Letters from the week of April 15,2004

Name withheld by request

RUBbed the wrong way: In New Times' coverage of Arizona Bike Week ("High on the Hawg," March 25), Jimmy Magahern's comments regarding "RUBs (rich urban bikers) crotch-rocketing around on BMWs and Ducatis" showed a real lack of knowledge concerning two of Europe's finest motorcycles. Owners of Ducatis are more likely to be found competing at a local track event, while BMW owners are more likely to be far from an event like ABW, visiting out-of-the-way places, accumulating many thousands of miles of long-distance riding.

On the other hand, the overpriced, under-engineered Milwaukee Butt Jewelry most in evidence at ABW seems better suited for parking outside the local saloon. In the rare event Harley riders do venture outside the city limits, they tend to do so in great numbers. That way there is someone to offer a ride home to those unfortunate riders whose bikes litter the highway with discarded parts.

Still, it was nice to see motorcycling at least mentioned in New Times.

Please don't print my name. In case you didn't notice, some of the aforementioned Harley riders can be a scary bunch.

Name withheld by request

Say "Hizz-allelujah!"
Religion is fun: This is in response to the article "Jesus Christ Rap Superstar" (Darren Keast, March 25). I am amazed and proud of the support this paper has given to the Christian hip-hop scene. It is so refreshing to read that people, especially teens, are finding a positive path. The detail of the trials and tribulations pertaining to this cause really opened my eyes: Groups like these need more support.

The presentation of the article really catches a "young eye." Religion looks fun and inviting, youthful and current with the times. I am not a religious "freak," but I did notice a small conflict. On page 23, I saw that there was time taken to insert the sentence, "His Hellbound record label (run by a lackey named Py-Diddy) tempts all rappers to sign away their souls in exchange for the earthly delights of bling, malt liquor and loose women." Since this seems to be a plot in one of the shows performed, I found it strange that on the cover, Jesus is covered in "bling." He is even pointing and holding a large necklace. I know that it is hard to appeal to youths. Everything seems to be represented in a positive way, but contradicting a main plot almost defeats the purpose of the article.

Again, I would like to express my appreciation for New Times supporting such a positive cause. The article was more than wonderful and was a delight to read. Besides the cover, it was exquisite, all the way down to the slang. I would like to thank everyone involved and thank you to the reader(s) of my letter.

Cassandra Poole

Up in Smoke
Civil rights violations: Thank you for your interview of Mark Brnovich ("Blowing Smoke," Robrt L. Pela, March 11). It's about time someone finally got an opportunity to point out that the anti-smokers have been violating our civil rights. Disregarding the Constitution with the excuse that it's "for our own good" is not acceptable. Almost everyone who wants to take away a piece of our freedom claims to mean well. To protect our civil liberties, we need to beware of our so-called friends more than our overt enemies.

Denying freedom of speech and press to tobacco companies years ago should have been our first clue. I still don't know why that wasn't challenged and reversed as soon as it was done. Excessive taxation on cigarettes is unfair and regressive, doing its most economic harm to those who can least afford it. Taxation should not be used for behavior modification by attempting to starve us into submission.

Encouraging frivolous class-action lawsuits is another bad tactic. Once tobacco companies were forced to print warnings on their products, all liability for ill effects of tobacco should have ended for good. Will tobacco-suit precedents be followed for other products? If bad legal decisions are only allowed against one industry, then where is equal protection under the law? How about carmakers and oil companies? Using the same legal logic, we could probably bring our entire economy to a halt.

And now we have attacks on property rights, trying to prevent business owners, employees and customers from agreeing on a smoking preference. The owner and the employee suffer reduced income, and the customer is deprived of a place to enjoy entertainment and social interaction with other smokers. Nobody wins.

Though it is said that smokers are now a minority, they are still a majority of the people who actually go places and do things. I drive a taxicab, and at least 80 percent of my customers ask if they may smoke. My answer is, "When you're in my cab, you're still in America; yes, feel free to smoke."

Michael Walker

Safeguarding health: Talk about blowing smoke. Mark Brnovich has it down to a science. This isn't about rights, it's about the health and safety of the citizens of this city. I cannot understand why only 20 percent to 25 percent of the population smoke, yet they continue to hold the rest of us hostage because they have an addiction they can't control. No one is telling this 20 percent they can't smoke; they can certainly pollute their own homes and families to their heart's content, but they don't have a right to smoke around me in public. My health needs take precedence over their need to satisfy their addiction. Just once it would be nice to go into a restaurant and not have to smell the stench from their cigarettes.

Wake up, Phoenix. It's time to put an end to this debate and outlaw smoking in public places to safeguard the health of all its citizens.

Gary Higgins
Via e-mail

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