Loss for the world
I am deeply saddened by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Pakistan and the world have lost an intelligent and talented human being who passionately loved her country, who knew extremism was detrimental to the health and welfare of her people, and who believed democratic principles could be a positive force for much-needed change.
Bhutto's death has me thinking about many things, including how it relates to our country. Bhutto was hated and vilified by some Pakistanis, by some in government and by those who supported militant training schools and violence. The rhetoric of hatred toward her and unproven accusations fueled this vilification.
How are we the same and how are we different? I can tune into any number of radio talk programs and hear the rhetoric of hate directed toward our candidates for president. They are "idiots, dangerous, evil, power-hungry, corrupt, femi-Nazis," and other demeaning descriptions.
When did we stop discussing people's strengths and weaknesses? When did we know them well enough to call them evil or stupid? What has happened to us that we cannot passionately express our own opinions without all of this venom and personal attack? And how far apart are violent speech and violent action?
I sent a letter to Metro Transit after a change in the Route 24 bus schedule and upcoming fare increase. Transit said the change was due to operational efficiency and effectiveness.
They have made a gross error in eliminating the 4:20 p.m. pullout from the Citadel. That pullout is often very full. Numerous kids going home from school and working people ride that bus.
I realize kids and normal working people are not desired customers. Transit prefers suits and laptops, but let's be realistic. Those who ride the buses are schoolkids and working people. They have created at least a 40-minute layover for those of us riding other buses that reach the Citadel in time for the 4:20 pullout. Obviously, nobody at Transit rides the buses, because anything longer than a 10-minute wait in the wind, blowing snow, rain or heat is way too long. I've asked them to please consider keeping the 4:20 pullout and maybe eliminating another time.
Also, they announced this change with kids out of school, expecting them to know when they start school again. How very smart! Let's create mass confusion and maybe they will quit riding.
Now the fare increase. When I heard fares were going up, I expected a $5 increase in the 31-day pass. Imagine my shock, learning the price of a 31-day pass was increasing by $19. They once again have disregarded their customers. That's a 54 percent increase while a 22-ride pass increased by only $5.
This penalizes the very ones who use bus services the most. It's still cheaper than driving, but a $19 increase every month is a shock to most budgets. Thanks once again for screwing the little person.
In response to Rich Tosches' column ("Who fired that gun?" Ranger Rich, Dec. 20) about security guard Jeanne Assam at New Life Church, Assam "prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide" her and so, apparently, God came through and she shot Matthew Murray on Dec. 9, saving many lives.
Tosches wondered, "When did it become OK to say God helped you gun someone down?"
With all due respect, Tosches must not have been paying attention during Catechism. Or world history class. Tosches belongs to a religion whose very foundation is built upon violence supposedly brought forth from God against those who would destroy Christianity. Centuries ago, soldiers believed their hands were guided by the Holy Spirit as well.
Christians have come a long way, baby. But this idea that Christianity is, at its core, a peaceful religion is not true. The three most powerful and popular religions of our time Christianity, Judaism and Islam have holy books that celebrate violence. The literal translation of the sixth commandment is "You Shall Not Murder." In certain instances, however, killing is not only condoned by God, it's required. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of the Inquisition and the Crusades must chuckle when you proclaim that Jesus wouldn't aim.
Perhaps he wouldn't, but religious folks have, for centuries, killed on his behalf.
Express outrage over such expressions of faith. Yes, cringe when people imply that God wants them to kill. Point out the inconsistencies of an "all-powerful" God who would help an armed security guard instead of protecting innocent children shot down by a lunatic.
These modern-day questions, I'm sure, were also shouted in horror back in the 1200s. What have we learned? Such notions sound barbaric and we should, in the 21st century, be a bit more evolved than that.
Catherine Durkin Robinson
In regard to recent letters about Starbucks removing the Indy: My daughter and I visit a Starbucks two or three times a week, but as of now Starbucks will not receive my business until the Indy is restored, which, no doubt, it will be in the near future.
However, this has revealed Starbucks' true nature to me (I guess I was in denial) and I will consciously seek alternative coffee outlets on a permanent basis.
Bill and Genie Durland ("Real questions," Letters, Dec. 20) stated presidential candidates should be asked about Israeli "ethnic cleansing of indigenous peoples and lands." Such incendiary speech fuels plenty of heat but sheds little light to serve the peace process. The only "ethnic cleansing" involving Jewish people was the Nazi extermination of 6 million Jews.
There were no "Palestinian lands"; the Ottoman Turks held those lands for 400 years. At the end of World War I they went to Britain and France. Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Sudan were artificially carved out of the Turkish empire.
Jordan was created on 80 percent of the British mandate; two-thirds of Jordanians are Palestinian Arabs. The remaining 20 percent of land was divided between Jews and Arabs; Arabs objected to the division.
In 1948, when the U.N. established the state of Israel, Arab countries went to war to destroy Israel. Had they not, there would have been two states peacefully living side by side for the past 60 years.
Down on Utilities
We returned after being gone 11 days in November to find our house without heat. A few days later the monthly utilities bill arrived showing over $100 more than the October bill. I called customer service and was told in a few days, they would send a technician to my home to check out the furnace, water heater, gas fireplace and meter.
The tech arrived and checked the meter. Then we walked downstairs to the furnace and water heater. He didn't even take the front panel off, but looked at it and said be sure to change filters regularly. He didn't look at the water heater or fireplace. The rest of the time was spent telling me how cold it was in November and the bill was accurate, as he dripped water on my hardwood entry hall.
This was the most slipshod job by Utilities I have seen in 30 years living here. The tech should be part of those 65 employees making more than $100,000 who should be overseeing this bloated organization. CSU should be embarrassed the tech never looked at the burners or heat exchanger or, at least, pretended he cared. The tech thought I was just some 71-year-old duffer he could blow smoke to.
If we end up in a pine box from carbon-monoxide poisoning, I hope my family sues the pants off the city and CSU specifically.
Duane C. Slocum
Nice, well-meaning, home-schooled Kristi Burton ("A true believer," News, Dec. 20) is leading the charge to criminalize abortions. It's an old ploy, defining any "fertilized egg" or zygote or fetus as a full-scale human, with full legal rights. Thus the abortion of any fetus becomes first-degree, premeditated murder.
Burton apparently has no Ph.D. in genetics, nor an M.D. specializing in gynecology, nor a Ph.D. in philosophy with expertise in medical ethics. Nor a good high school or college course in biology, since her home-schooling parents are not experts. How arrogant is it for any parent to think he or she can be expert in all fields, including biology, English, history, physics, chemistry, etc., taking the place of teachers?
Burton wants to define a "human," a task not fully achieved by the scientific, philosophic or legal communities. The problem is, life does not "begin." It is transferred from parents to offspring. An ovum and sperm are alive with individualized DNA. Living tissue is transferred and is alive throughout. Life does not "begin" at conception.
Is a sperm human? Is a zygote human before attaching to the uterus? Is it human with the first heartbeat later? Or the first brain waves? Or the point of viability, when a fetus could survive premature birth? Or at birth, independent of the mother's life-support system? The difficulties of fixing the correct definition are daunting, even to medical professionals.
But if Burton and her cohorts change the law, can we claim a fetus as a dependent on our tax form? If not, why not? When a woman miscarries, does the fetus get a formal funeral as a legal human being? If not, why not?
So be careful if you see Ms. Burton with a big smile and a petition, saying, "Trust me."
I pause in the midst of reading "Mightier than the Sword" (cover, Dec. 20), only to say, "It's about time!" (It's about time the Indy published something relevant, and it's time we heard real words from Iraq.)
These men are the epitome of true soldiers, bravely baring their souls and exposing wounds no flak jacket can prevent. The simple eloquence, quiet confusion and silent regrets beneath real battle cries of hope and optimism paint pictures so vivid and impressive, I am convinced the survivors of this great tragedy we call Iraq will become the greatest generation.
Those men (and millions of average Americans who smell bullshit when they step) are redefining the war and encourage us all to fight for our own freedom our goddamned right to say enough! And what better way to spread a message than through honest, earnest, personal pennings? These words cannot become shredded documents, or deleted e-mails; these words will endure as a testament to our history.
Thank you all for your noble commitment to a ludicrous cause. You shine so bright a light on the reality that we are not just sending bodies to die, but minds with vast potential as well. You honor their memory by using your experiences to illustrate egregious abuses of domestic policy and echo the empty promises soldiers relied on to build families before going overseas.
These words and others could become the most encompassing volume of works produced since the Roman Era. Your humility is an example to us all.