Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:
In theory, I am a believer in the axiom that states, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." After reading last week's letters to the editor, however, I can't resist the urge to lash out.

I am referring specifically to the two letters to the editor concerning the concealed-weapons issue. These are the latest installments in a long line of inane rants penned by unenlightened and misguided conservatives who apparently have devoted disturbingly large amounts of time to spewing venom at Ray Hartmann and us foolish liberals who actually buy into his hippie propaganda. I wish that these aforementioned individuals would do themselves a favor by not baring their ignorance for all to see, as well as doing the rest of us a favor by allowing us the opportunity to read letters which might convey intelligent thoughts based in truth and reality.

Sal Sawyer claims that those opposed to Proposition B are "for stripping people of basic human rights ... (and) for the continued existence of one of the last Jim Crow laws on the books." The last time I checked, basic human rights involved things like food, clean water and protection from torture. As far as the Jim Crow allegation is concerned, the minor detail of racial inequity seems to be missing from the picture. Either Mr. Sawyer is frighteningly ignorant or he is just trying to conjure up some sort of justification for the fact that he thinks the idea of carrying around a big, mean gun is really cool.

Nick Kasoff points to "the infants and children shot in recent drive-by incidents" as evidence that the current policy of prohibiting concealed weapons must not be working. Maybe he's right; had these innocent toddlers been strapped, they could have opened fire at the first sign of the big, bad thugs creeping around dark street corners in their low-riders. Otherwise, I fail to see the logic behind the assertion that the presence of more guns will help to safeguard children who could potentially get caught in the crossfire. As if this were not convincing enough, Mr. Kasoff reminds us that "to the landlord who collects cash rent in dangerous neighborhoods, a concealed weapon will protect him from the hungry robber." Simply the thought of this feeble, industrious soul navigating the urban battlefield without his trusty revolver is enough to bring a tear to my eye.

Great job, guys; as if it weren't logically destitute already, your statements have exposed yet more deficiencies in your position. If you insist on reading a newspaper whose editorial stance is obviously contrary to your beliefs, at least spare the rest of us the agony of reading your incoherent diatribes. Besides, I'm sure that they would be met with a much warmer reception in Rush Limbaugh's newsletter or the NRA weekly.

Aaron Breakstone

To the Editor:
I believe Proposition B has two major defects and should be defeated.
First, it does not restrict the caliber of firearm one may carry. If passed, Prop B will permit a licensed individual to carry a high-caliber weapon, like a 357 Magnum. Those familiar with the power of this weapon will recognize that it has the force to penetrate multiple surfaces. A weapon such as this could go through an individual, a wall or two, and strike another individual, causing grievous harm or death.

Second, I feel the minimum age required under Prop B to carry a concealed weapon, 21, is too low. Insurance companies recognize that the majority of automobile accidents involve individuals 25 and under. One of the contributing factors being that, as the adage states, the older you get the wiser you get. Requiring a minimum age of 26 to carry a concealed weapon would provide an increased level of personal maturity those 21 and under have not yet attained.

Proposition B should be voted down and resubmitted with a restriction on the caliber of handgun one may carry, and an increase in the age requirement.

John R. Stoeffler

To the Editor:
In response to the anti-NRA "Commentary" by Mr. Hartmann ("A Dangerous Call to Arms," RFT, March 3), I would like to say I was concerned about the "shall-carry" vote coming up April 6. I got some information (from a police officer) about the real statistics in states that allow their citizens to protect themselves, as is provided by our Second Amendment.

Crime is down in the carry states, even Florida, in spite of what the Bradys say. New York City, with the Sullivan Law, has the strictest gun-control laws on the books, but that hasn't helped them control crime. In fact, New York City has 23 homicides per 100,000 people, while Seattle, in Washington state, a right-to-carry state, has 11 homicides per 100,000 people. If the purpose of gun control is to reduce crime and stop criminals, it hasn't worked. In a survey of prisoners locked up for crimes against people involving bodily injury, the majority of those imprisoned stated their greatest fear was that the person they were planning to attack would have a gun. They feared privately owned guns more than police guns. Now that's a deterrent! It's not just an accident that Switzerland has never been in a war and has the lowest crime rates in the entire world. Each Swiss citizen is provided a rifle and ammunition and is considered an able part of a militia of normal citizens. Switzerland has no standing army: The people stand up for themselves. It is interesting to note that in situations where tyranny over the people exists today, such as Cuba, stripping the people of their guns was the first step. The Nazi Weapon Law of 1938, signed by Adolf Hitler, required police permission to own a handgun. Had the Jews not been stripped of their guns, they might have been able to protect themselves from slaughter.

I, for one, am not about to write off the Second Amendment. An armed citizenry is a protected one.

Judy Hogan


To the Editor:
I wanted to comment about the recent article by Eddie Silva featuring Wash. U. professor Jo Noero ("Shelter from the Norm," RFT, March 3). While reading the letter to the editor by Samuel M. Glasser, I couldn't help but notice that Glasser, who is so moved by the Arch to say that it "gives (him) endless hope and inspiration as (he plans) for the week ahead" was designed by one of those crazy, good-fer-nuffin', "I'm switching to engineering" architects that he disdains, Eero Saarinen.

That Glasser is so impressed by the Arch is ironic, because it seems that otherwise his response to other modern architecture such as that in Noero's portfolio and his plans for Bohemian Hill is one of ignorant disgust: "Looks like a pretty strange collection of half-finished junk to me."

In his Bohemian Hill project, Noero is seeking to breathe new, socially responsible life into an otherwise languishing, hardheaded city. While his buildings may not look precisely like the old St. Louis buildings that you love, Mr. Glasser, I am certain he wishes to add his buildings in an effort to improve the city, not destroy it. Look around you: New and old buildings can coexist harmoniously. To reject his "ugly ducklings" (you're basing your entire opinion of his buildings on one exterior photo each?) because you're nostalgic for "good old St. Louis" shows that you are symptomatic of some kind of 1904-related syndrome, a belief in a myth of false grandeur that deludes you into finding your "endless hope" in the Arch. Get real. It isn't 1904 anymore.

Professor Noero is a tremendously creative and intelligent person, and his experience in South Africa shows that he is highly principled and dedicated to social justice. He will do great things for St. Louis.

Chris Timmerman
Student, Washington University
School of Architecture

To the Editor:
The purpose of this letter is to respond to your article on Jo Noero. I think Jo's observations potentially open important dialogue about St. Louis as a city, both its past and its future. I am a lifelong resident of St. Louis, as was my father before me. I am also an architect and alumnus of Beaumont High School and Washington University. After a few days' reflecting on the article, I have the following comments.

1. Trends and fashions: Many of Noero's criticisms about the St. Louis projects that detract from the urban nature of the city result from a broader phenomenon of American culture, which is a passion to emulate the latest trends and fashions rather than nurture projects from local conditions. The Arch is similar to Pompidou Center in Paris or the John Hancock Tower in Boston. These projects proclaim the same modernist mathematical purity founded in technology and industrialization. They basically separate visually from their surrounding context and stand alone, often creating a formal wasteland.

2. Attitudes about St. Louis: Noero rightly senses a negative attitude from St. Louisans regarding the inner city, but I do not believe it is at all the same attitude expressed by Eastern Europeans. Let me cite recent (within my lifetime) major pilot projects built to help "turn St. Louis around." I am sure there are many I'm forgetting: Busch Stadium and garages, St. Louis Center, the Union Station renovation, the ill-begotten Civic Mall, the Trans World Dome, the rebirth of Lafayette Square, Soulard, the Arch, Laclede's Landing, Mercantile Tower, Bell Tower, the Casino Queen, Mansion House, the Plaza Apartments, St. Louis University, Barnes medical complex, numerous in-fill projects, etc., etc. None of these projects, taken singularly or collectively, has had the ripple effect many hoped for. So projects, no matter how instructive they may be regarding the benefits of city life, will not themselves start a catalytic movement back to the city.

The problem is demographics. The city of St. Louis is not experiencing growth; in fact, it has been declining yearly in population. This decline is usually blamed on more visible concerns such as deteriorating buildings and racism, but these are false targets, only useful in serving political agendas. St. Louis has lost population due to regional and national relocation and other unfortunate social and economic phenomenon impossible to decipher. The one hope for growth is to make the city fashionable again, and this is the best time I've seen during my lifetime to accomplish that.

3. Making cities human: In the 1950s in my backyard in North St. Louis, my father invited the neighbors and challenged them about leaving and moving to the suburbs. "You can walk to four churches; five schools; a beautifully developed park with playgrounds, tennis courts and ball fields; two grocery stores; three confectioneries; a bakery; multiple taverns; bowling alleys; the barbershop; the doctor; a cleaners; the hardware store; the dime store; pharmacies (then called drugstores); several service stations; and even a nightclub. You are moving out where they have nothing and you need your car to go everywhere. You'll live to regret it," he admonished.

Ten years later he was practically alone, still without air-conditioning and television, proclaiming that both reinforced suburban growth because they made people spend time inside (more insular), making people less sociable (less urban). In all the urban-design lectures I've heard and books I've read, none said it better than Dad. Jo Noero and my dad would have been ideological as well as practical compatriots had they known each other.

In conclusion, let me sum up by reiterating that Noero is right:
1. Generally the elite of the design culture have historically been more concerned with trends and fashion than building neighborhoods.

2. There is a "can't do" attitude that is unique to this city, caused by a lack of growth. Growth is needed to stimulate a return to city living. Throughout the country, growing areas experience change and evolution, creating new opportunities for different lifestyles. This is what is needed in St. Louis.

3. Cities can be human when the population is sufficient to support neighborhood-scale cultural and commercial uses.

This was an excellent article about a very upbeat and articulate visionary.
Louis R. Saur


To the Editor:
I have reference to Thomas Crone's "Radio Active" article (RFT, March 3), which offered this fascinating and garbled insight: "He (Ytzaina) loves Dinesh D'Souza and Alan Keyes. His most disquieting tendency, one that cannot be laughed off so easily, is to blast callers with a trademark line: 'Sieg heil, fellow American!' even as he's quick to put down David Duke for "'white tribalism.'"

Do you actually pay Crone? English 101 is beyond his ken. He obviously has never heard of ironic usage. The "Sieg heil" blast from me brilliantly highlights the totalitarian imperative inherent in modern liberalism -- an insight that I share with Keyes and D'Souza. For Crone's edification, this blistering response is given to disquieting callers who want the Secret Service to deal with me for my attitude toward Clinton; those who favor drilling holes in babies' heads; or support the actual and proposed destruction of the ill and the elderly.

Finally, a modest suggestion. Given his journalistic acumen, why not assign your Crone to writing "flesh wanted" ads?

Ray Ytzaina


To the Editor:
How I wish Eddie Silva's art review of Mike Javernick's show ("Now You See It," RFT, March 2) had been less compromised by vitriol. As it was, whatever critical point he endeavored to make was dissipated on the instant of his ad hominem attacks guised as alternative-press irony such as the Disney and Mr. Science comparisons. I have spoken with a handful of people about the review, about half of them unknown to Javernick, and every conversation has just as quickly strayed from the relative merits of the show into aghast convo about local artpolitik.

I wish I could say I was clear on the matter myself. It certainly was emblematic of the kind of reviewing I have heard the RFT unjustly accused of in the past, one in which silly resort to glib ad hominem only served to suggest that the reviewer was out of his depth. Reference to Blake and Frost, indeed. Making literary references when criticizing a visual artist is the first resort of the snob. Please know that I'm not protesting Silva's opinion or even the likelihood of having a negative opinion of the show. Rather, I'm disappointed to witness Silva's obvious lack of critical equanimity.

Neal Durando

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