Letters to the Editor

The Motorcycle Dialogues

Tier it up:I started this article thinking I was going to have to send you a caustic e-mail about another inaccurate bike story ["Speed Racers," by Ray Hafner, October 20]. However, I've found that I agree with almost everything in it! I'm an experienced rider; I've been road racing at the local and American Motorcyclist Association pro-road-racing level for 30 years off and on; and I do some flat-tracking. I also post at Houston Sportbike Network and have written for several magazines; the latest was a racing and sport bike column in Thunder Roads Texas called "The Fast Line."

I think the lesson of this is that there should be tiered licensing in Texas. I get much flak from fellow riders about this, but new riders should not be allowed to legally start out on 160-horsepower liter bikes. Tiered licensing is what they do in Europe. Now, I'm quite Libertarian, but some twentysomething adrenalized kid on a liter bike might hurt me or mine with his antics. This is not about just the freedom of the rider. It's about the safety of the public.

Thank you for giving me more ammunition to use on the boards, if nothing else.

Jack Giesecke
Port Lavaca

Defending Jim Blackburn

Working outside the lines:Forty-seven days this year Houston has exceeded safe ozone levels. Wetlands losses are near-legally unchecked. Unfair commercialization of water rights is now common. Uncontrolled sprawl is causing new areas to flood.

Confronting these and other issues by working "between the lines" has been mostly a losing battle for environmental attorneys like Jim Blackburn ["Switch Hitter," by Greg Harman, October 13]. The thought of improprieties on his part is ridiculous. There is a place for those who work "outside the lines," so long as they don't lose sight of reality. Diane's "grandstanding" result is the real loss here.

Jack Schwaller
Houston

Offender Bender

On the list: I'm sick of hearing about "sex offenders" ["No Redemption," by Margaret Downing, October 6]. They are singled out from all other lawbreakers and forced to be named on a public list of shame. What about drug dealers, bank robbers, drunk drivers -- murderers, even! How about people convicted of using illegal drugs? Or is that just too many of the so-called normal people?

Is there a study somewhere that proves that listing sex offenders does anything to help with crime? Hasn't it been proved already that most sex crimes with children are committed by their own parents or relatives? If that's true, how does a list of people caught committing a crime with their own children help the rest of the families living on their block?

It's just not logical. A list of sex offenders does not protect the public. It is a list of people that the rest of society can feel superior to. "Well, I just robbed my neighbor's home, but I'm no damned sex offender!"

How about the little boy who was sexually abused at the age of eight? Now he's 18 and molested his little sister. Put that boy's name on the sex offender list, pronto! He's a menace to society! Throw him out of the neighborhood! Lock him up, throw away the key! Where's the common sense in that? Let's try to help that boy and not destroy his life. When do we stop trying to help the victim -- at age ten, 18, 20, 30? The sister is a victim, but so is the brother.

Let's stop vilifying these people and try to help them. Yes, there are studies that say that sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated. But there are also studies that say they can be treated and be a part of society again. Shouldn't we, as a people in a democracy, look for the means to help sex offenders? These are people who were once the victims. We should be putting our public energies into a positive search for the means to help the victims and offenders and to end the cycle of abuse.

Name withheld by request
Houston

Quit your whining: I am appalled by the nerve Jamil Crowley has to ask society to give him a second chance. I don't care what kind of pressure he was under as a young dad with a pile of bills, his behavior was unacceptable. Go out and get a second job, exercise or talk to a counselor or friends and family about your problems if you're stressed out, but molest your stepdaughter? Nothing you say will convince me that molesting a young girl relieved the stress you were under.

I know firsthand what it's like to be young, with a daughter and a pile of bills. I was 19 when I had my daughter and have supported her financially by myself with no child support her entire life. I put myself through school and paid off my student loans. Although it was stressful, never did it cross my mind to do such a heinous crime!

Maybe we need a Life 101 class to let people like Jamil know that if you steal, if you rape, if you murder, if you molest, you will be branded for life. Don't do these things and you won't have to ask society for a second chance! Grow up, Jamil, and accept that you do have a second chance -- you are living in the free world and working. Maybe it's not the job you wanted all your life, but you're not in jail and have the capacity to be gainfully employed. You should lose some privileges such as never being licensed as a CPA. I bet your stepdaughter would like to lose the memories of your molesting her!

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