Tuesday, July 7, 2015     Volume: 29, Issue: 49
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New Times / Letters to the Editor

Dear New Times readers

Camillia Lanham - New Times editor -

We received several letters over the last week regarding a comment made by someone we interviewed for the June 25 Street Talk. All of them expressed disappointment that the paper would print a direct quote from someone who used the “r-word.” 

So many letters came in that I felt the need to respond (which could definitely spur more letters, and we will gladly print them). New Times doesn’t necessarily agree with or condone anything that it publishes every week; that’s especially the case with content in the opinion section. That should be a given with regard to any journalistic organization worth the words it publishes. It’s not our job to censor society: cut out the parts of it we don’t agree with or don’t want to acknowledge. However, it is our job to give the community an unbiased, full-on view of itself—the good, the bad, the mediocre, and the perceived ignorant, as well as the things and words people don’t necessarily want to see as still existing in the world.

If we do our job correctly, it can spark a community conversation about what’s right and wrong and what needs to change, which is why we appreciate the time our readers take to send us their opinions every week. It shows you care about your community and this paper and that you want change; keep them coming.


How could you print something like that, New Times?

Bradlee Kirkman - San Luis Obispo -

I opened the June 25 New Times to Street Talk and read the words of Joshua Compton. Why would you possibly print his hateful words in what is normally a fun and light-hearted column? New Times readers don’t need see that there is one more ignorant person living in our community. The r-word is an EXTREMELY offensive word. If someone from Street Talk used hateful language regarding race or sexuality, I doubt you would have printed it. The word is so offensive that the state government mandated that it is no longer allowed to be used in any state documents, and that’s even when the word is used correctly. The developmental disabilities community is a large minority group that most people misunderstand. I hope you rethink what you have printed, and I hope that we will be able to educate the public about people with developmental disabilities in our community. Please check out this link to learn more on this subject: www.r-word.org


You disappointed me, New Times

Robert Broughton -

I was reading Street Talk in the June 25 New Times and one comment used a word that was disrespectful and disappointing because there are a lot of people with disabilities, including myself, and the r-word has been used in a negative and hurtful way toward me. I feel that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity. Please rethink printing hateful words in your paper. I love reading the New Times, but it makes me hesitant to read it knowing such words may be printed.


New Times should be more sensitive

Ian Myers - Atascadero -

For the next Street Talk section in your upcoming New Times, I suggest you survey four adults living with disabilities concerning how it feels to see the word “retarded” used flippantly and printed in your magazine as a cheap attempt for laughs. However shallow the child you interviewed is, is really of no concern to me. A publication such as yours should demonstrate a little more sensitivity in language.


Think twice before publishing the r-word

Carolyn Vierra - San Luis Obispo -

What gives you the right to publish the word “retarded.” Not only is it a word that’s hurtful, it insults people with disabilities. We all come in unique forms. Does that make us retarded? No, it makes us stronger. I’m an adult with a disability, does that make me a retard? It actually makes me a stronger individual. I struggle with my disability every day. My disability has taught me to strive for my dreams. I’ve accomplished many goals from being different. We’re the same as other adults, but just do things at a slower pace. I live independently, have a job, and can cook for myself. So please think twice before publishing the r-word. You may be surprised what people with disabilities can do. I don’t like being disrespected.


There are alternatives to meat

Brenda Forsythe - Santa Maria -

Thank you for sharing the insightful commentary “Save water, go vegetarian” (New Times, June 25). The opinion piece brought to light the enormous amount of water needed to produce meat for the typical American diet. With the severe drought we are all facing, we just cannot afford to be in denial about the fact that we are using most of our precious water to produce this meat-centric diet when there are delicious and far healthier alternatives.


Go U.S. Supreme Court!

Patty Andreen - San Luis Obispo -

I am amazed and thrilled by the recent trio of decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court: legalizing same-sex marriage across the USA, upholding nationwide subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, and allowing proof of de facto discrimination by showing disparate impact. The court’s centrists, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Chief Justice John Roberts, have cast their votes for social progress and equality.

It is awe inspiring to me that these ground-breaking issues were resolved by the moderate middle of the court at the intersection of the jurists’ individual consciences, dizzying social change, and basic values embodied in the Constitution.


SLO not happy

Jim Griffin - San Luis Obispo -

San Luis Obispo, the so-called “happiest city in America,” has, in fact, a huge number of deep-seated, difficult problems and unsolved issues. Like everywhere in the West, we suffer from seemingly endless drought. Bills for water and sewer services are going up and for dubious reasons. Homelessness in SLO County is getting worse, not better, as the county’s 10-year plan to end it has failed miserably. Meanwhile, police raids and legal constraints against the homeless and general harassing of the homeless continue unabated. 

Cal Poly campus and just off-campus rape attacks seem to be getting more frequent against young women. Murders, random physical attacks, and vehicle killings seem to be more numerous. Rents for residential space and storefronts are out of control, complicating the homeless situation and driving many businesses out of the city. Unemployment numbers have improved, but average wages for entry-level and low-skill jobs remain low. Student debt, locally and nationally, has reached untenable and unsustainable levels, threatening to paralyze and enslave a whole generation or two of young people. And more.

Even in relatively prosperous and happy SLO Town, a massive amount of basic and serious social, economic, and political change is necessary. Some of it must be addressed nationally. But much can be done here and now if people will organize, mobilize, and push. Indeed, that’s the only way things can be shaken up nationally. The old saying, “all politics is local,” makes perfect sense in this context. Are you ready to act?