I'm a former TV news reporter who is now a teacher. I've worked with a high school newspaper staff. As a reporter, I did several stories about student journalists being "denied" their First Amendment rights ("Extra Censory," A. Tacuma Roeback, August 7). And there's no question that some principals have abused their power of prior review. But as a teacher, I've found the issue isn't quite so black and white.
At most high schools, the newspaper is a class that students take for credit toward graduation. A typical newspaper class consists of students between the ages of 14 and 18. Some are highly motivated and genuinely interested in journalism. Some are mildly interested in journalism, and some are simply taking up space. All of these students will write stories. Many of those stories will appear in print. Those stories will include quotes from other students, who may not understand the consequences of saying something for public consumption.
Similarly, the newspaper adviser may be a teacher with a journalism degree and/or journalism experience. Or he may be a fresh-out-of-college English teacher with no journalism experience whatsoever. This adviser will also be teaching several other classes.
This adviser and these students will publish a newspaper that is subject to the same libel laws that apply to New Times or the Arizona Republic. If student journalists have a right to free expression, do they also have the responsibility to pay libel damages? ("Hey, Mom--can I have $100,000 for school tomorrow? I have to pay off my share of that libel judgment.")
The author of the article "Extra Censory" missed the whole point and argued his case with false analogy.
First, staff writers for high school newspapers are adolescents, not adults; students, not journalists; functioning in a playschool pretend journalistic setting, not a professional work environment.
Second, the First Amendment issue is no more applicable to the high school newspaper situation than it is at New Times or any other commercial newspaper. The First Amendment protects the right of the newspaper to speak freely; not its staff members to demand that every piece they write be approved by the managing editor and printed as is. In the high school setting, the journalism teacher is the managing editor, and the principal is the publisher or CEO.
In an effort to try to create a stimulating, real-life situation in which novice student writers will be challenged to master their communication skills, we sometimes downplay that serving on the staff of a high school newspaper is really no different from taking any other English class.
I read with interest the feature on censorship in high school newspapers, mirroring as it does my own experiences at Apollo High School in 1990 and 1991. It was so disillusioning that it took me a long time to consider journalism as a career, and it means that I'm trying to "catch up" in the journalism program at Arizona State University. The First Amendment should apply to students as well.
The Racer's Edge
I enjoyed Terry Greene Sterling's column about the Mesa City Council goings-on ("Horndog Jim," August 7). I've known Jim Stapley since the early '60s when he was a hard-charging, winning race-car driver who was also handy with his fists after the races--almost a requirement in those days. In his last year of racing, he barely lost the Arizona State Championship to Harry Bechtel because the last race of the season was rained out on a Saturday at Manzanita and rescheduled for the next day, which, because of Stapley's Mormon religion, precluded him from competing. He had the talent and ability to follow other Phoenix drivers, like Bobby Ball, Art Bisch, Jimmy Bryan and Donny Davis, to the big time, but had to forgo all that because of not being able to race on Sundays.
I haven't seen or talked to Stapley for quite a few years, but if I had to choose between his veracity and that of Joan Payne, I'd take Stapley in a heartbeat. After researching and writing the column, even Greene Sterling would have to admit Payne is a couple bricks shy of a full load.
It is interesting to note the Symington trial ("Judge Stranded," John Dougherty, August 7) can be summed up by three literary quotes:
1. Shakespeare for the defense: All's Well That Ends Well.
2. Grantland Rice for the prosecution: "For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name/He writes--not that you won or lost--but how you played the Game."
3. The verdict? The answer to the title of Frank Stockton's short story "The Lady or the Tiger?".
The coverage? The Arizona Republic provided full transcripts of the proceedings on the Internet; John Dougherty (of New Times) proved a powerful polemicist for the prosecution; and Mark Flatten (of the Mesa Tribune) an able apologist for the defense.
To widen horizons, New Times may wish to arrange for guest columns by Dougherty in the Mesa Tribune and Flatten in New Times.
Harold Paul Sieglaff
Two of the letters in New Times' August 7 issue criticizing the jail medical treatment of Damon Dreckmeier are disturbing. The letter writers deplore Dreckmeier's treatment largely because it hurts the campaign to restrict the rights of inmates--which they support.
They must be confusing Arizona with Minnesota or Washington, which have humane prisons or jails. In the past 50 years, there has been only one arguably liberal sheriff--Paul Blubaum. All the others--Democrat and Republican alike--have been "conservative" by any standard. Yet none of them thought the jails should be run like concentration camps!
While I was on the City Council in 1975, I worked with Blubaum to make the then-new Durango Jail one of the most progressive in the state (not soft). We introduced OK Community, GED classes, general counseling, drug-abuse counseling, work programs, etc. There was a 30-member citizens advisory committee that was virtually unanimous on what had to be done.
Although Blubaum was defeated after one term, his conservative successors--Jerry Hill, Dick Godbehere and Tom Agnos--never felt the need to resort to making political capital by demeaning inmates. One reason for this--still not understood by the public--is that most of the inmates subject to Joe Arpaio's rules are short-termers like Dreckmeier who are clearly not dangerous and who will soon be back out among the general population.
I have been a friend of Joe's for 20 years, but I disagree with him on this. Many of his programs are not as bad as advertised, but they are disturbingly sold to the public as repressive--and the public eats it up. When someone is down, you don't kick him further--you try to help him up. I know of no young criminals rehabilitated because they can't have coffee in jail and have to live in a tent. I only wish it was so easy to change people!
Further, much of the repression the public glories in is illusory. My mentorees tell me that anyone can get cigarettes in return for candy or Kool-Aid. There are even some drugs in there, although not much. The chain-gang men and women are all volunteers. Although some guards are bad, many others treat prisoners with respect if they are treated the same. There are some rehab programs--especially for women--but not on the scale of the Blubaum era.
As for medical treatment, it is widely inconsistent. One of my mentorees got a physical exam within a few minutes after going to court, although he was apparently healthy and had no complaints. Another was there 14 days without medical examination or treatment although he was emaciated and dehydrated from speed, had an irregular heartbeat and complained of severe joint pains. Luckily, he didn't suffer any damage--they put him to work in the kitchen!
There is an old rule that you get what you pay for. Shortchanging prisoners from proper food, exercise and medical care can only hurt the general community later.
Gary Peter Klahr
"The Man Who Loved Lucy" (Michael Kiefer, August 7) tells of "scientists" who treat skull fragments like baseball cards. Let's exchange this one for that one, inventing a theory that lasts for a few years until they are exchanged again. What a joke! There is no science involved.
Just decide how you think man evolved, then manipulate fossil fragments until they confirm your theory. Donald Johanson could make a monkey out of you!
I enjoyed Michael Kiefer's "The Man Who Loved Lucy" about the dramatic anthropologist Donald Johanson. Personally, I'm neither a creationist nor an evolutionist because neither has been proven, and I, frankly speaking, like both of them. Just as Don Johanson, Ph.D., is quick to point out, a chimpanzee didn't walk into the time tunnel at one end and miraculously come out Don Johanson on the other (even though a chimpanzee has 99 percent of our human DNA, it's not a match); neither can it be proven "Lucy" walked in one end of the fabled tunnel and came out Don Johanson on the other end, nor, for that matter, Mary Leakey. At present still stands the $1 million reward offered by a billionaire (who remains anonymous) to anyone who finds a fossil whose DNA is a match, proving it was a human ancestor. Given how clever "Lucy" was alleged to have been, wouldn't she have even grabbed the million bucks by now?
It's really nice to see Rainer Ptacek's name in New Times ("Inner Flame," Gilbert Garcia, August 7), but, as I'm a longtime fan of his, I hope New Times will take this opportunity to correct a potentially serious misconception the article about his work creates.
The article states that "none of his five albums has been released in the United States, and his albums have been issued in so many forms with so many imprints that tracking down a particular album can be daunting." Most people who read that sentence would think the only way to get hold of any of his work is to buy Inner Flame. In truth, Zia Record Exchange frequently carries three of Ptacek's CDs--D.Y.O. (a compilation recording of some of his best stuff, and a real buy), Nocturnes and Barefoot Rock With Rainer and Das Combo.
I've listened to Inner Flame. It's okay, but it's not great, and I wouldn't want potential fans to have to listen to imitations, however good, of this powerful artist when they can get the real thing.
In an earlier, and arguably more civilized, time, a cad who held up a woman to public ridicule for no good reason would be called out or horsewhipped by the lady's male relatives (Flashes, August 7).
We all have episodes in our past with which we would not care to be embarrassed in later years. What might it have been for The Flash--penning smiley-face greeting cards, ghostwriting captions for the Victoria's Secret catalogue, ingratiatingly volunteering to write the "School Pride" column for his high school newspaper, perhaps?
New Times should not have compounded this salacious indiscretion by putting an out-of-context film clip of the incident online.
I bet Jineane Ford doesn't "jiggle" when sighting over the barrel of a dueling pistol.
Jineane Ford's career appears to have gone from a 3-B (blondes, bras, breasts) movie to--how appropriate--the "boob tube."
Jineane Ford's early performances involved considerable BRA-viewer.
What power in the press! New Times tried and convicted Wayne Legg from the word "go" ("Barrister Behind Bars," Paul Rubin, July 31). Before New Times sentences him, please hear my plea for leniency.
My age has been publicized, so senility is anticipated. Granted, at 87 I don't remember what I had for breakfast--but long-term memory is vividly accurate. I can give New Times the full names of all my ex-friends who did not vote for Barry Goldwater.
I've had time to know Wayne well, watched him in action and benefited from his shared abilities during his entire professional career, all gratis.
But now that I do know the courts, Wayne was guilty of what I call "ambition" and the state calls "greed." Some of his fees were high, but always legal. Doctors used to do it all the time. Charge the rich more in order to be able to care for the poor.
Wayne is not homeless. He has a very small, one-bedroom dwelling, but these suits have left him financially and physically drained, his good name permanently besmirched. There's nothing left to take but any short days of useful existence.
If he's given a penitentiary sentence, the taxpayers should march on City Hall. They have already paid millions on these trials. Why spend more to provide his room and board for a prolonged period?
When all attorneys go to court on the same charges, Arizona pens will never hold the overflow.
Please do walk a step or two in Wayne's boots.
Cleo Nevans Taylor
David Holthouse's story "The Devil and Todd McFarlane" (July 31) was a very informative article, especially how Holthouse ended the story by identifying McFarlane selling out with his comic-book character Spawn.
McFarlane appeared to be a man who had enough of the establishment and decided to challenge it, and he was winning. I like how he was talking to the establishment in the article. He was not afraid to lash out. It was great. I felt like I was at a boxing match, cheering for the small guy beating the crap out of the big guy. Then I got to the last paragraph of the story. The last round of the fight. Todd McFarlane got KO'ed. Knockout. He is laid out flat on his back. The establishment won again.
McFarlane didn't get knocked out for selling out the African American. He got knocked out for selling out himself. He lost the title "he raised his baby himself." But the black market paid him his $50 million purse.
I attended Todd McFarlane's Spawn premiere through a fluke, and had an unexpectedly enjoyable time. So, naturally, I was curious about David Holthouse's "The Devil and Todd McFarlane." It gave me a little insight into the mind of McFarlane, but the way the article ended leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The image Holthouse leaves us with implies racism on McFarlane's part. McFarlane created the characters in Spawn to tell a story and to make money. Because he's doing the second means that a lot of people are buying into the first.
But he didn't create Spawn to make racial statements. That a character changed from black to white in making the transition from comics to movies seems like apples and oranges. So what? McFarlane wasn't trying to sell out, or slam people of color, or whatever other silly premise from which Holthouse seemed to be writing. Now, if Holthouse was really trying to be fair while raising the specter of racism, why didn't he mention that Spawn cast a Latino actor in a role that normally would've gone to a white actor? John Leguizamo's Clown pushed the plot along and stole much of the movie from its heroic namesake. Why didn't Holthouse mention that angle? Is this an example of some kind of selective colorblindness? Or is Holthouse a different flavor of racist?
Barry Graham's "Ambulance Chasteners" (July 24) was right on the economic dollar. I have my own experience to share about Southwest Ambulance.
Two years ago, I suffered a major asthma attack. Being new to the Valley, my fiancee called 911 to see what hospital would take my particular insurance plan. Now, before my fiancee could write down the facility's name (which happened to be less than a half-mile from our house), EMTs from Southwest were beating down my door to get me into their vehicle.
We never asked for an ambulance, because we have two cars of our own, and the facility was really close. What happened next nearly made me sick all over again.
Southwest sent me a bill for $375. The charges, it said, were for the ride and 10 minutes' worth of service Southwest workers administered. My hospital bill was slightly more than $500 for lots of medications and nearly five hours of service.
I'm still fighting Southwest to take those charges off my credit-bureau report. As far as I'm concerned, if I ever really need its help, just let me die. I'll have a lot more money in my pocket.
A. Evonti Anderson
As the wife of a Southwest Ambulance paramedic, I would like to comment on what I have seen. Southwest may be a "patient-oriented company," according to CEO Bob Ramsay, but it should also be employee-oriented. I am talking about employee satisfaction, turnover rate and having updated equipment so the employees can do their jobs exceptionally.
When there are traumatic calls, everyone who is at the scene, including firefighters and police officers, go to a debriefing. The firefighters and police officers are sent no questions asked, but most Southwest employees are told either find relief for your shift or go talk to someone on your own time. During the winter months, Southwest Ambulance is extremely busy. I am always worried about my husband driving home after being run nonstop from call to call 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
I don't know if someone like Bob Ramsay could survive a 24-hour shift. Have him work in one of his ambulances, at one of his stations. How about Pat Cantelme working for the same wages as a Southwest Ambulance employee. Maybe then they would see through their green-colored glasses. They would have plenty of reasons to rectify things.
In reply to the comment made by the union's business manager, Jim Hayden, regarding the 2 percent of Southwest's workforce being made up of disgruntled employees, I know that the percentage of grumbling employees is tremendously higher. With the negative aspects within Southwest Ambulance, I believe the only reason people work for the company is because of love of what they do. Maybe it's easier for disgruntled employees to sit back, instead of (and I quote Hayden) "potentially creating their own problems."
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Club Foot in Mouth
I appreciate New Times' effort to provide club listings for the Valley's music scene. But the listings are not much good if they are not kept up to date. After calling three clubs to confirm that a band I wanted to see was indeed playing, I discovered that none of them had played there in weeks. One coffee house in the Jazz/Latin listing changed its name from Kelly's to Charlie's months ago. There must be some way to peacefully rectify this obscene absurdness.
Editor's note: The Clubs listings are updated on a weekly basis with all information received within the deadline parameters clearly stated at the top of the column. The responsibility to provide that information rests with the clubs. New Times' Clubs listings reflected the Kelly's/Charlie's name change in its February 13, 1997, issue. That is months ago.