By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Alternative theory: Having just finished reading the third of your three articles concerning the bathtub shooting in South Dallas during the height of the Jamaican cocaine period in Dallas ("Rude Boy," by Julie Lyons, December 25), I want to compliment you on your skillful reporting and excellent descriptive writing. I also want to challenge you to consider an alternative viewpoint from the one I believe you've taken in characterizing these events.
Uzi asked you if you'd ever seen Scarface, the movie. Interesting that the violence in that movie is paralleled by the violence that occurred in Dallas in the late '80s and early '90s. Why should that be so? Why is marijuana selling at something like $200 per ounce? Does the clerk at 7-Eleven have a gun in his belt? I have long believed that laws meant to uphold a certain standard of morality or decency, apart from those protecting life and property, should be regarded as violations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Why should sinners be required to conform to the niceties of abstinence imposed upon them by their betters under the threat of incarceration by the state? The failure of laws against prostitution, drugs and gambling, plus their obvious connection to organized crime, show that these laws are ineffective in enforcing that conformity but very effective in bringing to life violence and the breakup of families, as well as corruption, funding of guerrillas and terrorists and the destabilization of Third World countries. Just imagine, well-intentioned moralists have brought about a world of evil by refusing to grant to their fellow citizens the right to be sinners without attempting to impose punishment upon them in this world. How tragic. Tough love ain't always love, is it?
Alternative view: Having lived in Oak Cliff since 1974, I have had the opportunity of witnessing the continuing mythology of "South Dallas" (the term used by the ignorant living north of downtown). Yes, drug posses did exist, and yes, it was violent; even in my quiet neighborhood across the creek from the Wynnewood apartments before their renovation, gunfire was common. I remember even tracking a Jamaican gofer who trod through my neighborhood back to a hideaway in those apartments; he carried a Bible that no doubt concealed a handgun.
The fact is that crime knows no geography. Why not some stories about the crime going on in the northern suburbs, the use of heroin and speed in Anglo communities and schools and the corporate crimes committed by companies such as a few of our local energy companies that fund paramilitary squads around the globe to beat down the local indigenous peoples?
But my reason for writing is to say enough with such stories: This is the second such you have done within the last year as I recall...nearly a carbon copy of plots and characters. These kind of stories may be intriguing reading for your average reader, but I can tell you unequivocally that it only continues to add to a grossly false image etched into the local Dallas and suburban mythology that "South Dallas" is a terrible place to live. It is this falsehood, with its primary origins in racism, that has continued to hold back investment, jobs and development south of the Trinity River. How about some stories that show the majesty of the diverse cultures living there, the beauty of the land of hills and trees and creeks, where children actually play out in the street and in the many parks, unlike what I observe in Allen, Frisco and much of Plano, for instance, areas that benefited directly from this racist mythology.
Prohibition blues: Jim Schutze's essay published in Christmas Day's Dallas Observer ("Moby DEA") included this line: "If the city launches a probe of standard operating procedures in the police department regarding fake drugs and can't even figure out that the DEA just did the same thing, it means they are one of three things: 1) nuts, 2) stupid or 3) stupid nuts."
There's a fourth, more serious and likely option: All prohibitionists are crooks. Drug prohibition increases youth access, substance abuse and homicide rates--just as during alcohol prohibition. Accordingly, all drug warriors, from street cop to drug czar, violate Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, not to mention long-established restraint of trade, monopoly and antitrust laws. In case your schoolbooks were traded for DARE salaries, the specific law referenced above states: "Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort."
Fight real crime. Or just say no.
Bridge Too Far
That smell: I wonder if anyone ever pointed out to Santiago Calatrava that his bridges over the Trinity River ("Spanish Fly," by Jim Schutze, December 18) have to be high enough to clear barge traffic. Say what? That's right, the Trinity is classified as a navigable waterway. Any structure over it has to be clear of river traffic. Don't believe me? Take a look at the Jefferson Avenue bridge and the Houston Street viaduct. They both start out at about the same grade level. But where they cross the Trinity River channel, the Jefferson Avenue bridge humps up considerably higher. It was built to conform to the federal specifications. The same thing is noticeable where Walton Walker Boulevard crosses the river north of Interstate 30. Also, at times you can even smell the discharge from sewage-treatment plants upstream from that location.
On another aspect of the town lake potential fiasco, the late Max Goldblatt said it best when he declared, "Mrs. Stewart can't make enough bluing to make a Trinity town lake look like the architect's renderings." Rock on, Max.
Roy H. Kinslow