Letters to the Editor 

Published the week of July 5-11, 2000

BACK TO BASICS
You'd think that by now D.J. Wilson would understand the fundamentals of journalism writing. You'd be wrong. In "Short Cuts," "It Must Be St. Patrick's Day -- We're All Irish" (RFT, June 21), Wilson disproves this apparently naïve misconception. Why, when reporting an aldermanic resolution "passed easily," would Wilson slip in the fact that the four aldermen and women who did not attend the meeting were of the "Caucasian persuasion"? Could this be relevant in any way? Does it tell us anything about the motivations and intentions of the absent members? The truth is, it doesn't. Wilson's vague and misleading point sneakily insinuates that the four members were absent because they oppose a resolution to study the effects of slavery. Intelligent readers realize, however, that aldermen and women who oppose a resolution show up on the day the votes are cast so as to prevent its passage. It's time for D.J. Wilson to recall his writing lessons and cut the crap.
Michele Cerutti

REEL MIFFED
It is unfair and irresponsible of your reviewer to reveal the ending of The Perfect Storm in the first paragraph ("Surf's Down," RFT, June 28)! This idiot didn't even warn us! What a jerk! Not everyone read the book, so the majority of the public probably doesn't even know what this movie is about, let alone the ending. As a movie critic, one should respect his audience. He may not like the movie, but it is not his right to spoil it for everyone else. This guy should never write another review again. I am a loyal fan of The Riverfront Times, and I love the movie reviews. But this is the first time I am offended by someone in the paper! If he was to reveal the ending, at least he should have the decency to warn the audience.
Sonny Ng

BATTLE CRY
I am saddened to hear about the shameful double murder that the county police have performed in the name of keeping our streets safe from drugs and drug violence ("Anti-Community Policing," RFT, June 21). I would say that drug cops in general have rightfully earned the distrust of millions of white and black Americans -- not to mention all the shades in between.

The Reagan administration was the first in the history of our Constitution to allow the U.S. military to attack citizens in the name of the "drug war." Well, the drug war is just that -- a war. The problem is that drugs have no ethics, morality or conscience. In Vietnam, at least we were fighting a rational enemy. Not only is it hard to try drugs in our judicial system, it is hard to get drugs to say anything at all. Therefore our nonvoting citizens have decided that it is OK for our military and police forces to be positioned for attack on those citizens who dare to associate with drugs. Our society cannot beat the substance abuse that fuels drug consumption. How can a poor drug-enforcement warrior defeat a citizen armed with such strong weapons as the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights? Easy as pie, if you have a license to kill. DEA warriors consider a citizen involved with drugs to have no morality, and therefore they deserve no ethical treatment under the law.

If we just edit the Bill of Rights to make it OK for citizens to kill drug users, we will have many times more warriors to fight this Vietnam of the 21st century. Who knows -- maybe those damned drug users will just die off, Darwin-style, and solve all our problems.

If any of this sounds disturbing to you, maybe it's because it is just a sarcastic description of the state of the war. U.S. Sen. John Ashcroft and other congressmen are actively and furiously fighting to include a set of dangerous clauses to any which bill they can. These clauses, appearing in the misnamed Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act and new Bankruptcy Reform Bill, are a law-enforcement wish list for even more powerful anti-citizen weaponry.

Certain passages would make it a federal crime to disseminate harm-reduction and/or responsible-use information concerning any controlled substance. Other parts of this legislation would allow law-enforcement agencies to conduct secret searches of citizens' homes without giving property owners an inventory of seized intangible items, such as computer data. Still more ludicrous, one passage would also allow the government to order Web sites censored and shut down without any due process of law and without any notice given to the Web site's owner.

Please stand up and call attention to these dangerous bills and our apparent apathy toward these actions. We spend billions of dollars incarcerating thousands of nonviolent lower-level offenders, while studies suggest that investing $1 million in drug treatment programs would be 15 times more effective at reducing serious crime than enacting more mandatory sentences for drug offenses.
Jeremy Wolf

There are so many things wrong in the "Commentary" that I don't know where to begin.

I'm taking for granted the fact that Ronald Beasley knew Earl Murray was a drug dealer. If you associate with people you know are involved in illegal activities, even if you are not, you take your chances. I sympathize with his family. If he had already turned his life around and was maybe trying to convince Murray to do the same, then he truly is a casualty: wrong place, wrong time. The lesson is strong: Stay away from people involved in illegal activities. Unfortunately, sometimes pain is the only teacher. Schools and families (especially families) are not getting the message across. This is a cancer in society that is starting in the home.

(Murray's) family called his shooting murder. He sold cocaine to people. This is an undisputed fact. Cocaine kills certain people. What are the chances that people we will never hear about died from using cocaine he sold? And what is his responsibility in this? Why did he even bother trying to run?

If there is one thing the media has taught me, it's that when the police come for you, give up without a fight, don't say a word to anybody and eventually you'll walk, even if you're guilty.
Dean Holliday

A 2,000-pound vehicle can be used as a lethal weapon just as a gun can ("Short Cuts," RFT, June 28). So before you attack those who risk their lives on a daily basis to protect you, just remember that some of us may not come home at the end of our watch. To all police officers, be careful out there!
Bob Bates
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department

DOWNHILL RUN
Last week while driving in on Interstate 70 from St. Charles, where I presently live, we turned right onto North Grand and continued south to the Fox Theatre to see a show. I was absolutely stunned at the blight and rundown condition of that area, which was once part of beautiful St. Louis. Having been born and raised in this area, I couldn't believe the decay, knowing the millions of dollars poured into sports facilities for the financial benefit of out-of-town investors in the sports and entertainment field!

What is wrong with the elected officials in City Hall? Don't they give one good damn about anything other than financial gain for those that are already millionaires? Is this really how they want St. Louis to be presented to visitors to the city? St. Louis has always been a proud historical area, and many citizens feel, as I do, that there is continuing neglect on someone's part, as well as a lack of responsibility for cleaning up this terrible mess.

I should hope there are enough capable people to tackle the solution and restore the city to its old-time pride and all it has to offer to the new century. I am 78 years old, and I've always related to stories of the old days passed on to me by my father and elders.... It's ridiculously pitiful that the so-called big shots of St. Louis cannot get off their duffs and do something constructive!
C.L. Westfall

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