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Why can't SLO plan for Mardi Gras?

So, is St. Patrick's Day now on par with, or even becoming, the new Mardi Gras in SLO? Consider the statistics ("Paddy Gras, anyone?" March 22).

Also consider WOW Week, when all of the newbies arrive for the beginning of the Cal Poly semester. Halloween, if falling near the weekend, is another crazy and drunken fest for the local police to round up law breakers, be they DUI, drunk in public, urinating, or jaywalking.

So how is it the city of San Luis Obispo cannot plan for Mardi Gras as another opportunity for many families to celebrate and have the police do their job and handle the few criminals who cause problems?

The police do not need overtime, nor officers from other departments. Nor do they need big budgets for equipment and riot control. What is needed is leadership, organization, and what some in the private sector call planning.

HJ Romano

Los Osos



Language use is more than a matter of taste

Language is the food of the mind. We take it in, process it, and then spit it out, and the way we use it is largely a matter of choice.

Writers tend to pay more attention to language than most people and are probably more aware than others of its power and its danger. Therefore they tend to be more careful about the way they use it and are sensitive to its abuse.

Language is powerful because it influences people's attitudes and behavior. The power of propaganda has long been recognized and used by leaders to propel their followers to action. The language of hate breeds hatred, the language of fear propagates fear, and the language of moderation and understanding helps to prevent violence.

Nothing new here. So what? In an age like ours, which condones and encourages the spurious "freedom of speech" apparent in the use of the much-maligned four-letter words, it is easy to lose sight of the basic respect for self and others essential to community relations and intercultural understanding. There is a qualitative (moral?) difference between "F off!." and "Be quiet!"

Admitting that "extremism is a very real and terrifying thing," if one wishes to oppose extremism, as good a place to begin as any is by avoiding the hallmarks of "yellow journalism" and instead adopting moderate language. Using words like "detest," "spawn of Satan," "besotted," "sucky," "dog poop," "cat poop," and "pricks," and lumping people into broad categories like "a hate-crazed death cult" and "Islamofascists" and "holy warriors howling for infidel blood" are more or less over the top ("What's wrong with opposing extremism?" March 22).

The next step is "Kill the s.o.b.'s" and the face in the mirror is the face of a terrorist. It's more than just a matter of taste.

Jean Gerard

Los Osos



Distorting others' religion is propaganda

Most Christians, when they speak of the Muslim religion, know little about it and exaggerate the violence in the writings in Muslim scripture. They also seem to know little about their own scriptures, the New and Old Testaments.

In the Old Testament, God tells Israeli leaders to murder all peoples in cities they conquer. And, of course, there is the demand to kill persons by stoning for many nonviolent infractions, like idolatry, blasphemy, homosexuality, adultery, disrespect of parents, and picking up sticks on the Sabbath.

The New Testament, too, has its share of recommended violence for nonbelievers in Revelation and elsewhere.

When Christians or anyone else distort the characterization of others' religion or ethnicity, it is propaganda to make them into an evil we must overcome.

And, sadly, in most cases, it's not just due to ignorance of the other, but rather the intentional arrogance to rule over other peoples for financial gain, as well as to fulfill some sort of sick, distorted ideology.

Roy Berger

Arroyo Grande



Let's make alternative access happen!

The mouth of Arroyo Grande Creek, including its lagoon and where it empties into the sea, has been designated as critical habitat for four endangered species: the tidewater goby, snowy plover, steelhead trout, and least tern.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has allowed vehicles to use this vital area as a "road" to allow off-road vehicles to enter the Oceano Dunes Vehicle Recreation Area and senselessly kill these endangered species.

The ORV Division of State Parks has been "studying" the problem for decades. The Alternative Access Study, which cost taxpayers $195,000, indicated that Conoco-Phillips is a potential alternative access.

Let's make it happen! Arroyo Grande Creek should be closed to all vehicles, period. The fact that less than 10 percent of the snowy plover chicks actually survived to fly away in 2006 is appalling.

I urge the FWS to do their job and demand that all vehicles be removed immediately from the mouth of Arroyo Grande Creek. State Parks should be ashamed.

The County of San Luis Obispo should remove vehicles from its 580-acre property, too.

Doug Buckmaster




What freedoms are we protecting now?

"Every one of those soldiers died so that you could carry those flags," a young man told me as I walked through downtown SLO with Code Pink on March 17. In his mind, the soldiers in Iraq died protecting fundamental American freedoms, such as freedom of expression.

I wish he was right. I wish I could attribute some grand and lofty purpose to the deaths of our 3,200 soldiers or to the more than 59,000 civilians killed in Iraq. But I can't, because the painful truth is that all of these precious lives were lost due to a policy based on a pack of lies. Iraq was no more of a threat than the Communists were during the Cold War. But, as they did then, our leaders have stoked the fires of fear and, as a result, we've been in a state of almost perpetual war ever since WWII.

What "freedoms" are we supposedly protecting now? The freedom to maim, murder, and steal with impunity to obtain whatever natural resources we want? The freedom to consume without conscience and, in doing so, turn the Earth into a garbage bin? Perhaps it's the freedom to watch six or seven hours of TV each day and otherwise numb ourselves with entertainment?

Eric Parkinson

San Luis Obispo



We're not just a bunch of hippies

Ryan, I've read your piece twice now ("Pink and green don't really mix," March 22) and want to make a few comments, if I may.

You are a very talented writer, but I question the focus of your article. There were many more people at the march than seniors children with parents, teens/college age, and so on. You made it sound like an old hippies love-in, when, indeed, it was just the opposite. Code Pink is a vibrant group of women, of all ages, dedicated to peace. We do events in a creative way and try not to have a negative impact in any way. We worked very hard on the March 17 event and invited all of those opposed to war to join us in honoring the warrior, not the war. To focus on an 80-year-old activist takes the message we want to send and turns it into a kind of hippie love-fest.

To say that the revelers along the way were "partying" was to turn your face away from the obnoxious drunkenness of that crowd and make it seem like they were entitled to their little St. Patrick's Day fun. Did you actually see them or witness their crudeness?

So, next time, dear Ryan, please interview the fabulous women of peace, who try to make a difference.

Victoria Grostick

Code Pink

San Luis Obispo




Give the veterans a break

Not too long ago, a woman wrote in objecting to the armored vehicle established as a monument at the local veterans' building ("Tank is an offensive reminder," Feb. 1). This poor thing was distraught over the fact that the vehicle reminded her of the violence and human suffering that goes with war.

Prior to the letter was the incident where one or more local cowards defaced the monument with paint and derogatory statements against the president. They did this at night so as not to be detected, which is a tactic employed by cowards everywhere.

What an astonishing resemblance to what the insurgents do in Baghdad while they plant roadside bombs to kill our soldiers and innocent civilians.

The latest disrespect toward our veterans was a tasteless Russell Hodin cartoon published in the March 15 New Times, which takes a disrespectful shot at the monument.

As a retired law enforcement official, I have often thought that the biased media is the problem in this country. It would be nice to have a local news source, not controlled by a large news syndicate, that would actually report on local issues and events in a fair and balanced manner. It is my opinion that New Times fails to meet that standard.

The disrespectful attack upon our veterans and their monument, likely perpetrated by locals and perpetuated by New Times in news stories, negative opinions, and disrespectful political cartoons, is an absolute embarrassment.

The veterans have a right to their monument without interference from anyone, as much as you have the right to publish the negative anti-war/military dialogue that seems to grace your publication on a weekly basis.

John Kinney

Santa Maria



No one is immune from addiction

The Tribune series on meth was very good and much needed, but probably 70 percent or more of addicts reach their own personal bottom (i.e. threat of divorce, loss of job, fear of law enforcement intervention, and personal shame and guilt) and seek help for their addiction before they ever see a law officer, CWS worker, or courtroom.

Approximately 550 people from the recovering community use our facility for their meetings, with more than 2,000 visits per month. There are numerous meetings held throughout the county at many other sites.

We have experienced an annual growth rate of 10 percent in meeting attendance between 2004 and 2006. The number of folks attending these meetings with court cards (from the mandated programs reported about) was 5.5 percent in 2004, 7.4 percent in 2005, and 9.1 percent in 2006. This shows that the recovering community is a population far greater than those who reportedly get there through law enforcement alone.

Recovery is a lifelong process, not a six- or 18-month event that one graduates from. Addiction is a problem that is far more prevalent than anyone imagines and crosses all socio-economic, age, race, gender, professional, and educational levels. No one is immune.

Susan L. Warren

North County Connection



Embrace Al Gore's solutions

We urgently need to take action to confront the climate crisis.

1. This winter was the warmest one ever.

2. The climate is actually warming faster than previously thought.

3. If we don't act, impacts could include severe water and food shortages.

4. CBS' 60 Minutes showed that scientists have been censored under President George Bush from telling the truth.

The time for talking about the climate crisis is over. Vice President Al Gore has unveiled an ambitious plan to begin the real work to begin to find solutions for our ailing planet.

Responsible lawmakers must embrace the solutions laid out in Gore's plan. Nothing less than the future of our children and our planet is at stake.

Bob Markel


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