From the week of February 15, 2001

Rite Guard

Re: possession: Paul Hernandez's belief in demons is yet another example of how the Catholic Church has failed our most forgotten -- the seriously mentally ill ("The Devil and Mr. Hernandez," Gilbert Garcia, February 8). In a terribly morbid sense, we are all possessed with the spirit of ignorance, still dampening the prospects of psychosocial and human understanding -- of those we have culled from our midst.

False idols are the Zeitgeist of medieval tyranny; God's greatest gift to us is empirical truth.

Richard Beeman

Feathered Friends

Bird is the word: I found myself getting more and more upset reading "Raptor Rapture" (Jennifer Markley, February 1). First of all, if, as Kamile McKeever says, Rex belongs to the public, then I as the public wish to see this eagle. Why is he hidden away out of state? People in the Game & Fish Department take their jobs much too seriously, to the detriment of the people and animals they are supposed to serve.

Why are all the other raptors allowed to be photographed, flown at the Renaissance Festival, taken to other community outings, all at the whim of the Game & Fish Department? This appears to be solely directed at one man for the purpose of retribution. All too often animals are taken away "for their own good" and placed in a situation or confinement that is clearly not in their best interests.

Return Rex to his rightful owner and quit this "witness protection program" scenario.

Name withheld by request

Trail Blazer

Warming trend: Your coverage of the Arizona arsons is a damn fine contribution to American journalism. You deserve a Pulitzer Prize.

James Hibberd's interview was a great scoop, and you should stick by your policy of letting the police get their information just like the rest of us. I hope the Arizona shield law fully protects you.

Too bad you don't have the support of the entire Arizona press. You have the full support of this journalist and professor and many of my colleagues around the nation. I will pass on your work to my students, hoping they develop your fire for the craft, no pun intended.

Glynn R. Wilson
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee

Burn free: Imagine a horror I would wish on no one: You have worked hard all your life, most often simply for survival. At last, you can create the perfect home, a place to raise children, a place to be prosperous and safe. You find your site. The setting is perfect. Light. Abundant resources, just the right combination of security and exposure.

You begin work. Hard work. Maybe your family helps. Maybe you go it alone. You watch the walls take shape, the doors, the space you call home. You feel deep satisfaction.

One dreadful morning, you return to your construction site, and what you have built, the home of your dreams, is gone, leveled to bare desert sand. There are no words to describe your pain.

No human words. Because you are a kit fox, a kangaroo rat, a cactus owl. What has annihilated your home is not fire. The engine of destruction is a bulldozer. A backhoe. The profits mounting in the developers' bank accounts.

An acre an hour per day of desert habitat lost to development. Twenty-four acres a day. 43,560 square feet per acre. 1,045,440 square feet of countless wildlife homes gone. Buried under concrete, laced with infrastructure. Under another species' dream homes.

Many ask, "Why property damage? Why violence?" I remember a bright morning years ago in Grand Canyon National Park. Eight of us closed a park road in order to draw attention to a Denver mining company's plan to sink a uranium mine into an old meadow sacred to the Havasupai tribe. We were arrested. As we were led away from our peaceful demonstration, a Phoenix mainstream television station producer said, "Next time, Mary, there better be property damage or violence if you want us to cover you."

Who, we might ask, are the real conspirators? The ones whose message is "Thou Shalt Not Destroy God's Creation"? The media who reported that message? Or every one of us, who, by our inaction, our silence, our greed, are destroying our greater home?

Mary Sojourner

Source spot: "The Story of Us" (Jeremy Voas, February 1) was an eloquently precise and welcome lesson in the ethical responsibilities that journalists are supposed to hold sacred. I, too, am horrified by these extremist measures that have begun to plague the environmentalist left, but I also respect the importance of not compromising the integrity of journalistic privilege. Bravo to Voas and all at New Times.

Name withheld by request

Hot lead: I read the article that James Hibberd wrote. I heard many of the radio interviews he gave on the day it was published. I heard and read portions of a lot of people's opinions on the subject of ethics in regard to New Times' decision to interview a man who claimed to be the arsonist. I even believe that this man is who he said he is: the arsonist responsible for the fires in the Mountain Preserves.

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