Tuesday, October 13, 2015     Volume: 30, Issue: 11

Weekly Poll
Do you think SLO County is LGBT friendly?

We’re a shining beacon of inclusion and tolerance.
Yes, in some places and cases, but there’s still a lot of work to do.
Not really. But it will take just a little bit of work to come around.
Not at all—that’s why I’m out of here.

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New Times / Letters to the Editor

We need to clean up the Cal Poly area

William H. Johnston - San Luis Obispo -

With rains coming and Cal Poly in session, the city of San Luis Obispo should really look at cleaning up those neighborhoods of trash. Anyone who walks east of Highway 1 toward Morro Bay and west from Monterey Street will notice tons of trash beneath the freeways, along sidewalks, lining creeks and parks. The piles upon piles of trash are disgusting. This will be a major hazard once the supposed El Niño comes (if it does). Maybe our wonderful Cal Poly students can lend a helping hand while their great new dorm is being built. It beautifies our city and makes it more pleasant for everyone, plus it’s helpful for the environment. 

My thoughts on the Roseburg, Ore., shootings

Jim Mallon - San Luis Obispo -

Here we are again, counting up the bodies and picking up the pieces, rending our hearts in despair and wondering what in the world we can ever do to put an end to this national nightmare, to these episodic spasms of madness and mayhem.

I feel like I’m getting too good at writing these pieces and sending them to your paper. It’s too easy. I wrote one up after Sandy Hook, and another after Isla Vista, the pages stained with tears. Now, death and destruction have come to rural Oregon, and the response is the same. The details of the recent heinous event remain, for the most part, the same: Some unhinged madman feels left out and left behind and decides to make some innocents pay. It’s the same as it ever was.

President Obama’s comments after this latest atrocity were heartfelt, sympathetic, steely, passionate. But most of all they were, as he noted, routine. We’ve all been here before. We play our roles and we shake our heads and we bury our dead and then we get on with our lives and then it happens again.

In the wake of these tragedies, one side of the political equation can always be counted on to call for more comprehensive gun safety legislation. The other side will scoff at the very idea and argue that no such proposals will ever do anything to stop criminals and madmen from perpetrating evil. What we really need, they say, are fewer gun laws and more guns (which is a bit like telling a drowning man he needs a glass of water, if you ask me).

It’s the unyielding pushback against any changes in our nation’s gun laws that I find disingenuous. It’s the bullheaded unwillingness to acknowledge that something different needs to happen that I find so appalling. I’m tired of shrugging my shoulders about mass murder. Aren’t you?

The president had it right the other night. We spend a trillion dollars annually to fight the threat of terrorism, a threat that kills perhaps 30 Americans each year, pre- and post-9/11. When the ebola virus came to our shores, our nation went into a full-blown panic and our health care system went into overdrive. Two people died.

Some 30,000 people die every year thanks to the foolishly open availability of firearms in this godforsaken place. And yet, while growing numbers of our friends and neighbors are left disconsolate and grieving, their families torn apart forever by firearms, their loved ones cut down by tools that were made for no other purpose than cutting things down, the rest of us sit by, powerless and paralyzed. Numb.

And we shrug. And we do nothing. And we move on.

And then it happens again

Serra is no saint

Bill Deneen - Nipomo -

The Chumash were the only culture in this area for more than 6,000 years. The European invasion about 300 years ago changed this. An agent of the Spanish Inquisition, Junipero Serra enslaved the Chumash and forced them to build his churches, roads, and government buildings. Serra should not have received sainthood ("Mission to sainthood," Oct. 1) but should instead have a yearly fire built around his statue on Chumash Day—burned at the stake. 

We don't need another National Marine Sanctuary

Steven L. Rebuck - San Luis Obispo -

Proponents for a new National Marine Sanctuary off our coast keep repeating the mantra: “We need a National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) in order to stop offshore oil drilling.” What they continue to ignore is something called Measure A. Passed by SLO County voters in 1986, Measure A requires “ ... voter approval of any onshore oil facilities used to support offshore oil development … .” Onshore support for staging people and materials is a necessary component of any offshore oil project. Without such facilities, men and material would have to use Channel Islands Harbor in Ventura. Thus, Measure A has already stopped offshore oil for 29 years!

Second, proponents tell us we need a NMS to stop overfishing. There are approximately 29 protected areas: underwater marine parks, reserves and preserves overlapping the Monterey Bay NMS south to Point Conception. Locally, the Point Buchon State Marine Reserve prohibits all human use of living marine resources. We also have California Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Pacific Fisheries Management Council managing fish resources.

Lastly, if the proposed NMS process begins, cities and counties will have to employ staff, at their own expense, for an estimated two to three years.

In response to 'Man of His Time'

J. A. Carotenuti - San Luis Obispo -

It will certainly be a challenge to clarify some of the lengthy collection of misinformation included in the Oct. 1 cover story ("Mission to sainthood"), so I will be unnecessarily brief:

1. Serra’s extraordinary life is extraordinarily well documented. As part of the canonization process, many years ago EVERY KNOWN document related to him was collected and submitted to the Vatican. If anyone is interested in pursuing the resultant volumes, including his letters, a well-documented biography, etc., I will provide a bibliography to them. On the other hand, I haven’t noted one shred of evidence from his critics. 

2. Generally, the objections to his life are the result of either ignoring the documents or relying on myths and legends to concoct some sort of critique. I am not disparaging what anyone chooses to believe or feel, but in fairness, before attacking anyone, the facts help for accuracy.

3. Just as a reminder: Serra was canonized, not the missions or Spaniards or colonization. Those who confuse this point are well informed about neither history nor canonization.

4. The “grievances” seem not directed at the Franciscan friar but are some sort of mishmash of guilt by association. Of course, the quoted accusers would be outraged if their character was attacked by the same methods. Even more appalling and unfair is the attacking by association of someone unable to defend him or herself.

5. As to beating anyone, there is absolutely no evidence Serra used a lash on anyone but himself for penance. If there is, I would be most interested in the source. As to another imitating Serra and dying, the incident is originally reported by his biographer and peer, Fra. Francisco Palou. 

Characteristically, if here today, Serra would only pray for his accusers.