Spare the Smoker
On first thought I didn't want to waste a stamp in response to Mr. George Butel's comments on the tobacco industry [Letters, "Light Up and Die," January 26], but since I had bought so many of those damned new stamp books when they first came out, and after really thinking it over (for about 30 seconds), I considered it wouldn't be a waste to bring someone into reality.
First, I don't smoke, so I have no ties to "blood money." My problem with Mr. Butel's piece is the need to "send in federal troops and raze all tobacco fields, here and abroad, then confiscate all tobacco stocks. Then we shoot anyone selling the drug." Dear God man, think back not too long ago in our history. Does Prohibition ring a bell? Prohibition created more drunks than a grandfather's farts. The Mafia was created in this country around the time of Prohibition. Now in this era we've got cartels all over the world to supply us what is illegal. Is any of this sinking in, Mr. Butel?
I am not for the legalization of drugs, but it is a known fact that people only want what they can't do. Does every wife out there (or husband, for that matter) really want to have sex with her husband (or wife) every night, or, for that matter, once a week?
The smoke is out there Mr. Butel. If what you say really happens, do you really want drive-by shootings on the evening news over some teens and a carton of cigs? "Our descendants will marvel at how we suddenly acquired wisdom." Yes, indeed, Mr. Butel, yes indeed.
I have just been reading your edition dated for the period February 23-March 1, 1995. Because I attend movies frequently -- 112 different ones in 1994 and 21 so far this year -- I read your movie reviews as well as the table comparing what other critics thought.
I must say that I am very confused with this edition. On page number 25, Edith Sorenson thoroughly trashed The Brady Bunch Movie. Then when I look at the Cinema Scoop on page 28, you and everyone else gave the movie all "dynamite" scores. I always thought that "dynamite" was good and that "road kill" was the worst rating. What gives? Did you like it or not, and are the rest of the ratings shown in the "Scoop" accurate or not? I, for myself, do not plan to attend the movie. I was not very interested in the TV series either.
Editor's note: You were just one of many keen-eyed readers to catch the discrepancy. We were just checking to see if you guys were awake. The Brady Bunch Movie was definitely "road kill." What can we say -- we goofed.
Save the Tears
Saw your whiny little cartoon about the rodeo [No Bull, February 16] and my tears refused to be jerked.
If you want an example of a country where animal rights supersede man's, I give you India. Please take it.
India -- a diseased, poverty-stricken subcontinent where religious wars are fought over whether you should starve standing up or sitting down.
Don't whine -- help a homeless person next time.
Your article "Casualties of War" [By Claudia Kolker, February 9] made several important points. My main focus is on what Judi Le said about the mellowness of younger immigrants. Nothing is further from the truth. As a young Vietnamese teen, I myself have fallen victim to the "mellowness" effect. But I still hold my country close to my heart.
I will always be Vietnamese before I am American. But time erodes memories, and the changes in my life will push my roots and love of my country further and further back. But I still understand to an extent how my people must have felt when our country fell to the Communists. Young Vietnamese have lost their directives and insight. Few still think about "their" country, few still care. It saddens and angers me to see a generation out of touch, caring only about the Accords and Maximas they drive. But it can't be blamed entirely on them. The public school system failed them.
In the nine years that I've been in the system, I may have learned 30 minutes worth of anything about Vietnam and its people. The rest (mostly false) I get from lame Oliver Stone films and other lame films of the Vietnam War genre. My parents taught me little about my country. I left at the age of 8. I remember little of my country, but what I do remember is a beautiful place with beautiful people and scenery. Maybe the memory is too painful for them, and they find it hard to talk about it.
I read your article "Visible Man," in Volume 7, Issue 7, of the Houston Press [News, By Craig Wilson, February 16].
Congratulations for a straight-up article on something black men of all professions encounter frequently. Your article brings the important issue of stereotyping to the forefront. Thanks for avoiding the patronizing benevolence that some people have expressed on that topic.
Your article will help a lot of people out there have a better understanding of black men in professional positions.
William W. July II
I had the opportunity to read your article in the Houston Press entitled "Visible Man." [News, By Craig Wilson, February 16] To say the least, the article caused me a lot of concern. Astrodome USA has a clearly communicated policy of not discriminating against anyone for any reason. It hurts when we see in print that we may not have succeeded in putting into practice what we "preach."
As soon as I read the article, I contacted Carlton Thompson to offer my apologies. Although neither one of us really knows what happened that night, it is unfortunate Mr. Thompson was put ill at ease by one of our employees.
I would like to assure you and all of your readers that we strive to ensure that none of our guests are treated with anything but the greatest respect.
Carl F. Marsalis, President
Race is Irrelevant
In Craig Wilson's article, "Visible Man," (in the February 16 issue of the Press) about the representation of blacks and other minorities in the sportswriting profession, the racial makeup of the sports in question was mentioned as somehow related to this problem. This view would essentially exclude blacks from covering rodeo or golf or tennis, as there are extremely few blacks participating in these sports. Whether or not there are lots of blacks in the NBA seems quite irrelevant to one's qualifications to write about basketball.
It was further suggested that blacks bring some special point of view to these matters and that this justifies the use of the racial makeup of the participants in evaluating the racial makeup of the reporters. I would appreciate it if you could clarify how the black perspective on such issues as a hanging curve ball, a three-second violation or the 40-yard dash differs from the white or Oriental perspective on these topics.
If blacks make up, say, 20 percent of a population, then the expected proportion of blacks in a representative sample of that population should be about 20 percent. If this is not the case (as it seems to be with regard to sportswriters), one could argue that it is because of racism or lack of qualified blacks, or both. However, the beat of the reporters in question (the NBA, the NFL or city council) is completely irrelevant.
Some of the things I like about sports in the 1990s include that everyone plays by the same rules, and the qualifications for participation have nothing to do with whether your great-great-great grandfather was a slave or a slave holder. Perhaps it will be that way in journalism some day.
Regarding the story on Carlton Thompson, the sportswriter who happens to be a black American [News, "Visible Man," By Craig Wilson, February 16], I'm curious to know what Thompson's three companions, also journalists but white, did when only Thompson was asked for identification at the Astrodome press box's dining room.
Did they just sit there, too embarrassed for themselves and for Thompson, to do or say anything to shift the embarrassment back on the usher?
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What would have been appropriate for the three men to do would have been for them to pull out their press creden-tials immediately and say to the usher, "Here. You've neglected to check our credentials, too."
It is not enough to apologize for someone's ignorance. Racism is ignorance. What helps is to transfer the weight of that ignorance back on the perpetrator.