August 21, 2002

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talkback...

Mad men at home

I'm glad to see the Bay Guardian opposing a war against Iraq, but you do your readers a disservice when you write "Yes, Iraq is trying to develop (and may already have) weapons of mass destruction" [Editorials, 8/7/02]. In fact, not a single piece of evidence, convincing or otherwise, has been put forward to indicate either that Iraq has such weapons or is attempting to develop them. The Bush administration, most prominent Republican and Democrat politicians, and most of the media continually assert these things, but none of that makes it true.

What is true is that the United States not only has more weapons of mass destruction than every other country in the world combined, but also that the United States has used such weapons repeatedly and is by far the most likely to use them again in the future. The United States is also doing more research on weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, than any other country, and, alone among nations that acknowledge possession of nuclear weapons, refuses to renounce the first use of such weapons. And, it goes without saying, the United States is also the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons, killing more than a hundred thousand innocent civilians in the process.

Looking for the mad men most likely to cause death and destruction in the world? No need to look as far as Baghdad, they're much closer to home.

Steven Patt

Cupertino

Guns and self-defense

First, thanks for exposing yet another injustice that is being perpetrated in the name of "crime control" ["Gun Law Gone Bad," 8/7/02].

The author, on page 19, column one, refers to self-defense gun proponents in quotes. Is self-defense now wrong-thought? The record nationwide is very clear: where responsible citizens carry, crime rates are lower. Since Australia banned all private ownership of handguns, armed robbery is up 35 percent!

By supporting gun control/victim disarmament and making the idea of self-defense a wrong-thought, people must then necessarily rely on the police for full "womb-like" protection. The recent police incident in southern California and the "Riders" case in Oakland are warnings, the police are only human, and sometimes they go "above and beyond." Police cannot be everywhere at once.

Self-defense and working with our neighbors to solve neighborhood problems can help eliminate much of the social injustice and civil rights violations involved when we expect the police to be everywhere at once. It also works better than believing that gun control laws (and the Easter Bunny) will eliminate all violence.

T. Scott Nordstrom

Oakland

The dam crime

The Bay Guardian's decades-long obsession with the Raker Act, PG&E, public power, and Hetch Hetchy is well-known but hardly confers the cachet to carry off the preposterous notion that the O'Shaugnessy Dam shouldn't be removed [Editorial, 8/14/02].

Yosemite is a national park, for chissakes, the first in the world. What would the Bay Guardian say if Los Angeles tried to put a reservoir in Kings Canyon, or Phoenix ditto in the Grand Canyon? Just because the damn dam is there doesn't make it right. It was a criminal idea in the 'teens and it remains so today. What would San Francisco have done if there hadn't been a Hetch Hetchy to dam? Kept it's population to 200,000? I rather doubt it.

San Francisco is probably the most environmentally enlightened city in the world. Surely it can figure a way to restore Hetch Hetchy to Yosemite, the country, and the world without running out of water or electricity. For starters, try conservation.

Tom Turner

Berkeley

Rethinking Hetch Hetchy editorial

The August 14th editorial on Hetch Hetchy Dam is likely the most blatant example of hypocrisy I have read in the pages of the Bay Guardian. To support the dam because it provides benefit to San Francisco yet oppose "almost every new dam in California" is embarrassing. Wouldn't other dam projects provide similar benefits to other parts of California? Ah, but there's the rub. You don't live in other parts of California, so why care about their concerns. The next time you criticize someone's pork-barrel project, please think back to this editorial and do a little personal reflection.

Andrew Kean

Oakland

For the record

In "All Quiet in the Classroom," we misreported the number of tenured faculty positions in 1970. The figure of 78 percent also included tenure-track professors. We also misattributed the quote "Tenure has been under threat due to erosion. Now it faces a possible McCarthy-like challenge when members of the public simply don't believe in free speech anymore. Freedom of expression is guaranteed in the Constitution, but you have to struggle to sustain those principles." The statement was made by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor and national vice president of the Association of American University Professors Cary Nelson.