Our readers talk back.

Wrong Word Choice

Dear Editor,

I am puzzled that a publication that won't print an anonymous letter to the editor will show an image of a woman in gynecological stirrups on the cover ["The New Texas Family Planning," News, Jan. 27]. You are well on your way to having yourselves in a dilly of a pickle.

Verified demographic information about Oak Springs Elementary is available from the AISD Web site ["Repurposing Ain't Pretty," News, Feb. 10]. It reads that in a recent tally of students, African-American students made up 34% of the student body; if that's what you call "predominant," as in your repurposing article, what do you call the 65% Hispanic population on the campus? Hell, what about the 98% economically disadvantaged population? Look at the facts: I've got an extra dictionary if you guys need one. I would be happy to bring it by your offices.

Leslie McGuinness

[Rachel Proctor May responds: Leslie McGuinness is correct that "predominant" was the wrong word choice. But while it's not majority black, Oak Springs does have a larger percentage of African-American students than most other central East Austin schools (including Blackshear, Govalle, Allan, Allison, Brooke, and others); even in the northeast, only a handful of elementaries have more than 50% black students. So it's not surprising that many of the African-Americans who spoke at the forum saw the proposed closure as of particular concern to their community.]

Learn Directions

Dear Editor,

The article in the Feb. 10 issue covering the Keep Austin Beautiful awards stated that the Community Involvement award was given to "Southwest Trails and Greenways" ["Naked City," News]. The correct name of this group is the Southeast Trails and Greenways Alliance. This group was founded by residents of the neighborhoods of the East Riverside Oltorf Combined Neighborhood Planning Area. This area is bounded by the Colorado River and Ben White, I-35 and Montopolis/Grove. The idea for this group evolved from the neighborhood planning meetings conducted by the City of Austin Neighborhood Planning Department.

Malcolm Yeatts

[Editor's note: The Chronicle regrets the error.]

The Cover Is Not the Problem

Dear Editor,

I am shocked and dismayed at the outrage many people expressed over the Jan. 27 cover ["The New Texas Family Planning," News]. I found it creative and truly inspired. The accompanying article about the sad state of women's health care in Texas, which many of the offended persons didn't bother to read, was timely and thought-provoking. As a contract employee whose employer doesn't provide health insurance, I depend on Planned Parenthood to provide reasonably priced exams and birth control. Studies have shown the states that heavily restrict abortions are also the states least likely to provide care and support for the babies they're forcing women to have. I have no doubt the self-righteous individuals who so proudly defend the rights of a group of cells over a fully grown woman's rights are the very same people who sit in their multimillion dollar church buildings each Sunday and look down their noses at poor single mothers and their children. Keep up the good work – some of us are listening.

Michelle Keating

A Fight We Cannot Give Up

Dear Editor,

I laughed out loud when I saw the cover with the Bible placed between a woman's legs. I cried when I read the article ["The New Texas Family Planning," News, Jan. 27].

Women in this country need to wake up and see what the politicians are doing to our reproductive rights. Older women need to remember how it was. Middle-aged women need to cherish the freedom we were given. Younger women need to be told of what they are at risk of losing. Generations of women need to stand up together and be heard by the mostly male politicians that we will not go back. Reproductive rights are not rights if access is restricted or limited. The rights of teenagers and low-income women have been so restricted that one could barely say they have any right to reproductive freedom (not to mention health). Thank the women who paved the way and join your sisters, daughters, mothers, and girlfriends in the fight that we cannot give up.

Margaret Carter, RN

Don't Write That, Write This

Dear Editor,

Two local internet portals (Metroblogging Austin and Austinist) have both reported the theory that the effort to squeeze the Capital Metro union was due to Capital Metro's failure to seek federal funding for the commuter rail starter line despite pre-election claims that they would ["What Good Are Unions?," News, Feb. 3]. (Meaning that Capital Metro is on the hook for the full $90 million, or whatever it's grown to now, rather than roughly half.)

I'm disappointed that the Chronicle chose not to mention this particular angle of the story. Unlike the 2000 light rail plan, which was viewed favorably by the feds and probably would have received substantial federal funding, this commuter rail line's projected ridership is so low that Capital Metro, in my opinion, didn't even want to ask the feds, because they knew what the answer would be, and what a PR black eye it would generate for them.

Add that to the fact that part of this "deal with the devil" (Krusee, Daugherty, etc.) was to leave the quarter-cent "rebate" alone, and it's no wonder Capital Metro needs to squeeze the union for rail dollars. But remember: It didn't have to be this way. A better light rail line that would have, unlike this system, served urban Austin would not have led us down this path.


Mike Dahmus

Your Religion/My Vagina?

Dear Editor,

And furthermore ... everyone's so upset about the Bible being featured between a woman's legs during her yearly exam – exactly my point ["The New Texas Family Planning," News, Jan. 27]. What does your religion have to do with my vagina? Keep your preaching separate from my private parts. You're right, they don't belong anywhere near each other.

Rebecca Knape

Can't Stand Wimpy Companies

Dear Editor,

Thank you for printing Altex Electronics' advertising cancellation letter ["Postmarks," Feb. 10]. Being Web-based, my company buys a lot of computer components. Now I know not to buy from them in the future! I personally cannot stand wimpy companies that bow to our self-appointed American "clerics" who seek to censor what we all see. I just wish The Austin Chronicle would print any other notices to let the readers know who else feels the same. Frankly, I find the flap over the front page absurd ["The New Texas Family Planning," News, Jan. 27]. We see a woman's legs, we see a Bible and stirrups. Is the Bible inserted in her vagina? No. It's blocking our view beyond her knees to her genitals. Oh, wait! That's right, the human body is obscene! I temporarily forgot that God made obscene things.

Taylor Sheppard

Loves Perry/Prove Others Don't


In response to Amy Smith's article published Feb. 10 ["Who Are These Guys?," News], where she stated: "GOP Gov. Rick Perry ... despite the overall unpopularity of his administration, still leads the other candidates in fundraising (with $11.5 million in hand as of January) and in the early campaign polls."

Can you show us some independent polls relating Gov. Perry's "unpopularity?" As best I can tell, his amazing fundraising lead certainly lends a bit to the notion that he is in fact quite popular. Counterbalance this with the word on the street, and you find that, lo and behold(!), he is rather popular. In fact, I cannot find many who have anything constructive to say against our governor. Can you?

In fact, I hear about how he's created 50% of the nation's jobs over the last few years, luring companies like Toyota and Wells Fargo, in addition to many others, to Texas using his Enterprise Fund. Not only that, but he's directly funding with seed money Texas-based high tech and medical start-up firms that might provide some of tomorrow's next big breakthroughs.

At the end of the day, here we have a Republican governor whose administration facilitated the construction of SH 130 (taking all the tractor-trailers off I-35) as well as a high-speed electric commuter rail that will eventually link Austin to San Antonio, to Dallas, to Mexico, and beyond.

Sometimes I think the people of Texas expect the governor to be able to greatly affect legislation, or state law ... read the state constitution, and you might find he can't really do squat. Thus, what he has been able to accomplish is rather exemplary indeed.

Thanks Gov!

Ed Preston

Mormon or Not Mormon?

Dear Editor,

Your article on Warren Jeffs (by Jordan Smith) incorrectly refers to him as a fundamentalist Mormon prophet ["Meet the New Neighbors," News, July 29]. Mr. Jeffs has no association whatsoever with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or the Mormon Church. The Associated Press Stylebook notes: "The term Mormon is not properly applied to the other ... churches that resulted from the split after [Joseph] Smith's death."

Would you please correct this misstatement in this and future articles? Thank you very much.

Ken Dickensheets

Regional Public Affairs Director

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

[News Editor Michael King replies: As Associate News Editor Lee Nichols wrote in response to an earlier, similar letter ("Postmarks," Aug. 5, 2005): "While The Austin Chronicle often uses the AP Stylebook, we do not allow it – or any particular group (or church, as the case may be) – to firmly dictate our language choices. While the LDS church may want to disassociate itself from splinter groups, the fact remains that they, the FLDS, and other groups all sprang from a common root in the teachings of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. To this end, the word 'Mormon' serves our readers as a convenient reference, regardless of whether the 'Mormons' in question belong to the dominant branch of that faith. As for 'misleading' our readership, the article makes it quite clear that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is separate from and does not recognize the legitimacy of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."]

More on Smoking Ban

Dear Editor,

The Chronicle coverage of the City Council candidate forum may have given a misleading impression of the consensus about the current smoking ban ["Council Campaign Season Opens," News, Feb. 10].

While it was reported accurately that most of the candidates led off by saying that the voters had spoken in the smoking ban election, what followed is perhaps the more important information for voters. The majority of the six candidates said that they would consider a compromise on the smoking ban if the economic impact were significant (which it looks like it is). This kind of open-mindedness from public representatives is welcome and useful for deciding whom to vote for.

Paul Silver

Keep Austin Free

Black an Addict, Hypocrite!

Dear Mr. Black,

In your Feb. 10, "Page Two": Name-Calling, Part II, you reveal your "addiction to language rather than ideas." Your hypocrisy is paraded by "manipulation of language" as "a low-level virus infecting all public political discourse." Your thematic accusations that conservatives perpetrate pernicious name-calling are not only a snarky deflective method used by those who cannot rationally defend their positions, but a specious lie as well.

Moreover, your comments regarding "civil rights" are covertly racist, e.g., your implied infantilization of minorities. Your statements on racial legislation indicate a self-perception of superiority over the "other/unknown." Frankly, your comments are below contempt.

However, your malicious statements regarding the defeat of Saddam Hussein and the liberation of Iraq are the most destructive. The world war that was commenced by the dark forces of Islamist fascism against America and the free world on Sept. 11, 2001, requires a robust response of truth.

Following the mass murder and destruction of Sept. 11, 2001, it was obvious that America was at war with the followers of Islamist fascism. The American military had to shape the battlefield to prevent the Islamist savages from turning the American homeland into a killing zone. For our forces to attack and defeat the enemy, that battlefield had to be Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Islamists have consistently stated their goal to enslave humanity under tyrannical Islamic Sharia law and extinguish all who do not adhere to Islam. In short, we are at war for our lives and posterity. Islamist fascism must be defeated – totally. This is the legacy of Sept. 11, 2001.

Your problem, Mr. Black, is not just cowardice. Your larger predicament is moral incompetence. Your ignorant denial of the lethality of Islamist fascism is in essence a death sentence for civilization. Again, this is why you and your neo-leftist utopian Democratic Party must be resisted completely!

Vance McDonald

A Valentine's Day Thought: Screw Liberals! Screw You!

Dear Chronicle,

To all the liberals out there, is it OK if we say "Happy Valentine's Day"? I know we're supposed to check with you, since you are the self-appointed PC Cultural Thought Police. How about we don't mention the whole saint part, and promise to be properly ashamed of our own culture? I know how offensive it is to immigrants, or whoever it is you say isn't being "included." Of course, if people move here to get away from – sorry, started thinking too much. Boo, America! God, I hate myself! Anyway, the Constitution clearly states everybody has a right not to be offended, and every minority must be accommodated, as opposed to them just dealing with it, or the fabric of the space/time continuum will be torn apart, right? Of course, you probably don't have a problem with Valentine's, since it usually leads to people having lots of sex, and you liberals luuuuuuv your sex. On second thought, go screw yourselves, have a happy holiday. I've got two words for you: (one of them's a contraction, which is what you'll never have, 'cause you keep abortin' your babies). Nobody's listening.


Russell Kirkman



My, my, my. Here we are in the 21st century and people are still having trouble distinguishing reality from symbolism. Put an image of a Bible and a crotch together and, according to some of your readers, you've destroyed my children, destroyed my belief in choice, and destroyed my faith ["The New Texas Family Planning," News, Jan. 27]!

What kind of bumper-sticker-believers are these? Wasn't there a time when faith, conviction, and resolve were the core of one's beliefs? At what point did some of us become so weak and silly? Go ahead and be offended. Go ahead and boycott the offensive. Go ahead and rail against your perceived enemy. But before thou protest too much, check and make sure your heart and your brain are still connected.


Stanley Gilbert

Surprise! People Don't Want Tolls


TxDOT had a public forum in Manor on Tuesday to hear public comments on converting Highway 290 East into a toll road. Four hundred citizens filled the Manor Middle School auditorium, another hundred could not find parking spaces and left. One of the speakers asked everyone in the room who supported tolls on 290 to raise his hand. Two hands went up.

The TxDOT representative repeatedly reminded the citizens that tolls are a done deal and their comments would fall on deaf (politicians') ears. The politicians who support tolls are happy to see young Americans dying in Iraq to establish democracy there but unable to practice it here.

Vincent J. May


A Very Successful Cover

Dear Editor,

I think I'm part of the majority of people who found your cover amusing, eye-catching, and significant ["The New Texas Family Planning," News, Jan. 27]. Great use of an image to immediately get your point across – it was a very successful cover, and for taking on such a touchy subject. Please don't let a vocal minority stop you from pushing the Chronicle to more creative heights. For the offended Christians whose children were exposed to it: I find it sad that a conceptual magazine cover that showed nothing except a well-placed Bible and a pair of legs has scarred your kids for life. Hopefully the image of a tortured man nailed to a piece of wood with blood dripping from his palms, feet, bare chest, and head won't do the same damage.

Mindi Nash

Confused by Anger Over Cover

Dear Editor,

I'm a little confused by the anger expressed over showing a Bible close to a woman's vagina ["The New Texas Family Planning," News, Jan. 27]. If the idea that this is somehow degrading to the book in question (because of the organ's use for excretion, procreation, etc.) then I would remind folks that this is the place where readers of the Bible are born. And without human readers, the Holy Bible (and the Koran) would truly become dead relics.

If, however, the trouble is not about placing a book so close to the source of its readership, but in representing the Bible as somehow a barrier to a woman's abortion, then I would suggest that this is unfair on the part of the Chronicle. Modern abortions involve a medical procedure that was not envisioned by the writers of the Bible (even the prophets), and its opponents craft highly elliptical interpretations of ambiguous passages to support their position. A more apt illustration would be to place a photograph of the current congressional majority between those stark stirrups of the gynecologist.

Best regards,

William Buck

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