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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 8.28.08




HOW TO PROTEST

I have been reading, with some interest, the replies to my letter (“Yes, Sir!”, 7/3) placing part of the blame on protesters escalating confrontations with the Eugene police. Let me quickly touch on some of those responses.

When did the white, middle class protesters of Eugene become the black protesters of the Deep South in 1955? There are no policemen with water hoses waiting. In fact, no one really cares if there are protests in Eugene. There is more excitement when the pancake van opens at a Grateful Dead offshoot concert. The police just want everyone to follow the laws. The police really want to do their jobs, without getting hurt and without hurting anyone.

When did the First Amendment to the Constitution get rewritten to allow breaking the law? Can bank robbers claim they are innocent if they are protesting too? Just silly. When did the republic form of government in the U.S. become a fascist government? Just clueless. Arguments based on name-calling and ignorance don’t work.

If you break the law during a protest, it is called “civil disobedience.” It is a time-honored way of moving your protest forward. If you are going to get arrested for the cause, do it with class and dignity. There is no way to punish you in the U.S. beyond a slap on the wrist. You can’t win if you resist arrest; the laws are stacked against you.

If you wanted to get better results with your protests, wouldn’t it be wise to study the great, successful protests in history and follow their lead? Gandhi and MLK Jr. led protests are great examples of how it should be done.

Peter Gregory, Corvallis



HELMET LAW

Regarding Karen Kennedy’s letter (8/7): She thinks it would be great to have a new law to force adults to wear bike helmets. A Gang of Four song comes to mind: “Save me from the people who would save me from myself; they’ve got muscles for brains.” If it is so easy to pass a law controlling the daily behavior of millions of people without their consent, but for their “own good,” then let’s pass some laws that are really for our own good. Let’s make cutting old-growth trees and cutting in any headwaters illegal, and outlaw field burning and stop local businesses from dumping poison into our river that we and the salmon share and Corvallis drinks. 

Oh, wait, that’s crazy talk. We can’t “control” these activities! The relatively few people engaging in them are making lots of money. And passing a law forcing millions of people in Oregon to wear bike helmets would also make a few people lots of money (on helmets). Karen, do you wear a helmet when you are in a car? That’s when you have the greatest chance of a head injury. There should be a law. 

Kari Johnson, Eugene



PRIORITIES SKEWED

The police in Eugene are sadly coming up with a shortfall of violent crime arrests, even in the downtown area. After a few weeks of the exclusion ordinance in effect, will people start to realize the unfortunate reality? Friday of last week, six or seven cop cars were congregating up and down along the corner of Broadway and Willamette Streets, across from Ken Kesey Square. Several of them were truly doing nothing but looking busy. Is that to invite the idea that they are in fact investigating a crime? Hell no. The cops will tell you that violent crime has dropped substantially in the last year or so, but does that really make any sense? I don’t think so. 

The city of Eugene could sneakily be using the downtown area to manipulate funding. If the cop sees a dime bag in your pocket, he knows you’re guilty of the charged offense, even if you say you are innocent. There goes that. But if someone is assaulted, like on Friday, cops will not make a single arrest. I guess at this point I have to ask about voter-passed mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines for violent crime, Measure 11. What? The priorities of the police and downtown business owners are skewed.

Violent crimes certainly require more investigating than do possession of marijuana charges. Is that why the police would rather hassle the pothead than the one actually causing a disturbance, even with the already limited budget?

Bert Vaughn, Eugene



DUE PROCESS?

We should not be shocked that our City Council, with its recent “exclusion zone” vote, willfully trashed the due process clause of our Constitution. They are simply using the model of the Bush Crime Syndicate, which has repeatedly raped, abused, tortured or ignored the Constitution of our country.

As a frequent volunteer in the exclusion zone, I am very aware what staff, patrons and neighbors have to put up with from certain individuals. I sympathize with those who have had windows broken, threats and crap at their front door in the morning. 

Hopefully some local lawyers or organizations will seek injunctions or stays, as needed, to prevent a single person who has not been convicted of a crime from having their rights violated by an overzealous City Council hell-bent on ripping another hole in the Constitution.

The above is significant and brings into serious doubt the fitness of the majority to govern our city. On top of above issues, did they deal with where so called “unwanted or excluded” will stay or hang out? Hell no! We should not allow those without backbone to govern us. This council mirrors our useless Congress, nobody willing to make gut-wrenching decisions. In this case our council said, “Oh, hell, the ‘excluded’ can go to Whiteaker, Springfield, the river, I really don’t care, I want to keep my seat for another term.”

Unlike the Bush Syndicate, which goes unpunished, those who knowingly voted to pass an unconstitutional ordinance should be removed from office and face possible criminal charges as well as civil lawsuits. Let the citizens of Eugene teach our Congress a civics lesson, and start the recall of those responsible for spitting on the Constitution.

Tom Wilt, Eugene



JUST STAY INDOORS

Well, it’s that time of year again: the time when you can drive between Portland to Eugene and witness the gifts given to the people of Oregon by the Grass Seed Council’s 10 percent of corporate farmers who still refuse to bale, citing financial reasons they refuse to stop burning their fields.

These gifts come in the form of a type of mushroom cloud that permeates the air with pollution, which is very detrimental to the health of our children and older residents who suffer from asthma. Now to protect their health, the great concern that is shown is that the burning is monitored by Experts, who are hired to perform this task. If the pollutants are of sufficient quantity in the air, why, The Experts tell everyone to just stay indoors. That’s like saying corporate goons are running through your city clubbing anyone they see, so stay inside and you will not be hurt. Whether the pollution lasts for a day or a week, or a month for that matter, just stay inside. So if you would like to stay healthy, why stay indoors this August. Nice.

Eugene is especially gifted by being at the end of the valley, so the pollutants can hang over the city longer. Let’s promote Eugene to be the site of the next Olympic games, especially if timed to coincide with the burning. I know we can compete with Beijing for pollution. I mean, it’s all about money anyway, so let’s join the rest of the world and sell off our citizens’ health for a few coins.

Gene Okins, Eugene



MISLEADING STATS?

In endorsing bike helmets, Karen Kennedy (8/7) writes, “Like motorcycles, we share the roads with cars and trucks, and thus share the same hazards.” But there’s a vast difference between bicycles and motorcycles, partly because motorcycles can keep up with cars and don’t “share” the road (or the hazards) as Kennedy says. Bikes, however, do share the road with cars, though less dangerously where bike lanes exist than where they don’t. There is also a much wider skills range for bicyclists compared with motorcyclists, primarily due to motorcycle licensing requirements (and often mandatory safety programs), including a minimum age.

Kennedy reports that “750 of the 767 bicyclists killed were not wearing helmets,” but might they have died from their injuries even if helmets had been worn? We are not told, so we must be skeptical about her use of statistics. And she says she had a bike accident in Portland recently but fails to say whether it was her fault. While she’s glad she wore a helmet, she doesn’t say whether she could have prevented the accident in the first place.

I’ve traveled thousand of miles on motorcycles, and I always wear a helmet (even in my native Illinois, where there’s no helmet law). But I will not wear a bicycle helmet despite (or maybe because of) my having biked thousands of miles, including hundreds of miles on busy streets in Chicago and other cities. Too many bicyclists fail to do these two things: 1) make yourself as visible as possible so it’s unlikely you’ll be hit, and 2) be vigilant to looking for hazards, such as car doors about to open into your path.

So perhaps bicyclists should be required to take safety courses and also to be licensed?

Think about it!

Charles Whitman, Eugene



CHOICE OF WARS

Paul Prensky’s Aug. 7 letter worried that the Bush regime might declare martial law if Obama is selected in November. 

However, we have been under partial martial law since November 22, 1963, the coup d’etat against President Kennedy (he was removed from office after he turned against the Cold War). Eisenhower’s 1961 warning about the “military industrial complex” is now our reality.

Obama wants to increase troops in Afghanistan, to maintain Bush’s military bases in Iraq and would be a better president than McCain to sell increased intervention in West African oil fields. Obama’s advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski helped create the “Rapid Deployment Force,” the predecessor of the Central Command, the military department that occupies Iraq. Obama offers a choice of wars, not a choice against war.

The financial elites are not going to remove the illusion of democracy as long as the “president” is subservient to the Empire. 

Carroll Quigley was one of Bill Clinton’s teachers at Georgetown. Quigley wrote in Tragedy and Hope that, “The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can ‘throw the rascals out’ at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.”

Richard Nixon signed the primary environmental laws of the environmental era — because there was massive public pressure. I look forward to the day when environmentalists and peace advocates equally pressure both corporate funded political parties.

Mark Robinowitz, Eugene



TIME TO OPT OUT

Tired of unwanted phone calls or mailings from military recruiters? One way that recruiters get your contact information is from your high school, unless you “opt out” of the school releasing your name, address and phone number. “Opting out” can be done at fall registration or by contacting your school office and signing a form to protect your privacy and stop the release. But do it soon as schools generally release that information within a couple of weeks of school resuming each fall.

Your high school must release that information or face being cut off from federal funding. Either a student or a parent can sign the opt-out form.

The information local military recruiters get from high schools is used by them. But it also goes into a database run by the Pentagon, the management of which is contracted out to private marketing firms! Components of that database, besides what schools release, come from such sources as driver’s license applications and what private marketing firms can gather on students from the Internet, playing military games, certain vocational tests, etc. So regardless of whether students welcome contacts by military recruiters or not, there is the danger of privacy loss if that database is compromised by hacking or carelessness.

It is never too early to begin protecting one’s privacy. Opt out at high school this fall.

Carol Van Houten, Co-coordinator, the Committee  for Countering Military Recruitment