By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
KKK diatribe: Can you be any more bigoted, Wilonsky? OK, you don't like Sean Penn as a person or actor ("Sam I Slam," January 24). Fine. You think a movie about people with autism is needless pandering for an Oscar, maybe. But when you refer to people with autism as "retards" you have shown you have no knowledge whatever of the world they live in. The very world the movie tries to depict, you call "strident and cardboard." What do you know? You just proved you are so ignorant on the subject of cognitive and social disabilities that you have no right to even view this movie, much less critique it. The world of people with autism is strident and cardboard, but then how would you know?
To start with, using a word like "retards" to describe autistics is no less bigoted than describing the black population in America as "niggers," and no less insulting. These are people that have problems, but they are persons! Call them that! Your attitude here is not any better than a KKK diatribe.
As for the comment about Sam working at a Starbucks, what did you want them to call it--"a National Chain Coffee Shop?" Thank goodness there are places like Starbucks that hire people with autism, and Starbucks does. Not all people with autism will go to work for the government as code-crackers (as in the other movie on autism) or in private businesses that can see beyond the challenges these people face and encourage them to become productive members of society. Many will be forced into dull, lifeless jobs, or face years of no employment at all. With attitudes like yours, most will end up as the poor souls we step around daily on the streets of downtown Dallas.
And just so you become more educated on the subject, the whole story line of this movie is not so far-fetched. People with autism do have normally developing children, some of whom are absolutely brilliant. They have to fight constantly to keep their parental rights, mainly because of bigoted attitudes like yours.
You may know something about movies, but you know nothing about the lives of those you have so lightly insulted. I hope you are man enough to apologize and spend some time finding out how you can help people like Sam.
Shame on you and shame on the Dallas Observer for printing this type of rubbish.
Robert Wilonsky responds: In the film, Sean Penn's character is described as both retarded and autistic, as there is a difference. And I do not use the term "retard" as a pejorative.
Pretty hot: What a great week for letters to the editor at the Observer last week (January 17). Your restrained use of headline always left me a little unclear as to your stance on these, but verbose political coverage is always most likely to bring out the crackpots. Last week, I was so entertained to see five.
Only two points are worth making on these. First of all, poor little Mr. Christensen fails to realize that running letters from crackpots is "balanced news and opinions." More's the pity there's not a single other significant daily newspaper within 300 miles that he could make a comparison to, so here's another shot at the DMN, as if that's news to anyone.
That said, I'd like to point out that Domingo Garcia is pretty hot.
Profiting from pot: Considering that my local Clear Channel radio station out of Marion, Illinois, has a great DJ by the name of Stoney Baby, it is only right that Clear Channel supports the subculture that it profits from ("Radio Haze," January 24). While a full-blown radio show may not be feasible, they should at the very least offer public service announcements alerting listeners to legislative initiatives, petition drives and protest rallies. Giving their listeners access to this type of information could empower them to change the laws that so adversely affect their lives, really putting them in the know.
Willie's weed: We at Rio Grande Mud Radio (www.riograndemud.com) have been running the Willie Nelson NORML ads for almost six months now and would jump at the chance to have Rick Day's show air on our station on a weekly basis. While I'm not a pot smoker, I find it absurd that using a substance that is less addictive and less dangerous than alcohol is deemed worthy of prison time and heavy fines.
If you can get Rick in touch with me, I can get his program aired on a network of about 180 Internet radio stations, and he can say whatever the hell he wants. I know his show would go over well.
Wipe out dirty cops: I think Laura Miller should be mayor of Dallas, and I'm not just saying this because I'm a female or because I'm just 21. I agree with what she's doing and what she's done. Jim Schutze's article ("A Hole in Every Pot," January 10) was well-done, because now I know who I'll be voting for. And this Dave A. Vance guy (Letters, January 10) has it all wrong. The woman just spoke her mind freely, and what's wrong with that? Nothing. I think highly of her for that. She just wants things to get in shape, and I, for one, am with her on that.