Letters in the Editor's Mailbag.
Provide protection now
The Register Guard's Nov. 15 editorial congratulated the Eugene City Council for discarding transgender rights in order to pass the domestic partner registry. I wholeheartedly disagree.
I have never believed that civil rights ought to be determined based on a community's confusion and fear. Prior to the murder of Matthew Shepard, hate crime legislation did not include the divisive issue of sexual orientation. Before that, the suffragists jettisoned black women to gain the vote for white women. Sure, you can have some action, but at what price?
The one thing that the editorial got right was that the main reason for opposition to trans rights is the lack of familiarity, confusion and fear. So I'll do a bit of education.
A person might not be comfortable with trans, but not providing protection does not mean that trans will stop using the bathroom. If a male transgendered female uses a women's room, you probably wouldn't notice. If that person uses the men's room, she would stick out like a sore thumb. Female transgendered males who use the women's room risk having the police called on them. The easiest way to avoid hostility and violence is to blend in.
Violence occurs when that protective anonymity disappears. This is exactly what happened to Eddie "Gwen" Araujo, who was outed last month using the restroom at a party in San Francisco when a woman exclaimed, "It's a man!" Araujo was then dragged into the garage by three men and brutally murdered.
Why must we wait until there is a high profile murder like this one or like Shepard before people become concerned for others' rights and protections? Will we have to wait for such a murder in Eugene before we act to prevent it?
TOBY HILL-MEYER Eugene
Boat ramp unwelcome
After reading Mike Stahlberg's recent column about the new boat ramp in Alton Baker Park (Register-Guard, Nov. 14), one might think that only good has come from this new project.
May you also remember that the ramp paved over undisturbed riparian habitat where folks could quietly contemplate the natural beauty of the Willamette River under old cottonwood trees.
It disrupted the bike path's transition to the more wild section of Alton Baker Park. It removed a shaded hazelnut grove where school children learned about the park's former life, and it added more development to one of Eugene's only wild urban areas.
Clearly not all of us are cheering another attempt to pave a local paradise.
SARAH NICHOLS Eugene
Not speaking for UO
I would like to express my support for the Associated Students of the University of Oregon in its quest to uphold the codes and policies of the university.
Listeners to KUGN radio will hear "The voice of the Ducks" played multiple times before and after talk show hosts make their prejudicial and insensitive diatribes. Neither the university nor KUGN say that they support the venomous talk show hosts who are contracted to air on KUGN. However, the rhetoric here is preeminent in establishing a premise that creates a hypocritical relationship between a business and a public university.
The phrase "the voice of," in this context, refers to the expression or language of (see an English language dictionary). UO President Dave Frohnmayer says that he would just change stations when an offensive talk show host came on a radio station such as KUGN. I feel that the university president should be able, at any time of day, to listen to a university-contracted radio station without having to switch stations to avoid listening to programming that denies freedom of thought and expression.
Support for diversity and opposition to racism, sexism, prejudice and discrimination are common claims for institutions in our society. From a human rights perspective, I think that KUGN and the university need to examine their actions, ethics and community responsibilities in this situation. The denial of responsibility by the university allows for a misrepresentation of the character of its students, faculty and alumni. The disclaimer by KUGN is akin to my allowing a drug dealer to set up business on my driveway just because I share in some of his profits. Why can't the two negotiate a statement such as "The voice of Duck athletic events?"
PETE RUBY Eugene
A perfect radio team
Does anyone really care if the Oregon-Oregon State Grass Seed Bowl is televised?
It would be less distasteful on the radio, and I think those two great communicators, Michael Savage and Lars Larson, should be asked to do the play by play.
WENDY RAY Eugene
Empire's harsh new face
Let's connect a few dots from last week's news:
Osama bin Laden's new audio tape is a fake, according to an Egyptian political scholar. The tape discusses world politics in non-Islamic ways, including siding with the secular regime in Iraq. If bin Laden didn't make the tape, who did, and why?
Our government tells us al-Qaeda may try to inflict mass casualties soon in our country, but that President Bush and homeland security will protect us. The administration inserts a last-minute provision in the homeland security bill now before Congress that gives the military access to every aspect of our private lives, including phone calls, e-mails and credit card transactions.
"Big government" is bad, administration officials say. Apparently, ever-increasing military spending and the loss of our constitutional rights are necessary exceptions.
If changes like this continue, how long will we be able to oppose the harsh new face of American empire, which, according to the dots I've been connecting, seeks to control world resources by force, to privatize everything from water and plant genes to our national railroad system, and to withdraw free or affordable social services (including Social Security)?
My interests aren't being served by any of this. Are yours?
MAGGIE SPRINGER Eugene
Leaders thirst for oil
James T. Bryant brands those opposing George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as morons (letters, Nov. 16). His statements about liberals being out of touch with reality, etc., reflect the usual spouting of preachers and politicians who support profiteers who, in turn, base their power on those who blindly accept notions of divine rights for the privileged few. Typical enough of true believers on either side.
Then Bryant states that "absolutely no one" wants a war, that liberal statements of "it's all about oil" are "absurd" and joins the moronic club he spurns. Saddam Hussein is useless and dangerous, and using American force to support Iraqi efforts for freedom would be acceptable. But Bush, Cheney and their ilk laugh all the way to the bank every time the Bryants of the world buy into their phony claims to the moral high ground. They thirst for Iraqi oil. They count on Islamic upheaval over an infidel occupation of Iraq for an excuse to take the rest of the oil fields owned by Islamic nations.
World opinion means enough to Bush, Cheney and other politicians to play the United Nations inspection game for now. But American possession of those reserves would gain America an unassailable position of power that would hold while there's a penny of profit to wring from an oil-addicted planet, so Bush, Cheney and other petroleum profiteers care nothing for the international disaster satisfying their greed will create.
World-altering decisions must be supported or opposed on the facts, not on the emotional responses of manipulated believers who politicians wrongfully play on and then rightly ignore.
SANFORD SILVER Eugene
Steeling us for war
I was shocked to read that our university supports a radio station that promotes hatred with such talk-show statements as "the white race is being snuffed off the planet through immigration" and that "women should be denied the vote" because "their hormones rage; they are too emotional." Surely, KUGN will say the issue is complex, but is it?
The fact is, the "Voice of the Ducks" sanctions deliberately inflammatory viewpoints. Perhaps I should say spewpoints, because there isn't any balance to the "free speech" when it's put out by a single company that owns more than 1,200 radio stations - a significant percentage of stations in the United States - and plugs digital hate into every one of them.
A community suffering hate crimes should question such ethics, and certainly our educational institutions should divest themselves until this glaring state of hypocrisy is remedied. Moreover, we should all be skeptical of media giants with strong military ties, particularly when the goal is to steel us for war and the loss of our children. It isn't hard to see that video games are designed to prepare future soldiers. Car commercials laden with glimpses of fighter jets and others such as "Jeep, the most respected, honored and heroic 4-by-4s out there" are not just for selling cars.
In this Orwellian age when media watchdogs are so desperately needed, the Norman Solomons of the world should be prized. I hope The Register-Guard will see fit to bring this columnist back.
BRIAN BOGART Eugene
I would like to take Larry Hirons' excellent letter of Nov. 17, "Redirect those voices," a step further. It seems that Iraqis and other Middle Easterners currently residing in this country are indignant at the prospect that they are being singled out (or profiled, if you like) for surveillance of varying degrees. Indignant, that is, at the government of this country.
Their anger is sorely misdirected. Instead, they should be outraged with their respective nations, or at fellow Muslims, for the climate of fear and suspicion they have created, making their lives difficult even thousands of miles away.
I do not deny that America's past and present foreign policies helped set the stage for current events, but for how long and to what extent can they use the victim's lament? (Saying, for instance, that "Your greedy corporations are spreading their nefarious ways through our countries, therefore we are going to blow up as many of your civilians as possible.")
Until Arab-Americans and resident Muslims collectively voice their outrage toward the despicable schools of thought that beget Muslim extremists (the direct cause for their woes here), I will continue to turn a deaf ear to their protests against profiling.
JOANNA NASSET Junction City
The Register-Guard welcomes letters on topics of general interest. Our length limit is 250 words; all letters are subject to condensation. Writers are limited to one letter per calendar month. Because of the volume of mail, not all letters can be printed. Letters must be signed with the writer's full name. An address and daytime telephone number are needed for verification purposes; this information will not be published or released. Mail letters to Mailbag, P.O. Box 10188, Eugene, OR 97440-2188 Fax: 338-2828 E-mail: RGLetters@guardnet.com