When you're right, you're right
As the old saying goes, "Two out of three ain't bad." Ann Zimmerman's article in the August 3-9 issue is headlined "Angry Right Men." I agree that from the perspective furnished by the Observer, I am to the political right and I am a man. But angry I am not. God has blessed me with a good life, wonderful family, and great job. Actually it is a job in which I have several leadership roles and deal with a lot of issues in addition to the one highlighted in the article. Other Commissioners Court members also have leadership roles and issue interests. And most of the time we agree on policy or at least reach unanimous consensus, although from time to time we split votes along no uniform or particular pattern. I am a happy man.
Obviously, from my perspective, many of the opinions presented in the article are facts only if viewed from another perspective. Fully informed, I believe many more of my constituents would share my perspective than the one presented. And regardless of what anyone says or thinks, I have no interest in being "boss." I choose, instead, to work on a good team. And the Dallas County Commissioners Court is a good team.
I will, however, stand my ground and fight as hard as anyone for the principles in which I believe. And while I feel responsible only for doing my best, not particularly for results, of course it makes me happy to be effective. If I weren't being effective those of other persuasions wouldn't be worried about me, Ms. Zimmerman wouldn't write about me, and the Observer would save its ink. I am a happy man. Thanks!
Dallas County Commissioner, Precinct 1
Like many, I am at odds as to why ultraconservative fundamentalists are rabidly ready to attack and slander gays, liberals, feminists, Democrats, environmentalists, pro-choice advocates, psychologists, intellectuals, evolutionists, the public school system and separation of church and state--while they remain content in allowing the poor to go hungry, the sick to get sicker, and the homeless to become pariahs.
Sounds like a real hatefest to me. Not like real Christianity at all. And, as if their music of American decline were already not enough, these godless hypocrites are now force-feeding us all with ill-conceived public policy decisions such as those foisted on Dallas by County Commissioner Jim Jackson and his horde of hyenas.
What's the matter, Jim? Doesn't the Southern Baptist Convention contain enough truth to convince us heathen masses to change our ways and live the way you want us to? Do your fundamentalist beliefs hold such little water that you have to cross the line and push your freely chosen theological beliefs down everyone's throat?
What's the matter with you, Jim Jackson?
And, by the way, do you know where I can get a "mental condom," so that I can protect myself, my friends and my family from the rampant social disease you seem to have connected with God Almighty?
Oh, yeah, I forgot. Total abstinence is the fundamental solution.
I'll bet you didn't get off the hook with your BeloWatch column ("BeloWatch and Tatum," August 10-16). Thank goodness for "Letters to the Editor" and thanks for printing those regarding your BeloWatch column on Mr. Henry Tatum's unfortunate incident. I read your BeloWatch column regarding the incident and didn't really give it much thought until I read the letters in response to it and your own response to what you had written the week before. You guys are really off the mark.
The BeloWatch Tatum article was lurid, crude, and mean-spirited. Perhaps the News should have written something, but I really don't think it necessary; frankly, I didn't know who Mr. Tatum is and neither do most folks. All the other incidents written about in the News that you reference in your lame response were public figures, including the former director of the museum. Your own
BeloWatch "response" seems to rationalize what you wrote by saying, "We're not as bad as the News, but we're trying." Come on now. I add my voice to those who have contacted you and say, "For shame."
There are some levels of decency in print, and you didn't even reach the first one in the article or your response. If you seek to compete with the News on the lurid front, that's up to you.
Your attempts to justify your unprincipled reporting of Mr. Tatum's troubles just won't wash. At best they show that you are no better than those you condemn. You point a finger at the News, and yelp, "She did it first!" like some child who has been caught hitting his sister. Sorry. It doesn't work with children, or for you. Your claimed need to expose a cover-up at the News is particularly unconvincing. Since when is not publicizing a colleague's personal problems a cover-up? And justifying what you did in order to show Mr. Tatum's hypocrisy of "family values" is specious.
Frederick C. Moss
The blame game
I've just finished reading your latest issue (August 10-16) and I can't believe you are the alternative to mainstream news: a double-billed feature on misplaced charity in the hands of a poor black woman ("Acting Out"), and a cover story on black hate as espoused by Nation of Islam leader Jeffery Muhammad ("Black Man's Burden").
To my Latina perspective, these back-to-back stories say more about you than what you think you said. You exposed the poverty of two individuals who have responded to a cruel world as they best can--with manipulation, blame, even hate. But through the stylish pseudo-sympathy that masquerades as your progressive coverage, you betray your worst fears--that blacks and poor people don't deserve kindness, and we don't have to feel guilty because they hate us anyway. You can do better than this.
Your reporters, Laura Miller included, rarely reveal anything but subconscious family history. If you were really interested in the good story, expose white hate a la Gingrich, the culture of black-hating that whites and Latinos grew up with, and the resultant poverty--not material but spiritual--that whites suffer as a result. Provide real meaning and context for your stories, instead of trivia and cartoons on Thursday. But it's too much fun to pretend that you're different. Enjoy the fantasy. I want the truth.
In response to Arnold Pan's article "Welcome to Hell's Lobby" (July 27) on the ever-burgeoning music scene in Denton, I have a few opinions on this subject. One voice commented an opinion that Denton could not sustain or support the vast pool of Denton's local "UNT flavored" music groups and bands.
As of this moment, I partially agree. But I do believe a few well-financed Fry Street investors opening a few more music venues in addition to the ones already in existence could (1) make a substantial profit, and (2) allow Denton's music mecca to have enough local stages for these same musicians to forevermore forget there is a Dallas or Fort Worth. Only New York and Los Angeles would be their next stop (as it is for many of them already).
Jim G. Plummer
The price of free speech
Re: Your published complaints that recent public decency appeals of Senator Bob Dole and others constitute threats to the right of free speech. ("Fight the power," by Robert Wilonsky, July 6, 1995). All constitutional rights, including free speech, end at the point at which somebody else's rights begin. Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose. We have no protected right to say anything we please, to anybody, anywhere, anytime; because everybody has a right to protection from verbal assault, abuse and harassment--not to mention that good manners mandate respect for other people's culturally derived, reasonable sensibilities.
I hear no call to restrict anybody's proper right to free expression, among consenting adults, in an appropriate setting. Today's controversy arises because some advocates of unrestricted profanity are boldly usurping public forums to ram down everybody's throats a bizarre partisan agenda of rude, sexually intrusive public behavioral standards.
Yes, "shit happens," as they so often publicly remind us; but that inevitability does not give the generator of that commodity the right to fling it into other people's faces. Restrict "art?" Sure. We see dog excrement on the sidewalks every day, but its mundane ubiquity does not make it art, and gives nobody the right to rub the public's nose in it.
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Some sassy people, whose social interactions are restricted to the backwater cultural cesspools of New York-Hollywood, haughtily sneer at verbal decency as an indicator of provincialism; but media-entertainment moguls who inject gratuitous profanity and graphic sex into their public offerings are the true provincials.
Our own natural disaster
As a reader I am very disappointed to see the weekly Earthwatch omitted from the paper. This was the only steady source of information on global phenomena and natural disasters available in print. Observer's Earthwatch was the only section of the paper that was completely factual. It was the only feature of the weekly rag that could not be labeled trash, and now it's gone. I would ask politely that Earthwatch be reinstated. However, since the Observer never asks politely for anything, I'll simply insist.