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Letters to the Editor: 12-27-2012

GUNS FOR TEACHERS?

In the wake of the recent school massacre it seems one response [Letters, 12/20] proposes letting teachers bring guns to school.

I am a teacher in Eugene, and I would never consider carrying a gun to school! First of all, I have no desire to use a gun and don’t personally know any teachers who like to shoot guns, although I’m sure they exist. I would be much more worried about how the teachers would be expected to keep guns secure and simultaneously available in an emergency. Do we want to ensure there are guns in the school that a troubled student could possibly get hold of in a moment of heated passion? 

My daughter’s high school went into lockdown on Monday [12/17] as a rumor surfaced about a couple kids who planned to bring guns to school. I feel the Eugene Police Department was extremely proactive and dispensed trained officers to deal with the threat immediately. I strongly feel we should let the trained security professional deal with security and let teachers deal with teaching and creating relationships with students and perhaps provide more training in how to keep kids as safe as possible during a lockdown situation.

On an aside, with all the budget cuts to education, attacks on teachers by the right, increased workloads and reduced support, we may want to think about the psychological effects that might inflict on teachers. Remember the term “going postal”? Just saying. 

Teachers don’t need guns. They need more support with smaller class sizes and more time for each student in order to help them succeed emotionally as well as academically. 

So my solution is: more teachers/smaller class size plus schedules that allow for relationship and community building equal safer, more successful schools.

Michele Renee, Eugene


WRONG LESSONS

Schools are the first “public” socialization that our children receive [see “Seclusion Rooms” story 12/20]. If students with disabilities are treated differently (including seclusion), what lesson is that teaching our children? 

Beverley Mowery, Eugene 


RAGING MALES

Taking the Second Amendment folks at their word, sure, a well-armed populace might be a good safeguard against tyranny, but how would a 15-day waiting period interfere with that? How would more rigorous background checks designed to eliminate criminals AND the mentally ill interfere with the Second Amendment? What about a requirement that all gun owners provide the means to keep their guns reasonably secure from theft? None of these suggestions are terribly onerous.

But what I really want to address is male rage. On Dec. 16, 2001, an Oregon man named Christian Longo murdered his wife and three children, dumped their bodies in a lagoon and fled the state. Responding dutifully to a heinous Oregon crime, The Register-Guard reported on the murders, the manhunt, Longo’s Jan. 12 arrest in Mexico, Longo’s extradition, trial and sentencing. But never once did the R-G report or editorialize on the elephant-in-the-room question: What would drive a man to murder his wife and children?

I speak from direct personal experience when I state that male rage churns away in the psychology of countless millions of men. They’re in the bars, they’re at the sporting events and they’re at the gun stores. The sooner our society begins to address this extremely widespread public mental health problem, the sooner we’ll address the true root cause of mass-shooting tragedies.

Robert Bolman, Eugene

 

TASTELESS CRITICS

Usually I just bite my tongue when I read a misinformed and snarky article in your publication but I am blown away by the ignorance expressed by Alex Notman and Elliot Martinez last week [Gift Guide, 12/20]. Evidently these two professionals would rather roll on the ground giggling than discuss the true merits of vodka. 

I don’t know if the idea behind the comment was to suggest there isn’t “good” vodka or the neophyte belief that all vodkas taste the same but there couldn’t be a more foolish view. Unfortunately, it’s an amateur assumption that vodka is tasteless as it happens to be an enlightening and exceptional distillate to taste and compare when conducted in the proper manner. 

Some “good” vodkas that enthusiasts might want to try include Tito’s, Zubrowka, Karlsson’s Gold, Russian Standard Imperia or FAIR made from organic quinoa in France. Vodka is still the first in spirit sales in this country and helps many bars keep their doors open. Shaming people for what they drink rather than engaging and further educating them is unprincipled and to perpetuate this practice in front of younger bartenders is in bad taste. 

As for Hendricks being the best gin? Aviation Gin from PDX and I will just have to disagree with that. 

Jake Bliven, Eugene


A BRILLIANT IDEA

Newspapers are a necessity, not a luxury, the same as electricity and water. Perhaps it’s time to make all local newspapers the same as all other public utilities. Put the ownership in a nonprofit and have all citizens work at the paper on a rotating basis with the bill for the paper showing up on your utility bill.

Frank Skipton, Springfield


EUGENE’S GOOD SON

For those who have casually walked past my son, sitting on the sidewalk in front of the old Eugene City Hall; for those who screamed “Get a f--ing job”; and for police officers who find it necessary to harass him, I would like to introduce to you one of Eugene’s heroes. 

I may be prejudiced since I gave birth to Conrad Kendal Barney, but he is Eugene’s son, too, and he shouldn’t be thrown away so easily. Conrad, at 13, wrote to every daily newspaper in America asking for help for children who lose parents to AIDS. He didn’t so much worry for himself, even though he lost his father when he was 9, then suffered horrible bullying from his peers, being beaten up and called a fag just because it was his father who died from AIDS. No, my son worried about other kids first. 

After many other heroic deeds my son graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA, went on to Glide Job Corps where he acquired many awards, then became a “hotshot” firefighter. He fought fires in your forests to protect you and your resources, but he also went to the Southern states after Katrina and helped there. When I had cancer twice he gave up his life to come and help care for his autistic little brother while I recovered. 

Conrad has rallied with the Occupy movement in a couple of states, but in Eugene he noticed that policies have changed regarding Eugene’s hungry and homeless policies that hurt Eugene’s sons and daughters who are less fortunate and underrepresented. Once again my son has chosen to give of himself and Dec. 17 was his seventh day of not eating food, starting a “Hunger Strike for Shelter.” At the old City Hall he was accosted by a man who stole his sign, then by police who made him move or be arrested; so now he sits in front of the old Federal Building in a hunger strike for better treatment and shelter for people unable to get shelter in Eugene. 

Conrad was raised in a Native American belief that no one in a commons should go without, that everyone should be taken care of, especially our elders and ill. Maybe if you walk past him as he sits on the sidewalk in front of the old Federal Building you might thank him for being a good son to Eugene instead of looking down your nose at him.

Valerie Goodness, Amherst, N.Y. 


GETTING WED  STONED

It all makes sense now. Marijauana and same-sex marriage, legalized on the same day. Leviticus 20:13 states, “If a man lays with another man he should be stoned.”

We were just interpreting it wrong.

David Perham, Eugene 


GUN LOONIES

On the same day 20 innocents were murdered by a “well-armed” lunatic in a school in Connecticut, 22 school children were slashed by a knife-wielding lunatic in China. Those poor families in Connecticut who lost a child will have a gaping hole in their lives that can never be filled. The families of those wounded in China still have their beloveds and will be forever thankful that the man who attacked their children didn’t have a gun and are thanking their lucky stars that they weren’t living in the U.S.

Both attackers were mentally unstable and despicable cowards, well worthy of where they are going to spend eternity, but their very irrationality makes their behavior an aberration. Thus, they lack the calculated heartlessness of the supposedly “well-balanced” people who keep valuing their guns above the lives of other people’s children. 

We all know that Fox and hate radio have already started their all-too-familiar “Now is not the time to talk about gun-control” rant and that the real nut-jobs are shouting “Arm the teachers!” But isn’t it time to for the rest of us to finally stop the NRA loonies from being the face of America?

Why don’t you gun loonies all move to a place where your dreams of a gun in every hand is a reality — perhaps Somalia or the paradise of the eastern Congo. It’s a win-win solution.

Jamie Selko, Eugene


OUR EUGENE MISSION

I was a poor college student in 1993 during which time my roommate and I did not have money to turn on the electricity or have more than one meal a day. One time I purposely bounced a check to order pizza for dinner. Finally I came up with the idea that my roommate and I could eat at the Mission. 

I finished my education and lived the expensive life but I never thanked the Mission till my 40th birthday. Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” For me and many others the “change” is giving gifts to other during our birthday instead of receiving it. 

Senior Director of Operation Dana Eck gave me a tour of the whole Eugene Mission. This organization serves over 400 meals three times a day. The Mission sleeps over 385 adult males, 60 women and 34 mothers with kids. Cleanliness and maintaining proper hygiene is a must in the Mission. Our Mission provides a safe night sleep with clean bed sheets, which many of us take for granted. Eugene Mission is our mission and together we can make a positive change in our Eugene. 

Mahi Chowdhury, Eugene


TURD TWISTER

Look in the planter: How much poop would a police plant plant if a police plant would plant poop?

Scott Fife, Eugene


REPEAL IT

The Second Amendment states: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Not only did the Framers want the people to form a militia to protect the country from invasion, but they also did not trust government, in general, from corruption and tyranny. They wanted those running the government to know that the people could stand up to them should they try to usurp the guarantees of the Constitution. At that time, government forces had muskets and cannons and so did the people. With our standing army second to none, we don’t rely on a militia.

Now the people have small arms and our police and military have, well, you name it. Armed insurrection is not feasible. Consider the Branch Davidians; talk about asymmetric warfare! So I say to those “If you want my gun you’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands” types, you’ve already lost that battle by the gun laws currently on the books.

I suggest we repeal the amendment and replace it with one that requires all new gun sales are registered to a licensed owner after a background check and certification; all existing guns registered with two years of enactment; any gun not so registered becomes an “illegal” gun; gun owners must have a license for ownership like a car; transfer of guns is done similar to the transfer of a car; guns must be locked up when not being used; and any person whose gun was used to commit a crime is an accessory if they were negligent in securing said gun.

These are not new ideas. President Johnson proposed something similar after the murders of King and Kennedy in 1968. To those survivalist types, go ahead and bury your stockpile of guns and ammo but you have forfeited the right for those guns to become “legal.”

Nothing short of no guns can stop gun violence, but we can reduce it. Drying up the source of illegal guns will take years to accomplish, so we must start now.

Jim Nelson, Eugene


CALL OFF THE ASSASSINS

So yet another lunatic opens fire with his assault weapon, murdering innocent people. The nation is appropriately grief-stricken and angry at the sheer horror of such an incalculable loss. And yet — one of our drones or land missiles misfires and takes out a wedding party, or a family eating their evening meal, causing incalculable loss and suffering to those equally innocent humans on the other side of the globe. The reaction? A collective shrug at the “collateral damage” and the caveat that certain prices must be paid in the pursuit of freedom.

Our so-called “Christian” nation invokes its god when it sends its soldiers out to kill and be killed and arrogantly assumes that our military actions are blessed by this god. Please correct me if I am wrong, but when Jesus said; “Love your enemies,” I’m pretty sure he meant, “Don’t kill them.” 

So addressing this latest tragedy, the president goes before the nation, brushing away tears and promising action. What specific action do you propose, Mr. President? Well, I have a suggestion for you. Dry your tear-dimmed eyes, grow a backbone, call off your assassins and stand up to and against the war machine. I know that I am asking a lot and that you certainly have no plans to do any such thing. After all, the last president to have the courage to defy the CIA, the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and all the rest of the war profiteers paid for it with his life.

David Bersch, Eugene


HEALTH CARE PRIORITIES 

The problem with today’s heath care in America is that it is profit driven. The intention to heal the sick is secondary to that. To change this we have to look deeply at our capitalist system, starting with the Constitution. This document was written only by wealthy white men, most of whom were elitists and believed they were the “well born” meant to rule over the others, the majority. This sets up a system of exploitation where the strong and cunning skim off the workers.

The art of self-healing is in many cases prohibited. Wholistic well-being should be our collective goal as should be recognizing that everybody is unique. Integrating the mind and body are foreign to our system of medicine. In many cases such work isn’t covered by insurance or even recognized as legitimate.

 We mustn’t lose sight of our health when we are locked into social corporate media. American doctors are required very minor training in nutrition and are always pushing dairy, meat, fish and eggs. This lack of training is astounding as well as influenced by the animal product lobbies; 68 percent of all diseases are diet related.

 Humans as well as all living things are in a constant state of flux. We take air, liquids and food from the environment and we excrete our waste into it. To have the best possible general health, me must get our priorities straight. Needless to say, the state of our habitat is essential to our well being. 

Dave Ivan Piccioni & Cindy Biles

Eugene 


ORGY OF RIP-OFFS

Exactly why the subprime mortgage crisis collapsed housing prices in 2008, wrecked the economy and destroyed 40 percent of Americans’ wealth is not completely clear, but there is one thing 99 percent of us can agree on: It was bad. And it was crooked. The National Mortgage Settlement (NMS) provides funds to some of the people who lost their homes through foreclosure when the bubble burst, but they need to act in the next few weeks.

Millions lost their homes in the aftermath of an orgy of rip-offs by the big banks and hedge funds hell-bent on building personal fortunes by repackaging millions of bad loans and selling them at ridiculous prices to gullible victims all over the world. Housing prices doubled, the bankers and traders got rich and crashed the world economy. Then these traders and bankers walked away laughing at the suckers who bought into their massive scam.

In contrast to the trillions of dollars the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury handed the huge banks since the 2008 collapse, the attorneys general of 49 states have managed to wrest a small clawback for homebuyers’ benefit under the NMS.

Five of the largest mortgage lenders agreed to pay $5 billion to the homeowners they’d ripped off under the NMS. Oregon got $18 million and they’re up for grabs for the 21,000 Oregonians foreclosed on by the big five lenders from 2008-2011. This works out to at least $840 per household. Not a lot.

For anyone who was foreclosed on by Bank of America, Wells Fargo, CitiBank, JPMorganChase or Ally Financial between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2011, there is money available if you get your application in by Jan. 18.

If you got a NMS letter from the Oregon Department of Justice, look for a unique code on your envelope, which is needed. Many eligible ex-homeowners may not have been notified. Call (866) 430-8358 or go to nationalmortgagesettlement.com for an application.

Occupy Eugene’s Occupy Housing-Foreclosure Action Committee meets at 5 pm Wednesdays at Grower’s Market, 454 Willamette St. Come by or call 937-3034 if you have questions or stories to share. 

Fergus McLean, Dexter


MAKE THE CHANGE

This is in response to “A Needed Policy” letter Dec. 13. I would like to see this get the attention it deserves from the news media and our community at large. I would like everyone who cares about this issue to make their opinions known to Lane Transit District at 687-5555 or ltd@ltd.org 

Thank you very much for helping a member of our community who deserves help on this matter.

The needed policy I am supporting is the implementation of a card, similar to the honored rider’s card, available to alter-abled individuals. When a rider displays this card, the driver will not move the bus until the passenger is seated. And this is in response to an elderly, alter-abled man’s fall on an LTD bus in October. 

Inana Berry, Eugene



BREAK THE STRANGLEHOLD

Steve Riley’s Dec. 20 op-ed in the R-G deriding the pursuit of gun regulations, now widely supported by a majority of Americans as well as a majority of NRA membership, was so fraught with errors, straw men, and wretched clichés I almost spit my coffee out. 

Let’s start with Riley’s statement, “the only people affected by gun control are law-abiding citizens; it has no effect on the criminals.” Following this logic, why have any laws at all? There will always be those that break speed limits, steal cars, and rob banks so what’s the point of burdening law abiding citizens with laws addressing these crimes.

Riley also uses a number of highly suspect statistics concerning Australia’s assault weapons ban and gun buy-back initiated in1996 after 35 were killed in the Port Arthur massacre. He states “gun murders increased by 19 percent since the ban.” That’s interesting because Harvard University in 2011 reported that “homicides involving firearms dropped by 59 percent in the decade following Australia’s gun law reforms”.

An American public besieged by recent massacres might focus on this. In the 18 years prior to the 1996 Australian assault weapons ban there were 13 gun massacres in Australia, resulting in 102 deaths. There have been none in the 17 years since.

It’s time to break the stranglehold, face down the weapons industry propagandists, ban assault weapons, and have background checks on all other firearms. I would think it is the least we could to honor the slaughtered children and teachers of Sandy Hook. 

Gerry Rempel, Eugene