Executions are really murder: John Birmingham [Letters, March 22] appears unaware of the provisions of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure on death sentences ["Knowing Right from Wrong," by Steve McVicker, March 8]. Jurors must find a probability that the defendant would commit violent criminal acts "that would constitute a continuing threat to society," and find that there are not sufficient mitigating circumstances to warrant life imprisonment.
As such, Texas law already seeks to protect society. The law proscribing murder is founded upon the societal premise that killing is wrong, except in war and self-defense or defense of third persons (under circumstances warranting the immediate use of deadly force).
Persons sentenced to death are kept by themselves in a small cage for 23 hours each and every day, and are shackled when they are moved. When the time comes, several guards lead them to the execution chamber. They are then completely immobilized and strapped onto the execution gurney. Before the killing agents are administered, they are given a sedative that renders them docile.
There isn't any war under way, and absolutely no threat to any other person. If the legislature hadn't given the state permission to do it, the execution would be called murder. And that, in fact, is exactly what it is.
It is patently absurd and hypocritical for society to say that killing is wrong and then to say also that it will kill.
Vices and virtues: Great story ["Hitting the Highs and Lows with Little Joe Washington," by Jennifer Mathieu, March 22]. I have already placed Wednesday night on my calendar to go see Little Joe perform his magic. You did a fine job of illustrating life's rocky ride for Little Joe because of his great vices running into conflict with his great virtues.
One man's effort (Reg Burns's) created a climate that gives Little Joe a chance to succeed. It seems to me he is the real hero. His effort to assist this fellow who was long ago written off by the rest of us is my definition of virtue.
A big chunk of Reg Burns's life was dedicated to giving this fellow a chance. It matters little if Little Joe succeeds or not -- Reg Burns is a success story.
City of West University Place
High praise: I've smoked a joint or two with Little Joe, and he is supercool. I used to see him at the Blue Iguana, and even more recently every Tuesday night at the Last Concert Cafe. He's the man. Someday we'll all be proud we knew Little Joe.
That other Joe: I much enjoyed your piece. On more than one occasion, I have seen Joe Hughes give up his guitar to Little Joe at the Big Easy. That's very generous, given the body parts Little Joe uses in his playing. Your article shows what a true class act Joe Hughes is. He's a pretty fair guitar player too.
On a recent night, I had a 45-minute window to see Little Joe play. He was very busy signing copies of the Press and making time with the women in the club. Maybe some other night. Thank you again for a good read.
Pick of the Litter
Road rage sage? Can the legal experts at the district attorney's office ["Road Hog," by Margaret Downing, March 22] explain why littering charges could not be pursued?
Charlie's angel: Hurray for Charlie Fondow ["Withering Heights," by Jennifer Mathieu, March 29]! I've wondered for some time who the daring soul is whose house possesses such architectural individuality. My van pool passes that neighborhood every weekday, and I look forward to catching a glimpse of the turrets. They give a delightful, old-world aspect to an otherwise unexceptional view.
I wish we had more visionaries like him around. Driving through Montrose and other near-town areas can be depressing, what with all the newly thrown up (literally) condo/ multiplex housing units with their dreadful neoclassical, ultramodern and "early Attica" facades. Mr. Fondow should be an inspiration to us all to take pride in the homes we live in, and let them, at least to some degree, be expressions of ourselves and our dreams. You go, Mr. Fondow.
No gas for KSEV: What crap [News Hostage, by Richard Connelly, March 29]! Sour grapes. KSEV is not "old fart" radio. Chris Baker was not only annoying as heck, but boring, boring, boring and rude, rude, rude. I'll never tune to KPRC again. And by the way, Jon Matthews has many years left in him to inform and entertain his audience.
Music to our ears: I see that your Richard Connelly is still finding "ranting conservative talk-show hosts" under his bed. And as usual, he could not write a truthful statement about any of the players he was ranting about if it came up and bit him on the ass.
I've seen left-wing nuts like Roger Gray, Larry King, Jim Hightower and others bite the dust for the simple reason they could not draw an audience. Apparently no one at Clear Channel has ever heard the axiom "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Dan Patrick created a 900-pound gorilla in this area, and these Clear Channel morons are throwing it away. They are aiming for the 18-to-35 young but brainless yuppie crowd (the same crowd that reads the Houston Press). Problem is, by and large that segment of the population does not listen to talk radio; they are off listening to music (if you want to call it that). Reality will set in soon enough, and it will be so much fun to watch.
Unfriendly fire: Your psychedelic explanation of what has taken place at KPRC and KSEV proves once again that you and your liberal-dominated industry can't stand the success of the conservative side. Getting out a message that goes against a liberal media that votes 90 percent Democrat has your group just flummoxed. History contains a large trash heap where "new management" has purchased a successful radio operation, made changes and then watched it crash and burn, only to hightail it somewhere else and do it all over again.
I'll take a lesson from history in the Houston market and bank on Dan Patrick and his group. You will also see how things turn out, but you'll not hear me say "liberal cornpone" Richard Connelly was wrong. In the near future we'll both know the score, and that, my friend, is what you and your friends just can't stand.
Matt J. Ney
Soldiers in the sack: Robert Wilonsky's review of Enemy at the Gates ["Kiss of Death," March 15] demonstrates why it's so difficult to write film criticism in a historical vacuum. He obviously missed out on some of the finer points of WWII history. Both the Russians and the Germans sought to make the Battle of Stalingrad and the competition between their armies an example of the "class struggle."
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The opening scenes accurately show the "gates of hell" scenario that Stalingrad was by that point in the battle.
And Mr. Wilonsky should applaud use of the "love triangle," if for no other reason than to show the historical fact that men and women fought together in the Russian army and often formed romantic liaisons because of their proximity. His main complaint is that Mr. Annaud made a good war movie "mushy." Sometimes, as history reflects, people get "mushy," even in warfare.
A little more respect for the "real" history of the story -- and its appropriate inclusion in the film -- would have been welcome.