Letters

Under our system, the democratically elected chief officer of the executive branch, the president, also has ultimate control over the military. In other words, a significant feature of our democracy is that the commander in chief is a civilian. President Clinton is not subject to the code.

It has been argued that certain features of the code, including those regarding sexual actions, should be reviewed in light of changing mores and morals in general society. While specific conduct and consequences can be instructive in that discussion, the converse is not true. The code, which has as its purpose preservation of military order, has no application to President Clinton.

Stacy Augustine
Phoenix

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Bow Out
As a local theater critic, and an ariZoni adjudicator, I'd like to point out that it's easy for people to knock a process, but another thing for them to get their hands dirty attempting to change the process. New Times is very good at stirring up dirt, especially when using pseudonyms, but I have yet to see this newest arts-editorial process, which seems bent only on the negative, to offer any useful suggestions.

Yes, it's true, the ariZoni award process ("Trophy Life," Robrt L. Pela, September 10) is flawed, but the basis of the process--theater professionals lauding and/or critiquing their peers--is the same system used by the Tonys and Oscars. It's true that the best Broadway shows and films are sometimes passed over, but more often than not, the system works, a few skewed opinions notwithstanding.

While I will do everything I can to change a process that has some room for improvement, such as separate recognition of local playwrights (another subject New Times had nothing nice to say about recently), I'd like to suggest that your paper, which has become a joke within the arts community because of your inconsistent and decidedly negative coverage, become more than the local naysayer, and try constructive criticism for a pleasant change of pace. After all, readers will only take so much unbalanced (and sometimes untrue) negativity before they'll find another outlet with some balance to their views and reporting.

Mark S.P. Turvin
Backstage Newspapers & Arizona Art Review Online

Reform School Confidential
Barry Graham's "Death Camp" column (September 3) upset me. The information he reported was accurate, but some of his opinions upset me. I worked at the Arizona Boys Ranch for two years, and I honestly never saw the kind of abuse that Nicholaus Contreraz endured. I worked at the main ranch, not the one where Nicholaus was kept. I worked directly with the kids and with the families.

Yes, I believe there should be harsh consequences for this death, but to close the ranch altogether, as Graham advocates, is not necessary. Because of this inhumane act, there were about 150 people who lost jobs. Probably 145 of them had no connection to this death or even knew the child. I am one of those people. I had no idea who this child was or who was involved.

There are also hundreds of families and children who were affected by this tragedy. Graham failed to mention what the ranch has done for juvenile delinquents. The ranch took the hardest of hard-core kids throughout the country. Most of these children came from gangs, which society is so afraid to deal with today. When dealing with these types of children, one has to use nontraditional methods, but abuse is not one of those.

If this place closes down and the kids go back home, a majority are going to fall on their faces. The ranch helps build confidence and self-esteem, something no kid has when he arrives.

I am upset for many reasons. I lost my job because the ranch had to make drastic cuts, but I lost it for no reason. The people responsible for this tragedy should have been held accountable not only by the ranch but by the authorities.

Name withheld by request

They should make a memorial out of that "Death Camp" as an example of what people in absolute power can do to other people regarded as less "respectable" humans. Either that or burn the place to the ground and bury it. Yeah, I'm pissed!

Don Lauchner
via Internet

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