By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Hypocritical and dangerous: In her article "Unlocking the Gong" (August 2), Rose Farley presents the members of the Dallas Falun Dafa group as very sympathetic characters. It is easy to be taken in initially; they are people who are, for the most part, soft-spoken and promoting what seems to be a noble cause. The qi gong exercises they teach are wonderful and do make a dramatic difference in one's energy level.
There is, however, a very dark side to Falun Dafa. Its leader, Li Hongzhi, has most of his followers completely brainwashed, and some of his teachings are quite dangerous. If "Master Li" is not trying to create a religion with himself as its God, why does he instruct his followers to throw away their statues of the Buddha and put his photo in their place? Why does he tell them to call out to him when they are in trouble?
He claims that one cannot practice Buddhism or even other practices such as Tai Chi because it will make the substances of Falun Gong impure.
As far as the practice itself requiring little on the part of the practitioners, this is entirely untrue. Li strongly states many rules of conduct that one must follow and threatens that either all of your accumulated energy will disappear or become malformed if you break them, yet they claim there is no punishment? One is not permitted to smoke, drink any alcohol or eat meat.
In addition, Li states that being gay is an evil, equivalent in its evil qualities to murdering. In a lecture he gave, he stated that homosexuals were less than human, they were more like animals, and they should be annihilated.
How interesting that the members compare Jiang Zemin to Hitler, when their own leader also thinks that an entire group of people should be destroyed. Does this fit with the concept of "compassion and tolerance"?
There is no doubt in my mind that Falun Dafa is a cult; it fits every definition of the word. And it is a hypocritical and dangerous one at that.
Jennifer A. Walz
The cowardly Jose Plata: After Lois Parrott ("Divided She Stands," August 16) won her third election to the DISD school board for District 3, I reminded her that she was "swimming with sharks." However, in Jose Plata's case, he is more like a jellyfish. When the Dallas school board voted to fire Bill Rojas, only one trustee voted to keep "Wild Bill" on as superintendent. Was it his very close friend, Trustee Jose Plata, who brought him to Dallas? No. It was George Williams! It seems that Mr. Plata couldn't, wouldn't and didn't even show up for the vote. With friends like Mr. Plata, who needs enemies? And that's no lie.
We support Lois: Several members of our local LULAC council volunteered to assist DISD Trustee Lois Parrott during her last two elections. She won her last election with more than 79 percent of the votes cast. The noted political activist Saul Alinsky would always recommend the advice, "Pick a target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it." I'd say Lois knows all too well Alinsky's teachings and plays by the rules as she serves her constituency. Those who don't understand Alinsky's use of ridicule as man's most potent weapon would also underestimate the support Lois has not only from within her district but outside as well. Great job, Lois. Keep plugging.
Gehrig M. Saldana
Vice President, Dallas LULAC Council 4496
Commitment to crappy service: I was surprised but not shocked to read Robert Wilonsky's article about Landmark kicking out long-term tenant Theresa Alexander and closing down her bar in favor of some other enterprise that would help the ailing theater compete with the Angelika Film Center ("Last Call?" August 16). Landmark president Paul Richardson can wallow in all the denial he wants, but Wilonsky's analysis is right on target: The Angelika could well torpedo the old movie house, for Dallas' liberal set has always had a tendency to be very trendy and has more than once left its old nesting grounds for something cool and new.
In my view, though, Landmark's biggest enemy is itself. Its customer service sucks, and everyone from the ticket booth attendant to the concession stand folks act like they're doing you a favor when they do their jobs. One time, I actually had to wait for my ticket while the attendant took a call on his cell phone. From what I gathered from the conversation, the caller wanted to know what the attendant was doing after work. That wait pissed me off, and the people behind me were pretty pissed, too. However, when I went to the Angelika on its opening weekend, the gentleman in the ticket booth addressed me as "sir," as did the person behind the concession stand and the gentleman who took my ticket. I felt respected and appreciated for the lousy $20 I just spent.
Wilonsky is right: Landmark's "business decision" concerning Theresa Alexander's fate comes at a very bad time. Landmark made this press; they are, again, their own worst enemy. But because of that and their reliably crappy service, I plan to make this business decision: I'll opt for the better service at the Angelika any day, because I don't have to pay people my money to give me an attitude--I can get that for free.