By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Death and Dignity
Well done, Mr. Stowers: I have just finished reading the article "Death Angel" (September 14). It is probably the most interesting and well-written article that I've ever read in your publication. I was particularly impressed that Carlton Stowers didn't attempt to editorialize upon his own beliefs about the death penalty; rather, he left it up to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.
Well done, Mr. Stowers.
Sterilized killings: I have opposed the death penalty ever since it was reinstated. As a former Texan, it embarrasses me to hear about each of these "sterilized killings" and claims that no innocent or retarded man has been put to death. Reading Mr. Stowers' article made me see that I am a hypocrite. For all my talk and for all my votes against the Bushes, I still slept soundly after each Texas execution while Chaplain Pickett lay awake talking into a recorder about what he had witnessed because he could not violate his sacred office by telling his story.
Thank God he finally did. And thank you for publishing it.
The Rev. Joe Dunagan
Moved to tears: This is the second article (the first was "Killing Machine," June 29) in your publication that has endeavored to put a human face on the process that Ted Koppel has described as "sterilized killing."
I was moved to tears by this article about a man who managed never to inject his personal beliefs into this messy debate. While he disagreed with execution both religiously and philosophically, I think that the Rev. Pickett has exemplified the truest qualities of a Christian man. He put aside his beliefs to minister, regardless of right or wrong. He chose to be a comfort to souls truly in need of forgiveness and redemption.
The Rev. Pickett reminds me most of the God I believe in--not a vengeful God who demands retribution, but a loving and merciful God who welcomes to the kingdom of heaven all who are truly repentant .
While there is a portion of society that views Death Row inmates as nothing more than vermin to be exterminated, the Rev. Pickett spent his days restoring some modicum of humanity and decency to the condemned. Would that there were more on this earth like him than the bloodthirsty who cry out for vengeance and cheer every time there is an execution in Huntsville. For as the Lord himself said, "Let he among you who is without fault throw the first stone..."
No victims here: I take issue with Mr. Pickett's portrayal of men on Death Row as victims; in his words, "They were talking somewhere deep inside, from years of carrying around the knowledge of crime and sin and immorality...they are heavy burdens most of us can't begin to imagine."
Yes, Mr. Pickett, I can't imagine, because there is a segment of the population out there that did not grow up privileged or affluent and still managed to follow the Golden Rule; managed to escape the temptation of drug abuse; managed not to blame an alcoholic, suicidal parent (like mine) for their "lot in life." We struggled to make a good life for ourselves and believed that another man's property, life, and family were inviolate--who are we to steal and murder and take that away?
I guess it's the 10- to 12-hour days I put in at work 5 or 6 days a week in order to be a productive member of society and put food on the table that cause me to be callous toward these men and women. No one forced them to take drugs or alcohol; no one forced them to rob and rape and steal. Do I believe the death penalty is a deterrent to crime? I don't care if it is or not--all I care about is that those who don't follow the rules after so many chances deserve to stand in front of their creator and be judged. I will concede that many cases need to be revisited given the rise in DNA technology expertise, but the endless appeals and waiting need to go away!
You know, maybe I will just throw away my life and not have any responsibilities or cares--I will take what I want without having to work for it. I'll steal from those who worked so hard to provide for their families, and if they put up a fight, I'll murder the men and rape the women. And if I get caught, so what! I'll spend year after year on the federal/state tit while a lawyer I don't have to pay for fights for my undeserving, wasted life. While my kids wonder where Daddy went and my wife has to work two jobs to provide a home/food/clothing, I'll be eating three square meals a day and saying thanks to America for the $30,000 or so a year it takes to take care of me. Hey, why not just cut me a check? What a bunch of crap!
I Am Far Superior
That ain't why the 'Boys lost: John Gonzalez writes in his article "Small Soldiers" (September 7) that he isn't going to try to insult us with the "X's and O's" of the game or pretend to know about stunts and blitzes...then he also shouldn't insult us readers that do know something about football with his complete "sports idiot" lack of knowledge and lack of accurate information when it comes to why the Cowboys defense, specifically the linebacker corps he references in his article, got pushed around against the Eagles.
True, the defense played poorly and I am not defending them, but also give credit to the Eagles offense for executing their plays consistently on a high level. The linebackers were constantly being drawn into coverage by receivers running short slants or out routes over the middle, which kept them off balance and prevented them from stacking the middle, and when they did stack the middle to stop the run, McNabb would throw the ball downfield. By midway through the second quarter, the defense was gassed because they had been on the field in the 160-degree heat (playing-surface temperature) twice as long as the offense.
Blame the defensive coaches for not being prepared for the Eagles offense and for not calling the correct defensive plays to stop them, on top of blaming the Cowboys offense for leaving the defense hanging out to dry because of their inability to move the ball, possession after possession. Let's see John Gonzalez strap on some heavy football pads and gear and run around Texas Stadium at 3 p.m. when it's 110 degrees outside for 25 minutes or so, chasing a 220-pound running back while fighting off 275-pound to 300-plus-pound linemen and see how well he does.
I wish to God that your paper would insert a credible sports section with accurate information. My girlfriend works for your paper, and I've begged her to pitch the idea to upper management...hell, I even told her I'd write weekly sports columns for free instead of having some intellectual, artsy-fartsy theater-arts guy like John Gonzalez insult me with his lack of sports knowledge.
Cooper's hall of shame: As I read Mr. Carlton Stowers' article on "Bam" Morris ("Fallen Star," September 7), I felt that another side of this story should be discussed. The people that were interviewed expressed an attitude that is not universal in this small town. Morris was always a troublemaker while in school and out. He was petted by the coaches and school officials because he could run the ball, but in reality he couldn't spell cat.
To some, that he could play ball was enough. There have been many people that "came" from Cooper that made themselves doctors, lawyers, professionals, or otherwise just had a job, paid their bills, left others alone, and raised their families. The idea that Morris was one of the few that went out and made something of himself (he really did make a name for himself, didn't he?) is just ludicrous. He got exactly what he asked for and what he deserved.
When Mr. Stowers goes out and looks around this small town for a hero, he should look for someone who deserves it and talk to people who will admit the truth about that person.
James W. Scott
Close to Home
Stuff like this really happens: I would like to thank you for printing the recent article "Contempt of Cop" (September 7). As a 24-year-old Hispanic male, this article hit close to home. Although I have never experienced this, I have known people, friends, etc. who have. I am glad that you've brought this into the spotlight. I am sure this is something Anglo-Americans have a hard time imagining, but it does happen.
What is more sad is that Hispanic people who hold seats with power don't do anything to help eliminate this violation of human rights. After reading your article, I was left with one question in mind: "How can I help?"
Something fishy in Denton: Charles Siderius wrote the best and most accurate article concerning the true picture of Denton County law enforcement ("The Untouchable," September 14). This is only the tip of the iceberg. We need more articles as good as this one to clear up the many problems within this county. I highly commend you, your paper, and Charles Siderius for this outstanding article. The citizens of Denton County have lived with this for more than six years and see no relief without someone like you to tell the public. I have had many calls concerning this article. Again, thanks.
Bret McCabe comes out on top: Re: Annabelle's pity party in the September 21 "Night & Day." I mean really, what's the deal with Annabelle Massey Helber? Either her editor was on vacation, or else this is a sick joke. I've seen the Dallas Observer get catty, but this is utterly ridiculous. And in light of the events that have taken place in the last 24 hours, this seems even more petty. The funny thing is, Bret McCabe still comes out on top, and I bet the DMA will still welcome him as a guest speaker, unemployed though he may be. Annabelle's only managed to burn some bridges and make the Observer look bad. This type of column is what makes me really sad to see The Met go. Shame on you, Annabelle.
River flip-flop: I listened to Laura Miller's radio talk show on Labor Day and also read the article written by Jim Schutze ("Sinking Fast," September 14). As I read and reflected on Albert Black's letter to the editor (September 21), I wondered if he was in the same world I live in. I believe he is overreacting as people do when they believe they are important. The article was mostly on The Dallas Morning News finally reporting the facts on the Trinity River fiasco.
I personally heard Black say he was willing to help Laura Miller put on community meetings to educate the citizens. Seems someone got to him fast, and he is backpedaling. Poor man. I believe he would be a very good leader if he would think for himself. Otherwise, I think he protests too much.