In your November 21 edition, you very kindly informed us about your three "new film guys." However, I did not see anything about what happened to your "previous film guy," Joe Leydon. Will you still be running his most excellent reviews?
Editor's reply: The Press is now running the movie reviews of Andy Klein, Peter Rainer and Michael Sragow, who are based at other weekly papers owned by New Times Inc. in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Joe Leydon continues to review movies locally for Channel 2, where he can be seen on Saturday mornings between 9 and 11 and Sunday mornings between 9 and 10.
Spare the Pity
Brian Wallstin took up a full ten pages of your paper attempting to have us pity poor Gayland Randle ["Gayland's Choice," November 14]. He refers to Jon Buice and says that he stabbed Broussard during a "fight." This was not a fight. This was an ambush. This was gay bashing.
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At one point early on in the article, Mr. Wallstin makes it sound as if Gayland Randle were arrested for probation violations. Randle was one of ten youths from The Woodlands who knowingly went to Montrose in the vicinity of Heaven, a well-known gay club, with the purpose of attacking gays. He was not, initially, arrested for a probation violation, but for murder.
Wallstin says that once Randle had been given a second chance, that he called the probation office and no one answered -- and he also did not answer his probation officer's page because he did not recognize the number.
Remember that Randle was on probation for murder. He went 30 days without contacting a probation officer. He violated the terms of his probation and had to accept the sentence initially handed down. Isn't this the same rule applied to all probationers?
Wallstin goes on to say that Parents of Murdered Children addressed five young men involved in a senseless murder (not a fight) with a rage that pushed the envelope of healthy reason. If any people on this planet are entitled to rage, they are the members of POMC.
Further on, poor Randle is quoted as saying a fight is a fight, man, but, you know, nobody really gets hurt. Poor Gayland Randle also chased away one of Paul Broussard's companions. Could this companion have helped Broussard live if he hadn't been chased away by Randle? We will never know.
Randle had run away from home and was spending nights at different friends' homes. He was not an angel. He acknowledged that if he had caught Broussard's friend (whom he did not know, and whom he claims he didn't even know why his friends were fighting) that he probably would have beat the shit out of him! He also admits that he just pretty much does what he wants to do. Well, he needed to abide by the law, he needed to follow the guidelines of acceptable behavior. He didn't.
Gayland's parents don't know why he is imprisoned for murder. After all, didn't Gayland say he was sorry? There is, and was, so much talk about gay bashing -- but, after all, these boys didn't go to Houston just to harass gays, according to Wallstin. That must make all gays in Houston feel a lot better, and it must console Paul Broussard's mother as well.
These fine boys were also intent on going to Numbers and shooting off fireworks at the abandoned rice towers at 3 a.m. Surely they were not full-time gay bashers, but just took it up as a part-time hobby when they were not doing drugs or breaking curfew or shooting off illegal fireworks on posted private property. After all, according to Wallstin's article, there were only two, possibly three, other incidents involving gay men. I assume these incidents didn't involve murder, but merely a sound thrashing of their victims.
The point I'm trying to make is that I do not find Nancy Rodriguez or any member of POMC despicable. I'm confused as to why Randle's parents are looking for someone to blame for his incarceration -- and pick racism as the culprit. The young man was convicted of murder. He was put on probation. He broke the terms of his probation. He was put in a prison ten hours away from his parents for this crime. Convicted felons are rarely given a choice of prison.
The entire tone of this article and the underlying current are disturbing. Just as Texaco cannot say 'I'm sorry' and expect to be cleared of blatantly breaking the law, neither can Gayland Randle. But the Houston Press might be able to salvage some of its readers and regain a modicum of respect if it quickly distances itself from this piece, which was, at best, poorly thought through and misleading. It is, at worst, an undeserving slap at Parents of Murdered Children, Nancy Rodriguez and the gay community (who will be well warned to look out for part-time gay bashers who aren't in Montrose just to harass gays).
Name withheld by request
Editor's reply: Just for the record, Brian Wallstin's story in no way portrayed Nancy Rodriguez or any other member of Parents of Murdered Children as "despicable." You must have been reading some other article.
After reading such a revealing article ["Just Say No (to Open Debate)," by Bob Burtman, November 7], I promise to check out your magazine on a weekly basis. Gentlemen, this is superb investigative journalism, and Bob Burtman deserves major commendation from the public at large for tackling this red-hot-potato topic. I can only suggest that a series of follow-up articles (partnership for our Truth-free America, DARE, forfeiture, medical rights, etc.) would be the crowning achievements to exposing those who are hell-bent on destroying our great America under the premise of saving it.
Obviously, the status quo (Calvina Fay included) that has built financially upon this Holy War on (some) drugs cannot tolerate any challenge to the politically correct party line. Ms. Fay, racism cannot exist if it is talked about. Your very rationale to deny discussion allows it to continue. Denial simply isn't a solution. It's like protecting a child molester or pedophile simply by refusing to place them out in public view. Truth-free or drug-free? Your abstinence ideology simply is incompatible with our (supposedly) free society.
Why the secrecy and suspiciousness, Ms. Fay? When the police would rather stop to kick your back door in under the premise of acquiring your assets through forfeiture instead of chasing violent crime (because it doesn't pay anything!), where is our Constitution, much less your Bill of Rights! Where are our priorities to society?
Obviously, the methods that the drug warriors are using simply aren't working and never will. The vast majority of them are honorable, but some are selling us all down the road to a soon-to-be police state. Ms. Fay is one of those, because she obviously doesn't appreciate our First Amendment or support of opposing views. As Superior Judge James P. Gray stated October 18 at the Drug Policy Forum of Texas's most recent forum, it is possible to support drug legalization without supporting/condoning drug use. This very idea terrifies and frightens Ms. Fay and her kind to the very core of their beliefs. They already know that they have a morally indefensible position and that it does not hold up to careful scrutiny. They refuse to debate because they already know that they cannot win face to face. The truth has nothing to fear! The very purpose of the Drug Policy Forum is to promote discussion of these issues and pursue solutions from as widely diverse a group that has very different political philosophies but has found common ground on this particular issue that affects us all.
I'm writing to comment on Calvina Fay and her puritanical views. She said that legalization "is not a debatable issue. It's like debating racism." Sorry, Calvina, your analogy doesn't even make sense. How does one compare a debate about legalizing a soft drug like marijuana to racism? What's to debate about racism?
Keep in mind, Cal, that marijuana and other drugs that are now illegal in the United States (though not in other countries that have lower crime rates) were made illegal just about the time that Prohibition ended. Sounds to me like our government sanctioned alcohol as our national drug -- and made a lot of white men rich by doing so. Native Americans and Negroes were more familiar with the uses of marijuana at the time than white folks, and many white men didn't even know what it was. Sounds like racism to me -- if Calvina is into the racism argument.
I've never heard of people who smoke marijuana beating or killing loved ones, causing vehicular manslaughter, getting into bar fights, vomiting on themselves or others, or losing their judgment and committing crimes.
People who drink too much are notendearing -- they're rude, inconsider-ate and cause many problems to those around them.
Has Calvina ever had alcohol? Or caffeine? Used tobacco in any form? Taken a painkiller for a headache? All of these are considered drugs, too.
Only when she is free of all of these drugs will I respect her judgment on drugs she prefers not to use.
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