Letters From the Issue of Thursday, July 20, 2006

Humor Us

He who laughs last . . . doesn't get the joke: Thanks for adding some sanity to the nationwide debate over joking around over the Internet ("Molehill Mountain," The Bird, July 13). Careers have been ruined inside the Mesa Police Department over this, and it's not right. And what for? Because city officials have no sense of humor.

I guess I can understand why city governments and businesses don't want to get sued for sexual harassment because some devout Mormon (or whoever) is offended by a fellow worker's looking at porn on his computer, but as The Bird pointed out, the vast majority of the claims in Mesa against city workers are over lighthearted joking around.

I say, punish the precious few who are actually sending around gross pornography, and leave the rest alone.

For years I've been reading about companies firing guys for sending e-mails containing pornography, and even for sending messages with bawdy jokes. Come on, stuff like the latter used to be the subject of water-cooler talk. Nobody got fired — or suspended — because of passing along a joke.

Now, because there is an electronic evidence trail, the humorless have been empowered. We're not talking about workers sitting around all day and wasting company or city time with e-mails, we are talking about, in the huge majority of cases, an occasional joke. Other than those who are looking at the worst kind of porn at work, it would be rational to come down only on people who're actually spending their entire shifts playing around on the Net.

I'm telling you, in Mesa, they went out and got everybody who had even sent around a joke or two. It's ridiculous.
Name withheld by request

Flirting With Disaster

Victims need to move on: What the Hurricane Katrina victims need to understand is: America has a short attention span ("Desert Storm," Katy Reckdahl, July 13). There hasn't been a national disaster rivaling Katrina yet in America, but there will be. Point is, the refugees have to move on with their lives, get jobs, stop acting like professional victims.

I know for a fact that caregivers in the Phoenix area are getting sick and tired of hearing the same old excuses for why the people who landed here after Katrina haven't gotten jobs. It's been a long time now. I know for a fact that many of them haven't even tried. Why should they? They have been on relief all their lives. Some come from families who have been on the dole for generations.

The only criticism of your story that I would have is that it is far too lenient toward these people who are manipulating the system, as they've always done. Sure, it's hard after a storm forces you out of your home, but that doesn't mean you sit around and cry about it for the rest of your life. Phoenix is booming: Go out and get a job working at a fast-food restaurant, if that's what you have to do. Get something much better if you can step up and meet the qualifications.

I know one Katrina victim who came here and took up where he left off in New Orleans. While living off the largess of a local church, he started selling crack again in a new city. And using it.

I'm not saying this is everybody, but it's definitely part of the equation. I just wish your story had said as much and then told the story of how so many so-called Katrina victims are really lazy, lifelong relief recipients and/or career scammers. Folks like this should realize that Phoenix won't cater to the likes of them forever.
Charlene Devlin, via the Internet

Determined to make a new start: How dare you racist motherfuckers contend that Katrina victims are a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings. It may be true that not that many of us have found employment in Phoenix, but it takes time.

Imagine having your home flooded or blown away, and having to relocate to a locale that you know nothing about. It takes years for people just to get over the shock of such a situation.

The people of Phoenix have been very kind to us, and I really appreciate that. But as a single mother, it's been hard for me to get on my feet as fast as I'd like. But I want to stay here and make a new start, and I'm determined to make it happen.
Lena Milsap, Phoenix

Bombs away: I find the cover of your newspaper with the headline "Desert Storm" to be very racist and offensive. Is this how this state sees the people of New Orleans? Like black bombs falling out of the sky?

I am going to send this picture to the NAACP and see how they interpret it. How could you be so insensitive to the feelings of people who have lost their livelihood just because the color of our skin is black?

We're here, yes, and it is our right as human beings and citizens of this great United States to be here. And yes, we do read the paper, and we do have feelings and opinions about what's written.

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