FEAR OF DIFFERENCE?
I understand the withdrawal of the photo exhibit at Meadowlark, but I am always disappointed when discord trumps discussion. Once again the opportunity to learn and broaden our collective range of understanding is undermined by a few minority opinions.
I try to respect the right to disagree, but when further division and discord, not to mention hostility, is created then I’m saddened and puzzled. Is it fear-based, and if so, fear of what? Difference? Gender identity is real but forced to live largely in shadows. The focus of the controversy is a young woman of extraordinary courage, most of you have no idea how much. Why should that be true? The statistics of violence are a matter of record directed toward those who identify as gay, lesbian, transgendered or queer. There is no evidence of violent retribution directed back to those who identify as heterosexual.
Why the fear? Why the violence? When will it end? Why can’t all people regardless of any kind of difference live and let live? It starts with each of us. Onward.
Judy Moseley, Eugene
FUNKY IS BEAUTIFUL
I don’t even know where to begin. There are so many directions to take on the topic of Civic Stadium. I guess a good place to begin is with the past, the present and the future.
Not necessarily the stadium’s past, but mine. I have been going to baseball games with my family at Civic as long as I can remember, as a child and now as a parent. Now that I have children of my own, I look so forward to June, when we can go make new memories and learn more about America’s favorite pastime. The future is part of the past, and the past is part of the future.
If Civic Stadium with its old wood benches and its steep wooden stairs isn’t here for my family, I will feel like a part of America has been taken away.
Please, don’t update the stadium and make it “new” or “improved.” Don’t “update” anything. In fact, the worn-out benches, railings, steps and toilets are what keep the stadium perfect. They also keep the pride of knowing it is an old stadium and not a new one.
Civic Stadium is a great place to take a date, great place to forget the worries of the world and a safe and fun place to take the family — no matter if it’s a mom and dad taking their small children or a son taking his cane-using dad. It is a wonderful, absolutely not upscale, evening of memories.
Brenda Royce, Springfield
TAKE A RIDE FIRST
Federal stimulus package dollars are working their way through the pipes toward Eugene and Springfield. Of the $2.4 billion that is coming to the state, $8 million will be spent on bicycle infrastructure in our area. That any money was dedicated to sustainable modes of transportation at all is a point to be celebrated, but before city planners start designing the projects specified in the bill, I’d like them to do one small thing: Take a bike ride.
The specific ride I have in mind should include a trip through the Hilyard Street intersection of Franklin Boulevard. On Hilyard, the bike lane ends at Franklin, and from here you have two options. The inconvenient way is to take the pedestrian route, maneuvering on to the sidewalk and then waiting again halfway through the intersection. The faster option may be to wait for the green light to appear on its own, then merge with the automobiles as you enter the intersection. This is risky enough in itself, but don’t neglect to watch out for traffic coming in from your right once you get to the other side. Be prepared for honking cars at your tail since traffic from both streets has now been funneled into your lane, and there’s no way to get on to that nice wide sidewalk from here.
Level two: Use the same intersection to go south, taking a left on Franklin to connect to Alder Street, a purported “bicycle boulevard.” Caution: No bicyclist has actually been known to attempt this solo. Proceed at your own risk.
The stimulus package projects include new bike pathways and funding for a Safe Routes to School program. We’ve made design mistakes in the past, but it’s never too late to change and build infrastructure that caters to sustainable, healthful transportation modes.
Tuula Rebhahn , Eugene
CAP AND DIVIDEND
Erin Noble’s Viewpoint on cap and trade (6/4) neglected to explore a few other options. Cap and dividend would accomplish much the same thing except that it would require that all emission allowances be sold at auction and the revenue given back in equal shares to the American people. This is similar to what climate scientist James Hansen of NASA recommends: Placing a blanket tax on all fossil fuels at the mine, wellhead or port of entry and then giving the money back in equal shares to the American people.
The money paid out by polluters would finally begin to reflect the true environmental and social costs which they have been able to externalize all these years. Americans embrace the idea that there is “no free lunch” and would be open to the idea that polluters should pay something approximating the true cost of their pollution.
A tax imposed on pollution and then given back to the American people would be revenue-neutral, so “conservatives” wouldn’t be able to complain about raising taxes.
Meanwhile we’d all get a check in the mail every month. Those using lots of fossil fuels would pay a tax liability while those using fewer fossil fuels would receive a net tax benefit. Those families who don’t drive a car and live a relatively modest, environmentally balanced lifestyle would be rewarded for their exemplary behavior by paying fewer taxes.
Of course, the major media aren’t talking about these ideas, but if the American people knew that they would receive a check every month, there would be strong support for some kind of cap and dividend or revenue-neutral carbon tax.
Robert Bolman, Eugene
BACK AT YOU, NASH
In response to “In Defense of Daniel” (6/11). First off, let me just say to A.F. Nashthat I am just an ordinary person. I am a stay-at-home mother of two with a high school diploma and a very limited amount of life experience under my belt from which I form my personal opinions. I do not have a degree in journalism, nor do I support my local law enforcement for the purpose of gaining favor or influence.
In my letter (5/28), I was merely responding to the judgment expressed by Kursten Hogard (letters, 5/14). My point, which was apparently overlooked by Nash, was that one should not judge a book by its cover, so to speak. I merely wrote an example of an activist, Daniel McGowan, who chose to take part in a crime in order to achieve his environmentalist point. I was not implying that McGowan is a bad person. I never placed any judgment on him as a human being or his personal accomplishments to the world that we live in. I was simply stating that we are all our own people, with our own thoughts and feelings. It’s not fair to judge someone solely based on the uniform that they wear or the labels that society puts on one another.
In my letter I wrote that some people might say that McGowan’s actions as an environmental activist could have been perceived as being dangerous. I did read the entire article written in Democracy Now (June 11, 2007), and did note that they took extreme precautions in order to harm no human being, but there is still the unknown danger at stake, such as the safety of the firemen’s lives.
Mary Mainenti, Eugene
I am writing in response to recent articles regarding the closing of Peace Health’s Birthing Center. While it is unfortunate that the facility is closing, thankfully, there are many alternative birthing options in Eugene.
Sacred Waters Birthing Center is a fully operational, free-standing birthing center. There are many of these centers, like Sacred Waters, that are licensed by the state of Oregon and staffed by trained professionals who are experts in out-of-hospital birth settings. I invite expecting families who are looking into an alternative holistic approach in birthing to seek out the support of their community midwives, come and meet them, looking into the various options of birthing to help provide a more complete assessment of midwifery services available to determine what works best for each family.
Anita Rojas LDM, CPM, Eugene
TELL IT LIKE IT IS
I just got back from a week in El Salvador. The country has emerged from the wreckage of the civil war intact and beautiful. While there is still abundant poverty in the cities and the country, the roads are first rate (better than ours), the malls new and glistening, and the logo glow of U.S. corporations is awash in the night sky.
Walmart just bought the biggest grocery store chain, and you can buy all sorts of U.S. brand names there. It made me think how similar things were to home. How the Republican government had invested millions on roads and malls instead of its people, education, and fighting crime — there were armed guards everywhere, guarding businesses and the wealthy living behind iron gates.
The letters and articles each week in EW go on about the corrupt police, city councilors promoting development over conservation, corporate pollution, environmental degradation and private corporate interests superseding the public’s well-being.
Since the police pretty much defend the interests of chemical and forestry corporations, banks and insurance brokers, the UO and Walmart, why don’t these corporations pony up the money needed to build a new police station? Cops could wear corporate patches like NASCAR drivers for those special interests they’re sworn to uphold, and the law, too. And while we’re at it, city and county elected officials should have to wear patches of all of their respective private interests playing pocket pool under the table. Even Alan Zelenka and Kitty Piercy should have to wear the patches from the lefty liberal south side of town, just to be balanced and on the level.
Like ancient Greece and Rome, the councilors could wear togas stitched with their corporate sponsors to throw over their work cloths. Let’s shed some light on the truth, be honest for once and tell it like it is for a change.
Jonathan Seraphim, Eugene
Religious leaders warn us that without faith, humankind would plunge into darkness and despair. This assertion is true as long you disregard everything former Duck Dr. Phil Zuckerman has documented in excruciating detail in his book: Society without God. He claims that the planet’s most irreligious democracies “have been able to create the most civil, just, safe, equitable, humane, and prosperous societies.” That’s liberal code for tree-hugging, gay-loving, dope-smokers.
Zuckerman uses lots of fancy-pants facts and statistics to confuse readers. According to Zuckerman, irreligious democracies score highest in categories such as life expectancy, economic competitiveness and rate of college/university enrollment. In the same categories, nearly all of the top 20 nations are nations with “weak religion.” In the categories of lowest infant mortality, GDP per capita, economic equality, environmental protection, aid to poor nations, establishment of social justice and quality of life, it is again the most irreligious nations which make up most of the top 20.
Not surprisingly, Zuckerman cherry-picked liberally biased categories and conveniently left out vital categories which America dominates, like rich bankers per capita and rate of weekly church attendance.
America-haters like Zuckerman are gaining ground. Nearly 20 percent of Americans identify as “non-religious.” Obviously they don’t understand that they’re going to burn in hell for eternity. That said, it’s reassuring that most Christians won’t vote for non-believers regardless of the fact that these heathens are some of the best and brightest.
Other than less violence, less poverty, healthcare for everyone, better public schools, better wages, better benefits, better government and a cleaner environment, you never know what America would look like without religion and unfettered capitalism.
Joshua Welch, Eugene
PROTECT THE STAIRCASE
At one time, the Coast Range of Oregon was covered by old growth forests. Unfortunately, more than 90 percent of this forest has been logged since people of European descent began settling in the Northwest. Now we are left with a patchwork of tree farms and clear-cuts. Despite this logging, a few areas of old growth remain.
One such area is the proposed Devil’s Staircase Wilderness. This area of 29,650 acres near Reedsport is some of the most rugged and wild country in Oregon. Today, June 16, Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Peter DeFazio introduced companion bills in Congress that would designate the Devil’s Staircase area as wilderness.
Sadly, though Oregonians think of themselves as leaders in environmental stewardship and activism, only 4.3 percent of Oregon’s total land area is protected as wilderness. This is in stark contrast to the 14.4 percent protected in California, 9.8 percent in Washington and 9.2 percent in Idaho. Clearly our neighbors have recognized the value of securing the highest level of federal protection for the most wild and precious areas of their respective states. Protecting the Devil’s Staircase area is a step in the right direction for Oregon.
There are many other places in our state that need and deserve wilderness designation. I urge your readers to support wilderness designation now and in the future.
Aaron Lieberman, Cottage Grove
CAR ART OVERLOAD
Please do not push your lame images on your back window in my face while I’m trying to drive. I do not care how many stick-figure girls, boys, dogs, canaries or husbands you have, nor do I appreciate having to see Calvin in drag praying solemnly in the shadow of a cross. Most of all, no more Tinkerbelle. Please. Ugly fat chicks always drive those vehicles. There should be a fine for that last offense!
Jeff Albertson, Springfield
APPLAUSE FOR FORESIGHT
Yesterday I went to www.lanecounty.org and downloaded the recommended budget by the Lane County Budget Committee that some people are so upset about.
On the website, County Administrator Spartz says that without the federal payments (which end in less than three years) we will have funds enough for only 17 jail beds and no public health programs. He warns that adding the 84 jail beds could bring us to this point much quicker. In Spartz’s own words:
“If the Budget Committee wishes to add services such as the oft-recommended increases in jail beds, members will need to make the difficult choice between service level and service sustainability.
“Given the precarious state of our finances, adding 84 jail beds and five people to the District Attorney’s Office will not allow us to maintain stable funding for four years.”
Now, I understand what the Budget Committee was thinking when it voted not to fund these jail beds. We’re setting ourselves up for a fiscal crisis. We already know what voters say when asked to pay more in taxes for these services. All levies to do so have failed in Lane County. And Congressman Peter DeFazio recently commented that he thinks Congress won’t bail us out again.
I applaud the commissioners for not spending money before we know how much we have and urge them to come up with a viable long-term plan to maintain public safety in Lane County.
Allen Hancock, Eugene
The recent tea party tax protests brought to mind a curious contradiction. Typically the “right” protests taxes while embracing war; the “left” rather reflexively does just the opposite.
Thirty-eight percent of all federal tax dollars are directed to the military. Incredibly, nearly four out of 10 tax dollars go to the Army, Navy and Marines and an alphabet soup of spy agencies. America spends more money on war and weaponry than the rest of the world combined! To fight people who hide in caves, the U.S. has 720 military bases in 102 countries. There are a total of 162 nations on Earth.
Your tax dollars at work (war) buy cluster bombs (illegal) and land mines (illegal), and your “contributions” keep Guantanamo Bay open. America is the only major country in the world to not have national health care while spending nearly a trillion tax dollars a year on the military.
You know a person by his or her priorities — this is true of nations also. This insanity can’t be denied; it is there for all to see. In 21st century America, one could say our taxes are death!
Joe Mogus, Philomath
Sally Sheklow’s unfailingly witty and insightful commentary is a consistent bright spot in what has become an otherwise dreary, predictable weekly read, what with Alan Pittman’s obsessive, repetitive nattering about “sprawl,” real estate “speculators” and whatever morsel of wisdom has emanated from Bonny Bettman’s lips in the previous few hours. So it was puzzling to see reader Steve Downey upbraid Sally as a poor lesbian role model legitimizing a “harmful stereotype” of “hating men” in his recent letter (5/7).
Really? Sally Sheklow? Her cheerful, first person opinion pieces are generally charming and respectful of even those whom she criticizes, and also instructive, where they easily could be mean-spirited or condescending (see comments above, re: Pittman). I can’t remember her ever aiming undeserved barbs at anyone, much less men in general. Knowing Sheklow personally as I do, I can attest that she’s as kindhearted a person as one would ever care to meet. In fact, she’s been a great friend to Eugene’s gay male community through her writing, her community activism, her comedy performances and her personal leadership.
No doubt, there are lesbians here and elsewhere who would rather have a root canal than spend time around men (and they have their reasons, I’m sure). But Sally Sheklow isn’t one of them. When we’re lucky enough to connect on the phone, she usually begins the conversation with, “How’s my boyfriend?” and always, always brings a smile to my face.
Downey quoted John Lennon as saying “There’s little enough love in the world.” Fair enough. All I am saying, though, is give Sal a chance.
Todd Simmons, Eugene
PUBLIC SERVICE PARADOX
We read daily about the wrenching layoffs and slashing of benefits to employees and retirees of private companies. Then there are the wrenching public services cuts affecting all of us. Have you noted the perversity in the way this plays out; that the private sector increases efficiency and gets rid of excesses in order to try to continue providing its service or product while the public sector dumps its product or service (public safety, health, education, recreation, etc) in order to protect what is most important to itself (pay scales, benefits, security)? We taxpayers end up supporting entities that have become irrelevant (to us) but costly, so we have to ask ourselves how can so much money NOT buy the basic services we depend on and that we used to get for less money?
In the various public forums to ¨solve¨ the budget shortfall there is a “deafening silence” regarding significant benefit cuts for existing and retired public employees, as if it were an untouchable subject. Don’t we need to look at the enormous and growing payouts for pension plans and health benefits and the allowance of double-dipping arrangements where ¨retired¨ public workers take new jobs while still feeding at the public trough?
This topic is, of course, inflammatory. The fact is, however, that we are sinking further into massive deficits at all levels of government and since government’s response is to raise taxes at the worst possible time, we have a crisis at hand. I suggest that public employees should and are going to have to share in the pain by doing more than deferring pay raises or having their hours cut while receiving the same proportionate salary and benefits. Keep in mind, private sector employees were ¨guaranteed¨ their benefits too. If we don’t bring the public sector into sync with the real world, I foresee a brutal ¨adjustment¨ in which the outcome would have been far better if it had been confronted “yesterday” instead of at bankruptcy.
Fred Felter, Springfield
A RAFFLE TALE
Once upon a time, in a town called Eugene, a small grocery store, with help from a local bike shop, raffled off a men’s bicycle as a means to raise funds to renovate the ancient, mighty Civic Stadium.
Word spread of the raffle. Thousands of tickets were purchased. The winner, a die-hard Civic fan, donated the bike to the local Save Civic Stadium organization, who once again put it up for raffle. This time, the local media picked up the story. Tens of thousands of tickets were sold. And once again, the winner donated the bike for another raffle.
On and on, raffle after raffle, the same bike all summer long. Soon, all America caught wind of this town’s great odd effort to save its Civic Stadium. In time, the whole world was watching.
Then, as the final batter of the 2009 World Series stepped to the plate, it was announced that the bike sold in auction for $4 million to a future Hall-of-Famer who once, as a minor league ballplayer, signed an autograph for a little girl at Eugene’s Civic Stadium.
And we all lived happily ever after.
Scott Landfield, Eugene