Our readers talk back.
Minutemen Article BiasedDear Editor,
I read Ms. Welch's article on the Minutemen and found it very biased ["This Ain't No Picnic: Minutemen on Patrol," News, Oct. 28]. Sounds as if she was against the Minutemen and had made up her mind before she even wrote the article. Journalists are supposed to be hopefully unbiased and have an open mind. I would strongly consider replacing this person with someone who has those standards.
And by the way, why doesn't your newspaper do an article about the pro-Arab-terrorist, anti-American movement known as "Aztlan." I am a translator/interpreter who has worked with thousands of Mexican illegals who have told me personally how they are going to throw out the "gringos" (and murder any who don't leave willingly) and make seven Southwest U.S. states into Aztlan (which they perceive as closest to communism). As an editor, don't you think Americans need to know about this movement? We want and have a right to know!
Untrained, Jumpy, Gung Ho, Armed YahoosDear Editor,
My respects go out to Diana Welch for boldly spending time with untrained, jumpy, gung ho, and armed yahoos as they "patrol" in the darkness of night for immigrants ["This Ain't No Picnic: Minutemen on Patrol," News, Oct. 28]. The flagrant danger these vigilantes present to neighbors, unsuspecting reporters, immigrants, the general public, and even themselves screamed from each page as I read their responses to imagined threats and noises. Furthermore, the Minutemen continue to discredit themselves with unsubstantiated claims of ACLU (aka "communist") ambushes and other paranoid delusions of persecution as they try to mask the real reason for their patrols, which is unabashed racism.
Here in Austin, a concerned group of individuals and community organizations is pressing City Council to pass a resolution that would arrest this kind of vigilante-yahoo-justice. Although we cannot outlaw the mainstreaming of hate, we can use our system to regulate vigilante activities and prevent human rights abuses from happening in Austin.
C. Yvonne Montejano
Least Objective ReportingTo the editor,
This has puzzled me for some time now: The Austin Chronicle is clearly capable of and willing to publish solid pieces of journalism (as evidenced by this week's feature News story, "Justice or Vengeance?," by Kevin Brass) [Nov. 4], yet when it comes to stories dealing with contentious political issues it seems that this weekly always chooses its most radical and least objective writers to cover the assignment, as in the case of the recent article "This Ain't No Picnic: Minutemen on Patrol" (Diana Welch, Oct. 28) [News].
I turned to the article hoping to learn about the Minutemen and what issues their presence creates for the people of the United States and Mexico. What I got was a mean-spirited narrative about a day spent with rednecks and this lead sentence for background information: "Southern border hysteria has a long and dishonorable history, but this latest, half-sinister, half-absurd version began in earnest last year." The founder of the ACLU's Legal Observer Project was cast in a much more favorable light, of course. When I looked through the author's archive of work it became obvious that Ms. Welch's habit is to smear her enemies by offering only selected details about their positions before jumping to the opposing POV.
It's really a shame that the Chronicle's reporting quality isn't more consistent. I frequently look to you for interesting and important items that aren't covered by the corporate media giants or the sensationalist local news outlets, but the blatant bias of some on your staff is neither funny nor helpful.
Nicole E. Flores[News Editor Michael King replies: In an article about border vigilantism, it's hardly surprising that legal observers should appear more rational than a self-appointed, untrained, and hysterical posse. Diana Welch spent a day and night with the Minutemen and reported what she saw. As for the sentence "Southern border hysteria has a long and dishonorable history, but this latest, half-sinister, half-absurd version began in earnest last year" it may not be funny or helpful, but it happens to be true.]
Threet No SaintEditor,
John Bradley should be slapped upside the head for not getting Brandon Threet a life sentence ["Justice or Vengeance?," News, Nov. 4]! Your article attempts to make Threet out to be some kind of saint or something. The kid obviously has an anger-management issue. Had he walked, there is no doubt that he would be beating up on the next vulnerable kid, learning to relish each new victory over those weaker than he. I realize that the Chronicle is a liberal-leaning rag, but you're now defending psycho killers like Threet? You need some introspection there.
McArdle's Death No AccidentDear Editor,
In "Justice or Vengeance?" [News, Nov. 4], Brandon Threet's fatal attack on Terence McArdle is repeatedly characterized as an "accident." Apparently, we are to view Threet's deliberate, unprovoked, brutal, and ultimately fatal attack on Terence as an accident because Threet's friends and family think he's a nice guy. Many of these same friends were among the crowd so depraved that it left Terence to die rather than call 911 and risk exposure of its underage drinking and drug use.
Threet punched Terence repeatedly until he crumpled to the ground. Threet was restrained by a friend, broke loose, took three deliberate steps, and kicked Terence in the head, causing his death. These deliberate actions were the antithesis of an accident. Threet may wish with all his heart that he never did these things. He may not be able to explain why he did them. But the fact remains that his deliberate actions caused the death of another human being, and for that he needs to take responsibility.
The author states that Threet flipped out when he attacked Terence and delivered the blow that would kill him. Did he remain in this flipped-out state while Terence lay dying? Too flipped out to dial 911? Is flipping out a new legal defense?
Terence was our nephew. His death was no accident. Justice requires that Brandon Threet pay for his deliberate actions that caused Terence's death. When you compare Threet's 20 years to the endless suffering that Terence's family endures, it's nothing; it's far less than he deserves.
Jeanne and Edward McArdle
Justice Not VengeanceDear Editor,
I just read the article "Justice or Vengeance?" about the conviction and sentence of Brandon Threet in the death of Terence McArdle [News, Nov. 4]. Although I believe Mr. Threet is truly sorry for what he did, I think the sentence was just. Mr. Threet certainly knew that kicking someone in the head could have had serious and deadly consequences. He chose to commit a violent act instead of walking away while Terence McArdle was lying on the ground. This makes him dangerous. I feel a great deal of sympathy for all concerned, including Mr. Threet, but I agree with James McArdle, Terence's father. This was not self-defense but an intentional and deadly act and must be punished accordingly.
Not Sympathetic With ThreetDear Chronicle editor:
Somehow, I fail to sympathize with Brandon Threet ["Vengeance or Justice?," News, Nov. 3]. He deserves his sentence. Terence McArdle would not have died had Threet not been drinking excessively.
The idiots at the party who failed to call for help are equally culpable. The story is a sad commentary on the state of our society one in which individual responsibility is not encouraged.
Rational Discourse for Fellow TravelersDear Editor,
Mr. Black's incoherent leftist rant is eclipsed only by his naked and abject hypocrisy ["Page Two," Nov. 4]. He accuses conservatives of actively delighting "in hating fellow Americans and blaming half the population directly for all and any problems" while doing exactly the same thing in his article relative to his opinion regarding conservatives. Mr. Black has no clothes!
Let us look in the mirror of truth. Mr. Black is a neoleftist utopian who clings to moral relativism as the key ingredient to understanding the meaning of life. This makes it convenient for him and his ilk to find sympathy, tolerance, and acceptance of deviant ideologies such as Marxism, suicidal pacifism, anarchic chic, equivocating multiculturalism, and whatever ideology the mavens of social fashion may deem as admirable. Conversely, moral relativism affords him the fig leaf to be outraged at any ideological opinions labeled as unfashionable, i.e., his severe and totally untrue criticism of conservatives as the voice of a new McCarthyism.
The Democratic Party is now controlled by those infected with this same moral malignancy. This is why members of that party can never be honest with the American people. If they were, the Democratic Party would become extinct.
These truths are self-evident. All one need do to see it is to make a moral commitment to objective truth seeking. Unfortunately for Mr. Black, he is left wanting and advocating a mindset of moral hypocrisy that has shown historically to be the pavement on the road to hell. He and his fellow travelers must be resisted totally. Rest assured, they will be.
Witty Endorsement NoteDear Editor,
I appreciate your propositions critique [Endorsements, Nov. 4]. It helped me make up my mind. I'm a pragmatist and regard liberalism as impractical. This being the case, since the Chronicle opposes the propositions, they must be good. I'll vote for them.
Eric Timmes[Editor's note: The statement "liberalism as impractical" is dogmatic, i.e., a doctrine (liberalism is always impractical) rather than pragmatic, i.e., situational. Thus, we find your letter mistifying and after some thought think it is a code urging all our readers to vote no on Prop. 2!]
Mural CreditDear Chronicle,
Just wanted to give credit where it's due. The mural that appeared behind Merle Haggard in the article about the video shot at the Austin State Hospital was painted by Tim Scott and Nate Nordstrom ["TCB," Music, Oct. 28]. And yes, we don't ever want to spend the night in the state hospital again.
East of I-35: Welcomes Thoughtful DevelopmentDear Editor,
The same people protesting these developments today were protesting the apparent racism shown by the lack of development on the Eastside not that long ago ["How Not to Gentrify: HRC Asks for Eastside Moratorium," News, Nov. 4]. PODER director Susana Almanza seems to be selectively citing statistics when she talks about the increase in the East Cesar Chavez neighborhood property values from 1998 to 2004. The six years in question have seen property values skyrocket all over Austin, not just on the Eastside. Property values aren't static. They will either go up or down. Many of us east of 35 welcome thoughtful development and restoration efforts as an effective alternative to the steady deterioration and accompanying increased crime rates of the previous decades. PODER would be more effective at protecting the poor by using the economic tools offered by the new Homestead Preservation Districts introduced by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, last spring (which went into effect Sept. 11) to make sure that affordable housing remains in the mix, and to keep us from becoming SoCo East. And please, Susana, let your Eastside neighbors enjoy some of the aesthetic and safety benefits of Austin's economy for a change.
Waiter's NameDear Editor,
"I hate chummy waiters. I don't want to know a waiter's name, and I don't want them to know mine" ["Split Parties," Food, Nov. 4].
As a waiter for going on 14 years now, I can honestly categorize Mick Vann's article as one of the most dead-on I've seen penned on the topic of tipping and food service. I must, however, take issue with the idea that it is somehow an unwelcome advance into personal territory for a server to reveal his or her name to a guest. Speaking for myself, the impetus behind the first-name basis with a table has, for the most part, to do with a concern for the party's ability to contact me via other staff when I'm otherwise occupied. If the table is unaware of my name, all bets are off as to whether they can communicate to a busy staff member that they need extra butter, a new bottle of wine, or a myriad other concerns that can suddenly crop up during a night out. Of course, we do our best to anticipate these issues before we have to turn our attention elsewhere on especially busy nights but if I'm taking an order three tables over and Table 12 desperately needs their check, they'll have a much easier time asking the hostess to grab "Ryan" than "that brown-haired guy." I feel like I've, at this point, got a decent handle on who would and who wouldn't like to be "chummy" with me, and I honestly strive to make every diner's evening with me to be a beneficial (for both of us) experience. My personal introduction is not an attempt to tread onto your treasured space it's a sincere effort to serve you better.
Defending ValetsDear Editor,
What is Pat Johnson's problem ["Postmarks," Nov. 4]? Besides being a sad, lonely, little, angry man. Where to begin with this loser?
The so called "problems caused by the valet companies" that he mentions would hardly bother most sane individuals.
For one I would like to know of the "golden egg" Johnson speaks of.
If Johnson could only tear himself away from photographing the valets for just a moment he might have noticed that the price for valet in the Warehouse District goes no higher than $7, which with my meager math skills means parking two cars only adds up to be $14, not the $25 he says would cover the city's penalty. Not surprisingly he doesn't take into account that the valets don't keep that amount. Most people know they rely on tips. Which aren't increased when traffic is at a standstill.
So we can dispel the conspiracy that valets have it in for the taxpayer by filling the valet lane or blocking traffic. Besides, shouldn't traffic go slower to begin with since it is a high-pedestrian area?
As for increased enforcement by the city in that area I for one, being a taxpayer and all, would like to see that man power go to better patrols in other parts of the city like the West Campus area where it seems like the crime rate is worse than the Eastside's but without the stigma.
If Mr. Johnson and the COA are so concerned about the tax revenue lost maybe we should be like other cities and start charging on the weekends at our parking meters. Better yet, why don't the meters accept pennies? Last time I checked they were still a form of currency.
Williamson County CorruptDear Editor,
Now you guys are getting closer to the "truth" behind the Williamson County justice system ["Justice or Vengeance?," News, Nov. 4].
Strangely enough I was probably the last of Terence's adult friends to talk to him the night of that party, and it hurts to see that this story may be the one to put Williamson Co. under the microscope. He was a great kid and had a lot of potential, though I suppose that can be said of almost anyone, but he really did.
And I think that if this story can force a change in that joke of a justice system, Terry's mom will be more hurt (I didn't know her that well, but she doesn't deserve more pain). So I don't know where I should stand on this. Terence is gone, but his family isn't. The Williamson County justice system is long overdue for scrutiny, but this case will hurt people if it can be developed into something more than "the story o' the moment."
That's up to you guys, huh?
Ah, what am I saying. Nobody will do anything about WilCo and it will be business as usual. They'll sweep this story and every other under a rug, and life will go on. I suppose I should congratulate the reporter with a hearty "good story," but I don't think the magnitude of WilCo's "corruption" can even be imagined. I'm almost positive I heard the same phrase Brandon Threet probably heard (from the prosecutor, from the judge); it sounds like this: We don't care about the details in this case and we don't care about what you did or didn't do, we have a 98% conviction rate in this county and you're part of it.
Klan Has No Impact!Dear Editor,
Re: Best Response to Klan Rally: Ignore It: I am in complete agreement with the author (Kenney C. Kennedy) of this letter, posted Nov. 4 ["Postmarks Online"]. While the KKK's racist philosophy outrages and offends the majority of people, myself included, their right to free speech is protected under the First Amendment, no matter how ridiculous and ignorant it is. Rather than give them the attention they were seeking, it was far more effective to ignore their uneducated racist spewings. And, in the end, they made absolutely no impact. Next.