Letters to the Editor

Published the week of April 5

STRAIGHT TALK

After reading your article on the drug courts ("What About Bob?" RFT, March 29), I felt compelled to write St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch. I felt that as a former crack addict I could point out a few flaws in Bob's position.

Although I don't know what makes one person more susceptible to addiction than another, I do know that a lot of good people become addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, etc. And I believe addicts are victims first.

Punishment doesn't work, because a crack addict believes he deserves to be punished. He's hurt everyone he loves; he's lost everything he cares for; he's lost all self-respect. He's hurt himself; indeed, he hates himself. Punishment reinforces his worthlessness, leading right back into the cycle of addiction. Forgiveness, compassion and another chance is something he does not expect or feel he deserves. And it's the only thing that works.

The road to my rehabilitation was a bumpy one, full of relapses and restarts (as are all roads to sobriety). I had to move twice to stay away from dealers and druggie friends. I worked extra hours at my job to keep my body occupied and my mind off drugs.

I was lucky; I didn't have to go through the court system (I never got busted), but if I had, and had to plead guilty to a crime, I don't believe I would have made it.

With a criminal record, I'd have lost my job and wouldn't have been able to move away from the drug-saturated neighborhood I lived in and into a better one; no one wants to rent to a known drug offender. The loss of my job would have been another blow to my already negative self-image, and the loss of income would probably been too much for my wife to handle. Like I said, I was lucky. The forgiveness of my wife and family, the compassion of my pastor and others who supported me through the years, the fact that I was able to keep my job and move away from a bad situation all aided my recovery.

I don't believe my letter will sway Bob one bit (an ex-crack addict's opinion isn't regarded much better than a current one's). But now that I'm a registered voter, maybe come election time I can express myself more definitively.

Raymond L. Noonan

DRAWING A BEAD

The fact that Ray Hartmann hates guns and the NRA is as plain as the fact that Regis was born to host Who Wants to Be a Millionaire ("Bull's-Eye," RFT, March 22). Most of us are well aware of his disaffection for all that is made of wood and steel that takes the shape of a firearm, and his apparent hatred of the Second Amendment and all the people and organizations that defend it.

I am a member of the NRA. I feel no shame. I'm proud to stand for what I believe in, regardless of what that might be. Isn't that what we're all taught as children? To stand up and fight for what we believe in? Aren't we also taught to respect the opinions of others because diversity makes us a stronger nation? There's more to diversity than race; there's also diversity of opinions. But apparently Mr. Hartmann doesn't respect those he disagrees with. In his recent commentary about the NRA and the Smith & Wesson agreement, he releases a barrage of rather ridiculous, juvenile insults on the NRA brass. He referred to Wayne LaPierre as the "Vice Idiot." He referred to the NRA president as "Charlton 'I really think I'm Moses' Heston." Then, in referring to the deal made between the government and Smith & Wesson, he characterized it as "a crack in the gun lobby's resolve to retain a united front of irrationality."

Mr. Hartmann, are others irrational simply because they disagree with you? Am I irrational for writing this letter? Frankly, I would expect from you a minimum of professional conduct and respect, which, if you possess, are attributes apparently not applicable in any debate on guns or the NRA. Wayne LaPierre may think you're an idiot as well, but I doubt he would refer to you personally as one. In that one respect, and at the very least, he is a better man than you are. Your attempt to diminish the reputation of Charlton Heston, a man who is respected by most, was simply a waste of the paper that statement was printed on.

Is it too much to ask, Mr. Hartmann, that you refrain from childish name-calling of those you disagree with and manifest a minimum level of respect for your political opponents? I think you need to take the next step if you want your thoughts on gun control to be respected by a broad audience.

Mike Furey

MOVED TO WRITE

I have briefly reviewed your Beatle Bob article ("Something in the Way He Moves," RFT, March 22), and I am disappointed that several persons who have known Bob for longer than I, and who still live in St. Louis, were not mentioned. Bob has been on KDHX several times with Tony C, who has known him for many years, and yet no one talked to Tony. Had Tony or others been talked to, they would have prevented the inaccuracies that exist about me. They might have also contributed to a better, more positive article.

I am gratified and surprised to have had such a liberating effect on Bob, even if my career in the music business has been more oriented to the historical and ruminative aspects of popular-culture appreciation. That this has not rubbed off on Bob is hardly a crime, because it has not rubbed off on St. Louis, much less the nation. What bothers me about your article is this: You had the chance to celebrate a sincere human being who is the paragon of what we usually call "a fan" and, instead of celebrating, you basically cast aspersions his way and trash him more than just a bit. If more people had Bob's positive response to, say, Jackie Wilson, this would be a very different country, and very different, I believe, for the better. This important perspective is lost in your article.

Beatle Bob has more substance, in my opinion, than George W. Bush, who is running for president, and yet you choose to trash Bob, who was at least able to get into college on his own merits. So I ask you, why did you really write this? It accomplished nothing positive, was done without talking to enough people who could have enlightened the effort, and has a nasty, almost mean-spirited quality that is unnecessary and almost cruel.

If anyone at your paper heard my All Things Considered piece on the Ragtime to Rock n' Roll exhibit at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park, you should know that I have been writing and researching American and, especially, African-American-popular music for several decades. While I enjoy dancing, especially to throw down funk, most of my public dancing has actually been done with a partner and not in the Billy Idol manner.

Paul Yamada

DISBELIEF SYSTEM

I thought the article by Jeannette Batz was very good ("Roman Holiday," RFT, March 8). There is one thing that should be understood about all religions. All religions are cults. Look up the word "occult" in the dictionary. "Occult" means something beyond human understanding. In other words, it is all a fabrication or a postulate or whatever. All religions talk about things that they know nothing about. They know nothing about life after death. Someone once said that there is a reaction from narcotics, but there is no reaction from religion. I believe irrational thinking can lead to trouble in this nuclear age. Churches pretend to know all about God; I think that most religions know more about the devil.

William E. Tucker

ANIMAL INSTINCTS

Recently a letter to the editor was published in your newspaper containing sweeping statements in regard to "no-kill" animal shelters. As a board member of the St. Charles Humane Society, a noneuthanizing shelter, I would like to correct several inaccurate statements made by the writer as it relates to our shelter operation.

We operate from a wait list because we are noneuthanizing. Until one animal is adopted, another cannot come in to take its place. We admit animals from our wait list regardless of age, breed, health or behavioral issues. This is obviously far from "having the luxury of only accepting grade A animals" or "picking and choosing what we will accept." Admission to the St. Charles Humane Society brings with it a lifetime commitment to that animal. Appropriate rehabilitative efforts such as medical care, behavioral consultations and training are utilized to give each animal the chance it deserves to find the right home.

The battle to help homeless animals and reduce pet overpopulation is a difficult one. Every animal-welfare agency makes tough decisions and chooses the path they feel will best serve the animals in their care. Regardless of agency policy, I have observed animal shelters to be staffed with employees and volunteers who care about animals and who work hard to educate the public on their behalf. It is my hope that we realize it is far more productive for us to work together toward our common goal. Perhaps then the day will come when no animal is euthanized simply because it is "unwanted."

Patricia M. Wahler

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