The Austin Chronicle


January 10, 2003, Columns

Perilous Mental Health Situation


Congratulations to Jordan Smith for the excellent article on area psychiatric services (or, better, lack thereof) and how they intersect with local law enforcement agencies ["Mental Health Care Meltdown," Dec. 20]. We need to get seriously committed to making emergency mental health care available and training police officers how to respond appropriately on mental health calls. Until we do so, there will be no end to tragic and unnecessary deaths at the hands of the police ... and any of us, at any time, may find ourselves, a loved one, or a friend in peril.

James C. Harrington


Texas Civil Rights Project

Ventura Is a Pain in the Ass


What a pompous pain in the ass Michael Ventura has become. Most critics are willing to admit that personal taste has everything to do with likes and dislikes; Ventura wants us to know how wrong and dumb those poor Hollywood bastards are because they didn't do it the Ventura way, or rather the Right Way ["Letters at 3AM," Jan. 3]. What a lovely message from someone who teaches high school kids. Parents, it's not too late to move to another district. Save your kids before this jerk ruins them permanently.

Then he takes a parting shot at Charlton Heston, making the sickening claim that his presidency of the NRA is driven by a need for one last round of applause. To look deeper and guess that Heston actually believes in the NRA's world-view and wishes to promote the Second Amendment would require an open mind, something Ventura claims to have an exclusive on but has yet to manifest in the pages of the Chronicle.

Listen up, punk: Agonize all you want, lament the uncivilized nature of your fellow humans until you're blue in the face, it will never make you the wise man you painfully yearn to be. The essence of wisdom is an acute understanding of the fact that yours is not the only valid, reasonable, and workable mindset, or even one of thousands. If that's not in your lesson plan, you're a menace to those poor kids.

Michael Bolduc

Closer to God, Further From Savlov


Hey! I read your review on the movie Extreme Days, and I wasn't pleased. Obviously, whoever reviewed this movie didn't have a very positive outlook on the movie going into seeing it, and that heavily affected the whole review. I am appalled that anyone could be so negative. This is (in my opinion) a great movie. It's not violent, doesn't include explicit sexuality like most movies these days. It is a charming story of four friends who take a road trip and end up closer to each other and to God. You also weren't accurate in your review. If you are going to judge a movie, you should at least keep your facts straight. Jessie is not just a friend of Matt's, they are cousins. And also, this movie has good morals. It is witty and overall a good film. Even if you didn't like the film, you should at least produce a nonbiased review. That is only fair to the viewers and producers.

Jennifer Caloray

Spokane, Wash.

[Ed. note: Extreme Days was reviewed by Marc Savlov in the Oct. 5, 2001, issue.]

Libertarian's Lament


It is gratifying to hear from Peggy Sexton ["Postmarks," Dec. 20]. She is a genuinely caring individual and quite correct in stating that private charity will not cover the health care needs of poor folks. The same is true of socialized health care systems.

Public health care, which now accounts for 50% of the market, is increasing in cost at about 10% per year. That means that the total cost doubles every seven years. This is unsustainable. Adding a new hospital district tax will make the problem worse because it will create new poor people who will place new burdens on the system.

How can we reduce the number of poor people and make health care more affordable for low-income families? We could begin by ending the medical cartel that restricts the number of health care providers. People should be free to choose the doctor of their choice instead of being forced to see government-approved doctors who charge monopoly prices. We could allow competition in the insurance market to allow people to buy health care policies that meet their needs rather than force them to buy expensive government-approved policies.

We could allow a free market in drugs so that people could buy safe and effective drugs available in Europe and Japan but prohibited by government regulatory dictate in America. (Protecting the drug cartel.)

Forcing people to buy expensive insurance, see only expensive doctors, and use only expensive drugs created the problem. Forcing them to pay taxes is not the solution. A society that resorts to force, at the point of a gun, under penalty of prison, is not a healthy society.

When we learn to live in peace and harmony -- a libertarian society -- mutual aid will be the norm and concepts like welfare and charity will be all but forgotten.

Vincent J. May


Outspoken but Saying Nothing


On "Page Two" (Dec. 27) Louis Black proclaims, "The more diverse a college community the richer the college experience for everyone." Some of the all-black colleges and all-women's colleges must not agree with editor Black. In response to Black's claim that Republicans are not outspoken on race: Liberals of the far-left are insidious, manipulative hypocrites who would do and say anything to further their despicable agenda of sex and race-baiting. How's that for outspoken, Mr. Black? You all just can't see or hear for all the weeping and gnashing.

Kurt Standiford

P.S. Dare I ask, but what's up the ass of S.M. Moser? First he hates rich, beautiful, talented, heterosexual women, now it's slam the UT football team and its uniforms. (You'd think Moser would like men in tight pants.) Yeah, Moser is just what the Chronicle needs to raise circulation in UT, Texas, huh? Slam the Longhorns, right Moser? Why not just go piss on the LBJ Library? I'll bet a pill-popping sot-queen is just the life of the party ...

Antiwar, Not Anti-America


Recently, the actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins appeared on the Donahue show and defended the patriotism of the current antiwar movement. Defense of the patriotism of dissenters is a ritual debate, always required because the pro-war leaders invariably call it into question. The unquestioned assumption shared by all parties in this debate was that being unpatriotic is a most odious characteristic.

Patriotism is synonymous with nationalism. It is typically unqualified. Whereas nationalism was progressive in relation to colonialism, the era in which it is otherwise a force for good has ended. Support of one's country irrespective of the possible ethical consequences for the lives of others is immoral. Ask the Germans. Hitler was obsessively patriotic, and, in obvious reaction, they are now the world's most internationalist people.

Nationalism might justifiably be seen as the root cause for the loss of 100 million lives in wars of the 20th century, conspicuously in World Wars I and II. Although it would be praiseworthy to fight in support of values such as freedom, justice, and democracy, in war these are more commonly propaganda themes brandished by warmongers as rationalizations for aggression. Patriotism is very often no more philosophical than the unity among Jets or Sharks, Longhorns or Aggies, etc. Such tribal allegiance is based more on male competitive instinct, testosterone run amok, than principle.

Hopefully, 21st-century human society will evolve to the point where allegiance to universal human rights transcends allegiance to country and where international institutions would be the sole legitimate agencies to enforce international law. Such laws would doubtless include prohibitions against military aggression by one country against another. Use of military force could only be legitimate if authorized and controlled by a United Nations reformed to remove the victors of WWII from their undemocratic dominance within it.

Sarandon and Robbins had to confront a right-wing attack "journalist" who declared that antiwar activists "hate America." He could not imagine the possibility of being inspired by a higher calling than loving it.

David Hamilton

War With Saddam Is Just


Who is the freaking idiot who wrote the intro to the photo essay "Faces of the Enemy" [Dec. 27]? One dumb bunnie apparently. The dolt claims we "destroy[ed] a generation of Iraqis"? What the hell are you talking about? When is someone going to mention what Saddam has done to his own people, or was the writer so desperate to create a lie? Saddam has killed millions, millions of his own people in both northern Iraq's Kurdish population (Dumbshit forgot Saddam used poison gas on his own people I bet) and the southern "Swamp Arabs." He is allowed to sell oil under provisions of the UN embargo (see Dipstick, not "the U.S. and Great Britain," but the United Nations, an organization I would wager you think allows the sun to rise daily, no?) but he refuses to spend the revenues he generates by selling oil on his people, he spends the money on things like weapons programs and mansions for himself and his family. He has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on himself and his military. As far as "missile attacks," Dumbass, they are against military targets, mostly radar and anti-aircraft sites that illuminate UN aircraft with radar as a precursor to firing on those aircraft, and missile sites that actually have fired on coalition aircraft more than 450 times last year. Saddam is the one who puts military installations in civilian areas, not the U.S. or Great Britain. So what the hell is this idiot flapping about? Saddam is the one killing millions of his own people, not the UN, not the United States or Great Britain, and no matter how many time fringe idiots scream the lie, it's still a freaking lie. Saddam is the threat to his own people, Asshole, and if you can't see that I hope to God your gene pool ends soon or mankind is doomed. Wanna talk women's rights in Iraq? Wanna talk about liberty and individual freedoms? Of course, "Those people don't think those things matter do they?" Human rights, women's rights are fundamental and should be available to everyone. You fringe leftie morons want to keep a brutal, sadistic dictator who is murdering millions of his own people in power simply because you hate the president, which is pretty freaking pathetic. Maybe the dipshit intro author might want to go back and check Bill and Al Gore's comments in 1998 and get some perspective on the matter. Wait, that might mean he'd have to tell the truth ... never mind. Have a good one, campers.

Carl T. Swanson

[Ed. note: As indicated by the byline at the end, the intro was written by Lee Nichols.]

PETA Patter

Dear Editor:

With the onset of 2003, millions of Americans will be making the traditional health-centered New Year's resolutions: to exercise more, to lose weight, to quit smoking ...

This year, let's expand our sights and our hopes beyond our own health to the health of our family, our natural environment, including the animals and our planet Earth. In short, let us think globally as we act locally.

Amazingly, each of us can accomplish all that three times a day, by switching from meat and dairy products to convenient, wholesome, delicious, plant-based foods. In addition to the highly recommended five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, every supermarket now carries soy-based deli slices, veggie burgers and dogs, heat-and-eat dinners, as well as soy milk and ice cream.

On the first day of the New Year let us turn over a new leaf, kick the meat habit, and get a new lease on our own life as well as the life of our planet.


Kim Lewis


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