Letters

A Stinking Situation
Your several articles about collecting delinquent tickets is the best piece of investigative reporting to come out of this town in a long time. Kudos! The headline was correct [News, "Unequal Opportunity," by Brian Wallstin, January 19]. It's who you know, not what you are. The whole thing stinks.

Kevin Bragdon
Houston

Suffering Kraut
Messrs. O'Brien and O'Hagan's dermatologically challenged reaction to your Wolfe Tones review [Letters, January 5] adds the Irish to Opus the Penguin's list of "deeply and easily offended minority groups." I share their view, as my ancestors are from Mannheim. We Krauts have suffered, too.

My father spoke fluent German, but because I grew up in the '40s, I had to learn French instead. I identify with Art and Vince, the nuns rapping their knuckles whenever they spoke Gaelic.

Since then we Huns have endured a constant barrage of anti-Hun invective. From Victory at Sea, through countless documentaries on the Air War over Britain, the Blitzkrieg, the Luftwaffe, the Bulge, Stalingrad, the Afrika Corps, down to Colonel Klink and Sergeant Schultz, we've seen our countrymen get their fannies whacked on a weekly basis. Time-Life made millions depicting Heinies getting their heinies kicked all across Europe. But unlike the Irish, who only make news the day the bomb goes off, we have heard it continuously for 50 years.

But do we stand up and fight back? No, we dummkopfs just sit there and take it. We plod along in our dull Teutonic way, raising our families, sending the kids to Luther League, inventing rockets and aspirin and waxing our Beamers, pulling our thick Teutonic necks in a little further with each new TV special.

We -- especially our chemists -- can only stand in awe of the Irish, who took the work of Alfred Nobel and raised it to an art form. And who can forget Tonya Harding, that foine spalpeen of a colleen who took the Irish sport of kneecapping, heretofore exported only to Corsica and Sicily, and made it an Olympic event?

I am indebted to the O's for the lesson in Irish history, including the fact that 12, and potentially many more (those DNA tests take forever), Irishmen died at the Alamo. This figure is exceeded only by the number of U.S. presidents of German descent (42). I speak, of course, of Germany prior to the artificial boundaries imposed upon it in 1945 by the Irish and others. However, I am surprised by the rancor raised by the phrase, "Killing your neighbor over which church they're too hung over to attend." Sure, and 'tis a line of sheer poetry that might have been lifted from Sean O'Casey's "Shadow of a Gunman." James Joyce could not have put it more clearly. P.J. O'Rourke or Brendan Behan could have written it. Or Jonathan Swift.

Dick Sohn
Bellaire

Andell's Style
While I question the wisdom of a parent and defense attorney advising a juvenile to consent to have his court hearing taped for syndicated TV, thereby losing the anonymity afforded by the system, I think that Judge Eric Andell's TV program [News, "Video Pulpit," by Claudia Kolker, January 12] does inform viewers about the workings of the juvenile courts in Texas. I applaud Judge Andell's willingness to buck the trend to "get mean and nasty" with children. As a 12-year employee of the Juvenile Probation Department, I valued Judge Andell's personal style of dealing with defendants, as well as his tireless-ness in working for more and better treatment programs.

The unnamed judge quoted as saying that Judge Andell's is "a discredited approach to juvenile justice that we need to get away from" misses the point that Andell imposes the same conditions on juveniles as other judges, such as commitment to the Texas Youth Commission, placement in treatment facilities or a period of probation supervision. The key difference is that he does not fall into the trap of believing that if he is the 16th person to deal harshly with the juvenile, he will have success where the previous 15 failed. A judge who certifies a juvenile to stand trial as an adult, or imposes what he considers harsh conditions, is only passing the offender along to someone else to deal with; the judge himself has had no effect worth celebrating.

Mike Beck
Houston

Whither McGowen?
Excellent reporting and detailed story by Steve McVicker on "Killer Behind the Badge" [January 12].

My question is, "What is this sick 'wannabe,' Joseph Kent McGowen, doing now at the present time?" I pray that he is working at his dad's ranch and away from us.

Hector Lopez
Houston

A British View
In response to the letter of Vincent O'Brien [Letters, "Don't Trash the Irish," January 5], from a British subject in the American colonies: There are British subjects in the north of Ireland who are being protected by British soldiers. It is the British government's duty to protect its subjects at home and abroad. Not all of the British in the north of Ireland or throughout the world are anti-Irish. Mr. O'Brien stated that "Britain has long-standing acts of violence." It takes two to tango, sir!

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