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Our readers talk back.


What Would Clifford Think of All This?

Dear Louis, Margaret, Raoul, Chris, Andy, Stephen, Erin, and the Chronicle staff,

Thank you all so much for remembering our brother in such a wonderful way. I wonder what Clifford would think about all of this? Your stories and coverage of Cliff's life have been amazing.

You have been our friends for a very long time. I guess the Chronicle and Antone's pretty much grew up together. We all have been in love with music and cared so much for our community and for each other. What you guys have done to recognize Clifford is such a beautiful remembrance of him and that friendship, filled with love and respect. I, as well as my family, am awed by the extent you all went to to honor Clifford.

You have all been so fabulous to us and Cliff's family at Antone's and the musicians and friends that you've remembered in your writings. Everything you did in three days to pull off the city celebration was just lovely to see. I am humbled by all of it.

My sister Janelle and I are heartbroken but so grateful to have friends like you and the very awesome community that cared about and honored our brother in such a beautiful way.

Our love,

Susan and Janelle Antone


On Clifford's Legacy

Dear Mr. Black,

This morning, as I watched the local news over a cup of coffee, I learned of the passing of one of Austin's greatest and most defining members of the community. I did not know Clifford Antone personally. I never met him – at least, not that I can remember (to be interpreted as you will). However, his legacy left a lasting impression on me. In the late Seventies and early Eighties I was seriously into the blues, following such artists as Eddie "Clean Head" Vincent, Clifton Chenier, Muddy Waters, Professor Longhair, and other more obscure bands like the Segal-Schwall Band and the Downchild Blues Band. During this time I was living in Denton and would make frequent trips to the Bluebird Club in Fort Worth. There were always amazing blues musicians playing at the Bluebird. There was one curious, shy, "house" musician who stood out. He would take the stage for a song or two and always steal the show. The musician was a very young Stevie Ray Vaughan. A few months later I saw SRV and Double Trouble at Antone's. I returned to Antone's for many more shows since those early days. While my story is not unique, they were years that formed who I became.

I have now lived in Austin for three years. I don't make the club scene like I did when I was in my 20s. However, I chose to move to Austin because of people like Clifford Antone. I moved here because of Austin's history and where the history has led us, and continues to lead us.

Russell Reid


Violating Our Constitution

Dear Editor,

I'm gay and no friend of radicals who think gay rights are the problem in Iraq. And even if it were for a cause I find just and relevant, like foreign policy restraint, I wouldn't join a protest at a funeral because it's too rude to grieving relatives. But there is a little amendment that says, "Congress shall make no law respecting ... the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Someone, if not your writers, needs to point out that when Bush packs protesters off to a fenced-in "free speech zone," well out of sight and sound of one of his speeches, or Gov. Perry signs a law from our Republican legislators banning protest at military funerals, it violates our Constitution.

Also, could you please clarify the statement "Texas joins Oklahoma and Ohio in passing laws that tolerate neither gays nor anti-gay protesters at funerals" ["Naked City," News, May 26]? Did the law ban gay protesters, rather than all gays?

Thank you,

Will Warner

[News Editor Michael King responds: 1. Under longstanding legal precedents, the Constitution does not necessarily protect potentially disruptive hate-speech in all circumstances, e.g., during funerals. 2. The three named states have passed both anti-gay legislation (e.g., Prop. 2 in Texas) and now this law banning protests during funerals. The sentence is correct as it stands, but we welcome the opportunity for clarification.]

Danger Alert!: More and More Unskilled Motorists

Dear Editor,

Since the state of Texas no longer requires training for drivers of motor vehicles, the streets of Austin have grown more dangerous. Motorists have forgotten that stop signs and intersections are for traffic stops, not personal stops or parking. Parking within 30 feet of a stop sign is illegal. Orderly traffic flow is based on communication. When you stop at an intersection, you are communicating with other road users. Starting and stopping unpredictably at intersections sends misleading signals.

A friend of mine was recently clobbered by one of these unpredictable motorists. My friend, on a bicycle, had the right of way as he approached an intersection where a car was sitting at a stop sign. Since the car remained stopped at the stop sign, my friend thought that the driver had seen him and was yielding in accordance with traffic law. But no. She was stopped for some personal reason, and she started up again for some personal reason, hit my friend broadside, and put him in the hospital with a broken shoulder.

Driving backward has become very popular with Austin's motorists. Driving backward around corners is especially deadly. An Austin police officer ran over and killed his partner while driving backward in pursuit of a suspect on foot. Why didn't he know better? Backing at high speed out of a driveway with the windows rolled up leaves a motorist both unable to see clearly and unable to hear warning screams.

Too many motorists lack both safety skills and knowledge of traffic laws. Many police officers are similarly uninformed, so enforcement is rare. We cyclists and pedestrians need to be conspicuous, predictable, and extremely wary. As motor vehicle drivers grow steadily less skilled, it requires more and more skill to walk and bicycle in Austin.

Yours truly,

Amy Babich


Attitudes About Public Breast-Feeding Need to Change

Dear Editor,

I have just read Melanie Haupt's brilliant May 19 article on the woman who tried to breast-feed her child at a baseball game ["(Don't) Take Them out at the Ballgame," News, May 19]. "Mind your own damn business" sums it up very well for those who haven't the sense to do so in the presence of a breast-feeding woman.

One additional comment. Women are always exhorted to breast-feed "discreetly." That is codespeak for "Hide that nipple, because if I see it, I'll freak, and the downfall of America will ensue."

I am tired of women being told by men how not to use their bodies. At the next breast-feed-in, women should come equipped with blankets and paper bags – to put over the heads of all the sanctimonious gawkers and body-phobes. Their attitude needs to be changed as much as a full diaper – and for the same reason.

Dr. Paul Rapoport

Ancaster, Ontario, Canada


Don't Cut Services

Dear Editor,

Capital Metro's moves to cut service to the disabled community is immoral. Their rationale – that it is because this community represents only 2% of ridership – is misleading and disingenuous. "Mobility impaired" passes account for a large segment of ridership on fixed route and are not considered in their outlandish average trip cost. We all also know that these cuts, along with cuts in worker benefits, cutting 10% of UT routes, and cutting and subcontracting of city routes is an effort to bankroll the Leander train that will provide only 2,000 trips by Metro's own estimates. That's 1.5% of 2005 ridership, when gas was less than $2. The down payment is $90 million, not including the money already spent on the railway and rights of way. This is where the cuts should be, not from the people who can't drive at all. We would be much better off with no train, even if it caused Leander to leave the taxing district like Cedar Park. Leander contributes so little revenue that the luxury coach service they enjoy now is already disproportionate.

Kill rail,

Glenn Gaven


He Blamed the Solution, Ignoring the Problem

Dear Editor,

Yet again, this paper has allowed space for the usual idiotic, self-righteous, and mean-spirited ranting of Carl Swanson ["Postmarks," June 2]. It is outrageous of him to blame the "immediate ... destruction" of old East Austin on PODER, the very group that is working the hardest to protect and preserve this community! Their founder and director, Susana Almanza, deserves high praises for her lifetime dedication there. Nevertheless, Mr. Swanson's twisted mind has managed to misconstrue beneficence for malevolence and resort to the condemnation of this woman.

We already know that the rise of property values and the destruction of Austin's quaintness and traditions started back in the 1980s with the arrival of the high tech industry. What quickly followed was the greed and corruption of large landowners, developers, and businesses. It is their encroachment on central East Austin that has gutted its soul. Even though my family has lived in Austin for seven generations, I can't even afford to buy a house in my old neighborhood! I certainly don't blame PODER for that or for the razing of my entire block years ago.

Racism and classism in the world has caused the misery of the masses. Unfortunately, progressive and enlightened Austin still has its share of injustices and prejudices. It is racist to make improvements and developments in East Austin for mostly white outsiders.

Homeless in my hometown,

Anita Quintanilla


Important Topic: Vaccine for HPV

Dear Editor,

Re: www.plannedparenthood.org/pp2/portal/files/portal/webzine/sexualityhealth/feas-051219-hpv-vaccine.xml: I was wondering why I haven't seen the new vaccine for HPV addressed. This is an important topic that I think the Chronicle should present.

David Marrs


Restricting Freedom to Save It

Dear Editor,

So Louis Black is filing suit against AT&T for assisting in the NSA Islamist terrorist surveillance effort ["Point Austin," News, June 2]. One can only be amazed at this latest example of neo-leftist intellectual and moral bankruptcy. But no doubt Mr. Black will have many fellow travelers saluting his so-called courage for standing up against the big tyrannical America.

Is Mr. Black's action protecting America from the Islamist terrorists as the NSA is? It is obviously not. After all, good neo-leftists don't even believe we are in a real war with the sycophant followers of Islamist fascism. To them, September 11, 2001, was a grotesque one-time anomaly. Regardless of their delusion, we are embroiled in a millennial war being waged against us by Islamist zealots who will impose worldwide, despotic Islamist theocracy if allowed. One would think that a neo-leftist like Mr. Black, who is, I am certain, deathly afraid of a Christian theocracy, would at least be equally alarmed about Islamist zealotry.

But no; Mr. Black and his brethren have inoculated themselves from this truth. Moral relativism, the core tenet of neo-leftism, enables them to look away from true evil like Islamist fascism. Simultaneously, their equivocation allows them to project their subconscious voice of conscience, which recognizes the presence of the Islamist evil, onto a benign entity, e.g., America. Consequently there is no price to pay for their so-called courage except abject hypocrisy – which of course they ignore.

Neo-leftism is a cultural psychosis. Its advocates can never be allowed to wield political power. The Democratic party of Louis Back, Michael Moore, Howard Dean, and Ted Kennedy, et al. is the primary neo-leftist political arm. If the likes of these people ever bear responsibility for national security, freedom will be at the tipping point of extinction.

Vance McDonald

[Louis Black responds: What's so great about McDonald's encompassing vision is that I don't even have to bother stating my opinion, he knows what it is. If I claimed to differ with his statement of my opinion, for example the quite extraordinary notion "Mr. Black, who is, I am certain, deathly afraid of a Christian theocracy," I imagine I would be accused of lying.]

Doesn't Like Bush or Congress

Dear sirs,

Bush and his Republican-controlled Congress are the biggest money-wasters of all time. We have a Congress that is going to waste millions of dollars on an amendment that can never pass. They build bridges to nowhere. Our nation's homeless and poor are forgotten. They have taken medical marijuana off the market so that the pharmaceutical companies can profit. Instead of raising the gas mileage of vehicles, they raise the speed limit. Our rivers are polluted with mercury. The ocean? You saw what they did with waste from Katrina and the superfund site that was flooded. It was all dumped in the bay. There is no responsibility from Bush or his Republican Congress. They only care about making money, not the health or well-being of our nation.

Julian Ward

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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Our readers talk back.

July 9, 2004

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A plethora of environmental concerns are argued in this week's letters to the editor.

March 31, 2000

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