Who's Minding the Stir?
I'm really getting sick of people slamming Sheriff Joe Arpaio ("Hangin' With Sheriff Joe," Tony Ortega, August 22). I guess if these bleeding-heart liberals were willing to have their taxes raised, Arizona could build nice, new, fancy jails. If we take all the money Arizona has for schools, libraries and parks, we could build new jails with high-tech everything. Then our nice little lawbreakers could live in luxury while the rest of us hardworking, law-abiding citizens could do without.
Criminals are not top priority. Arizona has only so much money to go around. If individuals are so upset about the jails, why don't they donate their time or, better yet, their money?
Arizona has one of the best sheriffs in the country. If you don't like it--leave.
Editor's note: The jails under Sheriff Arpaio's control are unconstitutional nightmares that ought to shock the conscience of Arizona. These are places where human beings, even though fully restrained, have had electric shock applied to their genitals; where human beings have regularly been denied proper medical care, often for long periods of time; where human beings have died unnecessarily, as pointed out in the very story you cite. Reporting these violations of basic human rights is not a liberal conceit; it is a journalistic duty.
I, of the Needle
Felix Forte's comment that he may possibly have contracted HIV from a tattoo he received at Coney Island, New York, is certainly untrue (Screed, August 22). While it is possible to contract HIV from tattooing, the chance of such an occurrence is remote. In order for HIV to be passed via tattoo, one would have to be tattooed immediately after an infected person, using the same needles, pigments, etc. Even then, transmission is far from a certainty. To date, there has been only one case of HIV directly linked to tattooing, and this instance occurred in a prison setting.
Furthermore, there has been no open tattooing in Coney Island since 1961 when tattooing was banned in New York City. Even if Forte received his tattoo from an amateur, the most rudimentary sterilization techniques will destroy the fragile HIV virus. While I recognize Forte's frustration, I do not feel he should attempt to blame tattooing for his misfortune.
That was a Sterling article Terry Greene wrote about Bruce Babbitt, and Greg Loudon's cover illustration had great face value also ("Babbitt's Interior," August 22).
But that photo of the Secretary of the Interior (looking very perky) with President Clinton in Maryland for the Fourth of July eagle-releasing event makes me wonder. The day before (July 3), I photographed Babbitt at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon dedicating Theodore Roosevelt Point. He didn't depart until after noon. A follow-up item on how he handles jet lag would be of interest.
Finally, an Arizona politician who can be portrayed in a positive light, someone with intelligence and values. As a native Arizonan who has lived from Ajo to Flagstaff, I have seen Bruce Babbitt endure as someone who is secure enough to try to do what is best for this country, and for this planet--although he did have a bit of a brain fart when he sided with the copper companies in 1982.
Bravo for Ken Parker ("Road Kill," Tony Ortega, August 22)! I am no stranger to his predicament, and it's great to see someone fighting so hard for what he believes in. It is quite interesting that, in spite of seemingly overwhelming odds, he may prevail.
I became acquainted with Ken Parker more than ten years ago and, even then, was intrigued not only by his described tenacity, but also by his generosity. Regardless of his personal attributes, he does have one hell of a fight on his hands. However, as in all "fair" fights, it is important that rules be followed. It would be a shame if the better fighter lost because the other "bent the rules."
Mark C. Visinare
Schwinner of Our Discontent
The Sedona 5 are pathetic ("The Sedona 5's Excellent Adventure," David Holthouse, August 15). What is most appalling is that two of them are owners of bike shops. What the Sedona 5 forgot in their marijuana-and-psilocybin-fueled descent into the Grand Canyon is that by doing what they did, they branded mountain bikers as a bunch of drug-munching gonzo dudes who have no more understanding of what makes the world go around than what their few remaining brain cells can comprehend. That's not the case.
As an avid mountain biker and bike-shop employee in the Phoenix area, I feel it is my duty to try to dispel some of the negative image of mountain bikers. People like Jon Cogan, John Panetta, et al., are a definite minority. If you conduct a poll of the mountain-biking population as far as what it sees as the biggest issue facing mountain bikers, you'd hear things like land access, trail maintenance, co-existing with other user groups, etc. If you conduct the same poll with the nonbiking public, you'd find that the group has an extremely negative image.
This negative image is because of the efforts of boneheads like the Sedona 5. Although they choose not to fight for land access or any of the issues facing mountain biking as a sport, they will be affected when the landowners decide that enough is enough, and say "no more bikes." By then, of course, it will be too late. Hopefully, everyone will support shops that stand for the things that matter to mountain biking.
To the Sedona 5: What you did is a far cry from civil disobedience--what you did was take a juvenile romp through the national forest. You say that our laws are unfair, but you're too lazy to get off your butts and make an effort to change them. You deserved everything you got and more.
Though I don't agree that the Grand Canyon should be open to mountain bikers, I felt sympathetic toward the Sedona 5, as their ride occurred during a park closure and on a trail already damaged by mule trains. I also admired the sheer ballsiness of the act. For these reasons, I sent the Sedona 5 a check for a tee shirt to help defray the cost of new bikes.
To make a long story short, after several months and repeated promises from Mitch Obele (Wheeze), I never received a shirt or a refund. Civil disobedience, drug use/possession and irreverence toward authority can all be justified as "hurting no one," but possible fraud can't. The Sedona 5 aren't folk heroes--they're hoods--and they shouldn't presume to speak for the mountain-biking community.
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I understand that some of the best rides are illegal, but to do it blatantly is a bit poor, knowing that the Grand Canyon was closed. The Sedona 5 could have asked permission. In New Zealand, where I come from, rangers are too busy looking for dope growers and opossum killers. The helicopter ride was extreme, as was the confiscation of the bikes.