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Eugene Weekly : Letters : 2.24.11


Recent articles concerning the sexual abuse of a young teenage girl by a former governor provides occasion for us to remind this community of the following:

1. Even today, too often survivors of sexual assault (including youth and children) are blamed and vilified by other persons. This dynamic sets the survivor in a place where community support seems distant, if not unreachable. 2. Sexual Assault Support Services of Lane County (SASS) is here with support, education, advocacy and counseling resources for survivors of sexual assault and the community at large. 3. If you are a survivor of sexual assault, please contact the SASS 24-Hour Crisis and Support Hotline: 343-SASS (7277) or (800) 788-4727.

We all deserve to be around people who support our feelings and validate our experiences. Survivors are entitled to support, advocacy, and care. In SASS, the community stands with survivors, and survivors experience community.

Warren Light, SASS board member


Science, or "modern technology” as Shannon Finnell calls it in "Chemical Love” (cover story, 2/10) certainly has increased our well-being (vaccines, sanitation, refrigeration, etc.). What it has also done is allow authority figures ã chemists, doctors, biologists ã to define and control our knowledge and care of our own bodies; and discursively and practically separate our bodies from our minds. This is particularly pernicious in the realm of human sexuality. Its not a far step from the studies that Finnell recounts to the very worst "evo-psych” arguments that couplings are inherently about fertility, reproduction, and who seems most capable of clubbing an animal and bringing it to our cave full of children.

Hormones and primitive urges can be used to justify force, abuse, and at the very least, selfishness and obliviousness in bed. It is far more empowering to instead remember that what arouses each of us and defines intimacy depends greatly on who we are. It enables us to treat each other with respect and to realize unique and personal pleasures by engaging our minds and our bodies.

Moreover, the limited gestures to the fact that sex isnt just genital intercourse between one man and one woman, the choice of photography, and the disjointed and overly colloquial writing of this piece left it grasping for relevance through normative sexuality and humor rather than encouraging thoughtful reflection on "ways to love your body.”

Emily Jane Davis, Eugene


I think I understand why some businesses dont want EmX buses coming to West Eugene. Better mass transit might get people out of their cars. God forbid a future without people in cars going through the drive through at Hodgepodge! Can Les Schwab switch to selling bicycle tires? Denser traffic is what these businesses want! Traffic jams are a blessing and a boon to business. Lets build that parkway and some more gas stations to go with it!

During the decade of the 1940s, street cars and electric train lines in cities across the country were bought out and eliminated by General Motors in conjunction with several other companies just so people would be dependent on gasoline-driven vehicles. It worked because there was spike in oil consumption and a decline of effective mass transit across the U.S. Think of how different cities like Los Angeles and even Eugene/Springfield might be today had this not happened.

The "Our Money Our Transit” folks do not represent me. As far as I can tell, they represent a slew of businesses frightened of what will happen if people move beyond cars.

Janice Sunseri, Eugene


Thanks for the informative supplement on The Peace Corps ("Celebrating 50 Years of Peace Corps,” 2/17). It made me feel timid, self-centered and boring.

Kevin OBrien, Eugene


Kathryn Mason (Letters, 2/17) really needs to calm down. Her claim that the Feb. 10 cover of EW (depicting a womans cleavage as she holds a test tube of blue liquid for the Valentines Day issue) is "obscene by any standards” is hyperbole at best. As a matter of fact, it isnt obscene by my standards, or even legally; any woman may bare her breasts in Eugene, as our community has decided that breasts, as they are owned by half of our community members, are quite lovely and not disgusting or dangerous in any way.

Her statement that businesses should be insulted to carry a publication displaying what any customer could display in those same establishments is ridiculous. I applaud EW for continuing to choose stories, and covers to match ã acknowledging our community is full of alive, healthy and sexual people who are not in the least threatened by boobs.

We are people who would like to continue living our lives and reading our papers without constant nagging and ranting from sexually repressed busybodies who take it upon themselves to censor our community "for the children” or whatever. Welcome to the 21st century, Ms. Mason, and if you find an innocuous pair of breasts so very obscene, there are other communities that share that belief. I understand that Saudi Arabia is lovely this time of year.

Steve McAllister, Eugene


I would like to vehemently disagree with Kathryn Masons letter regarding your Feb. 10 cover. I am a Weekly advertiser and have found it to be the best use of our advertising dollars to date. I have also made two trips to Europe in the past six months and seen advertising in store windows that pale in comparison to the fairly tame cover the Weekly had.

When is the U.S. going to get over its hang-ups regarding nudity? Grow up, people. My kids saw more graphic detail in their fifth grade growth and development class. No wonder we voted the Tea Party into power!

Christopher Klein , Cottage Grove


Betty Taylors invocation of Yeats (Letters, 2/3) is interesting insofar as the line she quotes suggests, unintentionally, that Handy and Sorenson lack all conviction. Within Yeats poem, the conditions of best and worst are relative distinctions arising within the context of a dysfunctional society. The poet is not saying it is good to lack all conviction, but that in the moment a society becomes critically incoherent, the best lack all conviction while the worst are overly full of it.

The point is not that the best are good and the worst bad, but that both and all have gone wrong. Understood in this way the line seems to me quite accurate, both as a general description of the dynamic of social dysfunction and as a specific indictment of our times. I get the sense Taylor intends it as an indirect means of disparaging Handy and Sorensons foes without realizing the blade cuts both ways.

Timothy Shaw, Eugene


Dear Kathryn Mason and so many others: Breasts are not obscene. Sorry.

Megan Hinkel, Eugene


On Feb. 9, the R-G published a story titled "County meeting limits sought.” This article described the wall of secrecy around the financing of the suit against Commissioners Sorenson and Handy for violating open meetings law, really, Im not kidding. The folks who criticized Sorenson and Handy for secrecy are being secretive in who financed their attacks against two of the most progressive and effective leaders we have. Clearly the only principle at stake for them was their desire to destroy political foes. Theyre showing us the principle of openness is not really important to them.

And recently I heard a city staffer say they are all looking closely at city policy and their email habits because "open meeting and quorum laws suddenly dont mean what everyone thought they meant.”

Its all so disappointing. The idea here is to work together to bring a shared vision of our community to life. I want our elected leaders to work to make this a better place to live and not be afraid to be creative, to have conversations, or be afraid of sneak attacks by people with a hidden agenda. All of us deserve better than that.

Tim Mueller, Eugene


With all of the discussion of the Civic Stadium options, no one seems to be mentioning that not only would the Fred Meyer/ apartments/ shops proposal get more immediate cash for the school district, but as a tax-paying entity, a project valued at $40 million to $50 million, would generate an additional million dollars each year for the city, county and school/community college districts. The other two proposals, from tax-exempt entities, would not.

Martin Henner, Eugene


I think what the few are doing to Pete Sorenson is wrong and mean spirited. I have lived in Eugene for 22 years and know that Sorenson has served our community well. With his progressive ideas (since when was progressive a dirty word anyway?), he has fought for Eugene, Lane County and Oregon time and time again in his work as Lane County commissioner.

The letters in the local papers are downright nasty and make a villain out of this civic leader who has done everything to represent the majority of people in this town. A few disgruntled people are trying to ruin his reputation but they wont succeed; he has far too many people who are behind him.

Over the years Sorenson has fought hard to keep Eugene one of the most progressive and green cities, and this is the thanks he gets. No wonder people are not willing to serve on boards as they risk a few misguided people going after them in some trumped-up charges. I only hope that Sorenson knows that there are people out here that support him and would not want him to step down, and that we will continue to vote for him in upcoming elections.

Diane DeVillers, Eugene


South Eugene High School lost two of its brightest stars when a rogue wave claimed the lives of Connor Ausland and Jack Harnsongkram. These fine young men were serving their community by raising thousands of dollars for Children's Miracle Network. This tragedy rocks our very foundation as we struggle to make sense of this devastating loss.

We take strength from the families of Jack and Connor who have expressed how important it is that we all learn from what these two friends stood for. They were not only bright and hardworking, but they loved to make others smile and sought to include those who might otherwise be left out. I am deeply moved to see how our students and staff have been touched by these two lives and how they have wrapped their arms and hearts around each other. Nothing will ever replace their loss, but Connor's and Jack's spirits have bonded with ours and as such will forever strengthen our community.

We have already seen this in the far-reaching support that our high school received from other schools and individuals throughout the Eugene-Springfield area and beyond. We wish to express our most sincere appreciation for the cards, flowers, and food that have literally nourished our bodies and lifted our spirits. Many professionals have offered to provide our students with timely assistance. Students from other schools visited with ours, bringing gifts and heartfelt condolences, and every time we hear about others wearing purple or sending their prayers, we are moved to tears. Truly, we feel blessed to be living and working in such a caring community.

For the SEHS students and staff, with deep gratitude.

Randy Bernstein, Principal, SEHS


Gov. Kitzhaber was right: The way we fund schools in this state has to be changed. What we are currently doing is not working ã and it hasnt been for the last 30 years. During that time it did correct the economic gap between the rural and urban schools. And that was good.

Maybe the Band-Aid approach to the problem of a Eugene income tax will help slow up the blood-letting of this problem, but it is a whole state problem and hopefully the Legislature will not feel the pressure is taken off them when we approve this tax ã if we do.

What they need to do is give all of us in the state a chance to vote on a new tax that will correct this 30-year-old problem. It has to be a tax that can be used only for education. It has to be subject to our approval, both in initiating it, or changing it in the future.

We could call it a dedicated education tax ã based on consumption. It would be in the Constitution, and couldnt be changed without our vote. We would be back to the "old ways,” where we voted on school taxes, only we would do it on a state level instead of by each city.

Yes, there would be some that would call it a sales tax. Thats what it was called in 2002, when Sen. Carter submitted it to the Legislature. They ignored it then. It was a good idea then, but its even a better idea now. About 5 percent would cover everything from pre kindergarten through community college. And it would have built in rainy day funds for income variance. Lets ask the Legislature to give up their supervision of school funding and leave it to us. What do you think? HYPERLINK "mailto:bcassidy@efn.org"bcassidy@efn.org

Bob Cassidy, Eugene


Everyone loves a good murder mystery, right? Here's one that Americans need to solve, and soon. Conscienceless, evildoers have killed millions of U.S. jobs since 2008. Whodunit? We all know who pulled the trigger ã businesses big and small have cut (killed) and continue to cut, jobs. But they're not the bad guys. Some criminal mastermind has forced them to kill jobs. Who can it be?

The Koch brothers and their Tea Party minions and congressional sycophants, like Fred Upton, claim to have solved the case. The culprit ã the Environmental Protection Agency, and any other federal, state or local agency that dares to acknowledge any goal other than unrestricted short-term profits.

It doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to see through this ruse. The mortgage bubble and the subsequent over-leveraged Wall Street meltdown, which was the immediate cause of this job-killing spree, was the result of too little regulation, not too much. It is the extreme anti-regulatory business elite themselves, the self-called plutonomy, who are the villains of this piece, and they don't just kill jobs. The Massey Energys, the BPs, the health insurance companies, the contaminated food producers ã they kill jobholders and consumers. They pour millions of dollars into disinformation campaigns to prevent serious efforts to deal with global warming.

All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. Have you written your congressional representative in support of the EPA today?

Jere C. Rosemeyer, Eugene


Keith Schneider and Kerry Sipe (letters, 2/3) invite us to think better of the Tea Party since it's really about Ron Paul's ideas, not Glen Beck's bigotry. OK, but that doesn't help much. Paul is a libertarian ideologue, and his views accordingly suffer from the foolishness inherent in libertarianism. Please consult Wikipedia on the periodic financial panics of the 19th century, and then explain to us how unregulated markets serve our common interests effectively (hint: they don't).

Libertarianism is a nonsensical theory of governance. It endorses abandonment of social responsibility by appealing to a juvenile notion of absolute freedom. All due respect to Ron Paul, but his political ideas are stupid and immoral. He may be more polite than Glenn Beck, but he's no less fatuous.

Speaking of fools, the original Tea Party was not an act of popular tax resistance. It was gang vandalism organized by Boston businessmen wanting to keep the price of tea high, aggressively protecting their own profits. In that sense, our contemporary Tea Party is like the first one: It's acting on behalf of our corporate masters, advocating policies that harm the working class and society in general. No Nazis here; just misinformed and manipulated morons.

Ken Kirby, Junction City


Andrew Harmons letter (2/3) criticizes Elijah Hennisons veganism-inspired letter of two weeks earlier. Harmon made the important point that meat eaters can make better choices by getting the meat from local farms that treat animals with respect. The part that surprises me, however, comes when Andrew continues to explain that veganism is extreme. He states that veganism regularly leads to the consumption of alternative "meat” products and overly processed, genetically modified foods. Here, Andrew conveniently ignores the fact that vegans too, can make better food choices, just like meat eaters, making exactly the same mistake he criticizes Elijah for.

I have been a vegan for virtually 20 years and about 90 percent of my diet is organically grown local fruits and vegetables. My experience of great health and lots of endurance shows me that I made the correct choices for myself. My motivations to be vegan are ethical and environmental. I learned in university that as a rule of thumb, every step you go up in the food chain, you lose about 90 percent of the previously available energy through metabolism and heat loss. This shows pretty clearly that the lower you eat on the food chain, the lower the amount of resources you consume. Because of this, regardless of how the meat is raised, a consciously eating vegan will use fewer resources than a consciously eating meat eater.

Arjen Hoekstra, Eugene


I am frequently amazed how anyone, especially our leaders, can believe in what seems to me to be outright delusional ideas.

One of them is that humans are set apart from the rest of life on Earth; that we're somehow special or better than other life. Fossil evidence and genetics tell us we evolved from other life, starting about 150,000 years ago. We're just another species, and our recent massive growth on earth is creating the sixth mass extinction in the history of the planet. How special is that?

Another, related to the above, is belief in the major religions. Believing God created humans 6,000 years ago from Adam and Eve, along with many other biblical tenants, is like believing the Earth is flat or that Santa Claus is coming. It's obvious that different groups of people made up their religions to suit themselves, while making all the other religions wrong.

Another delusion is that we, the human race, can keep growing in numbers, consumption and economy. Instead, we're growing like cancer on the planet, soon to bankrupt our environment, economy and society.

Another is that competition is better than cooperation for most people. Competitive people fight to win, and if you don't fight back, they'll take what they can from you and tell you it's best for you! They're wrong ã competition's best for the most aggressive, not for most people, reflected by the distribution of wealth and resulting power.

Our collective delusions are quickly leading us over the cliff.

Patrick Bronson, Eugene