Our readers talk back.
Biased, Ignorant, and Dumb
As a former journalist, reading your "news" magazine is insulting.
I see the Chronicle's crusade in the Dec. 5 cover story as a slap in the face to good journalism ["Women Dig In," News]. There was no balance. Your coverage of the "anti-abortion" side was paltry and highly patronizing.
I don't have enough space to describe the myriad ways it is appalling, other than to point out one small, pathetic example of unneeded editorializing: "As the right-wing assault on reproductive health care rights continues ..."
Great. Your biased, ignorant viewpoint will be lauded by the choir of Range Rover-driving liberals in Austin! Kudos.
I will avoid your publication from now on. If that's your mission, to attract only the liberal-minded, rabid Austinites who shop at boutiques but preach equality and eco-friendliness, I want no part in supporting it.
Keep Austin Weird! (And dumb.)
What low quality, subpar journalism! Your article about Chris Danze was appalling ["Women Dig In," News, Dec. 5]. Instead of portraying him as the upstanding, politically savvy, religiously sound man he is, you have to make him out to be some sort of religious fanatic and monster. That is unmitigated bunk. Stop trying to fool others into thinking that pro-life people are irrational and extreme. We want to save children's lives and protect women from the damaging effects of killing their own kin! What is so difficult to understand about that? We are pro-woman, pro-child, and pro-life! Unlike pro-abortion people, we don't believe that a woman should have the "choice" to maintain the convenience of her lifestyle by destroying the life of another after she already made the choice that led to the creation of that life! It's that simple! Your false portrayals of Chris Danze and the mistruths you used in regard to the pro-life movement are cheap, low blows that mislead and hurt others to further your backward political agenda. You should face the journalism community with your head hanging and your tail between your legs.
Statistics, Without Sources
In the article ["Women Dig In," News, Dec. 5] Ms. Smith contends: "Informational brochures that women will be required to read ... also claim that abortions can increase a woman's chances of breast cancer, despite the lack of credible data to support such a claim."
This is irresponsible reporting; at the very least Ms. Smith could have stated that this is hotly debated. The fact is that 28 out of 37 worldwide studies have independently linked induced abortion with breast cancer. Thirteen out of 15 studies conducted on American women report increased risk. Most of the studies have been conducted by abortion supporters.
Breast cancer is the greatest cancer killer among American women between the ages of 20 and 59. The incidence of cancer climbed 40% in the last quarter of the 20th century (since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States in 1973), while the incidence for all other cancers has either remained the same or declined.
Every woman should know this information before getting an abortion.
[Amy Smith's and Louis Black's response: We find your claims hard to believe, given that a number of credible sources, including the National Cancer Institute, an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, have found no direct link between abortions and breast cancer. The NCI's most recent findings can be found at www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/ ere-workshop-report.
In August, a committee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reviewed earlier studies of the relationship between abortions and breast cancer risks and found them to be "inconsistent and difficult to interpret." The committee noted, however, that more rigorous and recent studies "argue against a causal relationship between induced abortions and a subsequent increase in breast cancer risk." Given the firm conviction with which you offer your statistics we'd be very interested in your source or sources. Finally, do you feel in every medical case where there is even a suggestion of possible harm that the state should intrude, demanding patient education, or is your concern limited to issues in which you have a preconceived ideological position?]
Pro-Choice Is Pro-Life
Thank you for the featured article "Women Dig In" [News, Dec. 5] by Amy Smith and Louis Black's commentary regarding recent attacks on Planned Parenthood. I too have been encouraged at the response from local pro-choice advocates during these attacks.
I proudly volunteer for Planned Parenthood because for 65 years, they have worked with women, men, and families in this community to make sure that everyone has the information and means to decide freely and responsibly whether and when to have children. The overwhelming majority of Planned Parenthood's services focus on prevention.
As parents of four grown children and grandparents of eight grandchildren, my husband and I know what it takes to raise a child from birth to adulthood. As you pointed out in your commentary, if anti-choice hard-liners really want to make abortion rare, they should stop the assault on Planned Parenthood and help us expand access to family planning.
Women Should Determine What Is Best for Them
Chris Danze is the proverbial "boy who cried wolf" come to an abysmally ignorant realization ["Women Dig In," News, Dec. 5]. As men we can never know what pain and regret women experience when it involves children. Aside from the physical pain, the emotional turmoil that is involved with abortions is something no man could ever fathom. I give credit to Danze's adherence to his convictions. But those who believe that a woman should have a right to govern her own body need to show that conviction doesn't get drowned out by the "crying wolf" that Danze and those of his ilk are bellowing. As men we owe it to women to show them the ultimate respect by letting them determine what is best for themselves.
'Chronicle' Not Interested in 'Objective' Reporting
The story about Planned Parenthood was interesting for the fact that the opponent of this project was routinely vilified in the article as a right-wing puritan ["Women Dig In," News, Dec. 5].
Can you maybe, just maybe try for a bit of objective reporting? Would you have called, say, Martin Luther King a "rabble rousing nigger" or other such nonsense? I doubt it, yet it is OK to make a caricature and launch thinly veiled attacks against someone who believes in the sanctity of life. Scary the standards by which you "reported" this story.
Maybe I made an error. Maybe, just maybe, that story was really on the op-ed page. Just not sure.
Don't Boycott New Clinic
Can you believe that construction companies actually boycotted the construction of the new Planned Parenthood in Austin ["Women Dig In," News, Dec. 5]?! People like to make this into a pro-life/pro-choice debate, but what about all of the other, more widely utilized resources Planned Parenthood has to offer. Women's services like annual exams and birth control pills should not be discounted. Affordable health care is what is offered at Planned Parenthood, and I think it's a real crime to take that away from so many women who can't afford to go elsewhere.
I am pleased to have read the Chronicle's piece "Women Dig In," featured in this week's paper [News, Dec. 5]. It is important for area residents to see what is happening in this situation. Rather than Chris Danze using his daytime to fulfill his obligation to those who hire him as their contractor, he instead is sending unsolicited e-mail, using intimidation outside women's health clinics throughout the city, and resorting to last-ditch efforts! I wonder how much he overcharged you for your last foundation so he could fund his activist work?
One of the points that stood out to me was that the usual anti-Planned Parenthood protesters in the city are men ... not the women this clinic is designed for. We saw the same in the infamous photo of Bush signing the partial-birth abortion blocker. All men, no women! Women must stand up and speak up for our rights!
It is apparent that Planned Parenthood will build this new center in Austin, as there are plenty of contractors out there who would be pleased to have the work. In addition, the citizens of Austin need the different types of services the clinic will offer and will assure these needs be met despite Danze (sorry, but he doesn't deserve a "Mr." in my opinion)!
I call for a boycott of Danze, and any of his associates. I will assist in any way I can to assure that the same tactics he is using against others be used against him.
His voice is not louder than ours. Too bad we had to stare at his pathetic mug shot in your paper.
China Grove Tales
My high school girlfriend of three years lived in China Grove. That was 1980, seven years I believe after the song debuted. And not that you care or need to know, but I lost my virginity there, so that song has special meaning to me.
Don't know where your info came from in what the Chronicle wrote, but I always heard the story was that the Doobie Brothers were driving into San Antonio on Highway 87, and their bus broke down. They were able to roll into Hero's Ice & Feed (the only thing in China Grove back then) where they called for a tow, and while waiting wrote the song.
Free Speech Includes Threatening Livelihoods
First: Hats off to the symbolism in The Austin Chronicle's Dec. 5 cover photo ["Women Dig In," News], especially for the woman with the jackhammer between her legs!
Second: Would Louis Black and The Austin Chronicle support Chris Danze if he organized contractors against the construction of another Wal-Mart?
Third: It seems to me these people are exercising their constitutionally protected First Amendment rights to free speech and free assembly.
Fourth: In response to Jennifer Cee's letter to the editor ["Postmarks" online, Nov. 28], it's ironic that she's blatantly willing to use Danze's tactics against him. But, once again, it's her constitutional right to do so.
Finally: You have to love Austin. Everyone is doing their part to Keep It Weird!
Cover Is Not Representative
I am writing in regard to the poorly written headline for the story "Women Dig In: The Defense of Planned Parenthood Is the Latest Battle in a Long Campaign" [News, Dec. 5].
Activists from the pro-life and pro-choice camps are of both genders, but this story's headline seemed to indicate that the controversy over abortion access in Austin is purely an issue of concern to the female gender.
I don't think it is fair to either camp to stereotypically characterize this issue in this way. Certainly gender equity is an important concern that relates directly to this issue (a woman's legal interest in controlling her own body), but it is not the only concern. There is also a serious interest that the state has in protecting prenatal life (as articulated in both the Roe and Casey decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court).
The resolution of this tension between two critical legal interests is and should be a legitimate cause of concern for Americans of both genders.
James M. Branum
Should Be Careful Labeling
Thank you for the article by Rachel Proctor May regarding the Uncovered movie parties ["Not Your Average Movie Night," Screens, Dec. 5]. I plan to attend, as do many people I know. I do not consider myself to be part of a group of "hipsters, activists, or rabble-rousers." I have a graduate degree, a 35-year professional career as an RN, LCSW, and most of the people I know who are attending are also educated and professional. I/we love our country and our democracy. We also hope to preserve it. We see it as terribly threatened by the current administration. An active, educated, participatory population is essential to a healthy democracy. Please be careful with your labeling. Is objectivity forever gone from journalism?
This is in response to the letter to the editor "Can't Afford to Shop Local" ["Postmarks," Dec. 5]. It is so disappointing to see the mindset that shopping at Wal-Mart is so much cheaper than shopping locally. I would like to list several reasons why we should shop locally instead of at big-box operations like Wal-Mart.
1) Wal-Mart is cheaper because they pay slave wages to poor people in China (who openly hate Americans) or Indonesia to make poor-quality clothing and products that keep people coming back to buy more.
2) The Waltons are five of the 10 richest people on the planet, and the average worker at Wal-Mart makes $11,000 dollars a year and has no benefits available to them.
3) When you begin to shop locally you will see that the price differences are not that great and the quality differences are enormous. Hence, buy better and buy less often.
5) There are local thrift and resale stores that have great clothing and merchandise at lower prices and higher quality.
6) Keeping your money in the local economy increases our economy in many ways, like higher wages, lower prices, and keeping the money in the hands of Austinites who spend their money in Austin, rather than the Waltons.
7) It is important to understand what and who you support with the money you spend. It has to be a better feeling knowing you are keeping your money local rather than supporting sweatshops in other countries.
Everyone can make a difference with the ways that they choose to spend their money. To find out more about local businesses and compare prices you can visit www.austin-iba.org or www.austinunique.com. These Web sites give information about all different types of businesses and services that are local.
Converting to solar energy may be possible 20 years from now, but there are things Austin Energy could do now to reduce pollution ["AE Drops a Solar Bomb," News, Dec. 5]. Its Fayette power plant, co-owned with LCRA, puts out 170 tons of ozone-forming pollutants on a typical high-ozone day. By comparison, all of the cars and trucks in the metro area release about 160 tons per day.
Our vehicle miles traveled have quintupled since 1973, but auto emissions have declined because of the enormous advances in engine design. Auto emissions will continue to fall as cleaner cars are sold and older models are retired. But Fayette just goes on polluting.
The Clean Air Force has proposed tailpipe testing of cars with the goal of eliminating 7 tons of auto emissions. Austin Energy could clean up Fayette and eliminate 85 tons.
Republicans on the Clean Air Force and TCEQ have decided that cleaning up Fayette would be bad for business. Democrats go along to get along.
Folks who want solar energy should understand the irony. As long as Austin Energy can sell dirty energy, solar will never have a chance.
Vincent J. May
Doesn't Like Kirk Watson
Former Mayor Kirk Watson, Mr. High Profile figure, has the credibility of a lawyer. You'd think, after all his failed Smart Growth corporate development incentive schemes and subsequent sky-rocketing property taxes, people would realize that he barely qualifies to manage a Burger King. I have no idea what kind of high this profile figure is on.
At least his Chamber of Commerce appointment (the Lone Star State's equivalent of knighthood) affords a situation where damage potential is minimal. I pray that it is so.
'Chronicle' Should Help Shut People Up
It is disappointing that you have chosen to sponsor the KLRU Distinguished Speaker Series including Alan Dershowitz. This man is known for defending the use of torture, advocating the killing of all Palestinians, and defending the right of pornographers to humiliate and endanger women. Please reconsider your support. You are not doing the community any favor.
More Fashion, Less Gossip
I write to chime in with the writer ["Postmarks," Dec. 5] who asked that the fashion writer, Mr. Moser, do more in the way of covering fashion shows or else change the name of his column to indicate what it seems to be; i.e., a society column. Thanks.