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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 10.15.09




ALONE AGAIN NATURALLY

I have learned to value the lives and words of some of the ancients, for our times just aren’t producing examples of lives or words that make sense to me. One ancient is Han Shan, the “Cold Mountain” poet who lived hundreds of years ago, gave up on society and became a hermit.

He found himself, if one can discern his reality through the torn texts left pinned to trees, not in the struggle to find acceptance in his time and culture, but in living alone, with just a few friends and things, just becoming awake to his own authenticity, his own dance (and tears). I find it fascinating that the dangers of institutionalization and cultural bullying seem to be present in all ages.

I am writing in praise of the peace and gentleness of solitude, in admiration of a life that doesn’t include the terrors and stresses of our group culture. Perhaps one is better off working for change (while addicted to SSRIs), but all I see is a diseased system making many of us sick.

Our prisons often produce criminals; our military often produce wars; our schools often produce fear, confusion and lonely students unable to scales walls of social prejudice. The media are fed by advertising, which is produced by those expert in making us afraid to be ourselves. We are not working for change; we are working to feed a dangerous illusion that more and more of us can live faster and faster, and one day peace will arrive. Ken Kesey had it right in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest when he pointed out that sanity arrives with individuality among friends, and insanity is the inevitable result of group-think, of listening not to our own inner voice but to those who tell us we are to be controlled.

The only thing that “arrives” is our old age and death. Why waste the day in praise of meetings and tomorrow? One friend to talk with and a day free to think and wander is worth 10 houses in the South Hills and a hundred university degrees. One minute listening to the wind as it works its way through the trees along the bike path is worth three hours joining the odd group-screaming at kids/gladiators at Autzen. Solitude is a direction for the soul’s ear, a home for one’s heart even in the middle of a city.

Hugh Massengill, Eugene



MISSING PIECES FOUND

As an involved party to the Taser incident, I sat through the recent Civilian Review Board meeting feeling very dismayed and dumbfounded by what I heard and saw. It seemed obvious that several of the board members had such a strong pro-police bias that they could not be swayed even by overwhelming evidence that the police had violated their own Taser policy. 

The key point was that the Tasing occurred while Ian was face down with his hands behind his back, a clear violation of the police Taser policy. That policy was read aloud, a judge described how the Tasing was a clear violation of that policy and then the board voted 4-2 that it was not a violation

because "we should not second-guess our police." My deepest sadness was that the community would never even know what really happened at this board meeting, that they would just read in the paper that the board sided with police.

But then I read the Oct. 8 EW article by Alan Pittman, and my heart lifted. Not only did Pittman describe accurately the injustice that occurred at the CRB meeting, but he provided the missing pieces to the puzzle. He described the backgrounds of the recent appointees to the CRB, and all of a sudden the bizarre vote made sense. The recent appointees have pro-police backgrounds that explain their obvious bias in the face of overwhelming evidence that Taser policy was violated. 

Kudos to Alan Pittman for making what seemed inexplicable understandable though still sad. The level of deep investigative reporting in this article is deserving of a journalism award, especially in light of the fact that the key information appeared in no other media story and was unknown even by my activist friends. Damned good job, Alan! Now, how do we take back our CRB so that it is not simply a rubber stamp for police misconduct? 

Day Owen, Co-founder, Pitchfork Rebellion



FETISHISM NOT SCARY

I read, with interest, the cover story “Fetish Fun” (10/8) written by Camilla Mortensen and found it to be one of the most comprehensive and well written news pieces on the topic. She did a fine job! The article spelled out in a truthful manner the "scene" as it is for the people involved. 

I appreciated the fact that she did not sensationalize the topic, like most news or lifestyle writers do, with lots of fearful adjectives and scary vocabulary. Fetishism is NOT scary. It is, in fact, something most people do, and Mortensen stated that. She simply put the truth out to the public and I applaud her for doing so. The lifestyle is one of honor, mutual consent and caring for one's partner(s), and that came across with her writing. Thank you, Camilla Mortensen. I appreciate your fine effort. 

Ann M. Soucy, Northern Connecticut



VIOLENCE ON THE COVER

Tell me, just how would a 10-year-old interpret her/his parents’ copy of EW’s Oct. 8 issue with its cover showing a chained-up adult woman being spanked by a man? A reprehensible cover photo of a smiling, presumably consenting, chained-to-a-wall blonde woman being spanked by a man clad head-to-toe in black leather wielding a metal-spiked paddle. 

Did EW air-brush out bleeding caused by that spiked paddle? What happens in the next photo frame of those two? Does the blonde get whipped or cut next? Is it OK for boys to abuse blonde girls? How would, say, a woman, or girl who is recovering from being raped and/or beaten interpret EW’s cover photo?

Are Eugeneans nowadays working on ways to prevent the early release of inmates at the county jail? Did two of those released-early inmates then go out and commit crimes of violence against women? Will a majority of responsible voters now vote to pass bond measures funding more jail beds?

The popularization of violence whether in video games, movies, broadcast sports and/or on TV does not help viewers to build strong, loving personalities, does it?

Does EW’s cover seem to condone violence against women? Ask a 10-year-old. Are the adults who consensually participate in fetish “play” acting out roles learned when they were children?

Yes, those are consenting adults on that cover, engaged in pursuing a hard-spanking fetish they seem to derive pleasure from. Did any Abu Ghraib prison guards enjoy torturing their prisoners?

Charles F. Thielman, Eugene



FURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

I just wanted to clear the air a little about furries, mentioned in the cover story Oct. 8.  At the root of it all, a furry is a fan of anthropomorphic animals with human characteristics and personalities. This can be as benign as appreciating Disney art, to enjoying cartoons, all the way up to wanting to be transformed into the animal a person feels like inside. However, it doesn’t necessarily have a sexual connotation.

In the article, you write that “furries are folks who find large furry costumes tantalizing.” Many who enjoy fursuits enjoy them because it lets them express the furry side of themselves that they have no other way of expressing.  Many simply wear tails or ears to feel “furrier.”  Lots of times, this is done without any sexual thoughts or imagery at all.

There are quite a few who participate in the “fur piles” and scritching the article talks about, but I wanted to make sure that readers knew that not everyone they meet who describes themselves as “furry” is into the sexual aspect of it; they may just enjoy the silliness and lightheartedness the fandom provides.

Marc “Jaycatt” lePine, Eugene



PRETENSE OF OVERSIGHT

I cannot even believe that the Civilian Review Board and the city of Eugene thinks it is justified for a police officer to deliberately slam the skull of a human being to the ground and then for another officer to use pain compliance electric shock on the same handcuffed and subdued human being for an easy arrest for alleged jaywalking. 

I was there. I saw what happened. You did not. How many eyewitnesses can you ignore?

The sickening decision of the CRB gives carte blanche to thug Eugene police officers to continue to stomp all over constitutionally granted First Amendment free speech rights and to use any violence they see fit to "uphold city policy." The blood is on all of your hands now.

I am now sorry to have advocated for a police auditor and CRB as they are clearly just a sham to create a pretense of oversight and justice. I can think of no incident in recent history in Eugene that demonstrated blatant police brutality more than the events of May 30, 2008, and despite my jaded outlook and lack of trust in government institutions, even I am shocked by this travesty of an outcome. 

The auditor position should be abolished so the people of Eugene know where things really stand: Police can do no wrong in the eyes of the "leadership" of the city of Eugene.

Josh Schlossberg, Former Eugene resident



THE DIRTY TRUTH

The Eugene Civilian Review Board decision that the police brutality perpetrated against Ian Van Ornum by a rogue officer was “appropriate” is a shock. I was there. It was the most brutal act by two police officers against a nonviolent protestor I have ever witnessed in my 14 years of grassroots organizing.

In light of this cover-up, it appears that the elected officials of Eugene/Lane County are hired only as professional spin doctors to promote Eugene and Lane County as a safe, politically correct and green place to live.

The dirty truth is Lane County is awash with industrial poisons, unmitigated clearcut logging, some of Oregon’s worst air pollution, government corruption and rogue police officers. However, the only green that the officials of Eugene want to hear about is the green dollars rolling into the bank accounts of Lane County’s elite.

I suppose the elites’ vision is that as long as they can dupe a middle-class out-of-state family to move into Lane County to buy a $200,000-plus house or rural mini-ranch, go shopping at Market of Choice, Walmart, Jerry’s, the mall and Saturday Market that things in Lane County are peachy and the future looks bright.

Shannon Wilson, Eugene



SAVE YOUR ENERGY

Photovoltaic solar panels are not part of the solution to climate change. On the contrary, they are a major part of the problem by diverting money and effort from real solutions. PV panels are not renewable, recyclable or repairable, are manufactured and transported using fossil fuels, and make a tiny fraction of the power at dozens of times the cost of truly carbon-neutral alternatives, such as solar thermal, wind, biogas and gasification. 

The rare earth minerals used to make them are mined with equipment burning fossil fuels, trucked using fossil fuels and then manufactured in a plant run by fossil fuels where it is encased in acrylic made from toxic chemicals, all so some urban hipster can have a warm fuzzy feeling having one on their roof for 30 years until the vicious cycle begins again. We live on a planet where a stationary object is only exposed to sunlight at most half the time, making a $10,000 solar array a paper weight the other half of the time.

 The true cost of PV is expected to become clear by 2020 as they begin showing up in American landfills. In spite of the billions of dollars and decades of development thrown at PV, solar power today provides .07 percent of the nation’s energy while biomass produces more power than hydroelectric dams. Biomass, wind and solar thermal are alternative energies with a realistic potential to replace petroleum and coal while we still have time to do so. Let the solar panel fad die.

Warren Weisman, Eugene



VOTE OF CONFIDENCE

By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama, the world community has given the president a vote of confidence that he is leading the U.S. and the world community in the proper direction. 

The U.S. and the world community suffered greatly under the abuse of the Bush administration. We need and we have a president who has a vision of how our society and the world community can be changed to best meet the needs of the human beings that are alive today and those who will succeed us. Hip hip hooray for Obama. The Nobel Committee has made a wise choice, and the president deserves to accept the award.

Gerry Merritt, Eugene



UNINSURED HUMAN

I completely agree with Jamey Davis' letter regarding health care ("Waiting For An Apology" 10/1/9). You see, I've always worked, since I was 16 (I'm 31), and I've never had health care. I've worked lame jobs; I've worked good jobs. I've done what's necessary in order to not be homeless and in order to support my family. I'm a decent human being who's never been arrested and who pays her taxes on time. I, at least, try. Yet, I have to stress over how I'm going to pay medical bills when I get stuck with a broken hand or sudden illness. It's asinine and un-American, if you ask me. 

Health care. It is a right, not a privilege.

Eve Cienfuegos, Eugene



OR LACK THEREOF

Even in a liberal-minded paper like EW, the general tendency is to regard hardworking and tax-paying people as responsible citizens. I find that a curious viewpoint, given the fact that having a job means contributing to an economic system that regards raising the GDP as its highest goal. Having an economy that is based on an ever-increasing GDP is inevitably unsustainable on a finite planet. Money that is spent within this system stimulates the economy and might keep people at work, but it is inherently damaging for most other species that inhabit our planet.

I feel morally obligated to choose a healthy planet over stimulating the economy, specifically since failing ecosystems will eventually also mean the demise of humans. This means that I choose to contribute as

little as possible to the economic system, which translates into buying as little as possible and buying secondhand. It also means keeping my level of income so low that I do not have to pay federal taxes, so that I do not contribute to the killing of innocent Afghans and wasting money on repaving highways, to name just a few of the abhorrent choices the government is making with people's tax dollars. 

Perhaps my choices will increase the suffering for people in this economic downturn, but for the long term it is the only solution. The sooner we get rid of this destructive system, the better it is for all of us. I don't think it is fair to consider me irresponsible because I feel morally obligated to not be a hardworking and tax-paying citizen.

Arjen Hoekstra, Eugene



WHICH DOG, WHICH TAIL? 

Reading this as an anti-Blount/UO or conversely a pro-Hout or necessarily an anti-college athletics letter would be a modest read indeed. A May 14, 2007, UO press release (updated July 1, 2008) categorized Coach Bellotti’s promotion to the athletic director position as speaking volumes to his “intuitive administrative sense and leadership skills.” 

By all reports, Dr. Lariviere’s leadership is a ray of sunlight when compared to his predecessor’s autocratic regime. This reader awaits Lariviere’s thoughts on this latest twist as he pines for a time when the Academy’s research, teaching and community service, rather than the NFL’s minor leagues necessity, will once again wag the dog’s tail.

Jose Ortal, Blue River



 

ACTIVE BORN CITIZEN

After all this time the Civilian Review Board’s determination to uphold Chief Kern’s response to his officer’s conduct in Kesey Square last summer was disappointing. It was my feeling that what transpired last year — the violent arrest of Ian Van Ornum that included multiple tasings — could have been avoided had officers approached the situation differently. Apparently the officer’s actions were within policy.

Fortunately, the Police Commission is presently going through a review of all the EPD’s use of force policies, in particular the Taser policy. I believe some members of the subcommittee working this project are supportive of tough restrictions on the use of Tasers, restrictions that could make actions like those taken by police last summer a violation of policy. These citizen volunteers are facing representatives of the police department at every meeting, folks who are not convinced that a more restrictive policy is the best one. These citizens need your support.

A recent article described Police Auditor Mark Gissiner’s comments on the actions last summer. Mr. Gissiner was “disappointed in the actions of the watch commander who unnecessarily escalated” events that day. “We ought to hold our watch commanders to a higher standard.”

Police commissioners are attempting to put a higher standard into policy. Their voices will be stronger with yours behind them. Meeting agendas and other materials are on the city of Eugene website.

Make the effort; make things better. It’s your city.

Tim Mueller, Eugene



LIVENATION WINS AGAIN

LiveNation is becoming big enough to be the next “too big to fail” corporation in America. They are stealing from fans in reduced services and trickery to increase their level of profitability and outbid any competing companies to represent how we experience our favorite artists.

 On Thursday, Oct. 8, LiveNation tried to use non-union help during Bob Dylan’s concert at Mac Court. Ironic, since Bob is known for his pro-labor stance over the years. If you happened to purchase your ticket on line and printed it out, it gave a section, row, and seat number. This wasn’t the case as there were no assigned seats. The significance of this to us was at the Gorge in George, Wash. (LiveNation recently purchased this venue) at a Dave Matthews concert. They greatly devalued the “Premier Camping.”

By the way, there is no way to reach LiveNation on the Internet if you want to offer suggestions or hold them accountable. You can read a thread on “Concert Goers Bill of Rights” on a website established for Dave Matthews Band fans at www.weeklydavespeak.com (you have to sign up in order to make comments on the thread).

Dan Henderson, Eugene



BURDENS OF DEMOCRACY

I question the credibility of Dane Smith (9/24) in that he attempts to imply that the intent of the U.S. Constitution was to set up an economic system, when, it would appear that it attempted to form a democratic government. The only reference to an economic system is in the Preamble: "promote the general Welfare." This could be construed as a socialist economic system. Smith and many other people fail to appreciate that "democracy" and "capitalism" are two distinctly different attributes of a society. Currently, our society is seeing a trend towards socialism and also a trend towards democracy.

Of Smith’s complaints only the unsubstantiated ones concerning "misuse of power, violations of the Constitution" are legitimate concerns. The rest are some of the burdens of living in a democracy.

I live in the U.S. because it is a democracy and I too, because I am considered affluent, suffer its burdens. I do not suffer these burdens in silence. With decorum, I use all legal, moral and democratic means afforded to me in an attempt to form a more just system.

Thank you for exercising and upholding the First Amendment.

Gregg Ferry, Corvallis



UNHEALTHY PROTESTS

I would like to say that “healthy” civil disobedience is a great thing. As much as I often disagree with protesters in this area, I fully support their right to do so. This is mainly because I did so in front of my high school in 1999. The problem is that a lot of people on the far fringe of the matter want what I call “violent disobedience” to be justified. The problem with that is there is no justification. This kind of protesting only creates more problems than it solves.

You might be asking what I consider “violent.” This term covers knocking down AM radio towers, burning down ranger stations, setting fire to U-Haul trucks or violent protests like the Nike store debacle of October 1999. I witnessed protesters tossing 20-pound pumpkins off the top floor of the Fifth Street Market to where parents had been sitting with their children just moments before.

This kind of protesting achieves nothing as to the outside it looks like thugs being criminal, much like the WTO riots. Now I know that not everyone there was a violent person; I am saddened by this misconception. But I am talking about the violent people who took over the spotlight and proceeded to smash up storefronts and make a mess out of what started to be a beautiful example of the right kind of protesting.

That kind of reprehensible behavior cannot be tolerated in Seattle, Eugene or anywhere else.

James Ready, Springfield



SMOKE AND MIRRORS

I wish to comment on the letter written by Danica Stiles (9/24) in reference to the tobacco smoke generated by people who linger around the public library's entrance. I too am quite annoyed by this and I think that the city of Eugene needs to address this growing problem. Many of our friends have also mentioned this. Operating under the assumption that it would be a healthy place to live, we moved to Eugene a dozen years ago and have truly never experienced the tobacco smoke assault to our senses and lungs that we have here. Clean and green Eugene? More action and less talk are needed.

About the library staff shushing Ms. Stiles’ daughter — I can only commend them for doing so and underscore that I wish they would do this more often. My family and I are in the library two or three times a week, and while we witness children talking loudly, occasionally yelling, and more than frequently running amok while parents either ignore or benignly observe them, we have never — not once — had the privilege of witnessing a staff member take any action. We have taught our children how to delight in being free spirits, as well as knowing how to conduct themselves so as to avoid being nuisances to others. The libraries of our youth were serene places of learning and enjoyment for children and adults alike, the atmosphere being far more conducive to the library's higher purpose.

Charley Moore, Eugene



RISE UP YE CITIZENS!

I believe various groups are doing their best to rally people to the health care cause; it's an important issue. However, so far I find the tactics passive and ineffectual. Writing letters and asking nicely — they don't work. I have no influence in the world, but if I did, this is the one thing I would try bring about.

What the underinsured and uninsured need to do is the same thing: Confront Congress with a march. Not hundreds, but thousands of people converging on Washington, D.C. Confront them with the national disgrace of not providing for the health of all of our citizens. Protest, real effective protest, is the only way to wake up the status quo.

Look at the "tea baggers" angrily protesting at town hall meetings. They have insurance and are complaining with the result that Congress is now backing down from the public option.

We will have change we can believe in when the government looks out their office windows and see the crowds demanding that they answer to voters, not the special interests who line their pockets.

Disgusted,

Alisa McLaughlin, Eugene



PURSUIT OF GROWTH

People thought the Earth was flat. Now we think economic growth is good for us. Both the same: not true.

What is true, besides the roundness of the Earth, is economic growth is good for those at the top of the economic ladder (a mere 10 percent controlling the vast majority of the wealth), but not so for the remaining 90 percent, who are struggling.

To make matters much worse, the environment is quickly getting trashed in the pursuit of growth. Species are quickly disappearing, along with clean water, air and land. It can't go on much longer.

The wealthy, and those who aspire to be, tell us how good and necessary growth is. They control the media shaping our world view to their benefit, telling us we all deserve more and more wealth, and that we can all get rich together.

It looks bleak to me. We are nearing an end to our growth, not because we choose to cooperatively manage our combined impact, but because we overwhelm the Earth's ability to accommodate our massive and destructive growth. We are led by a small percentage of aggressive people who know the economic benefits of winning.

Together we stand, divided we fall. If we don't learn to live in cooperation with each other, and all life on Earth, we will cause our own destruction.

Individualism, capitalism and the free market are not sustainable for our civilization. We need social and economic systems based more upon cooperation than competition.

Any ideas?

Patrick Broson, Eugene