Letters

Letters from the week of March 31, 2005

READERS PEARCED OFF

Founding Fathers would quake: I just read your article titled "Religious Wrong" (John Dougherty, March 17). I have to say that I have never been so offended by a piece of writing.

It contains outright hatred for those who are trying to stand up for what they believe in. You might find this difficult to believe, but the majority of Americans, including college students, do not want columns about sexual positions published for all to read. And they don't want such columns paid for by taxpayer money.

What you call an attack on the First Amendment I call an attempt to return to the core values that built America. The Founding Fathers, who formulated the First Amendment, would be appalled at how the amendment has been misused to publish garbage.

I also take offense at your use of "separation of church and state," an invented phrase not sponsored by the founders of this country.

To link Representative Russell Pearce to polygamist groups in Colorado City shows a complete lack of understanding. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), to which Mr. Pearce belongs, is not affiliated with polygamists and denounces the practice of polygamy today, despite what you think you know.

Finally, while you take the other side's word without doubt, you take shots at Mr. Pearce's integrity by saying "he claims."

I cannot believe that you would want your name associated with such filth, and I hope you do more homework on your subjects before making blatantly prejudiced comments in the future.
Ryan Butler, via the Internet

No sexually explicit photos: I just wanted to clear up the information about the State Press Magazine's weekly "Sexual Discourse" piece. It doesn't really gauge students' sexual techniques as much as it gauges student opinion on sexual topics. It has included topics such as protection against STDs, safety during spring break, and abstinence-only education.

It has never included sexually explicit photos. Rather, it runs with portraits of two students to whom we talk. The photos never have included nudity or anything indecent. The only photo Pearce could have been referring to is the breast cover showing a pierced nipple from October.
Amanda Lee Myers, editor-in-chief, State Press Magazine

Rally against Religious Rightists: You are absolutely right about religion and politics. I'm just about as fed up with religion and the right-wing agenda as anyone. I say we line up one ASU student after another to rally against Russell Pearce and his buddies Ira Fulton and Michael Crow. Enough is enough!

I've already started by e-mailing this nut Pearce a copy of the First Amendment and the section about religious encroachment on the state. This constant attack on our rights and freedom has got to stop.
Joe Covert, Phoenix

Dougherty spews bigotry:I realize that this was in an opinion column, and I realize that LDS people may lobby to diminish or lose ASU's party-school image. Nevertheless, the article was full of shock tactics that cannot be taken literally.

Ira Fulton has not overtly "made it clear that he wants [Michael] Crow to . . . transform the campus into the southern branch of Mormon-owned Brigham Young University."

And automatically associating a legislator, with whom the author disagrees, with some crackpot group in Colorado City is not based on enough fact to be considered a viable opinion.

And it is bigotry to argue that the views of Mormons are not valid in themselves but are based on fear that someone will associate them with the Colorado City group that technically hasn't had a Mormon in it for 115 years.

And it is naive to relegate any religious person with an opinion as someone who doesn't have any understanding of or value for the First Amendment.
Colin Jensen, San Francisco

Zero tolerance for wackos: Excellent article on the Religious Right and ASU! Many of us are resigned to living in a conservative state, but we are not resigned to rule by wackos.
Chuck Lakin, Phoenix

Polygs ain't real Mormons: You should know that polygamy is not a practice of the Mormon Church. There is no such thing as a "fundamentalist" Mormon enclave. If you practice polygamy, you are not a Mormon.

I know that those who do practice think they are Mormon, but it's pretty much an immediate disqualification (that is, you are excommunicated if you practice polygamy). Polygamists' actions should not be considered when describing Representative Russell Pearce's feelings and actions.
Matthew Wilson, Columbia, South Carolina

Beacon of free speech: I just wanted to say, keep up the good work! New Times continues to be a beacon of free speech in Phoenix. Our First Amendment rights are under attack by the conservatives in this country. You continue to tackle the subjects that nobody else would even touch. Keep fighting the good fight! Put the press back into the hands of the people.
Matt Meier, Phoenix

Student suffers nipple-shock:I guess I shouldn't be surprised to see this kind of sloppy propaganda in New Times. I am both a member of the LDS and a student at ASU, so already it would appear that I have more insight into the topic of "censorship" of the State Press from a Mormon perspective than does John Dougherty.

There is nothing that Russell Pearce is doing that contradicts the First Amendment. The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech, not the freedom of public funds to promote your personal speech.

Mr. Dougherty made mention of a photo of a pierced female nipple that appeared in the paper. He failed to mention that it covered an entire page. I found it to be a tasteless photograph for an article about body piercing. I was offended by it, as were many of my friends (both LDS and non-religious alike).

Now, I am not saying that the State Press cannot print that. What I am saying -- and what I believe Representative Pearce is saying -- is that my grandmother should not have to pay her taxes to promote that type of publication. It is bad enough that my tuition money goes to support it.

I find it ridiculous that Dougherty accuses Representative Pearce of pandering to his constituency. That is his job! He is a politician! Although some may not believe it, the power to govern still lies in the hands of the people, and we expect our elected leaders to do what we ask of them. Would it not make sense, then, that a state representative from the East Valley would show some propensity to act along the beliefs of his Mormon electorate?
Thomas Bogle, ASU marketing and communications student

Keep telling it like it is:Right on regarding "Religious Wrong"! Thank you for telling it like it really is. I'm afraid this breaking down of the separation of church and state because of conservative/religious-right/Mormon-think will get worse before it gets better.

We must be ever diligent and support a free press! Thanks for exposing these lawmakers' biased agendas.
J. C. Wilde, via the Internet

HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL

Jewish wanna-be won't do: Don't we have enough Holocaust memorials in this country?! I know about Bill Tonneson, and I know that -- even if another memorial has got to be built in Phoenix -- he is not the person to do it ("Illusions of Grandeur," Sarah Fenske, March 17). He is exclusionary, and somebody like this cannot bring in all the notions of what a Holocaust monument should be. Also, he may be a Jew wanna-be, but he cannot even remotely feel the pain of the Jewish people about what happened in the camps.
Nathan Feld, via the Internet

About that story on me: Three clarifications regarding your "Illusions of Grandeur" cover article:

• Ramps in the memorial lead down into an empty room, but it measures 40 feet wide by 40 feet deep by 40 feet tall. The 16-by-16-foot dimension is the opening in the roof (ergo the pantheon reference), not the room itself.

• The work on and in Dale Dacquisto's house was not done by my company or by me. The work was done by a mutual friend of Dacquisto's and myself. He did the work himself (physically), including framing, electrical and roofing. We did the site work.

• The Marcia Sebold lawsuit was settled with the payment of $22,500. We both took a bath on attorney fees.
Bill Tonnesen, Tempe

Sarah Fenske responds: Our story indeed misstated the size of the room at the bottom of the memorial. Regarding point two, the person who did much of the work inside Dale Dacquisto's house was then an employee of Tonnesen Inc., as numerous memos from the company reveal. The building permit lists Tonnesen Inc. as the contractor, and both Tonnesen and his employees were actively involved on the site. About the employee's being a mutual friend, the reader can be the judge. Dacquisto and his partner only met him after hiring Tonnesen's firm for their project. As for point three, Tonnesen is kind to supply the size of the Sebold settlement since he specifically refused to discuss it in a March 10 telephone interview.

He's an icon of creativity:We thought the article on Bill Tonneson presented some mixed reviews of Bill's past work as a landscape architect and artist and didn't present a fair assessment of his current projects.

The article read as an attempt by New Times to derail Bill's involvement with the Holocaust Memorial. It seems that the survivors love his concept and that they have every right to make Bill's concept for their Memorial a reality without interference from New Times.

It is unfortunate that New Times chose to focus on the relationships Bill has had that did not turn out so well. New Times could have focused on his many successes, such as Bill's project at Empire Southwest.

It was an unfair characterization to say that Bill had failed to realize his art goals. Bill's stated goal was to get a one-man show at a respected art gallery within a year. Bill accomplished this with a one-man show at Chiaroscuro Gallery and wrote a book about it at the same time. When did it become a character flaw to aspire to become one of the top artists in the world? Aren't artists supposed to dream?

New Times was incorrect to say that art directors come mostly from advertising and not from among artists. Obviously, the writer was not aware of the way many major artists in today's art world, and throughout art history, have functioned. Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Christo are all artists who are art directors of their work.

Bill was accused of being "shamelessly derivative" and compared to Arman. Bill accomplished his first body of work before knowing anything about Arman. Bill was amazed at the similarities between his and some of Arman's work when we met Arman and toured his New York City home and studios.

Bill is a passionate student of art; he has learned everything he could about contemporary art. We felt inspired by his enthusiasm and passion. Bill has always been one of the most creative personalities in Arizona.
Thomas Houlon and Patty Barnes, Phoenix

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