Letters for the week of October 26-November 1, 2005

Reaction to our story about soldiers swapping gore for porn, and a response from the dog owners at the center of Berkeley's crackdown.

“War Pornography,” News, EastBayExpress.com, 9/21; “US Soldiers Swap Gore for Porn,” City of Warts, 9/28

Cringe, then die
Oh, boo-hoo! Can you believe our soldiers shake hands with the devil, laugh in the face of death, minimize the gruesome deaths of Iraqis who until recently were trying to kill them? And they like pictures of naked women? Have to tell ya, you journalists out there are right on the cutting edge with news of the military mindset. Listen, I too relish the extinction of every 7th-century Angel of Allah. One less threat to humankind. Fuck you and your attempt to throw more mud on our soldiers. You and your ilk, if thrown into those circumstances, would collapse into a fetal ball prior to having your throat slit.

Steven E. Stacy, Oberlin, Kansas

Thanks for speaking up
I’m glad this story has finally been broadcast. I had talked about it long ago (half a year ago) in my blog USADemocrazy.blogspot.com. You did a good job writing this. Today, a week after you wrote it, the mainstream media (BBC, CNN, ABC, etc.) are talking about it. I guess this was just one more sample of American Moral Decadence, a time we are living these days, where lies are all right as a political tool, and where double standards reign. Thanks for writing about it; I wish more journalists would speak against what is wrong out loud, and that self-censure stops.

Ricard Jimenez, Barcelona, Spain

Geneva shmeneva
Perhaps we should consider how many photos of United States servicemen and -women might look about the same as the Iraqi photos. Of course Mr. Gonzales, our US attorney general, and Prof. [John] Yoo of UC Berkeley’s Boalt School of Law have single-handedly “decertified” the Geneva Protocols.

R.G. Repke, Oakland

Survival mechanisms
Thank you for an attempt at some honest reporting. But the Geneva Conventions have no relevancy in this war. What Iraqi or Syrian insurgent/suicide bomber killing innocent women and children in the name of Allah has given the Geneva Conventions a passing thought? A realistic look at what comprises acceptable wartime behavior is needed. Maybe this war will be the catalyst. Until then, these behaviors represent instinctual survival mechanisms deep down in all of us — whether we like it or not.

Kerry Friesen, MD, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Too happy to be Marines
“Six men in beige fatigues, identified as US Marines, laugh and smile for the camera while pointing at a burned, charcoal-black corpse lying at their feet.”

The individuals in this photo do not appear to be Marines; Marines are almost always consistent in their “High ‘n’ Tight” haircuts. USMC boonie hats are different than army boonie hats. Many Marine units are still issued the old style green and black cammies, including the flak vests. The individuals in this photo are not wearing MARPAT cammies. And speaking as a Marine veteran, they simply don’t “look” like Marines. They appear too happy to be Marines 🙂
John (last name withheld), Hayward

“Presumed Guilty,” Bottom Feeder, 9/7

Next time it could be you
As we were quoted in Will Harper’s column and referred to in subsequent letters, we feel compelled to set the record straight.

We, and countless other respectful and responsible owners with well-trained dogs, are within our rights as individuals and doing nothing illegal when walking our dog off-leash. We voluntarily modified our specific walk routine once we learned of Marie Bowman’s fear of dogs. In our administrative appeal hearing, Marie said she “wanted to make a more formal statement” that she disapproved of this activity. She was wrong to have abused the system by having us cited with no proof, or even a claim, that any actual violation occurred.

The larger issue exposed is that there are systemic problems arising when a private citizen (as opposed to a trained and impartial government officer) initiates an action under the current administrative citation process. The issues raised in the letters are only partisan expressions of support for one woman, and are completely deficient in addressing the larger due process subject intelligently. Marie’s history with dogs, however one chooses to describe it, does not justify her harassment of us and our other law-abiding neighbors. Yet the city’s current policies leave the door open for individuals such as Marie to target law-abiding citizens by simply filling out a basic form, and there are no checks in the system to protect someone from this type of campaign nor punish the person waging it.

The readers were informed that we have been vindicated by the Superior Court, which found both that no violation occurred and confirmed our position that the complaining party bears the burden of proof. The readers should be relieved that our legal system will not allow for unwarranted and baseless harassment by a person who feels a need to assert her (imagined) power by wasting the taxpayers’ money to fight her personal battles. Now the city’s administrative citation procedures need to be securely and consistently in line with the due process requirements all of us expect from our system of justice. Next time it could be you.
Kathleen Hanley and Lonnie White, Berkeley

Black Journalists award for Express diabetes story

“Good Kids, Bad Blood” (8/11/2004), freelance writer Lauren Gard’s feature about the alarming childhood epidemic of so-called “adult-onset diabetes,” has received a first-place award for environmental journalism from the National Association of Black Journalists. Gard took first-place honors among all stories submitted by newspapers with a circulation of less than 150,000 copies a week. The staff of The Washington Post won the first-place award for newspapers with a circulation greater than 150,000, for a series on lead poisoning.

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