In the other guy's shoes: I enjoyed the cartoon story by Jim Mahfood and Stephen Lemons ("The Passion of El Cristo," September 14), maybe because I spent 20 years on the west side of town in an area that was 95 percent Mexican.
I met a gentle migrant worker in a Mexican bar where I went to play pool. He had been so poor all his life he had never even acquired a taste for beer. As a result he played very smart pool, but his skin was so permeated with the perfume of the onions he was picking every day that I almost had to stand back from him a little.
He told me he had walked to the United States through the desert from Mexico three times. One day he was picked up by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, jailed for a couple of weeks, and deported to Mexico. In the time it took him to walk back, he appeared again.
Most people I know concede that if they had it very rough where they lived, they would take a chance on becoming an illegal and hoofing it north.
I've been to clinics here where nearly all the patients were Mexican. My boyfriend would swear and point out how many of the young girls were pregnant and dragging two or three little ones. He would say how disgusting it was, but I thought that was ironic because he had migrated from Canada years before. He had a green card, but he was always afraid he would do something wrong somehow and get deported back to the Canada he had left 30 years before.
The point is, it is very tough to migrate to another country, but we all had ancestors who did.
I say if you are really a Christian, you treat the Mexicans with respect. You are not mean to them, and you don't call them names.
All the officials lampooned in this cartoon feature are guilty of insensitivity toward their fellow human beings, at the very least, if not downright inhumanity. Your point is well taken. The whole idea of Christianity is the challenge to remain civil and compassionate no matter the provocation.
Don't get me wrong, I've met some very bad criminals who were Mexican, too. But I was living in poverty some of the time I was living in the Mexican area, and, overall, the Mexicans were the most accepting people in the world. In their world, I was never put down for falling on hard times.
Geraldine Hitt, Phoenix
Yeah, we need bifocals, too: "The Passion of El Cristo" was a joke, wasn't it? I mean, instead of sophisticated and insightful investigative journalistic comment that is so typical of New Times, you guys printed a poorly drawn comic strip that driveled on for page after miserable page.
Some readers might see through to your message. But most were probably trying to mentally navigate through this atrocious visual nightmare. C'mon, your award-winning newspaper can do better than this!
Scott Hume, Phoenix
Syndicate that savior: Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Now if you could just distribute "The Passion of El Cristo" cartoon feature to every New Times-owned publication in the nation! I can't wait for the next episode.
Name withheld by request
Where's the beef?: Jesus Cristo, what a bad idea! Your cover "article" of September 14 leaves me worried. Is New Times getting reduced to fictitious articles ("Extreme Cuisine," May 11, Stephen Lemons) and comics so much that cover articles are now impacted?
Please keep comics and fiction where they belong within your publication. Quality cover articles are one of your major draws. I enjoyed your paper more when there was less fluff, and I know I'm not alone.
Sue Lawrence, Scottsdale
We'll draw Jesus accurately next time: After seeing the disrespectful and inaccurate portrayal of Jesus on the front cover of your newspaper, as well as the comic inside, I will no longer be able to read your paper.
I understand that your goal as a newspaper is to attract as many readers and advertisers as possible by drawing attention to the cover, but to do so at the expense of the Christian community is poor judgment and taste.
I am 21 years old, which I would assume is one of your target demographics, as I've seen your paper everywhere on the ASU campus. I know many people my age who share similar feelings and are equally offended.
Christians are not all Bible-thumping radicals, but we do value our beliefs enough to have the integrity to stand up for them when we see our God explicitly blasphemed. Because of this, I will discourage those I know from reading or advertising with your company.
Jennifer Gridley, Tempe
. . . And on the seventh day, he finished reading it: As an atheist and ex-Catholic, I really enjoyed your comic strip about Jesus, Sheriff Joe and the other gang of Maricopa County elected crooks. It was funnier than all crap! It was long, but I couldn't put down your paper until I finished it.
I would like to see more New Times issues with full-length comic books like this one, with the same artist and writer. Hell, I didn't even mind the religious theme. It was funny!
Also, the weekly strip by the same guy, Jim Mahfood, on your Letters page is pretty good, too. He ain't Doonesbury, Dilbert or Boondocks yet, but he might get there.
Mike Ross, via the Internet
Cocktail weenie: When I saw the front page of the September 14 New Times, I thought I might find a challenging article inside about the immigration debate and something that addressed America's dilemma with our border problems.
As thousands of illegals pour over our borders and fill our hospitals and jails, I did wonder "What Would Jesus Do" in this situation.
But forcing myself to read the abominably lame cartoon inside, I have to wonder if there's anything worth defending in this country if we're going to publish the kind of oh-so-hip-to-hate-ourselves morons that produced "The Passion of El Cristo."
Do I need to hold back here? No. These idiots are so obnoxious and so clueless that they come off like a 5-year-old brat exposing himself to every guest at his parents' cocktail party.
That New Times would devote so many pages to a cartoonist who cannot fill the lower corner of the letters page with a comprehensible cartoon makes me wonder if the editorial staff had the cocktail party to allow their monstrous child to misbehave.
New Times has become a parody of the meltdown left. I had some hope when The Bird confronted the loons who believe that George Bush and the United States were behind 9/11 ("Loose Screws," Stephen Lemons, September 7), but now I've actually reached the point where I regret reading a free newspaper. Good job!
John Kestner, Peoria
Slow news day: High five to the beaked wonder for outing the fornicating Munsils ("Munsil's Bastard," The Bird, September 14). Now my curiosity has been piqued. I want to know more about the Godless sex-mongers.
Can NT please do an exposé on the lust-bird running for guv? When did the heinous copulation occur? Where? How often? Who knew? And, what does the poor bastard (the unfortunate illegitimate son not Len) think of his hypocritical parents? We are dying for the scoop on this!
Name withheld by request
Blanket condemnation: "Farrakhaned"? Not at all. What the Navajo Nation got was "Farrakhan-structive criticism" ("Farrakhan Follies," The Bird, September 14)!
Kudos to tribe President Joe Shirley for bringing that so-called "Lightning Rod" to the reservation. Maybe, if Shirley was lucky, the Honorable Louis Farrakhan sparked a flame under the asses of a few tired, disgruntled Navajos.
And just so no one gets the wrong idea, I am a person with European blood flowing through my veins: Italian, Irish and French. The rest is black, Cuban and Seminole. I am also a Muslim, although I certainly don't agree with many of the teachings, tenets or rhetoric of the Nation of Islam. Every once in a while, however, it hits the proverbial nail on its motherfucking head.
That is, you cannot defeat racism with picket signs, prayer or peaceful demonstrations. You need pistols, poisons, and plastique instruments of violence the only things the ignorant racist mind fathoms.
This world needs more men like George Jackson, Malcolm X and Leonard Peltier, not traitors and sellouts like "Uncle" Martin Luther King. How the fuck is a racist to know you are fed up with the bullshit when all you do is walk from place to place, singing the hymns of brainwashed niggers everywhere, letting German shepherds take bites out of your ass along the way? He can't. The frustration of the oppressed has to be translated: AK-47s, Mini-14s and Tec-9s.
I myself don't hate any people as a whole. But what I do hate are the sack-of-shit self-righteous bastards who feign indignation and outrage at anyone that attempts to forcibly motivate the oppressed masses into action. Especially in the United Snakes.
This country, more than any other on Earth, needs to be gutted and remodeled. From the poorest corner of every reservation, ghetto and trailer park, all the way to the big white plantation house. Only then will men like Louis Farrakhan be able to use their mouths on something more palate-friendly, like bean pie.
New Times probably won't print this letter, or if it is used, it will be edited for sensitive readers. That seems to be the way it goes over there. At least since it became a forum for chicken-shit, quasi-journalists like Stephen Lemons. New Times gets the bird for hiring a cock with no balls!
Chris Johnson, Phoenix
For example, it got him out of Illinois for a while: I'm sorry Stephen Lemons couldn't see anything positive about Minister Farrakhan's visit with the Navajos. Lemons is a very creative individual. Why not put the same effort used to slander Minister Farrakhan into writing something praiseworthy, as well?
The writer of The Bird may find that challenging, but don't good writers enjoy new and challenging things?
Essentially, he could apply the same microscope to any leader, teacher or citizen, and find similar contradictions and inconsistencies to those he noted about Minister Farrakhan.
New Times' approach to Minister Farrakhan follows the same line of thinking used by journalists for the past 20 years. He has grown, and it seems those who write about him the most have not.
Eric Basir, Evanston, Illinois
Shameless and immature but a great actor: I don't know Stephen Lemons' background, but certainly he must have won an Oscar for best comic in a slapstick flick (i.e., Animal House, Porky's, Waterboy). The level of his journalistic skills should be compared to special-ed classes.
He obviously feels personally threatened by Mr. Farrakhan and his growing influence over the masses of the people black and white, plus, now, the red man!
If you have a legitimate beef with Mr. Farrakhan, state it maturely, sir! If not, you are classified as a coward hiding behind immature name-calling with no solid basis in any wrong or lies told by Farrakhan.
You would write the same about Moses, Jesus or any man who came to a wicked nation with truth. You should be ashamed, but I know your arrogant, vain, prideful nature disallows you to even approach the thought.
Joseph Mann, Oakland, California
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Small-time hood: Was that a medium or large Klan hood your writer was wearing when he wrote about Louis Farrakhan? You have a right to an opinion, but your sarcasm proves that we are still stuck in the '50s. Thank you for living in AmeriKKKa!
Derrick Keith, Phoenix
Martial artiste: After reading Luke Y. Thompson's review of Jet Li's last film ("Feckless," September 21), I wondered if I'd seen the same movie. I compared this review of Fearless to Thompson's review of the film Crank, which was about a hit man's final hours. Maybe a movie that never lets go of you, like Crank, is good for the action genre, but Jet Li's film followed his character from a youth to his death. I wonder if Thompson didn't like the film because it had subtitles.
Anyhow, maybe I'm a softie, because I enjoyed the slower farm sections for their scenery and story development. Also, Thompson's claim that the farm scene was a metaphor for life was entirely wrong. Another point about the review was that the character was lost in a river, not the sea. The metaphor the reviewer missed was during the last scenes of the movie, about his hometown and country being exploited for its services and resources. I'm not reading too much into that, because that had a message for me.
Jonathan Metzger, Phoenix