Lock Him Up
Profile in courage: I take my hat off to Father Joe Ladensack, who had the moral courage to refuse Bishop O'Brien's outrageous demands to make a family rescind its charges of pedophilia in the Catholic church ("The Divine Sociopath," Michael Lacey, April 15). What courage Father Ladensack showed! As Gandhi once said, "You must be the change you wish to see in this world." Shame on you, Bishop O'Brien.

Linda Crow Beegle
Worthingon, Ohio

Near-death experience: Your article was excellent. I agree that the bishop should have been sent up so that his former parishioners could deal with that "short eyes" mf'er properly.

On faith, I am glad that you have found your way back. As a born evangelical, my adulthood has been spent being appalled by my faith's leadership. It is difficult, but not impossible, to separate the actions of leaders and the desires of God. Congratulations on allowing your faith to transcend the terrible failures of your diocese.

I have no comfort to offer as you come to a close. As a lifelong lover of Sam Beckett's work, I believe that we are in accord on our doubts and hopes, and, of course, the only way to know what follows is to experience it. Personally, I do believe there is a purpose (though it is well beyond my understanding), and what follows this life is an aspect of the progression.

Jack McReynolds
Mooresville, Alabama

Persian Gulf
Judge not: Joe Watson's April 8 article regarding Oubai Shahbandar ("Token Arab") was an excellent insight into how hard it is to be an Arab American and at the same time to confront radical Islam. Your article extensively quoted Deedra Abboud, a member of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), but you neglected to point out the irony in her comments. Mrs. Abboud is a white woman from Arkansas who converted to Islam and here she is criticizing a young man who was not only raised Muslim but also grew up in one of the most oppressive societies in the world, Asad's Syria. Who is Mrs. Abboud to decide who is an acceptable Muslim? Who is she to judge Shahbandar? Shahbandar stood up to dictatorship in his own country and his family immigrated to our America, which is supposed to allow free speech. But every time Mr. Shahbandar has exercised his right to free speech by bringing speakers to ASU, he has been shouted down and police have been required to keep the anti-Shahbandar crowds in order. What is everyone so scared of? It seems to me the people who tried to shout down Daniel Pipes and David Horowitz would have fit right in back in Saudi Arabia, where free speech is illegal. It's ironic that the very people calling Shahbandar "racist" are themselves people like Mrs. Abboud, who is white, while Mr. Shahbandar is a foreigner and a minority, just as Mr. Horowitz is a minority. So the reality is the only people with narrow minds are those afraid to hear what Shahbandar and his "fellow travelers" have to say. How else can one explain the hatred and vitriol and death threats that Shahbandar and Horowitz and Pipes have received just for voicing their views?

This was the ultimate irony of the story. Mr. Shahbandar and his family have come all the way to our "free" country only to find that in fact mob justice rules the streets of our universities and Shahbandar probably had more freedom to speak his mind in Asad's secular Syria than he does in America where Islamic radicals appear to have taken over ASU to such a degree that anyone who opposes them is immediately silenced.

Seth J. Frantzman

A "real American": The photo of Oubai Shahbandar on the front of your paper was offensive. It was nauseating! For someone of this mindset to wrap himself in our American flag in the guise of Saudi Arabian attire is despicable. Much of my family dates back to the founding of our country and one was a signer of our Constitution. Recently, an immigrant, radical Muslim physician told my American mother before her death that she was "trash." Maybe a lot of people can read such an article plus the offensive photo and not be angry, but as a "real American" myself, I believe that such people as Mr. Shahbandar need to ship themselves back to their country. The United States of America is not the United States of Saudi Arabia, or is it?

Carla Odle

Downtown Blues
Cultural desert: It's sad to say that when I read"Death of Cool" (John Dougherty, April 8), I could only nod in agreement.

As a former college student who has made Tempe home, the only time I go to Mill Avenue now is to see a film at Harkins Centerpoint or Valley Art, or to attend a show at Gammage Auditorium. I'm afraid that the few quirky and independent places left on the strip, like Caffe Boa and Those Were the Days, will eventually be booted for mall-like boxes, and bigger corporate impressions. For a city that prides itself on being a real college town, an academic and cultural mecca, there sure isn't much to show for it on the city's most famous drag. It's a shame, and a genuine disservice to the students and citizens who call Tempe home. And God forbid if Phoenix decides to follow the same path in its growing downtown arts scene. We'll have really earned the moniker of "cultural desert."

Matthew Heil

Mill makeover: Thanks for a great article about the redevelopment gone haywire in downtown Tempe. As a longtime resident in Tempe (since 1968), I too decry what has been done to a once wonderful and vibrant environment. Contrary to what Harry Mitchell has stated, Mill Avenue was a thriving area when he and the rest of the "movers and shakers" decided to give Mill a makeover. Yes, there was a "hippie" culture there. In fact, it was the "hippies" who showed these same movers and shakers that downtown Tempe could be made into a viable business area.

In fact, these "hippie" entrepreneurs started the revitalization process by moving into an undesirable, run-down area because it was affordable. They helped clean up the area. They attracted new people to downtown to check out all of the artisans who had set up shop there. And they started the "MAMA Fair," which was taken over by the so-called "DTC" (Downtown Tempe Committee) that promptly took over and kicked MAMA out and mainstreamed everything. What started out as a great way for local artisans to display and sell their work has been replaced by (mostly) gypsies who travel from fair to fair.

Yes, there was a so-called "biker bar" there, but the bikers pretty much stayed to themselves. The students and locals had their own watering hole favorites. We had live local bands at the Casa Loma. We had a place to shop for hardware (Tempe Hardware) or lumber (O'Malleys). We had a supermarket. We had a bakery. We had fast food (Whataburger and Jack in the-Box). We had places for college students to congregate and mix with locals. In other words, it was a real downtown -- not this artificial environment we have in its place. I used to love going to Mill, but no more! Now I, and most of the locals I know, try to avoid going downtown, and the parking situation is not the only reason.

What we see today is a homogenized, pasteurized version of a downtown. If you were to knock me out and then wake me up in downtown San Antonio or San Diego or any other redeveloped red-bricked downtown in the USA, I would be hard-pressed to tell you which town I was in. All the buildings and the names on the buildings are the same in all of these towns. So much for unique!

Mark Shievitz
Via e-mail

That's gotta hurt: Cool is indeed dead in downtown Tempe and has been for about 10 years now. The commercialization, indeed mallification, of Tempe is not unique: It has happened everywhere in the nation as brand-name positioning has become the national religion. It is interesting that while vociferously protesting Dennis Cahill as a tool of special interests, the good folks of Tempe were gullible enough to elect Hugh Hallman. This man is an attorney with enough money and backing to mount an extremely slick ad campaign in order to buy enough votes to win the mayoral job in Tempe. There is no way a guy whose image screams "Mr. Conservative Mainstream" is going to bring back the real heart of Tempe. If folks in the downtown area thought things were bad before, wait until Hallman gets finished reaming them. Guaranteed this dude won't use lube. Hell, he probably won't even bother to ask if it was good for us. At least Mayor Neil Giuliano would have been that polite. Oh well. Maybe in the next election, people will get active and really learn who is who and not just vote for the best sound bite.

Pat Beck


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