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Letters

Fighting Mad
Thanks to Amy Silverman for her informative article on extreme fighting ("John McCain Breaks Up a Fight," February 12). John McCain has been exposed. I wonder if the Anheuser-Busch brewery and the senator's office will respond to the requests for clarification on these matters, or if they will continue to practice their disreputable antics. I think it's the arrogance of McCain's office that is most upsetting. McCain must come clean and for fair competition now that the sport is made much more safe than boxing.

Kirk Belanger

Thanks for a great article about Eddie Goldman, extreme fighting and that bullshitter John McCain. This is exactly what the sport needs.

Chris Anderson
Phoenix

I would like to congratulate Amy Silverman on an outstanding article on "extreme fighting." This is the first article I have ever read about extreme fighting that the author actually seems to have done some real research into the event.

It is usually portrayed to the public as "human cockfights" by those who have only heard about it (not watched it) in other articles I have read. I have been a fan of the fights for five years and hope to see it become even larger. With educated articles like Silverman's, it will happen. Thank you!

Kip Emenhiser
Bravo, Amy Silverman! She has uncovered the real Senator John McCain and shown in broad daylight his under-the-table funding cover-ups and his campaign of censorship. I hope the good voters in Arizona (hey, I was born in Tucson) will act at the polling booths to bring new blood into the office, new blood that doesn't make public policy based on surreptitious money slipped into his pocket. His latest target, the mixed martial arts events in Arizona, shows his bullying behavior. He ignores the facts that more than 40 Americans have been killed in boxing matches since 1938 and that there has never been one serious injury in mixed martial arts (the techniques used in the competitions are boxing, wrestling and judo-type submissions, which, incidentally, are all Olympic sports), and rants on about the "blood-sport cockfights" that he knows they are. Amazingly, he rushed to ban the Arizona events without realizing that there were no closed-fist blows allowed to the head or face! His thoroughness in researching what he is rabidly trying to censor leaves me underwhelmed. If he knew anything about mixed martial arts, he would have to admit that their safety record over 300 recorded matches here in the U.S. and 70 years in Brazil has been exemplary: No serious injuries and, of course, no deaths. Interestingly, his own beloved sport, boxing, of which he is an extremely active proponent, causes deaths regularly and chronic brain damage. I wonder if Muhammad Ali today would be less brain-damaged if he had done mixed martial arts instead of boxing.

Dal Richardson
Idaho Falls, Idaho

I can't tell New Times how pleased I am that it ran this article! As a 37-year-old married father of one, and a computer expert, I am not some beer-bellied redneck looking for bloody violence. I am looking at practitioners of centuries-old arts. Most of the press just seems to churn out the garbage that spews from the mouths of ignorant people like Senator John McCain. New Times has taken the time to look into it and see that it is a safe sport, and the opposition has an agenda.

Stephen Olson

Thanks for publishing a great piece on the questionable bias against MMA tournaments. It's about time someone shed some light on what can only be called a witch hunt. As usual, the murky financial doings of a man in power (John McCain) go a long way toward explaining a seemingly pointless exercise in headline-mongering and political haymaking.

Rob Wolsky
via Internet

I am deeply concerned about the senator's involvement in banning certain sports (shoot fighting, UFC, etc). I have followed the UFC since its inception. I have also followed my 12-year-old niece's soccer career with the same enthusiasm. I can tell you absolutely, unambiguously, that the injuries I've seen in children's soccer are far more serious than I've seen in the UFC.

We know that there are regular deaths in boxing (not to mention the brain damage from repeated blows to the head, not seen in UFC bouts), and football injuries rival that of car wrecks. I seriously doubt UFC-type events could make the Top 10 most dangerous sports.

Somehow I think the senator knows this. Therein lies my concern. Why his interest in banning a sport that has a perfect safety record? One has to ponder the reasons:

1. The senator has a financial interest that is threatened by the sport. He has been linked to professional boxing. The threat to boxing by an event whose outcome isn't determined by Don King is very real.  

2. The senator really doesn't believe in personal liberty. I've been involved with Republican politics since graduating from high school. I'm ultimately confused: Adults can't make the decision as to what sports they involve themselves in? If this is the issue, better start banning half the sports in this country. This stinks of blatant hypocrisy!

3. Demagoguery. This is a potential campaign issue that can be exploited for the PR potential. If Senator McCain had a reputation, it was for integrity.

If there is a viable reason to the senator's trampling of the U.S. Constitution that is not mentioned above, please let me know.

Also, please explain what a Republican is; it seems to have changed recently.

Andy Durban
via Internet

Great article about the crook John McCain. I am a Republican, but I despise him for his stance against no-holds-barred. I am from South Carolina, and I pray that sorry bastard never runs for president. New Times needs to get these findings about McCain in on the national level.

Clay Cash
via Internet

Fetal Monitor
Barry Graham makes a few good points, as usual, in his wishy-washy article about the differences between pro-lifers and pro-choicers ("Pro-Life-Choice," February 12). He states he agrees with some parts of both sides.

I used to be pro-life throughout my naive teenage years and changed to pro-choice during my "feministic" 20s, but now as a 30-something mother and wife, I am now and forever will be a pro-lifer. But like Graham, I also see the sides of pro-choicers, too.

Two reasons (and I will actually give two reasons, unlike Graham) that I strongly believe are: A young teenager is being charged with murder in the first for giving birth to her baby, then strangling it and leaving it to die. If she killed her baby outside of her body and the law calls it murder, then having her baby killed inside her body should also be considered murder by the law. I believe that a fetus is a human baby in early stages and therefore is a life. A man cannot possibly understand the phenomenon that occurs when a woman feels the kicking of her child inside of her. It is truly a living human being inside.

Second reason: The Bible, which I believe in, states that the taking of another life is a sin. The reward of sin is death. Not only the sinner's death, but the death of all of us. Every person's actions affect all of us in one way or another. That is why the statement "It's not my problem" is so wrong. Drugs, murder, gangs, abortion, sex crimes--all these and more affect each and every one of us. That is why we have these commandments given to us by God. To protect us from ourselves. Not from Him.

I, like many women, have friends who have had abortions. I have seen how it changed their lives forever. I have also seen friends have babies in their teen years. It also changes their lives forever. Any choice a woman makes concerning her pregnancy is a life-altering decision. It is one that we will all have to live with.

I had a chance to have an abortion to end my son's life when I was four weeks pregnant with him. I had major complications and was asked if I wanted to "terminate" the pregnancy in order to save myself from a lot of pain and a possible hysterectomy. I chose not to have an abortion, and no one on this planet could force me to have one. It had to be my decision, one that I will have to live with for the rest of my life. God willing, his life will be a nice, long one.

God gave us the freedom to choose. We are all responsible for our choices. I hope one day that abortion will be illegal again. I remember the pain I saw my friends experience after they had one. The emotional pain lingered long after the physical pain was gone. On the other hand, I recently saw a young woman that I knew had her baby in high school, and she was beaming with joy at the crayon drawing her young son had drawn for her. Her emotional joy lingered long after her physical pain had gone.

Ruth A. Douthitt
Glendale

So, Barry Graham thinks he's got this abortion issue all figured out, and figured out in such a way that allows him to look down smugly at proponents of both sides of the argument. I think he ought to reexamine his position.  

"Pro-lifers believe they can speak for the fetus. They talk about the baby's right to be born. What gives them the right to decide that the baby would choose to be born? Can anyone be sure that a baby would choose to be born to a mother who doesn't want it?"

I don't claim to know anything about the baby's wishes. What I do know is that death is irreversible, life is not. What Graham's saying is we can't know that they'd wish to be born under these circumstances, so it's okay to kill them. Shouldn't the benefit of the doubt be on the side of life? To me, it seems ludicrous to argue otherwise. If a woman does not want the child, she can give it up at birth, and I am more than willing to have my taxes support adoptions, foster homes or orphanages, if it comes to that. It may not be the best life, but surely many will have productive, perhaps even happy, lives, and it is much better than an automatic death sentence.

"But even this argument is a red herring, a distraction from the real issue, which is one of freedom. You don't have the right to kill, but you have the right to refuse assistance if that assistance would invade your body, which is the last boundary of privacy."

The flip side of freedom is responsibility. If we are going to demand freedom, we must be willing to accept responsibility for the consequences of our choices and actions. I am pro-choice. I believe men and women should be free to choose whether to have sexual intercourse. If they choose to have sex, they better be prepared to accept responsibility for the consequences. If we held men responsible, rather than generally treating this as "the woman's problem," we might alter some behaviors and make a dent in the number of unplanned pregnancies that occur. I think your privacy argument holds if a woman is a victim of rape. Here, someone has used her body without permission, and she has every right to refuse to devote the use of her body to carrying a child through pregnancy. However, if a woman willingly has sex, she should be prepared to accept the consequences, even if the pregnancy is an accident, the result of a failure of the birth-control method chosen. You should not have the right to kill another human being because its life presents an inconvenience, or because the action you chose had an undesirable outcome.

As you might guess, I would be described as pro-life. I also happen to be against the death penalty and in favor of programs to help disadvantaged and unwanted children. I don't believe we should be cutting off welfare benefits to children just because the presence of those benefits may encourage adults to stay on welfare and have more babies. Attacking that problem by punishing innocent children is not the way to go. So, like millions of others, I don't fit either of Graham's pro-life/pro-choice stereotypes.

Lawrence P. Grasso
Tempe

Bravo to Graham! Finally there is someone coming forward and speaking intelligently about an issue that everyone seems to think is either black or white. Let's try to remind ourselves that not every controversy has one correct solution, and let's also realize that every woman has a completely different set of circumstances surrounding her decision.

Leave them alone! Mind your own business! These decisions are not made overnight and/or without much anguish. The last thing that needs to happen to them is to have their safety and lives threatened because some uneducated group of schmucks is too busy pointing fingers at everyone else instead of dealing with their own emotional deficiencies. These are people who kill and call it justified . . . what's morally sound about that? Do they really think that women enjoy the torture that comes with ending a pregnancy? Not to mention it's a lot more expensive and painful than birth control of any sort. Thanks to Graham for bringing to light his realistic analysis of this very touchy issue in such a refreshingly intelligent and compassionate manner. I truly hope that people like him continue to come forward and remind us of these truths so that no more women have to die in back-alley clinics from a rusty-coat-hanger wound to the cervix.

Renee Starks
Scottsdale

Johnny on the Spot
I just wanted to compliment Chris Farnsworth on a well-written article ("Sin of a Preacher Man," February 12). I'm not very religious, but it makes me a little angry, but mostly sad, that people who made mistakes in their past are never forgiven, and the actions they take in the present are not recognized. Johnny Lee Riley did commit a crime, but instead of throwing him in jail or, worse, killing him, why can't he meet with the kids who are out on the streets right now going through what he did? Why can't he tell them there are other ways besides violence and abuse? I guess eye for an eye, blood for blood is alive and well in Arizona. Anyway, thanks again to Farnsworth for the work that he does; it certainly doesn't look easy. I look forward to reading his articles in the future.  

Karl Kreder
Customer Resource Specialist
University Services
University of Phoenix

Death Row
With the exception of the description of the actual execution, New Times' cover story of Jose Ceja's punishment ("Curtains for Ceja," Barry Graham, February 5) was as exciting as the renaming of the Squaw Peak Parkway. It's really become boring seeing alternative rags like New Times use cheap semantics (i.e., "Arizona got away with murder" or "since Arizona resumed killing people in 1992") in order to stir up emotion about crime and punishment.

The real tragedy is that taxpayers had to pay 23 years' worth of room and board for this murderer. Plus we had to educate him because he claimed it was his supposed right.

This case is very similar to the female's who was just executed in Texas. She also killed two people and also changed her life while on death row. In both of these cases, had the convicted been executed within two years of sentencing, justice would have been praised by many and refused by few (like maybe New Times).

Oh, and by the way, all you have to do to get the Vatican to plead on your behalf is ask.

K. Eugene Laulo
Chandler

I just finished reading Barry Graham's article detailing his experience as a witness to the state-sanctioned murder of Jose Ceja.

I don't know what else to say except thank you. His article reaffirmed my stance against the death penalty.

Andrew Ramsey
via Internet

Thanks once again to Barry Graham for restoring my faith in mankind. It warms my heart to know that there are still some decent, thinking human beings out there.

Graham's stories about Princess Diana, Mother Teresa, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and, most recently, the murder of Jose Jesus Ceja have been honest, true, thinking and feeling, and he does not appear to have a hidden agenda.

When I read the Ceja stories written by the Arizona Republic reporters, I was appalled at their lack of feeling. They treated the execution like it was some movie they had watched, even being flippant about the premeditated taking of a human life.

I do not understand what motivates people to feel justified in doing that. What makes us privileged-to-be-alive folks so sure that death is a punishment? I am beginning to look at it as a wonderful release from the stupidity, ignorance and arrogance of this world.

Thanks to Graham, and he should just keep right on putting them in their place.

Joan
via Internet

I admire Barry Graham's guts to attend such an event. I was right there with him as I read his account of the event and its background. I happen to agree with him. I hope others who are unsure take the time to ponder his view and reconsider theirs. Thanks.

Steve Muratore
via Internet

As so often, a member of New Times' staff hit the nail on the head with the article on Jose Ceja's execution. Many times this paper leaves me chuckling in glee, but this certainly lends some balance. Personally, I think if the state wants to execute people, it should televise the spectacles. Give those cheering mobs something really to sink their drooling teeth into. If we are to justify and celebrate the barbarity of vengeance, let's have our justice in public.

Warren Klofkorn
Phoenix

A person unwilling to accept responsibility for his or her own actions usually looks outward to apply the blame. An unhappy childhood, abusive stepparents, lack of education, discrimination, or drug/alcohol problems are typical excuses. While I don't know if Jose Ceja suggested these excuses, Barry Graham certainly offered them on his behalf.

Graham implies that the act of murder is within the realm of possibility for any panicked young person. I optimistically hope that is not true.

There once was a time when these kinds of excuses would anger me. Now I realize that they actually help to convince the decent, but indifferent and apathetic, masses that criminals must be held accountable. Capital punishment is the necessary consequence in many cases, and I thank Graham for helping me reach this difficult conclusion.

Steve Hunn
Scottsdale  

Just this moment, I finished reading Barry Graham's piece. Although I do support and believe in the death penalty, I must say this is very well-written. Graham never quite gives his "for or against" opinion. He just points out the human side of things. Good job.

Staci
Tempe

I just wanted to take a moment to thank Barry Graham for his brilliant and heartfelt article. I spend a lot of time arguing against the death penalty, and it's nice to find an article like his that shares the same viewpoint. Happily, it is the second article (the other being a report in a recent issue of Vanity Fair, whose author escapes me) I have encountered this month that argues against the death penalty.

Anyway, thanks again to Graham, and let's all hope and pray that we see an end to this tragedy in our lifetime.

Christine Tussey
via Internet

Time for Fife
A mere 30 months for the remorseless six-time crook ("Symington Gets Slammer," John Dougherty, February 5)! What a travesty. Hopefully, the appeal judge will review the calculation and increase his sentence in line with the sentencing guidelines, as is his prerogative.

Will Hartje
Phoenix

Pell Mell
I want to thank New Times and Dewey Webb for the coverage in "Garbage In, Garbage Art" (February 5). Exactly $49.75 was raised for the Arizona chapter of the lupus foundation. Money raised from Ed Mell's trash, which was destined for the dump, will help greatly in getting lupus information to those who need it most. The bulk of the money came from the ephemera and gallery notices, and even Webb contributed by obtaining two of Mell's old national lampoons (somehow that seems right). The "not done by Ed Mell, but owned by him" painting--the 16 cubes of color forming a female lion's head--was purchased whole at the show's end for the giveaway price of 20 bucks.

So, thanks much for the coverage. Attendance hit more than 100 people; Ed Mell, his brother Frank and The Lodge management team of Leslie Barton and Dave Camp all came off as winners, thanks to New Times . . . and I came off almost "saintly."

Erastes Cinaedi
Phoenix

After reading the February 5 issue of New Times, I have to wonder why it persists in championing the lackluster and ignominious individuals of our society.

First of all, an article about a trash-picker masquerading as an artist? Why not an article about the artist (Ed Mell) upon whose very shoulders and reputation this hack is climbing in his vain attempt to achieve his 15 seconds of fame? As a person who makes a living creating things, I find this article insulting.

Second: another trite missive on capital punishment ("Curtains for Ceja," Barry Graham). Oh, boo hoo, another murderer put to death. Darn. Hey, here's an idea that doesn't receive much press: How 'bout an article on all the victims and families of victims whose lives are now a never-ending hell because of the senseless acts of criminals? Maybe if gutless, whining journalists would dispense with glorifying the criminal element and instead focus on the victims of crime, thereby not giving the criminals what they so desperately yearn for (attention, publicity--vindication), possibly then crime would lose some of its allure. But what else can one expect from a writer who himself has committed crimes in his own heart and mind?

Let us not glorify the negatives in society, but instead publicize and focus on those individuals actually committing positive acts.

Or should I brace myself for this future New Times article: "Jerry Springer Deserves Pulitzer for Excellence in Broadcasting"?

Oh, by the way, thanks for the article on local legend Bruce Connole (Soundcheck, February 5). Hell, one outta three ain't bad, huh?

K.J.
Phoenix

Editor's note: Four points of clarification: 1. New Times' database for this decade alone shows 10 different stories in which Ed Mell was featured. 2. There is no Pulitzer for Excellence in Broadcasting, you ignorant pus-head. 3. "Gutless" journalists never sign what we write with mere initials, as you do. 4. We have on good authority, K.J., that you have committed crimes in your heart and mind and against the English language.

Raging Bill
Barry Graham's "Sick Willie" column of Clinton's purported conduct (January 29) implies that the president suffers from PMS: Personal Morality Standing.

Lloyd Clark
Phoenix

Bravo to Barry Graham for exposing the true William Jefferson Clinton. I cannot begin to fathom mainstream belief that Clinton's sexual escapades have nothing to do with his ability to lead this country. His actions are damaging the credibility of America on the foreign front. I'd be willing to bet that leaders worldwide are laughing at the USA, especially the ones who already deem us "the decadent society." When I was in the military, certain individuals (like officers) were expected to uphold themselves to higher moral standards, even in immoral situations. I guess this train of thought does not apply to the commander in chief of the armed forces.  

If you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar, you own up to it. Simple. Do the people on Capitol Hill think we are really that stupid? And if a man will repeatedly screw around on his wife, what do you think he's doing to us behind our backs? Think about it.

Frank Carrano
Mesa

Way to go, Barry Graham! I wish his article could be read on prime-time TV.
Bob Franklin
Mesa

For Love of Pete
I want to congratulate New Times on Dale Baich's excellent article on Big Pete Pearson ("Goin' Fishin'," January 22). Unfortunately, I discovered two small oversights.

I am the newest member of the Blues Sevilles; however, it was not mentioned that I am the bassist. Also (and this one is actually more important to me), I played almost two years in Phoenix's own 22-years-strong Midnite Blues band, led by Jimmy Peyton, who has been a friend and mentor. Peyton is an inductee in the Blues Hall of Fame. The Midnite Blues is the best swinging Chicago-style blues band in town, and without it I wouldn't be the player I am today. My deepest respects go to Jimmy Peyton.

Kati Ingino
Tempe

I really enjoyed New Times' story on Big Pete Pearson. We lived in Arizona for 13 years and did MFAs at Arizona State University. We followed Pete around and loved his music lots. There was a place in Tempe--Tony's Pizza--and also there was, in l977 or so, a place in downtown Phoenix off Washington, I believe, a Black and Tan club with blues and jazz. Anyway, I still see Pete and his snifter, blazing away. I'd like to share with Pete that his music touched us!

Felice Data
Fairfax, California

Dale Baich's article on Big Pete Pearson was written very well. As a Big Pete fan for many years, I feel that this article did an excellent job of grasping the Big Pete essence and a remarkable feel for what the business of the blues is about!

Bob
via Internet


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