FEEDBACK
Letters are posted as we receive them during the week, and before they are printed in the paper, so check back frequently to see new letters. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor, use this postmarks submission form, or email your letter directly to mail@austinchronicle.com. Thanks for your patience.
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Heed the Experts

RECEIVED Tue., May 5, 2015

Dear Editor,
    Council Member Don Zimmerman recently asserted to climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe that CO2 cannot warm the Earth because heat comes from the sun ["Quote of the Week," News, May 1]. This is akin to claiming that insulation should not affect the warmth of a house in the winter because heat comes from heaters. Indeed, CO2 is not a source of heat, but it serves as an ever-thickening layer of insulation which causes increased warming.
    While it's tempting to ridicule Mr. Zimmerman for his poor understanding of thermal physics, his level of scientific proficiency is forgivable – the Earth's climate system is complex and we cannot expect elected officials to be experts in all fields of science. What's more concerning is his refusal to consider testimony from experts. Representatives must be able to weigh advice from a wide array of experts to make informed decisions for our city.
    If Mr. Zimmerman can disregard recommendations from a worldwide community of scientists who present overwhelming evidence of anthropogenic climate change, how well does he consider advice from experts in transportation, economics, education, law enforcement, public health, or any of the disciplines that affect our daily lives? By heeding advice from experts, our elected officials should make evidence-based decisions that boost the local economy, reduce traffic congestion, increase classroom effectiveness, reduce criminal recidivism, and increase our preparedness for the long-term effects of climate change.
Chad Greene

No Excuse for Violence

RECEIVED Tue., May 5, 2015

Dear Editor,
    The shooting outside an event in Garland where people were asked to draw cartoons of Prophet Muhammad should be condemned by all. Islam does not condone any punishment for blasphemy. In fact, during the Prophet Muhammad’s life, people hurled all kinds of abuse at him yet he bore it with patience and forgave them all. Those who act against the Prophet’s own example obviously have no respect for the Prophet or the peaceful message of Islam.
    While we condemn this act of violence, we should also be aware that this event had little to do with freedom of speech. The American Freedom Defense Initiative is a recognized hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and their purpose in this event was obviously to offend Muslims. We respect everyone's right to freedom of speech even if others find it offensive. But if that speech serves no useful purpose, as is the case here, then we should all be united in condemnation of such speech.
Yasir Mirza

Living Center Needed

RECEIVED Mon., May 4, 2015

Dear Editor,
    I want to commend you for having an outstanding reporter, the caliber of Mary Tuma, for her consistent and accurate reporting on the Austin State Supported Living Center ("Guardians Fight On to Save SSLC," May 1, which is a follow-up to her "Evicted and Helpless," Sept. 19, 2014).
    Those of us who have a loved one who has lived there for many years know very well the great care they receive from professional, trained, caring staff at the Austin SSLC, which is home to the most fragile mentally and physically handicapped in Travis and surrounding counties. The facility was built on land that was "donated" by a family for the "feebleminded" nearly a century ago!
    The freedoms and activities they enjoy in their safe neighborhood on the campus would not be possible in any other setting. The team of Texas A&M physicians who came to the center last May and wrote a 25-page report were struck by the "complex medical requirements" of a very "fragile" population, who should not be moved to community, citing the needed care provided at the center, and the "paucity" of providers and professionals in private practice willing or capable of caring for this fragile group in the community. They went on to state, IF they were moved to community, they would STILL need all the services provided by the AuSSLC. These prestigious A&M medical professionals had a very different perspective from all the previous reports on the Austin SSLC.
    We are counting on our Texas legislators to consider the A&M physicians' recommendations to keep the residents in their homes on campus, and perhaps those IDD individuals who have chosen community could utilize the "specialized" and professional services available at the Austin SSLC.
    I will note, this report was not made public, and because it was paid for by Texas taxpayers, I was finally able to obtain it on Feb. 27, 2015. DADS (Dept. of Aging and Disability Services) received the report on Aug. 25, 2014! Why was such a significant report withheld, and not made available for ALL to see???
Linda Johnson

Limits on Freedom

RECEIVED Mon., May 4, 2015

Dear Editor,
    While I strongly condemn the Garland shooting, I do wonder if freedom of speech means ridiculing a religious figure revered by more than a billion people.
    Prophet Muhammad, throughout his life, showed kindness to those who maligned him. His neighbors threw dust at him as he prayed, but he never retaliated. If Muslims care about the honor of the Prophet, then we should never insult him by resorting to violence.
    At the same time, we should also condemn events that exist only to mock other people’s faith. Following the Charlie Hebdo incident, Pope Francis also said that freedom of expression has its limits – especially concerning religion. The Pope went as far as to compare insulting religious figures to insulting someone’s mother.
    I urge the American Freedom Defense Initiative, the organization that sponsored the Prophet Muhammad caricatures contest, to engage in civil discourse instead of enticing people against one another. I also urge Muslims to show fortitude and patience when they face insults, as commanded by the Quran (3:187).
Nadia Ahmad

Important Coverage

RECEIVED Mon., May 4, 2015

Dear Editor,
    The Chronicle's May 1 story containing interviews with guardians of Austin State Supported Living Center (SSLC) residents [“Guardians Fight On to Save SSLC,” News] was heartbreaking. Their personal stories tell of the anguish they feel on knowing the Living Center might be closed. Their distress is warranted – their loved ones, along with many other mentally and physically disabled individuals, will lose the good care and services that only the Center provides. It is shocking to know that our elected officials are so indifferent and uncaring that they are willing to evict the most helpless among us from their home of many years.
    In the Chronicle story, a state senator inferred that no one wants to live at the Austin facility by his statement, "We don't have a waiting list of clients that want to join and be admitted to SSLCs..." That is a blatant twisting of facts. There is no waiting list of this sort because the state agency that oversees SSLCs does not keep one. That same agency instituted a moratorium on entrance to the Austin SSLC years ago. Therefore, the many who want and need to live there are not allowed to. And when people who need help with placement of a loved one have gone to their local authority, which they must do, they have not been given the option of an SSLC.
    Guardians, who know very well that residents of the Austin State Supported Living Center have the best possible quality of life there, must continue the good fight. And the Chronicle should continue to inform the public about the dire consequences of closing the Center.
Sally Feutz
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