Letters for the week of June 23-29, 2003

Camping isn't a cult leader; vets aren't to blame; you don't know shit about experimental music; and Chris Thompson is an elitist.

“Quit Your Church,” Feature, 7/2

Error of biblical proportions

I enjoyed your piece on this theological wack-job. I merely point out that you commit an egregious theological error in your very first paragraph — hardly the kind in scope and nature that commends you to your reader, especially as the article is itself a piece dealing with religion.

Calvinist predestination does not in fact consign “even the saved to hell,” qua saved they are heavenbound by definition. Maybe this was a typo? Otherwise you bludgeon the basic doctrine and make it senseless.
Michael Flanigan, Berkeley

Editor’s note

Flanigan is right. The Express ran a correction last week.

Christian charity

Your article on Mr. Camping is one of the best-written that I have ever seen. Besides being well-written, it is unbiased and fair. Such articles are very rare today, especially on Christian reporting.
Bill Patton, Hayward

Christian wrath

Miss St. Clair, I was present, and so was another person as you interviewed my husband, David Morrell. When you interviewed him on the phone you said you would like to write positives. You never mentioned pictures using negative photos. You were not happy mocking the man with words, so you had to take the ultimate step of trying to show him as a buffoon on your cover. The cover of your paper negated whatever you would say positive and would lead people to think Mr. Camping is evil. You were misleading in the article by calling my husband a “retired Philadelphia cop” when you were told he was the head of the Internal Affairs Division. This job trained him for his future endeavors for which the Lord would lead and use him.

You used very disparaging pictures of Mr. Camping and very good pictures of his opponents. Do you think that was being unbiased? You were given additional information by Mr. Tom Holt about Mr. Wiggins’ condition and his separation from his wife at the time of his death — that was not even mentioned. You did your homework, but what you learned about the man’s faithfulness to God’s word was completely disregarded, and the words of people who now dislike the man have been raised to the level of experts.

Mr. Gistand was completely in line with what Mr. Camping taught for years and because he could not be the minister of that church went to an organization that would make him a minister and compromised his beliefs to fit into their mold. Why was that not considered?

People who believe in truth are not part of a cult just because it is not the truth of others. Cult leaders hold their followers by taking over their lives. Mr. Camping has never done that, and anyone who was not in line with him could disregard the teaching with no harm to them. Jim Jones and [David] Koresh both killed their followers because of noncompliance or wanting to be free of their teachings. You only interviewed two friends of Mr. Camping, and everyone else was in the other camp. I know this letter is like spitting into the wind, but let your conscience be your guide when writing other articles. This article proves Mr. Camping’s reason why he gives no interviews. In sending us the article you sent a copy but not the cover. That tells us you were ashamed of your work.
Anna Morrell, Philadelphia

Editor’s note

The editors and art director, not the writer, are responsible for photos, captions, illustrations, and headlines.

“Vet Oath: Hypocritic,” Letters, 7/2

Last pet letter, we promise

Regarding Barry Schenker’s letter, I have a few comments. For starters, I was unaware that in the veterinary field, we “routinely perform so many unnecessary … procedures.” I have worked with few vets who do tail docking, and when they do, it is for working dogs. While not medically mandatory, there are far more benefits and fewer risks than, say, human breast augmentation. (Yes, I am aware that humans can speak for themselves, whereas dogs require someone, namely their legal owner/guardian, to do so.) Even fewer do ear docking, and most veterinarians outright refuse to do declaws. Even those that do will discuss with clients at great length the pros (few), cons (many), and alternatives (several).

It should also be noted that there are instances where declawing is a case where it’s either that or the cat is turned in to a shelter, and thus is a case of various unpleasant alternatives — no simple black and white image here.

Schenker then continues to blame veterinarians for genetic tendencies of certain breeds to develop health issues. I trust he also blames firefighters for the work of arsonists, and prison wardens for the actions of juvenile criminals. With very few exceptions, people do not adopt pets from veterinarians. Breeders and pet stores are the primary sources of purebreds (though on rare occasion, the local animal shelters will have one pass through).

When a person asks for advice about adopting a new pet — be they a client or an anonymous phone call — we steer them to shelters, and to adopt a mixed breed, for both health and social reasons. However, it is exceedingly rare that vets are consulted prior to the adoption of a pet! It is only afterward that we are involved — and quite frankly, there is no way around this. Or would Schenker have us close the clinic doors so that we can go house to house inquiring if the inhabitants plan on buying a dog? As Ms. Cruz pointed out, much responsibility falls on pet guardians — and this also involves research before making the leap into adopting a pet: calling around, Internet research, checking out books at a library, and so on to determine potential breed-related problems.
David Zucker, veterinary technician, Emeryville

“Cacophony, and Then Silence,” Down in Front, 6/25

Shame on us

Wow. How insensitive can a reviewer be?

I don’t care so much that you betray a general lack of knowledge about the thriving underground music scene in the Bay Area — I wouldn’t expect any more from the EBX. But to insult the memory of a beloved musician and his widow with your remarks about a “cottage industry” of CDs and so forth is as low as it gets. I’m absolutely disgusted by it. Shame on you and EVEN MORE the Express for printing that shit.
Tom Djll/arTsar, Oakland

Got him at a yard sale

I was shocked and depressed by your appalling coverage of the Matthew Sperry memorial concert in Oakland. In the past the Express has covered intelligently the valuable and unique East Bay experimental music scene; but for some reason this night they chose to send a clueless rube who obviously knew and cared nothing about anything he was hearing and seeing, and, what’s worse, decided his job was to ridicule it. Where I, and the hundreds of others jamming the place, heard a heartfelt and moving range of musical expression, for him it was all the same: weird unmusical cacophony. Where do you get these people?

In the same week, you seemed to miss out completely on another unique East Bay musical event, the annual Chapel of the Chimes multi-performer festival. There is something extraordinary, local, and precious happening at these events: authentic homegrown culture. It’s a shame that you are completely missing it.

If the Express wants to masquerade convincingly as a real independent, local paper, it should at least make some small effort to learn something about the real, independent local culture.
Tim Perkis, Oakland

“Back in Blue,” Music, 6/18

Juke-joint heroes

Frank Klein and Ron Kriss are heroes for saving Eli’s Mile High Club. Although I missed Eli’s heyday, I had many memorable, magical moments there once I discovered it. It was always fun taking friends there for the first time. Although the club was funky-looking on the outside, and along a deserted stretch of street that made them nervous, even the most skeptical were won over once inside.

I’ll never forget the time my daughter spotted Eli’s from the freeway when on her way into the city with a friend’s (rather conservative) family. She reported that when she blurted out, “Oh, that’s where my parents go to dance,” the mom looked at her in shock and said, “Your parents go THERE?” Yes, indeed. And it was sad to see the decline of Eli’s. We finally stopped going, but always looked at it wistfully when we passed by. I’ve been twice already since the reopening, and it is so great to see the nice crowds and dance to good blues. And although I love going in to the city, it is great to be able to have a fun night in the East Bay in my favorite juke joint!
Patricia Dedekian, Oakland

“The Rise of Point & Click Liberalism,” City of Warts, 7/2

Truckers, trains, & Thompson

Chris Thompson’s article on the rise of MoveOn.org misses a number of crucial points. First, in a democracy, there is no such thing as a “meaningless protest vote.” Because the cycle of election and reelection continues every four years, a candidate who does not win in one year can still help to mobilize a political movement that can take the White House back in another year.

Also, Mr. Thompson’s slightly contemptuous presumption that East and West Coast liberals can’t connect with working-class voters in the heartland says more about him that it does about anybody else. It’s patronizing for Thompson to assume the existence of a cultural disconnect, and it’s patronizing for him to assume that only relatively privileged white-collar voters might call for a new progressive agenda for our country. How many Tennessee truckers do you know, Mr. Thompson, and have you asked any of them lately how they feel about the economy?

I, for one, grew up in the heartland, and when I remember the diverse crowd who attended our church every Sunday — Americans from all walks of life and many different cultural backgrounds — I do not hesitate to speculate that many of them will gladly support a change of administration in 2004. The train is beginning to move, Mr. Thompson, whether you like it or not. Welcome aboard.
Matt Brockwell, Oakland

Remember the runner-up

Chris Thompson jumped the gun! In his article, he ends by saying that Howard Dean won the primary. Not true! Dean received 44 percent of the votes, but no one got the more than 50 percent required to win the primary and MoveOn’s endorsement.

I hope the Express will take note of the second-place winner, Dennis Kucinich, who is attracting the fervent support of hundreds of volunteers in the East Bay. Kucinich raised over $1 million in new campaign money because of his exposure through MoveOn. Given that his campaign started late and that he was almost unknown outside Ohio, Kucinich’s vote of almost 24 percent is astonishing and a tribute both to the values he stands for and the growing base of volunteers working for him.

Aside from that error, I appreciated Chris Thompson’s article, especially since MoveOn is a major East Bay contribution to the resurgence of progressive values and political activity now taking place in this country.
Judy Pope, Oakland


In the article “Back in Blue” (Music, 6/18), we had the wrong phone number for Eli’s Mile High Club. The correct number is 510-655-6161.

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