Our readers talk back.
We're Not EmbarrassedDear Editor,
Stop embarrassing yourselves over at the paper. Writing an opinion piece on the long-suppressed development of the Eastside should include talking to neighbors ["How Not to Gentrify: HRC Asks for Eastside Moratorium," News, Nov. 4]. We will be living and working next to what is built. We worked through the neighborhood planning process, devoting many hours to making the neighborhood plans. Not PODER.
Lori Renteria lives in the neighborhood and speaks for the local neighborhood association where the development will be.
PODER does not represent us neighbors. Ms. Almanza does not live in the neighborhood. Most recently, that group of folks have been fighting against the neighbors. They have been protesting development of the sort we have expressly asked for. Their actions have been destructive rather than constructive.
Please let us neighbors speak for ourselves. Stop misinforming the rest of the city by substituting the voice of PODER for the voice of the neighborhood. They are often very different. An ounce of research will uncover this.
A guy who lives in the barrio[News Editor Michael King replies: We welcome Anthony Edwards' opinion, and as an ounce of research demonstrates, we have often quoted Lori Renteria and many other Eastside neighbors on development issues and other matters on the Eastside. Not in every article, not every time, but other folks have other opinions as well embarrassing or not.]
College Students ReactDear Editor,
As an instructor at a community college, I presented your article ("Justice or Vengeance?," News, Nov. 4) for discussion in my Principles of Sociology class.
The students decided:
1) Threet should be held accountable. But also accountable are the "friends" for what they did not do prevent the exchange of blows, get McArdle treatment ASAP and McArdle himself, who, as a black belt karate expert, a deadly weapon, broke his professed karate philosophy.
2) Threet received vengeance not justice: prosecution prejudged Threet, his family, his friends, his age, and his social class; trial was political ploy for re-election; and others were not held accountable at all.
3) Threet's defense was negligent. McArdle's karate training wasn't used, his: ability to defend himself, inappropriate participation in a fight, first blow was a karate blow that could damage three-inch boards what did it do to the recipient? Was Threet injured by the karate blow? "Third string football player labeled not aggressive by coach vs. black belt karate expert now which one is the trained fighter" should have been presented by defense. It seems the prosecution and the defense prejudged Threet and were just negotiating a sentence.
4) McArdle's death was a tragic accident. Using Threet as a scapegoat will not bring McArdle back to life, nor will it absolve the mistakes of all involved in this horrible incident.
As retired clergy, I need to add that although the Bible does say, "Vengeance is mine," the whole statement is "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord." The first is used as an excuse to extract vengeance for our own satisfaction. The complete statement is used to rely upon God to deal with issues of vengeance, justice, grace, judgment, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Your article brought a sobering reality to my students. Hopefully your article will make a difference in the lives of other wonderful (but imperfect) young men like McArdle, Threet, and ...
The Rev. John Wiley Fox
Forgive BrandonDear Editor,
Regarding the conviction and sentence of Brandon Threet in the death of Terence McArdle, I find this mind-boggling Brandon Threet was convicted for 20 years ["Justice or Vengeance?," News, Nov. 4]. I am a mother of two boys ages 28 and 30. Recalling their youth, my sons had altercations with boys their age throughout their juvenile, high school, 20s, and even in their military years. I know I am not alone when I say that boys get into physical altercations throughout their years. Granted, not all altercations result in physical contact much less an accidental death, but many altercations are carried out in the exact same manner in which Brandon and Terence fought. Testosterone was flying that night and both boys knew they were going to have physical contact. Terence was not in fear of his life, he had a black belt and he took the first shot. Brandon reacted back, obviously taken aback by the blow to his chest. Unfortunately a death occurred as a result of Brandon's reactions, but does he deserve 20 years? My point is, Terence was not forced to fight, he chose to. Neither Brandon nor Terence went into that altercation with the intent to end a life. It was accidental and should be treated as so. I cannot imagine what Terence's parents are feeling and even more so, I cannot imagine what Brandon's parents are feeling. Brandon's memories of that evening will forever haunt him, regardless of what the courts choose to do. This message is to the parents of Terence. Give your son some dignity and forgive Brandon. It could have been the other way around and Brandon could have been the one on the ground and gone. Find it in your hearts to forgive. You will have peace with forgiveness.
Girlfriend Asks for MercyDear Editor,
I show gratitude to The Austin Chronicle for publishing the story "Justice or Vengeance?" [News, Nov. 4]. I believe Kevin Brass executed an informational piece that walked a straight line between the two victims of this heartbreaking accident, and for that I commend him. I also would like to pay my genuine respects to Terence [McArdle] and his family, only to match my condolences for the loss of the Threets' son Brandon as well.
My name is Kathryn M. Giesy, and I was the girlfriend and companion of Brandon Threet for four years, including the time of the accident. Brandon and I met when we were in the fourth grade and continued school together through high school. We started dating when we were only freshmen at Westwood High. Never in the 10-plus years that I have known him have I ever witnessed or even sensed any violent behavior. To say the least, if I ever had, I probably would not have stood by his side in a relationship for so many years especially for as young as we were. I feel confident enough to speak for his friends and family as well, in stating that they would not have confided in somebody who was, quote, "evil." Brandon Threet was, if anything, at a polar opposite of what the rumors and the trial seemed to paint him. Most judgments that were passed at Brandon are from people kids that never had the pleasure of actually meeting him, much less stand in his presence long enough for him to inevitably make you smile. To conclude somebody else's character with little to zero interaction is beyond me. One example is I keep hearing the term "racist" passed through accusers' lips. This report is 100% bogus. I am not even going to begin to justify why this accusation is so far from the truth.
To conclude, I want to declare that this situation could have easily been turned the other way. Brandon could be dead and Terence sitting in prison, feeling terrible and guilty, and so sorry, then what? What would all these people be doing/saying? What would we be doing/saying? Well, that is not how it happened, but I know that Brandon would switch with Terence if he could, unfortunately he can't. So, why sit here and throw rocks? It's wasting time. We should form an alliance to honor Terence. Talk, share, preach, teach young teenagers to walk away, manage anger no matter what. And, to cherish those four seconds because every four seconds of every day compromise and negotiate your entire life.
Kathryn M. Giesy
Deprived of HimDear Editor,
In "Justice or Vengeance?" [News, Nov. 4], Brandon Threet's family said, "We promised him we would fight to the bitter end." To us, Terence McArdle's aunt and uncle, the bitter end was four years ago on that fatal night when we lost Terence. There is nothing more to fight, only endless grief and unbearable pain caused by that unspeakable, brutal act of Threet's. His friends say Terence wasn't the only victim yes, Terence's parents, brother, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins were also victims. We have been deprived the joy of knowing what could have become of Terence; furthermore, we have been sentenced to lifelong pain and hurt. It is appalling to read about how the brutal attack was characterized as "an accident." Accidents happen once, not repeatedly. Threet punched Terence repeatedly, took three deliberate steps, and kicked Terence in the head, causing his death. Terence's death was no accident. It further angers us when the 20-year sentence was described as "cruel and unusual punishment." Threet's taking three deliberate strides and kicking Terence's head while he was down on the ground was really "cruel and unusual." Threet's brutal actions deserve the punishment.
Ying and Randy Chu
Congrats to Prop. 2 SupportersDear Editor,
Well, congratulations to everyone who supported Proposition 2 ["Victory for God or Bigotry?," News, Nov. 11]! You and your friends in the Ku Klux Klan scored a major victory for the Antichrist with this vote; Jesus-freak notions like "compassion" and "mercy" and "loving one another" are surely doomed!
Congratulations as well to the overwhelming majority of voters who stayed home instead of exercising your basic right of democracy, one which an awful lot of good men have died to protect over the years; your laziness and apathy has put us one step closer to concentration camps. I hope you all took a moment on Friday to honor the veterans whose sacrifices you shat all over on Tuesday.
I understand that when they come for the gays, you'll say nothing, because you aren't a gay; but once all the homos are sitting at the back of the bus, do you really think the pseudo-Christian bigots are going to stop there?
Jim Crow is back, and this time he's got a pink triangle sewn onto his camp uniform.
The Haters WonDear Editor,
The success of Prop. 2 can be summarized in one sentence: The haters won ["Victory for God or Bigotry?," News, Nov. 11]. Prop. 2 has nothing to do with defending marriage. If the fundamentalists really wanted to defend marriage they would have proposed a constitutional amendment outlawing divorce. Texas has one of the highest divorce rates in the country. (Massachusetts, one of the few states which allows gay marriage, has the lowest.) Divorce is much more damaging to families than gay folks getting together. Study after study has shown that divorce frequently results in severe emotional trauma, especially for any children involved. Clearly an effort to outlaw divorce would be the way to truly try and defend marriage. Of course if they attempted to make divorce illegal, every fundamentalist Christian would be run out of the state, save for the ones that were stomped to death or shot in the head. If they really cared, though, this wouldn't stop them. Prop. 2 is all about gutless punitive discrimination and not much else.
By the way, does the "landslide" passage of Prop. 2 indicate that Texans are mean and discriminatory, as many people are now thinking? Not exactly: The election results are mathematically equivalent to having a class of 21 people in which one person, with the half-hearted help of another, decides unilaterally that the whole class is going to beat up on the two scrawny kids with glasses. Not counting the victims, 17 out of 21, or 81% of the population are only guilty of complacency, not hate.
This country suffers from a Christian Taliban plague that is every bit as bad as the Taliban and/or al Qaeda in Northern Africa and Southern Asia. In a free society, it's not clear what can be done about this other than this: Next election, get off your ass and vote!
Give Factual SummaryMr. Black,
Please ask your film reviewers to give a brief factual summary of the films they review. It seems likely that most if not all of the people who read the film reviews want to know what the films are about more than anything else. That information is rarely found in the Chronicle anymore. In Marc Savlov's review of Three ... Extremes [Film Listings, Oct. 28], he gives it 3.5 stars and is full of flowery praise and bullshit rhetoric that does the typical reader no good whatsoever. It would have been very helpful if he had said that the dreadfully sick and dark film "features a psycho bitch who makes dumplings out of human embryos." He could have saved a lot of people the trouble of wasting their time and money. The fact that such a sick and disgusting film is taken seriously and applauded by your "critic" is a sad commentary on the state of our so-very-f'd-up (so-called) civilization.
Time for ActionDear Editor,
I love the articles by Michael Ventura ["Letters @ 3am"]; thanks for getting the truth out. Now if only people would actually act accordingly and start taking action to fix the issues that face this nation.
Five Percent an InsultDear Editor,
What an insulting way to offer 5% of teachers a pay raise ["Pay, Performance, Politics, and Education," News, Nov. 11].
If incentive pay for teachers is the way to go, then I suggest we give 5% of all governors in the country "incentive pay," to those whose initiative ideas get the most votes. The other 95% should be given more work to do to prove themselves, by those not involved in politics.
My First KKK RallyDear Editor,
I went to my first KKK rally ["With God on Their Side: The KKK Stops By," News, Nov. 11]! I haven't told my friends or my dad some of them believe the South is awful, except for Atlanta. I agree somewhat but always say that Austin is different.
It was a surreal experience. It was so bizarre. And the most bizarre thing wasn't even the stupid Klan outdated, outnumbered, inbred. For me, the bizarre aspect was all the cops marching, batons ready, looking as if they'd bash in the skulls of the protesters.
Life is strange. After all the lynchings, burnings, and God only knows what else that the Klan has perpetrated, against not only my people, without consequence, they get to come to my town and preach their hate with police protection.
Some guy was out there saying, "It's their First Amendment right to voice their opinions," blah blah blah ... it sucks. I couldn't help but think of Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Mississippi Burning, and on and on and on. They got away with murder and terrorism for years, and now they get to come to my town, rub that history in my face, and preach hate with police protection. It stinks.
"Children Need a Mom and a Dad'?Dear Editor,
Kelly Shackelford, president of the Free Market Foundation and one of the authors of the heinously discriminatory Proposition 2, gave an interview on election night praising the overwhelming vote in favor of the amendment ["Victory for God or Bigotry?," News, Nov. 11]. One of his reasons: "Children need a mom and a dad." In defense of Proposition 2, the Free Market Foundation Web site says that marriage is unique and based upon the complimentary nature of the sexes and provides the best relationship and environment for the raising of children. If marriage between one man and one woman is the only type of marriage that creates such an environment, and if people are so concerned about children being raised within a man-woman marriage, why wasn't I presented with the option on Nov. 8 to vote for or against a constitutional amendment making divorce illegal? Divorce breaks up the utopian household environment in which to raise children, and it's totally legal in Texas. Shouldn't hetero couples who have children and who want to get divorced be required by law to stay married, if only to protect the children? Shouldn't they just count their blessings because the state of Texas allowed them to get married in the first place?