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Byline: The Register-Guard

Officer didn't just stand his ground

In his award-winning book, "No Duty to Retreat," the late Richard Maxwell Brown, retired Beekman Professor of Northwest and Pacific History at the University of Oregon, traced the origins of the uniquely American view of self-defense:

When faced with a perceived threat of death or serious bodily harm, even if it later proves to be unfounded, a person has the right to use lethal force - to stand one's ground and not retreat.

Brown's provocative historiography, well-documented, connects the dots from the rugged individualism of gunfighter James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok to geekish "subway vigilante" Bernard Goetz to the courts and law enforcement agencies that support no duty to retreat. Individualism combined with racism creates a deadly mix.

Just how pervasive the stand-your-ground mentality is was seen in last year's trial of George Zimmerman, who pursued and shot an unarmed black teenager, then claimed self-defense.

In August in Ferguson, Mo., a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager accused of shoplifting a handful of cheap cigars.

The officer said the teenager "charged" him and he feared bodily injury "or worse."

Tragically, the policeman's version of standing your ground meant getting out of his car and chasing the suspect. Some version of retreat wouldn't have been dishonorable - staying in the car until backup arrived, using a stun gun - or, for that matter, using his target-practice skills to aim for Brown's legs or feet would at least have been more humane.

B. J. Roberts


Was camping complaint selfish?

Ellen Nelson's Nov. 23 letter about the city allowing homeless camps near Autzen Stadium but not allowing people like herself to park their RVs there all night after a football game was purely selfish.

She and others like her have nice homes, own RVs and have money to pay for overpriced football games and entertainment.

She said people who can't camp there overnight won't spend additional money in Eugene. I doubt that.

I'd suggest RV owners stay at local campgrounds and carpool to the games - making "post-game driving less congested" - then head downtown to eat before returning to their campgrounds to party all night, which I suspect is her real reason for being peeved at the homeless and city officials: no all-night tailgate parties allowed.

The homeless are placed in no man's land because people such as Nelson, from "nice" areas, won't allow them elsewhere.

Robin Bloomgarden


Eighteen isn't too young to vote

In her Nov. 20 letter Carley Weixelman expressed concern about 18-year-olds having the mental capability to understand voting.

One could extend that concern to a good portion of the country - to people who believe the Earth is only 7,000 years old, or that corporations are people, or that rich people really want a better society for all of us, including the poor and disabled, or that education only belongs to those who can afford it.

Eighteen years of age is old enough to die for our country, and a lot of 18-year-olds have.

We can disagree with other people's points of view but they, too, have the right to express themselves at the ballot box.

If an 18-year-old can die for that idea, why any American would want less than a better society for all Americans is beyond me, but a lot of people do - especially outside Oregon.

The recent election proved that.

Bruce Hartnell


Local owners make best landlords

For more than 40 years my family has provided owner-managed rental properties to University of Oregon students. The small complexes don't boast swimming pools or weight rooms but we provide well-maintained, clean and safe units as close as two blocks from the UO campus.

We've renovated our units using local quality contractors and thoroughly cleaned the units before move-in day. We acquired the units through sweat equity, local loans and hard work.

We use state-approved forms for smoke detectors, leases, mold information and smoke-free agreements. We buy the forms from the Rental Owners Association, which we pay to belong to.

We don't have 15 page-documents for student tenants to sign. We welcome parents to walk through our properties and we meet with each tenant when they move in to go over all facets of the agreements, and test the smoke detectors together.

We rent to many students who haven't reviewed or signed a rental agreement before and we don't take advantage of them. Quite the contrary, we believe we have a social obligation to teach them how to be good tenants and to experience having a good landlord.

The advantage of renting from owners who are invested in the community and interested in their tenants as people is invaluable.

And we do all that without receiving any property tax breaks.

Michelle Pellitier


Does immaturity lead to shootings?

The story about a 26-year-police officer shooting a 12-year-old boy in Cleveland comes after an officer fatally shot an 18-year-old in Ferguson, Mo.

I'm bothered by the fact the officer who shot the 18-year-old has shown no remorse.

How should someone feel after killing another person?

Maybe the rioting in Ferguson wouldn't have been as bad had the officer appeared to regret what he did instead of acting as if he had no feelings about the shooting.

How mature are young police officers and how good is their judgment? Why did the Ferguson officer get so close to the young man that his weapon could have been used against him?

If a police officer doesn't respond to killing a 12-year-old with the feelings he should have had, perhaps the officer shouldn't be carrying a gun. Could an older officer, or a female officer, have done better?

Who's doing the research? We need to learn from these deaths and from the pain that arises from racism and poverty.

We're separated from animals by our capacity to reason, and good judgment improves with research, education, experience and age.

Carol Seaton


Writer had his 'facts' reversed

Everyone's entitled to his or her own opinions - but not to making up his or her own facts.

William Curtis' No. 26 letter is an object lesson.

He blamed President Obama and congressional Democrats for not passing an immigration bill while claiming Republicans passed such a bill in the House.

The facts are the Democratic-controlled Senate passed an immigration bill with the support of 12 Republicans.

That bill has never came up for a vote in the Republican-controlled House. Speaker John Boehner won't allow it because he knows enough Republicans would vote with the Democrats to pass it.

Curtis had his "facts" reversed.

He also didn't mention that the day before Obama's first inauguration in 2009 the Republican congressional leadership met to decide they would oppose anything Obama wanted.

That led to the absurdity of Senate Republicans filibustering their own bills, such as the small business depreciation act sponsored by seven Republicans after Obama endorsed it.

Because The Register-Guard receives more letters than it has room to print, I don't understand why the letters aren't fact-checked before being printed.

The Editor's Mailbag should be used to print expressions of opinions, not made-up facts.

Wayne Gaddy

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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Dec 1, 2014
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