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Letters to the Editor 

Don't Pick on Priests
Why don't you have Louis Rom do an in-depth expose ("Vows of Silence?" Aug. 13) of child abuse by stepfathers? Or uncles? Or neighbors?

In America magazine (July 1, 2002), Archbishop John Quinn of San Francisco reports how one of his priests was constantly written about for alleged sexual offenses. A high official of the city's police department told the archbishop that 1,100 cases of molestation of minors had been handled by the department that year, but the public heard only of the case involving the priest!

Why do we hear so much about Catholic clergy, whose rate of sexual offenses is probably lower than the national average? Is it because people file more lawsuits against the church hoping to get at least a half-million, whereas a suit against most individuals -- Michael Jackson is a notable exception -- would not bring nearly so much?

Why the anti-Catholic bias? Can't you in the media be fair?
Louis Augustin

Owen Out of Step
Katy Reckdahl's otherwise thoughtful article on controversial nominations to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ("Bench Marks," Aug. 20) only touched the surface of the concerns of those opposed to the current nominee to a lifetime seat there, Priscilla Owen. Above and beyond Owen's opinions on abortion, she accepted campaign donations from Enron, then wrote an opinion that allowed Enron to evade paying millions of dollars in taxes -- including almost a quarter of a million dollars that would have gone to schools. Owen favored giving land developers an exemption from clean water laws in an opinion that the majority of the Texas Supreme Court characterized as nothing more than "inflammatory rhetoric." She has consistently ignored the clear requirements of the law to pursue a doctrine against individual and worker's rights, including shocking opinions that would prevent a worker who nearly had his arm torn off by a machine he worked with or a woman who was raped by a company's employee, from obtaining relief. President Bush's own White House Counsel, Alberto Gonzales, while serving as a justice with Owen on the Texas Supreme Court, was so dismayed at Owen's disregard of the law that he wrote an opinion accusing her of an "unconscionable act of judicial activism."

Owen's nomination is opposed because she is a judicial activist out of step with mainstream America. Her nomination is set for hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 5, and concerned Louisianians should contact Sens. Mary Landrieu and John Breaux and the committee to register their objections to this cynical nomination.
Edward K. Newman

On the Fenceline
We believe your recent review of the Fenceline: A Company Town Divided ("Norco, the Movie," July 16) does readers of Gambit Weekly a disservice by only giving them part of the story. We believe the positive outcome of the dialogue between Shell Oil and Diamond's residents rated more than just a brief mention. We feel -- and many members of the Diamond neighborhood and their advisors agree -- this resolution is an excellent example of how industries and communities can work together to overcome differences of opinion and find common ground.

Also, we must disagree with the filmmaker's contention that Fenceline is the story of "hundreds of communities." The Diamond situation is unique. Shell listened to the Diamond neighborhood's concerns and responded with a carefully developed, Diamond-specific plan to address the neighborhood's needs.

Gambit Weekly readers interested in learning more about the agreement between Shell and the Diamond neighborhood and other Norco-related issues can visit www.fenceline.com or www.shellus.com/ norco to obtain additional information.
Timothy O'Leary
Manager, Media & External Affairs
Shell Oil Company

JP ESL a Target for Cuts
It has come to my attention that because of the failure of the recent tax proposal for Jefferson Parish Schools ("It Takes Two" Aug. 13) a very important program is being affected. The English as a Second Language course of study designed to assist foreign students is a target for cuts in teachers and staff to alleviate the monetary problems currently facing Jefferson Parish schools. This is a serious area, and many children in need of a basic education will not receive the assistance they need to progress academically.

Every spring in recent years, LEAP scores have been a major issue in news reporting. Second-year foreign students in English-speaking schools are required to take these tests. These students are part of the statistics for parish schools. Being denied the necessities of language studies, foreign students are being denied equal access to education, and by taking away lessons in language and comprehension, there is no way that they can be expected to improve; hence, no improvement in test scores.

Before legislation like this is allowed to pass in school board meetings, it is mandatory that conscientious citizens interested in educating the whole child make their plea to the Jefferson Parish School System and request that this particular program be allowed to continue as is to provide children with the opportunity to be self-sufficient and successful citizens themselves.
Linda Robert

Suspect Device a Smear
In the Aug. 13 edition of Gambit Weekly, there appeared Suspect Device, the author of which was not identified in proximity to the item. Therefore, I am going to address the creator as "you."

In the "cartoon" you identified a woman who is not Pat Brister, chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party, as Mrs. Brister. You had her saying things Mrs. Brister has never said. You strongly insinuated that she is a racist, even though she certainly is not. You depicted Pat Brister's colleague, an African American woman, in a very degrading and disturbing manner.

These were the same techniques used by Nazi propagandists to dehumanize and marginalize Jews. Creating a straw man, in this case a woman, and then knocking her down is quite easy; conveying the truth is something else. All true humor must contain some good portion of truth to connect with the intended audience. Unfortunately, this was just a crude, vicious smear.

Have you no sense of shame?
Stephen M. Swain

Strong-Arming Armstrong?
I find it ironic that Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson was allowed to preside over the recent celebration of Louis Armstrong's birthday during the French Quarter Satchmofest, considering the zeal with which she has been sweeping our streets of performers and the homeless. Had Mrs. Clarkson been a councilwoman in the days when young Louis was performing for tips on the streets of New Orleans, no doubt she would have had him arrested.
Amy Sharpe

Concert vs. Festival
The Other Ones show at Alpine Valley, Wis., was not a festival but a concert ("What I Dead on My Summer Vacation," Aug. 13). Stop comparing it to Jazz Fest. I've been to Jazz Fest the last eight years, and I have attended concerts at Alpine Valley. The prices -- they suck, but comparing a concert to a festival is comparing apples and oranges. Come to Milwaukee in June and July and visit Summerfest and then make your "festival" comparison. Jazzfest is wonderful, but so is Summerfest, and they are a lot closer in many ways, the ways you bitched about in your whiny article.

Of course concerts are more expensive. I think the night concerts of Jazz Fest are in the range of the Dead ticket prices, and lines at Summerfest -- a festival -- are very similar to Jazz Fest, and they never run out of food during the 11-day run. Beer prices: $3.50-$4 for an ice-cold 16-oz. beer, not just Miller products at Jazz Fest (Fosters???).

Come and see Summerfest. The Dead fad is over.
Todd Feiter
Milwaukee

What If?
Louis Rom's cover story about sexually abusive nuns ("Vows of Silence," Aug. 13) highlights the failure of the punitive American criminal justice system to create a better world. Nuns are people who have chosen a life of service, humility and self-abnegation, who have consciously set out to live "right" and be "good," and yet they sometimes, somehow, sadly and inexplicably hurt people, innocents, children -- and the criminal justice system fails to make even these people, whose whole focus and intention in life is to do good, do good. If the criminal justice system can't make nuns behave responsibly, what hope does it have to correct criminals?

America can't seem to find a better way, and yet we love to crow about how the American criminal justice system is the best in the world. I find it ridiculous. And once again, as a nation, we're waging a brutal war for peace. Will we succeed this time at making foreigners who act bad, act good? What do you think?

What if, instead of waging war to achieve peace, instead of trying to beat sense into people (which actually only beats pain and fear and the desire for vengeance into them), what if we treated people with dignity and respect, love and concern? What if we tried to help them feel safe and secure, instead of judged and condemned? What if we helped them be creative and develop their God-given talents and skills through education and training, instead of building prisons to make them even more miserable and powerless and hopeless? What if we celebrated teachers as much as we celebrate policemen and soldiers and gave teachers as much money and resources?

What if we didn't get our panties in a bunch over homeless drunks sleeping on "our" park benches in front of "our" Cathedral?

I don't know; just a thought. There has to be a better way.
Jeremy Machalek

Two Tap Questions
About the juvenile tap dancers in the French Quarter ("Tapped Out," Aug. 6), I have only two questions:

1. Do they go to school?

2. And, if they do, when do they have enough time to do their homework?
Roland Guerin

Bumped Up
I really enjoyed Ronnie Virget's piece on bumper stickers ("Bumper Cars," Aug. 20). There is a book I think you would enjoy called Bumper Sticker Wisdom by Carol W. Gardner. Some examples: "Good cowgirls keep their calves together"; "Visualize whirled peas"; "God's last name is not dammit!"; "Single Mormon seeks several spouses"; "I'm the mommy that's why"; "My kid beat up your honor student."

Anyway, thanks for the laugh.
Olga Munding

Tappers Need to Get Jobs
In response to recent headlines regarding tap dancers in the French Quarter ("Tapped Out," Aug. 6), I personally think it is about time! They need to go home and get a real job. I had friends in town from North Carolina, and I was very upset and embarrassed by these kids. They followed us for blocks and demanded money. We all refused and told them to go home and get a job at McDonald's.

This situation has gotten way out of hand. We need to be proud of our city, and one way to do this is to get rid of these rude, stealing kids. I doubt my friends will ever come back.
Dennis M. Kaz

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