Pleas and Protests

Letters from the week of February 27, 2003

Responsible Behavior

Therapeutically speaking: As the pedophile subject of Susy Buchanan's "Very Bad Thoughts" article (February 6), I'd like to reply to some of the letters published in New Times.

I am not seeking sympathy from people. My desire is to point out the complete lack of preventive programs available for this problem. The fact that I have to attend a group consisting of rapists and child molesters indicates just how much we have failed to proactively treat pedophilia. There is nothing available for therapy except offender groups. Considering I'm a victim of abuse and not an offender, this constitutes a failure in my eyes.

To those who indicate I should be institutionalized, castrated or killed, I point out I have committed no crime. Without a criminal record, I don't have to be in therapy. It is my choice because I know this problem can lead to horrible consequences if I don't. I also use management techniques learned in therapy including avoiding malls, movie houses, parks, youth sports or even driving down streets where schools are present. The assertion that I am "a sick puppy who refuses to take any responsibility for his problem" is the opposite of what has really happened here. I've taken more responsibility than anybody could expect. I have hospitalized myself on two occasions when I felt like acting out. I've sought therapy voluntarily at my own expense.

Regarding castration, I have inquired with my doctor about Depo-Provera and am considering it. Again, because I have committed no crime, I can't be forced to do this. I am doing this of my own free will because it may help. This doesn't sound like someone who "isn't taking responsibility" to me.

If you have been the victim of a sexual assault and not developed this issue, you're very lucky. A Department of Justice study in 1998 showed that, nationwide, 42 percent of offenders in custody identified with being abused as children. While certainly not all offenders are victims, it is important to note many are. It is also important to note that I am a victim, not an offender. Yet the hostile tone of reactions seems to prove my point that the public isn't mature enough to recognize this illness and provide help for it.

This teacher was turned in after I was discharged from the Navy. He was investigated by the state police, and the state attorney general's office looked into the case. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations had run out to criminally charge him. As indicated in the article, I was able to successfully sue the school district for civil damages. He was "turned in."

The article failed to mention one point, in closing. I explained to the author that I will eventually commit suicide. I didn't move in with my parents so much for support as to care for them. I have a good job and make decent money. I was out of the house for more than 22 years before moving in last fall. The point is that living with them frees up enough cash for me to attend therapy for the time being. In the end, though, once they pass on, I will be leaving as well. I will never act on my urges and will know God will have a place for me because of that. I didn't ask for this condition; it sure isn't a "choice" and I wish I wasn't like this. I know it's an illness, not an orientation or anything else, and I've done nothing to deserve it. It's too bad society can't figure that out.

Derek
Mesa

Psycho babble: As a psychoanalyst with a degree in clinical psychology currently living in France, I read your article with interest. I feel that one major point should be made about Derek's pedophilia: He has pedophilic fantasies; he is not a pedophile. To "qualify" as a pedophile, he would have to act upon them. Need I really go into tremendous detail about the fact that there is nothing "squeaky clean" about adult (or infantile) sexuality, that married and "respectable" men and women are busy pushing available protruding parts into every orifice in the human body?

Debra Weston Mervant
Saint-Egrève, France

Anguish management: Thank you for your article on pedophilia. It's enlightening to hear about the anguish of a person going through these feelings, when so often it is presented one-sidedly, making these people out to be unforgivable monsters. As a society we tend to forget they were often abused themselves, and that we need to apply our resources to finding assistance, once a person finds themselves in this predicament, rather than focusing on punishment. And thank you for making the distinction that there are those out there who are suffering and not perpetrating.

Name withheld by request

War Games

He doth protest too much: As a participant of the protest on February 15, I'm absolutely outraged at the spoiled frat boy attitude of Rick Barrs' column ("Not the Usual Suspects," February 20). There were people of every social class, skin color and age at the protest. It wasn't the aging hippie stereotype that was the predominant group there. Yet that is the main group depicted as being there. This writer seems to have a great dislike for the varied human beings who represent the anti-war movement.

As far as the actual number of people there, the police have underestimated the number deliberately. There were at least 3,500 to 5,000 there. There were about 25 Bush supporters there, standing near the anarchists. Did it occur to bright boy that the two or so retirees that he spoke with were quite possibly Republican plants? It has been know to happen, you know.

Implied in this "writer's" column was a generational and gender bias that was stupidly against anyone his parents' age, or who reminded him of his father. He failed to include anybody else's presence. Guess all the women there didn't count because he didn't deem them interesting.

I suggest that if New Times is going to cover the anti-war movement, it does so in a responsible way. What is happening is of global importance. The people actively working for peace deserve better coverage than this shallow, naive and insulting piece by Barrs. Next time, have your trust-fund baby Barrs write about how hard it is for a jerk to get laid. That is about his level of insight and maturity.

Pat Beck
Tempe

Err apparent: Rick Barrs' column was based on a false and fairly imbecilic premise. Barrs correctly observed that some of the protesters on February 15 belonged to demographics (e.g., middle-aged, male, professional) that are normally conservative and pro-establishment. Barrs errs, however, when he labels these individuals as "normal Americans" and errs profoundly when he asserts that these demonstrators were in attendance because "about a year ago, anti-war groups changed their strategy and started trying to attract ordinary Americans to their cause."

Normal Americans are Caucasian and Hispanic and black and Asian and indigenous, sometimes all at the same time. Rae Dawn Chong is a normal American. Normal Americans are male and female, straight and gay, urban, suburban and rural. Most of us are working-class. We Americans are a people of diverse opinions and beliefs, and this does not make us other than "normal." When Barrs employs the term "normal Americans" to refer solely to white, middle-aged, male conservative businessmen and the like, he implies that the vast majority of us are not normal Americans. In short, Barrs seems to have forgotten what normal Americans are like. Perhaps he needs to get out more often.

Many political, social and ad hoc groups with diverse views and interests oppose war with Iraq. Barrs' statement is absolutely ludicrous when you think about it. What does he believe happened? Apparently, Barrs thinks that groups as diverse as the Anarchists, the Socialists, the Veterans Against the War, Move On, Not in Our Name, the Women in Black, and the hundreds of other political and religious groups opposing the war somehow achieved consensus on strategy and acted as one! Moreover, these groups, according to Barrs' tortured logic, must all, prior to a year ago, have sought to win only abnormal Americans to their cause.

Barrs' column was pretty obviously full of crap. There has been no change in strategy by pro-peace groups. They need everybody they can get, and they always have. People from all walks of life, from diverse political, social and religious backgrounds, came together on February 15 because it has become increasingly clear to more and more of us that our commander in chief is a raging pinhead, he's violent, and he's armed. If you want to know who is converting even former Bush supporters to the peace movement, you need look no further than Bush himself. Bush's transparent attempts to sway the citizens of this country toward war by sowing lies, fear, hatred and hysteria have converted more people to the peace movement than peace activists ever could.

Lee Einer
Phoenix

Religious Zeal

The Truth is out there: Read your story "Peace-Monger" and it was very interesting (Tony Ortega, February 13). But it was fatally incomplete.

The fundamental cause of this war is the censorship of the Truth, and the lies and errors which are at the foundation of Jewish, Christian and Muslim theology concerning the doctrine of the "resurrection of the dead." Unless and until this Truth is made known, there will be a perpetual war between Judeo-Christian civilization and Islamic civilization.

Michael Cecil
South Bend, Indiana

Driver Education

Fault line: I can't believe New Times is taking a stand that anyone should be able to sue a school because someone who attends it is a bad driver ("Permanent Recess," Tatum Ostaff, February 20). When I was in high school (only a few years ago), the campus was open and some students abused it. But really, is that the school's fault? The mother of that boy should have sued the guy who drove the car recklessly, not the school. But I guess the school had deeper pockets.

Seriously, if I left campus and smoked a cigarette, should I sue the school when I get lung cancer? The logic of Ms. Ostaff's argument is ridiculous. I feel bad for the kid and his family, but this whole idea that New Times says the kid was an innocent victim of the school's bad security policy is just stupid.

Our schools already have to be parent, teacher, baby sitter, everything. Now they are also supposed to be watching the kids when they aren't at school? Please. That kid got hurt because he drove with a reckless driver who didn't care about putting his friends at risk, not because a security guard let him go. Don't advocate having everyone else lose their privileges because he and his friends are idiots. Just because he got hurt doesn't mean he and his friends didn't do something really dumb. And don't complain that someone should have stopped him from hurting himself.

The whole thing was like one big, long whine. Bad form, New Times. The kid was 17, not 7.

Susan MacLaren
Scottsdale

Security counsel: The problem of keeping students at school is a very tricky one to enforce. I worked as a school security guard for two years. Parents and kids make it difficult to enforce; often it is the parents more so than their kids.

One of the ways we made it easier to keep the kids on campus was to get rid of golf carts for security guards. Guards on a cart tend to stay on the cart. By making us get off the cart, we were forced to interact with the kids, before they left campus. This made it far easier to stop them from sneaking out.

Not all school districts are willing right now to invest in large enough security forces to seriously keep the schools impervious. We did accomplish that one time – we had 10 guards around a campus with 1,300 students. Ten guards are more than any school will pay for, at least for an entire day.

William T. Terrance
Tempe

Closed-door policy: Interesting article, and I agree that it is tragic that so many have encountered so much pain. However, you're pointing your finger in the wrong direction. Where does it say that teenagers must leave school at lunch? The focus should be on why teens so often drive recklessly, as the fault does not, nor should, lie with the school.

Perhaps a better question to ask is "should the legal driving age be raised" as your article provides ample evidence supporting such.

Michael Diaz
Via e-mail

White Collar Crime

A role he couldn't refuse: Thanks for a fascinating column. I had no idea such a notorious figure was living in our area ("God's Banker," Robert Nelson, February 13).

I am a frequent traveler to Italy, and I was there in 1982 when the Vatican Bank scandal was exploding. Being just shy of 18 years old at the time, I didn't really understand too well what it was all about (Italy's World Cup victory that year made a greater impression on me!). I do remember well the report on "Telegiornale" when they found the body of Roberto Calvi under Blackfriars Bridge in London.

I'm surprised you didn't mention one of the subplots of The Godfather Part III, which was based in no small part on the Vatican Bank affair. Archbishop Marcinkus gained a bit of film immortality when his real-world role was played by Donal Donnelly as Archbishop Gilday, president of the Vatican Bank, who asks Michael Corleone for several hundred million dollars to bail out the bank. There's some resemblance between Mr. Donnelly and Marcinkus.

Michael Sigmon
Phoenix

Lost in Space

Mission statement: I sincerely appreciated Robert Nelson's column "Flame-out" (February 6). I have been muttering many of the same sentiments in dark corners and in whispers for fear of looking like a Bad American. But, truth be told, most of the people that I spoke to felt the exact same way as Robert Nelson and I do. I think that the column states simple common sense yet it took guts to say it, write it and publish it.

I, too, feel sorry for the victims of the flight, but no more than seven other people who died on the job recently. These people were fulfilling their dreams, flying the skies with our billions. They knew the risks, and many of us gladly would have stood in line to take their place or fly with them.

The real national tragedy is that NASA is given so much money for "wants" (space exploration, advancement of science, etc.) as opposed to the many "needs" we have for our nation (crime, health-care system, education, economy, etc.).

This is a crucial time for NASA. Since it is not part of the free-enterprise system, it will need to rely on some heavy funding. And for what? What great progress has been made in the last 20 years? What kind of progress is NASA hoping for – a future commercial flight to the moon? More human space travel? All at the cost of all the home fires still burning in the USA?

I know how the system works. The president loves a tragedy for approval points, so he drums it up. NASA must gain an enormous amount of empathy, sympathy and patriotism to push for its next budget hike. Finally, the media live for an emotional story line. If there is real, genuine, heartfelt loss over these astronauts by these three sources, then why not for the common man? Why do you think they have so many human flights as it is? For funding! Do you think funding would be so high for non-human travel?

There isn't a space race anymore. Can't we have a conglomerate of nations with some commercial interests working together in the interest of space travel in science?

It's sad that one feels like a Bad American to say that the seven people who died in this flight are similar to those who died in the small plane that crashed over Alberta, and that we should take care of things so close to the ground (economy, health care, etc.) and our hearts (children, the elderly, the abused, etc.) before we reach for the skies.

Dave Carpenter
Tempe

Rock Steady

Safety factor: The Arizona Rock Products Association wishes to thank New Times for bringing a critical issue to the front burner – the safety of our employees and neighbors relative to possible asbestos exposure ("Dust Up in Sun City," Amy Silverman, January 30). We hope that any organizations that may possess verifiable information about such exposure will make that known to all concerned as soon as possible. If an exposure does exist, this could affect the health of our workers and the ability for them to support their families.

Reported rates of mesothelioma in the zip code areas corresponding to the areas of Sun City identified in the New Times article are only paralleled by those areas of similar retirement populations in eastern Maricopa County: Leisure World, the Farnsworth retirement communities, Sun Lakes and others. We encourage further testing and refinement of the data sets to find out why.

The Arizona Rock Products Association along with our members are firmly committed to ongoing safety training and thoughtful environmental oversight on many issues, and your article is a help.

Russell Bowers
Executive Director
Arizona Rock Products Association

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