Cruising: A barge makes its way slowly along Brays Bayou on a Sunday afternoon. It hits the bank several times trying to make the turn.
Cruising: A barge makes its way slowly along Brays Bayou on a Sunday afternoon. It hits the bank several times trying to make the turn.
Deron Neblett


Out of Harm's Way

Penry's lesson: Thank you for a well-written article ["Knowing Right from Wrong," by Steve McVicker, March 8]. The story was well told without undue bias.

I, too, have personal conflicts with the death penalty; however, it is the job of the criminal justice system to help ensure that further harm to society is prevented or curtailed. This should be its goal without regard to past failings of the system or society. At this time we should be less concerned about this individual's IQ and more about his capacity and propensity to further harm society. Curiously, his promise not to seek parole supports the contention that his comprehension of his crime is greater than his attorneys would have us believe.

While I have empathy for the family of Pam Carpenter, our justice system should be not a vehicle for revenge but a deterrent to crime. Should we allow our criminal justice system to be about the victim and their family getting even, then we may as well arm them and turn them loose on the convicted. While this may not be dignified, it is of the same root.

Childhood abuse is horrific, and I sympathize with other victims of such abuse. Childhood abuse may shed light on the behavior of a person; it may even help us predict if the behavior pattern can be broken. But it should not be an excuse for the criminal justice system not to protect society from further harm.

John Birmingham

Main ACT

Improve mental health: This is an in-depth look at a mental health program (ACT -- Assertive Community Treatment) that is rare, because it is successful ["Hands On," by Brian Wallstin, February 22]. This is owing in part to its exemption, so far, from the increased budget slashing and seriously inadequate reimbursements that are bringing the mental health system to total collapse.

ACT also has been spared from the push for higher caseloads and more billable hours, or increased productivity, as it's called in the business world. There is an inherent conflict in these demands: Mental health care is a personal/social endeavor, not a profit-making enterprise. Nevertheless, privatization is making inroads and sending out feelers to Harris County.

The state has chosen to spend the paltry allotments for mental health on prescription drugs as a replacement for social welfare services. Ignore the whole person -- pay no attention to his internal world of emotional and spiritual needs and conflicts.

One of the measures of a civilized society is its concern and care for its afflicted members. That does not bode well for our society. More important, our indifference and callousness is destroying lives.

Thanks to Brian Wallstin for reminding us that we can do better. And to Tom Mitchell and his team for setting a worthy example.

The next time we see that filthy-looking woman with the cup and sign, let's try not to accept the automatic assumption that she's a bum. Maybe, just maybe, she's one of those untreated mental health cases who's been turned away from the local clinic in bankruptcy.

Elizabeth Behrens

Well Versed

Sodomites and sheep: Check your Bible, sir. The city of Sodom no longer exists, so there is no such thing as a "sodomite" [Letters, "Isle of Man," March 8]. If your intent is to make reference to homosexuals, again, check your Bible. It speaks very clearly about the "generations" of men, young and old, who gathered before Lot's door.

The ancient Sodomites were obviously a community of deranged heterosexuals who produced many "generations" of perverts. Large groups of men screaming, "Send them out, so that we may know them!" (i.e., send out the little sissy so we can degrade him as we would a woman) sounds more like a group of straight guys, if you ask me!

Personally, I've never had to resort to such a tactic to get a date. By the way, I am also HIV-negative. That means I don't have AIDS.

Of course, what all of this stuff really boils down to is money. The more frightened and terrified some shepherds keep the flock, the more money those quivering little sheep will cough up. Now, isn't that right?

Paul Pruitt

Spine So Divine

Ballet, not bucks: Ben Stevenson is Houston Ballet [The Insider, by Tim Fleck, March 8]. Thank God there is someone with backbone like Carolyn Farb to stand up for him. Sounds like the ballet board was asleep at the wheel when they voted to accept his "resignation."

Hopefully they will rectify the situation soon. Money cannot drive art. It must be the other way around. Cecil Conner needs to go along or just go. Excellent reporting by Tim Fleck.

H. Clay Moore

Bowing Out

Cancel that curtain call: Just read the review of Coppélia ["Coping with Coppélia," by Lauren Kern, March 15]. FYI: The choreographer doesn't usually take a curtain call for a revival of his ballet (at least that's our custom at Houston Ballet).

This is our third revival of Coppélia since its premiere. So that's why Ben didn't take a bow on opening night.

Andrew Edmonson
Director of marketing and public relations
Houston Ballet

Hey There!

Editing makes it enjoyable: Bob Ruggiero's review of the Heymakers' inaugural album [Rotation, March 8] was edited by a pal of mine, so it now finally makes sense. Here's what he came up with:

"The 18 tracks feature … catchy melody paired with good harmony … emotive words … [and] a righteous romp." I feel better already. And I hope the next time Bob reviews an album, he listens to the music.

W.G. Selby


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