldier who shot Rusty was not only cleared of wrongdoing, he was praised by his superiors. His superiors are the ones who should face charges, for they have allowed, as have so many local jurisdictions across America, to be co-opted by federal agencies and mandated into implementing tactics used within regimes where the only Bill of Rights lists the rights of government. The War on Drugs breeds contempt within law enforcement for citizens' civil rights with disregard for individual privacy, right to property, right to self-defense, and many other rights defined and declared as inalienable by our Bill of Rights. Even the most basic right, the right to life, has been deemed to be forfeitable by the anti-drug lords that wage this war. The war on drugs is a war on people. It has as much to do with drugs as the Boston Tea Party had to do with tea. And just as King George's oppression of the colonists was basically economic, the war on drugs continues and grows because it is a multibillion dollar industry. The drug warriors in Washington have no plans on ever ending their cash-cow drug war. They are addicted to the power and the money. They become the pushers, addicting local police forces no differently than drug lords wish to addict those weak enough to sample their wares. The drug lords fear decriminalization and regulation as much as the drug warriors, as that would put both sides out of business. Take a long hard look, America. It's the drug warriors who are addicted. It time for you to stand and JUST SAY NO! to this draconian policy. In the cause of liberty and justice for all, I am,
Very sincerely yours,
Adam in the Attic
I found this in the attic of a house I was working in on 39th Street in Hyde Park. I think it may be the "Lost Page" of Genesis.
-- and God also said to Noah, "Build a parking garage. Make it 35 cubits high, one block long, and as wide as you can. Although not one feather falls from a sparrow that I do not know about; I can't keep up with all their droppings -- and the Lexus' of my people shall not be defaced.
It is good that my children come to my house to give me glory. It is too much to expect that they also park under trees and walk more than one block in July in pantyhose, heels, or a coat and tie. Also, build many more very large --"
The rest of the page crumbled in my hands.
Worship the King
Great article and well-deserved praise by Tom Doyal for Larry L. King and his book of letters ["Celebrated for the Least of Reasons," Oct. 15]. I had the pleasure of getting to know Larry in New York about 10 years ago during the Big Apple premiere of his play The Night Hank Williams Died. We played lots of dominoes, heard colorful tales about his life and loves, as well as those ornery editors and producers.
One little-known fact about Larry is that he also writes children's books. I'd like to encourage people to get his wonderful book Who's Afraid of Lozo Brown. He charmed me when he autographed my copy to "The Goddess of the Universe" during my visit with his family in Washington, D.C. And yes, it's true -- I saw his manual typewriter. No computer in sight! Larry has a hilarious sense of humor. He is one of the last true Texans.
Tackling for Jesus
If prayer before high school football games is sanctioned and promoted (as it has been recently in Leander, Texas), we think God shouldn't be left out of the pep squad's yells either -- so we submit the following:
Help us, God, to play this game
Fair and square, but just the same
If they score and play too well
Help us, God, to give them hell!
God, give us strength
To kick with a will
To tackle and throw
And kill, kill, kill!
The Drug Debate
In your November 5 issue you use SAMHSA's (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) 1997 report to compare to the "drug" arrest rate through 1995 from the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting System ["Drug Warriors"]. More recent data is available, and is not a pretty picture.
First, the arrest rate for drug offenses is up 6% for adults and 15.6% for juveniles, 1995 through 1997.
Second, the latest SAMHSA report (1998) shows that past-month use of any illicit drug has risen slightly since 1995 to 6.2%. A more reliable indicator of drug use can be found in the University of Michigan's Monitor-the-Future survey of high school seniors, a survey U.M. has been doing since the mid-Seventies. It increased from 1995 to 1998, 23.6% to 25.8%, of high school seniors reporting use of an illegal drug in the past month.
Third, the quote you attribute to SAMHSA is not false but hardly full disclosure. You quote them, " -- standard drug surveys indicate that between 1979 and 1990, the percentage of the population that reported "using drugs in the past month' dropped from 14.1% to 6.7%, falling to 6.1% by 1995." In fact, drug use plummeted from 14.1% in 1979, its all time high, to 5.8% in 1992, and has been rising almost every year since then. Small wonder that some of our citizens are calling for other ways to solve our collective drug problem.
Palm Harbor, Fla.