Our readers talk back.
My Beliefs More Important Than Laws
As campaigning dives headfirst into the heart and soul of the American citizen, lines are drawn, boundaries created, and motives established. With the most highlighted topics addressed by the candidates, one should be able to decide for whom they side. For election 2004 the root of all the topics seems to be derived from the wavering stance of separation of church and state. Being a Christian, I know that the sanctity of marriage should reside strictly between one man and one woman. The applicable controversy of church and state resides here with the definition the Bible provides and that Christians adhere to vs. the definition the law fails to provide. It could be argued that the definition the Bible provides is unlawful due to the protection of the minority provided by the First Amendment. It has been proven that the majority of American citizens agree with the Bible's definition of marriage (including myself). With that, in response to the minority's right to be protected, I ask: Is America not a democracy, and does a majority not rule in a democracy? America needs political leaders like George W. Bush that are willing to apply the laws of the Bible to the law of the land and stand up for what the majority adamantly supports. As we begin the arduous swim across politically murky waters we should dive deep to find the voice that is willing to bridge the gray area of church and state. George W. Bush is not timid about his faith, and I pray that God continues to work through him in route to his re-election.
Thanks to Jordan Smith
I am Ozomatli's lawyer, and I just wanted to thank Jordan [Smith] for writing such an excellent story ["Not Quite 'Ya Se Fue!,'" News, March 26]. I appreciate that someone has come forward and presented the facts in such a clear, concise, and truthful manner. Thank you Jordan. Your support through this difficult time means a lot.
Sincerely, Lisa Socransky
Los Angeles, Calif.
501 Studios Founded by Richard and Laura Kooris Only
Dear Louis [Black],
Many thanks for the inclusion in your spread about some of Austin's film history ["Once Upon a Time in Austin," Screens, March 12]. One question though: Who else do you understand helped found our establishment, 501 Studios?
The only person(s) I can think of are the few bankers in this town who had the foresight to believe with us in our vision and abilities to be filmmakers, be business people, and do our art here. These same bankers bucked the traditional system of redlining areas or business ideas in this town then (the front men still deny such a practice exists), and gave us the loans and opportunity to prove our stuff; they are a credit to the city and this business, too.
Outside of that support, Richard [Kooris] and I have pioneered our film business and the studios ourselves. After 30 years and counting, we are proud to have established a firm foundation for the industry here and throughout the state. It is good to see the art and industry we love continue to thrive productively in such a desirable place to live as Austin.
I look forward to talking with you more on your film history endeavor as it develops.
We came out to SXSW this year our first time with one of our acts, Culprit One, playing at Saké on Sixth. We're still reeling from what a fine time we had out there and much of that was thanks to the Chronicle's special daily supplements, which kept us informed and enlightened on some happenings and events we might just never have stumbled across. So thanks to all for the hard work. It's much appreciated. We'll be back.
Full Steam Ltd.
Michael Ventura's column on "medical privacy" highlights yet another significant step in George W. Bush's campaign to convert this country into a fascist "Republic" ["Letters @ 3am," March 19].
David A. Laning
No Drunken Drives for Food
To the editor:
Shame on you for suggesting that a shorter drunken drive to Marco Polo in South Austin would be preferable than for "the chefs and kitchen grunts of Austin [to] have to make the drunken late-night drive all the way up to far North Lamar" ("San Francisco in South Austin," Food, March 19). I would prefer there not be drunken chefs driving on my side of the river, either!
Giving Mr. Vann the benefit of the doubt, I am sure he means that these restaurant workers risk encountering other drivers who have been drinking on the long drive from downtown to T&S, but shame on the editors of his column and this rag for leaving the phrasing as printed.
On another note my favorite walking-distance music with a meal (especially Leeann Atherton every Friday night) is Maria's Taco X-Press. With the Chronicle's long-standing support of that establishment, why overlook them in your article, ["The Insatiable Taste for Tunes," Food, March 19]? Leeann, Sonny, Jackson, and Dave are the perfect accompaniment to frozen margaritas, served "top shelf" by the always smiling Fernando and a Crispy Taco Plate for me and my honey. What better way to end the workweek and inaugurate the weekend?
Chastise the Food editor for overlooking an irresponsible suggestion and overlooking an obvious and warranted recommendation in the same issue! Distracted by SXSW, I guess.
Streusand Is Anti-Gay
Ben Streusand, 10th District candidate for the U.S. Congress, led the Republican primary but now must win the April 13 run-off to be your honorable congressman. Although he has publicly and repeatedly stated his positions on many issues, one, which he sent about a week before election in a slick four-page flier, has the following statements, which are quoted verbatim:
"Ben Streusand will use his voice in Congress to say 'Enough is Enough' to the liberals. He will stand up for our pro-family values. As our Congressman, he will: Support a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Fight attempts to add 'sexual orientation' as a protected minority. Support legislation to prevent homosexual couples from adopting children. Fight to keep homosexual couples from receiving the same tax benefits as married couples. Oppose 'civil unions' between same sex partners."
Is this someone whom you want to represent you to be your honorable congressman? I would hope not. I spent 32 years of my life serving my country in the military to preserve our freedoms, not to allow someone else to come along and put the rights of millions of Americans in a locked basement and throw away the key!
What you can do if you do not agree with him:
Vote against him in the April 13 run-off election if you did not vote in the primary. Let all your friends who live in the 10th District know of this rabid snake, and urge them to vote.
If you voted in the Republican primary, then be sure and vote in the run-off.
Above all, don't allow this rabid Homo sapien to slip through the cracks because we didn't care.
Virgil A. Richard
Brigadier General, U.S. Army, retired
Improve Austin Music Awards
To whom it may concern,
I was almost totally bored, at the least, with the Austin Music Awards Wednesday [March 17]. I was watching it on TV and could not believe how some of the presenters were dressed and the extra baggage that was carried up on stage. It was not even funny. I did enjoy a few of the performances, especially Los Lonely Boys. I noticed that they dressed up for their awards presentation. This show is only once a year, and if you are representing Austin, you should make it a gala event. Not only will you draw more attention, but it would also benefit local merchants who could provide wardrobe and such for this event. I know it's Keep Austin Weird most of the time for a lot of Austinites, but it would be more exciting to see the artists and presenters showing some glamour. Let me work for you, and I can help you make it more of a success next year and the years to come.
Beatriz Santa Ana
[Margaret Moser responds: For better or worse, there is no dress code for the Austin Music Awards.]
Still Pushing the Envelope
I loved the article on Bill Hicks ["Requiem for a Sane Man," Comedy, March 12], I think it's great to keep the memory of Bill Hicks alive, and most importantly in that memory, what Mr. Hicks strived for and how he pushed the envelope.
"Push the envelope, watch it bend." Tool
'Democracy' Is Not Mob Rule
Jena Selman is deeply confused ["Postmarks" online, March 25]. She seems to think "democracy" means "mob rule"; that is, whatever the majority says at any time goes, and if minorities aren't happy about it, they can stick it. Ask a Jew who survived the Third Reich how nice a system like that really is.
She's also confused in that she thinks America is a Christian theocracy. "America needs political leaders like George W. Bush that are willing to apply the laws of the Bible to the law of the land and stand up for what the majority adamantly supports." It does? One of the laws of the Bible is that if a man rapes a woman, all he has to do is buy his victim from her father for 50 shekels which I'm sure could be converted to current rates and he's scot-free. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29) Another is that adulterers, disobedient children, homosexuals, and people who gather sticks on the Sabbath are to be summarily killed, and that women who have sex during their periods are to be "cut off" from society. I don't think "the majority" adamantly or even slightly supports such inhumanity. Certainly our founding fathers (deists, most of them) didn't.
Ms. Selman's final confusion is that the only important qualification for a president is that he has "faith" in her invisible friend. Letting the economy go to pot, lying us into an unjust war that kills hundreds of U.S. servicemen (none of whose funerals this "godly" man could be bothered to attend) these things are unimportant. Religious faith matters: reason, tolerance for others, and basic human decency are not merely outmoded concepts, but evil ones.
Even if I believed in Ms. Selman's invisible space pixie, I'd have but one prayer for Him: "Lord, protect me from your followers."
Mel the Redeemer
One can only imagine what kind of "catechetical damage control" the Rev. Frank Sabatte refers to in his recent letter ["Postmarks," March 19] applauding Ventura's piece on the Passion. I dare say that Mel Gibson has done more in one fell swoop to bring people to true repentance and Christian conversion than the Rev. Sabatte can ever imagine doing. Quite frankly, the Paulists are well known for having fallen away from their historical mission, orthodox Catholic belief, and sound catechesis. His idea of "damage control" is probably more accurately termed "controlled damage" to basic Catholic theology and practice. Gibson's cinematic preaching of Christ crucified is the best sermon that most Americans will ever see or hear, and far more faithful to the Gospel and its message than the so-called catechesis of many contemporary priests and ministers.
U.S. Must Reach Out to Achieve Goals
I am a Texas National Guardsman, and have just returned from duty in Afghanistan as a trainer for the newly formed Afghan National Army. In various locations throughout the world, serving side by side with American troops, are a great many local nationals serving as interpreters. These individuals share the hardships and risks borne by American soldiers and are instrumental in the success of our nation's war on terror.
Currently there are few if any programs to provide these interpreters the opportunity to attend institutions of higher education abroad, and especially in the U.S. While serving in Afghanistan I had the distinct pleasure of working with a young Afghan man named Ahmad Khan. A 21-year-old lifelong resident of Kabul, he has lived much of his life in a war zone. Despite the detrimental effect of combat on civilians, and the daily difficulties of life, Ahmad finished first in his class every year in high school. In addition to being a high school graduate (a sizeable accomplishment in a nation where only 10% of the population is literate), he is fluent in three languages. He comes from a neither wealthy nor privileged background and has achieved all he has through personal perseverance.
We as a nation could greatly affect the nations that we seek to rebuild on democratic principles through an investment in their best and brightest. By providing avenues for these individuals to pursue a first-class American education, we would be making a long-term investment in these countries. This would not only provide them with a great education, it would also show these young people how good life can be in a peaceful society. As the world becomes a global village, this type of interaction between cultures becomes increasingly important to promote understanding, and break down stereotypes.
'Kool Koverage' of Kool Kars
One of the guys posted a link on the HAMB [www.jalopyjournal.com], and I just checked it out ["Kontinental Krew," March 26]. Outstanding article and photos! Thanks for such "kool koverage."
In his response to my letter ["Postmarks," March 19], Michael Ventura in effect states that he didn't have enough space to get his Passion column right, yet he had enough space to get it wrong ["Letters @ 3am," March 5].
Mr. Ventura cites Luke 13:31 but not Matthew chapter 23. No doubt, Joseph of Arimathaea was among "certain" Pharisees to warn Jesus, but to contend that Jesus and the Pharisees were on friendly terms takes egregiousness to a new level. It assumes no one actually reads the Bible. It also denigrates God's love and his warnings about the entrapment of Babylonian/Canaanite satanism.
Larry D. Chasteen
This Is a Republic Jena ...
Thank you Jena Selman for penning a letter that reminds me of the reason I sometimes view a cross like a Jew would view a swastika ["Postmarks online," March 26]. Every day I come across folks like you and mourn for humanity.
You should spend more time brushing up on the Constitution and less time rereading a book that, if it were in any other genre, would be considered poor fiction at best. This is a republic Jena, not a democracy. The majority rule applies to electing leaders (well usually it does, but I think that mistake will be corrected this year).
Please keep in mind that once upon a time in America a majority of people thought the best way to deal with witches was to burn them. Once upon a time a majority thought that black people could be kept as slaves and later consigned to the role of being a second class citizen. A majority once held that women were not smart enough to vote. Majorities do not confer morality or truth. If a majority said up was down, or black was white, would that make it true?
In other words, screw your majority (if it even exists).
I try not to give into hate Ms. Selman. I would be happy to leave you to live your life if people like you would just stop trying to convert the world. However, when I read a letter such as yours that attempts to put that silly little book above the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, I can't help but think the best way to solve this problem is by combining an arena, some hungry lions, and as many right-wing fundamentalists as possible.
A majority of my friends would love to see that.
Why Is Austin Prince-less?
An open question for the concert promoters of Austin: How can you let another year go by where Prince doesn't play Austin, while rat holes like Reno; Bakersfield; Biloxi; Bossier City, La.; and Council Bluffs, Iowa, are all serving as hosts this year to one of the most talented musicians of our generation? Seriously, if David Bowie can play the friggin' Backyard, then Prince could certainly pack the Erwin Center.
Austin No Longer Weird
Thanks for Jordan Smith's eyewitness account of the events of March 18 outside Exodus ["Not Quite 'Ya Se Fue!,'" News, March 26]. I was not at the scene that night, but am a big fan of the band, have seen them every time they've been in Austin, and know that their "conga line" exit is a standard at their shows. I was, however, in the crowd of enthusiastic, unthreatening, mostly Mexican people outside of the Vibe last year during SXSW, listening to Molotov playing inside the club, when we got dispersed by APD on horseback. Are we seeing a pattern here? I don't want to start any racial controversy, because we are all familiar with APD's equal opportunity pepper-spray tactics. But if city officials are going to use the ridiculous slogan of "Live Music Capital of the World" on their advertising, it's time they start paying attention to how APD handles crowd control, especially during a world class live music event such as SXSW. I suggest a training course for APD officers in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Learn to assess real danger, please. And it's time they get rid of that absurd "noise ordinance." One more note to city officials: Do not use that other ridiculous slogan, "Keep Austin Weird," in any capacity. Austin ceased to be weird the day you allowed Liberty Lunch to be leveled to make room for an empty building.
Prejudice as Religion
In response to Jena Selman's recent letter ["Postmarks online," March 26], I am again appalled by the religious right's attempts to use their "ceaseless faith" to justify hatred, oppression, and prejudice. Ms. Selman informs us that both God and the majority of Americans oppose gay marriage. That Ms. Selman claims to know what God wants, I'll leave for her to sort out with her God and her conscience. But for her to claim that "it has been proven" that the American majority opposes gay marriage is unbelievable. When Ms. Selman has done an accurate assessment of the views of every man, woman, and child in America, and published that data in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, I'll believe her.
However, even if Ms. Selman is correct, there is a much greater problem with her argument. There was a time in this country when the majority of people felt that it was OK to hold other human beings in bondage. There was a time when the majority felt it was OK to deny women the right to vote. The majority was wrong then, and Ms. Selman and her putative "majority" are wrong now, because prejudice against and oppression of any group of people, no matter how "minor" that group, is never acceptable in a free society. Leaders that champion prejudice against others may be desirable to Ms. Selman and her God, but I (and the "majority" of freedom-loving people I know) find such leadership repugnant and embarrassing. Ms. Selman and her ilk are doing a fine job of helping our president make a mockery of a country that once had the noble cause of "freedom and justice for all."
Ceaseless faith in freedom,
Is There a Trace?
Since you insist on these old numbers on racial profiling by APD ["APD Racial Profiling: New Numbers, Old Questions," News, March 26], and no investigation through the affected neighborhoods is contemplated, why don't you ask Mr. Knee what his racial background is and his purpose on hurting the poor, the blacks, and immigrants. Better yet, find out if this is a trace among public servants within law enforcement, and let us introduce a bill to ban all of them, identify them, and expel them from this city. Thanks to APD's policies and the laws it works with, our intellectual misery is bigger than a pile of buffalo bones.
The White House Position Is ...
Let me get this right ... according to the Bush White House: Former White House Counterterrorism Chief Richard Clarke is wrong, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill is wrong, former top U.S. weapons inspector David Kay is wrong, executive chairman of the UN Monitoring/Verification and Inspection Commission Dr. Hans Blix is wrong, the CIA is wrong, the FBI is wrong, the liberal media is wrong, blogville is wrong, protesting a pre-emptive unprovoked war is wrong, hunting bin Laden 24/7 with everything our military forces have is wrong (unless it's an election year), John Kerry is wrong, John McCain was wrong down in South Carolina, Howard Dean is wrong, Max Cleland is wrong, Valerie Plame is wrong, thinking we should all pay a little more income tax when our country is engaged in a war on terrorism is wrong, a solvent government is wrong, taking as much time as necessary to fairly recount votes in a close election is wrong, and for having relied upon any of the aforementioned individuals for advice relating to their field of expertise the White House was wrong.