Pressing Matters

Media muzzle: I enjoyed your column ("Nine One One," Kristi Dempsey, September 20). I have to put in my two cents, though. The U.S. media as a whole have studiously avoided touching on what is perhaps the greatest issue in this whole unhappy matter, that being, what has the U.S. done to incur the enmity of so many people in the Middle East? The only time that this is addressed even tangentially, the press's answer is that Osama bin Laden is insane and those Arabs all follow a crazy religion that makes them terrorists.

Nobody in the mainstream press is addressing those grievous injustices in the Middle East which are actively supported by the U.S., including the occupation by Israel of all Palestinian land, the sanctions against Iraq which have resulted in the deaths of a half-million children in the last decade, or the genocidal activities perpetrated by Israel against those Palestinians still within its borders. Israel has, since declaring itself a state in the 1940s, waged war against its Arab neighbors on four separate occasions, yet it receives billions of dollars annually from the United States. Iraq waged war once, to retake Kuwait (which was part of Iraq until 1899), and we have waged war, both military and economic, against Iraq ever since.

We are horrified now at Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, and the Mujahedin, but the mainstream press is deafeningly silent about the fact that these were the soldiers in the most expensive covert war ever fought by our CIA -- our government provided arms, as well as more than $3 billion in financial support to these people, and they were as bloodthirsty and as extreme in their interpretation and enforcement of Islam then as they are now. And they are in power now largely because we financed them.

The American public needs to know that our own government has done these things, things which arguably set the stage for our recent tragedy. When will our media wake up and start telling the painful truth? If the media fail us now, be assured that we will once again be righteously sending our military forth to right the world's wrongs, oblivious to the fact that we have been the chief author of those wrongs.

Name withheld by request

Old news: What a waste of space! All Kristi Dempsey accomplished in this column was to blow her own horn regarding her past experiences (for the first time in 15 years she wasn't in a position to tackle the big story), as well as carp about Valley newspapers and TV coverage. Although I do agree with her regarding the San Francisco Examiner's day-after headline.

While newspapers do "play a role that goes beyond the bottom line," it's mainly in reporting on the local level. They can't compete with radio, TV or the Internet. By the time a newspaper hits the street, it's mainly a rehash of what we already have learned through more modern media.

As far as her statement: "The press, you see, had caused Americans to turn against the Vietnam War" -- get a grip! Was she even old enough at the time to know what was going on then?

The public has the right and the need to know what's going to be taking place in the months and years to come in the quest to rid the world of terrorists, but not at the expense of losing more lives or letting "our enemies" know ahead of time when and where we will retaliate. Our quest will be difficult enough without the press making asinine statements of "right to know." One of the biggest blunders so far was telling the press where the president had been during the hours immediately following the terrorist attacks.

There is a time and place for secrecy as well as knowledge -- something Ms. Dempsey has yet to learn. She'd be better off focusing on the lying, cheating and secrecy surrounding the stadium in Tempe. How she can be your editor is beyond me -- she is not ready for "Prime Time."

Kathie Clark

Tip service: It seems every day we see a news report telling us about another breach of airline security. It is either a sheriff or a random civilian looking for publicity by sneaking in yet more box cutters past checkpoints. How dangerous is it to report this?

I do believe that if there were still Holy War terrorists here waiting to strike, they just might be watching television or reading the news! Isn't it possible for the media to simply inform the FAA when somebody does this, rather than mindlessly running whatever the hell they want at any time without thought of the consequences? I just saw an interview with an airline employee who was in a shadowed room -- to protect his identity. He was very happy to be there and inform the world that his airport did not guard the planes overnight. What justice has he done the American people by telling the news whores instead of the FAA? If some terrorist hadn't noticed that weakness before, they might now. Is it too much to ask for the media and civilian traitors to ignore their taste for fame and money, for the benefit of our safety?

Jeremy Jacksen

Basic Instinct

Beating the rap: As I sat and read the article about the guy locked in solitary confinement for alleged ties to the Aryan Brotherhood ("Solitary Man," Paul Rubin, September 27), I couldn't help but think of all the other gangs that must exist in prison. His alleged membership, although nothing to sneeze at, is still nothing compared to the guards who continually smuggle drugs into the prisons or look the other way when another inmate is beaten. The SMU II unit sounds a lot like inhumane treatment. Doesn't something in the Constitution protect against treatment so inhumane as to deprive [one] of the basics of human contact?

Jim Morrow's comment at the very end: "At any rate, Mark Koch is not the kind of guy you'd want living next to you," certainly doesn't ring true with me. After reading the article, I'd rather have Mark Koch living next to me than any of the DOC employees, Jim Morrow included.

So much in our society is based on hearsay and conjecture that it's not surprising that Mark Koch is in the position he's in now. I'm sure he was framed by the DOC as a way to silence him for the work he did against the DOC. It's scary to think that we give this much power to one group or organization.

Name withheld by request

Reefer Badness

Seize and desist: I have no doubt that security forces at Dulles, Newark and Boston airports arrested quite a few people in the hours before the September 11 attack, and I wish someone would report the number. Of course, no terrorists were caught that fateful morning, but it's a certain bet that several peaceful Americans engaged in muling drugs and cash around the country were detected and prevented from boarding planes, or were arrested after disembarking ("Big Bong Theory," Robert Nelson, September 13).

Our nation's forfeiture laws give police departments a hell of a lot of financial incentive to focus on drugs because, in Arizona and most other jurisdictions, any department that makes a bust leading to forfeited funds or property gets to keep the lion's share of the take. If the president is serious about wanting to take away terrorists' funds, he is essentially admitting that we must legalize drugs as soon as possible. If we took that step, we would simultaneously remove funding from a lot of vicious street gangs in this country that have undoubtedly killed more than 5,000 people over the years. By legitimizing the drug market and taxing it, this country can quickly and with the least bloodshed win the "war against terrorists," and also pay for all the largess that is now hemorrhaging from government coffers. More important, we will thereby refocus our government on its primary job -- security -- which it has woefully neglected in its decades-long pursuit of peaceful Americans to incarcerate and rob.

I hope the advocates behind the marijuana reform movement will not be too timid; this is no time for baby steps. If Americans cannot be persuaded now that drugs must be legalized -- for our own safety's sake -- then they never will be willing to take the necessary steps to bring peace and security to this nation, or any other.

Jim Hankey

Unhappy hookah: Could someone please try to write a serious article about marijuana, without all of the cloying pathetic emotionalizing demonizing little journalistic cutesy-poo clichéd epithets and terms of marginalization like "stoner," "sociopath," "weedhead," "pothead"?

Why are American journalists so absolutely incapable of writing a straight story about marijuana? What is it with you people? You are addicted to your own cuteness. It's not cute, it's nauseatingly repetitive and representative of the lack of original and serious thinking that has taken over American journalism since corporate TV news began to write the rules.

But hey -- you sound so cute! Cutesy-poo pot puns! Cute pun-filled cynical arch smirky writing.

I think NORML should give an award for the most cloying, cliché-ridden marijuana "journalism" of the year.

The energy you spend trying to sound flippant and cute and clever would have been better spent on researching your facts about marijuana history. Your version of marijuana history gets a D minus for all of the facts you got wrong and all the facts you left out in the name of maintaining your little cutesy high.

Patricia Schwarz
Pasadena, California

Pot thickens: The war against marijuana has cost billions of dollars, ruined millions of lives and is a complete failure. Two groups, however, have benefited greatly from the war. The black market and the police have reaped the benefits from this ongoing national disgrace.

The black market has enjoyed years of growing profit and continues to rake in millions, if not billions, annually. The police in this country and in others have used the war to get manpower, equipment, overtime pay and new technology they never would have gotten had the war not been waged. For these two groups it pays well to keep the status quo.

This writing, however, is not about the wasted money or the lives lost in the undeclared war on American citizens. It's about one citizen who is unhappy because he cannot exercise his pursuit of happiness -- because for me, happiness is smoking marijuana.

Marijuana users have become cowards and hypocrites. They smoke marijuana in secret and vote to jail themselves and friends if caught. They believe the lies, even though they know the truth. I have shared joints with lawyers, doctors, police officers, nurses and people who work with youth. In Hawaii they smoke it on the beaches, and some of our greatest presidents grew it and no doubt smoked it as well. In New York, Hempstead and Long Island get their names from the flourishing marijuana fields of the past.

It's time we stopped hiding and started being real, as the youth say. Legalize marijuana for use in the home. Teach people how to use it responsibly and help keep it out of the hands of our youth -- who bear witness to our hypocritical behavior and laugh when we try to educate them about the herb.

Name withheld by request


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