Bigamy, Big Boys

I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do

Fear and loathing in Colorado City: I've read with interest the stories about life and corruption in Colorado City, Arizona ("Bound by Fear," John Dougherty, March 13; "The Wages of Sin," John Dougherty, April 10). I think it's interesting that I could be arrested for giving my daughters to an older man, yet these pedophiles in CC go on in their sickness unabated by state law.

How rampant are STDs in that community? And the school district? Talk about dictatorial rule! Why do they get to spend school dollars so recklessly without consequence if my local schools don't? Where's the law? Or rather, why is the Arizona version of Saddam Hussein's Iraq allowed to flourish without challenge, yet we have put a stop to the suffering of women and girls in a foreign country?

Governor Janet Napolitano, with all due respect, I respectfully request to be allowed to break laws at random without consequence like the pedophilia looters you are continuing to ignore in Colorado City.

Pawnee Carter

Righteous bothers: Thank you so much for researching and exposing the injustices and brainwashing capabilities of this religion. I am infuriated that we are cutting teachers paychecks while supporting this cult which has so many similarities to the regime that we are trying to flush out of Iraq. How can our Mormon legislators with their so-called righteous values ignore the unlawful and immoral practices in Colorado City while trying to balance the state budget on the backs of our children both in education and in family support services? I for one am tired of tiptoeing around the facts which clearly point to Mormons helping Mormons. Labeled fundamentalist or not, the foundation of their beliefs is the same as is their main objective in life: The more Mormons on Earth, the better.

Name withheld by request

When in Rome...: I am dismayed by your article "Fornicating for God" (John Dougherty, March 20). I am not a Mormon of any variety, not a member of a polygamist sect, but as a firm believer in freedom and the U.S. Constitution, I strongly support the right of anyone to engage in alternate lifestyles and sexual practices, religious-based or not.

Many actions are illegal because a religious majority thought them immoral and got a law passed. Some of these are simply ignored as archaic and unenforceable, but others continue to be used by the intolerant to persecute those whose pursuit of happiness is different from their own.

The past persecution of the Mormons, at the time when all of them were polygamists, is a shameful incident in American history, as was our mistreatment of blacks and Native Americans in other ways. Any practice of intolerance, whether based on race, religion or other xenophobia, should be renounced and explicitly banned by legislation.

In this case, it appears that the motive for persecution is envy. There is no excuse for the state to poke its nose into the bedrooms of its citizens, nor to control what goes on there.

Laws regarding sexual behavior should be intended to apply only when someone is actually harmed. If the laws on bigamy and age of consent are being misused by sexual bigots against those having a consensual polygamist lifestyle, then it is time they were amended or rewritten.

Certainly if anyone wants out of a relationship and/or alleges a crime was committed, then the state should help the victim and investigate the crime, as it normally should. But it seems the majority of the polygamists are happier and more peaceful than their mainstream counterparts, when they are left alone. We should let them be.

Michael Walker

If It's Broke, Fix It

Fear factor: I am an interested reader of New Times and I must say that your article about the Adobe Mountain suicide concerned me, yet at the same time, did not surprise me ("Suicide Watch," Amy Silverman, April 3). A moment of clarity arose when I read that some of the responses to your questions were from anonymous parties not wanting to be identified with ADJC and/or ADOC.

Has anyone ever stopped to wonder why? Could it be that an intimidation factor exists, coupled with retaliation and harassment for those who seep information or make waves when standing up for what is legal, right and just? Possibly one reason that the turnover rate is so high is that people get a quick glimpse of the chaos that exists within this state-run department and hightail it the hell out of there. That or oftentimes they are accused, subjected to dirty trick investigations and lastly overwhelmed in not knowing how to play with the political big boys.

A complete overhaul appears to be in order now that Governor Napolitano is in town. I say give her a chance to fix what is broken. At the same time, unless she walks through the facilities and gets firsthand knowledge from the people who work in the trenches (officers), she will not get the truth from the upper administration. It's only a suggestion, but my fellow officers would love to see the governor weed out all the administrators across this state who don't play well with others. Start fresh from the top, acting director on down, and rid the positions that have no clue as to the changing face of the department.

Name withheld by request

Have a Heart
Heartfelt thanks: Your article "Lost Hearts" (Amy Silverman, March 27) raises many questions about Donor Network of Arizona, Mayo Clinic and the many ego problems of each. I hope you keep the investigation going. Thanks for the information!

Kurt Maddux
Via e-mail

Wild, Wild West
Capital gain: It was with "shock and awe" that I read the article "Giving Peace No Chance" by Susy Buchanan (April 3). Am I living in America, or is threatened homicide no longer a crime? For the state to turn a blind eye in the name of patriotism to such potential atrocities makes me ill. As a native Arizonan and former resident, I used to think that living in our nation's capital was risky at best, with snipers one day and the threat of terrorism the next. However, after reading about this appalling and cowardly plan, I feel much safer here than in the gun-totin' West. Thank God there are still areas of our great country where one is still free to express First Amendment rights without fear of retribution.

Cherie Bertoni
Washington, D.C.

Chain reactionary: This is something to be extremely cautious about. The history of the U.S. is riddled with reactionary groups that have been formed in opposition to progressive causes and have sought to terrorize anyone who dares to get out of line. The KKK, the GOON squads that terrorized the AIM movement, and the cops who participated or turned a blind eye to these activities are not isolated incidents of the past, but rather they serve routine functions for the repressive apparatus of the state.

The same way that paramilitary death squads hunt down and assassinate leftists in Colombia and elsewhere in Central and South America, with U.S. support and funding, the U.S. government likewise encourages and does little to stop the targeting of leftists and other dissidents in this country by reactionary vigilantes. See Ward Churchill's book Agents of Repression for a thoroughly documented account of U.S. terrorism against radicals and dissidents.

I would also like to echo the sentiments expressed elsewhere that some activists have learned from the past, and will actively defend ourselves against any attempts at violence or intimidation.

Robin Banks

Exit, Stage Left

Program note: Once again, theater reviewer Robrt L. Pela has exhibited his inability to be accurate on simple details while typing up his scathing opinions (not critiques) of local theater ("Classical Gasbag," April 10). Does he read the programs? He certainly implies that he has plenty of time on his hands while being bored to tears at various venues. This time he does a huge disservice to Phoenix Theatre's wig designer by childish name-calling in regard to his dislike of the costumes in Amadeus. (Sorry, Robrt, not her job. She designs wigs and makeup.) His last review at PT gushed glowingly on for a paragraph about a performer who was not in the show; he had been replaced. I would just like to see him be accurate as he dishes his way through the local theater scene. Oh, and in his reference to the cardboard piano; it's an actual functional harpsichord on stage.

Marjie Bell

Driver Education
On a roll: "Why would anyone, under any circumstance, strike a cop?" ("California Roll Nets 10 Years," Michael Lacey, March 13).

Mr. Lacey asks a dangerous question -- only because the answer from the average person demonstrates a dangerous ignorance.

Most people would say you should never strike a cop. Very dangerous thinking indeed. If you get out of the mindset that the government and its agents are faultless, common sense and numerous court decisions tell us that it is not only our right, but our duty to resist oppressive government. In a case like this, it's called self-preservation. Many federal and state court decisions affirm our right to protect ourselves from physical harm -- and even unlawful arrest -- by any member of a city, county, state or federal police agency with reasonable force, including deadly force! Yes, we have the right to kill a cop when they put our life in jeopardy. Why do you think we have guns in the first place? (And don't say for hunting.) Primarily, we have guns to protect us from criminals, including those in government. I am well-trained in weaponry and carry a gun when I go out, and I definitely would not hesitate to use it against a cop if I felt my physical safety or life was in danger.

It's called self-defense!

Keith Landon

Roll player: Glad to see the Phoenix cops are keeping up the approach of the Old West. Great column based on a sad incident.

Rod Harrington
Via e-mail

Dishing It Out

War fare: Having just read your latest review, "War Rations" (Carey Sweet, April 3), I must ask, why the diatribe over other countries not having proper food? Frankly, if you are to review a restaurant, then do so. If I wanted to read about starving Iraqis, etc., then I'm sure there is a proper place to do so. Shall we be a little more fair in the discussion of this or any restaurant?

Steve Dym
Via e-mail

It's Greek to me: Wow! Was Carey Sweet having a bad day ("Big Fat Greek Tragedy," March 27)! I haven't been reading New Times for the past five years, because of some of the content of it. I don't want it in my home and it's not appropriate in my work environment, so therefore I am not familiar with Carey Sweet. An associate brought the article to my attention.

If Carey could give a little and see the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it's a light comedy and an exaggerated view of Greek families. I don't take it all to heart, I just enjoy a clean comedy that I can watch with my son and my parents and not be embarrassed or uncomfortable.

As far as My Big Fat Greek Restaurant, if they made a mistake by using the name, they can change it. Why would we as a society want to see two guys trying to make a living and bringing life to Tempe "go down the tubes"? If it only lasts a short time, why would Carey care?

Carey went into the restaurant with an apparent chip on her shoulder. The food is outstanding. I work in Phoenix (Biltmore location) and I and my co-workers very much enjoy the restaurant. As a matter of fact, the Greek hospitality is a welcome "face-lift" to downtown Tempe.

Name withheld by request

Greece is the word: This letter is in response to the scathing article written by Carey Sweet (or should I say sour?). My husband and I had the pleasure of dining with friends on April 5 at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant. We found it to be a most enjoyable evening all around. The waiters were very attentive and helpful in making selections, the authentic Greek music was not loud and the food was very good, especially the lamb chops. The only food on the counter was the display of desserts.

It was obvious from the article that, one, the writer has never been to Greece and had the pleasure of eating authentic Greek food, and two, could not be considered a professional food critic. Perhaps she should try getting a job with magazines such as Food & Wine or Gourmet. And three, she is not aware that she is trying to compare an independent family-owned restaurant with a national chain.

We learned of My Big Fat Greek Restaurant from friends who are from Greece and suggested we try it. We are glad we did and will go back again and again and again.

Sandi Stein
Via e-mail

House Parity

Candid cameral: A unicameral legislature would be a gigantic step in the wrong direction. The Arizona Legislature is about as unrepresentative as one can get ("Tearing Down the House," Robert Nelson, March 27).

Eliminating one chamber can only make that problem worse. At present, there is some chance, albeit a remote one, that a point of view neglected in one chamber may be considered by the other. When there is only one chamber, even that possibility is eliminated.

What is needed for Arizona is a bicameral legislature in which each chamber is selected by an electoral system entirely different from the other. In that way, people who are unrepresented in one chamber will be represented in the other. The current Arizona system is the worst possible since the same districts are used to elect both houses of the legislature. Even if we continued with district representation, using different districts for each chamber would already be an improvement. For example, in one chamber we could guarantee a definite number of seats for minorities by grouping them together, and in the other chamber we could provide as many districts as possible in which the parties were competitive.

My preferred arrangement would be to elect one house by STV, i.e., the single transferable vote, in districts which elect anywhere from five to eight members of the chamber. That system comes much closer to full representation of minorities than any single-member district arrangement. The other house would still be elected by single-member districts, but with the members elected by "instant run-off." Instead of primaries, the voter would be empowered to rank the candidates for a seat in his or her order of preference. The virtually inevitable result is that the winner obtains a majority (i.e., more than 50 percent) of the vote rather than a plurality. In order to win, however, that candidate would have to obtain second or third choices that went to candidates who were eliminated (the bottom candidate is eliminated and his or her next choices allocated to the other candidates). More candidates would be likely to run for a seat; minorities would have a voice, but the result would be a majority winner.

Elimination of primaries would save money, but that money probably should be spent to provide for a larger legislature in order to bring representatives closer to the people and enable the new electoral systems to work effectively.

Eli Kaminsky
Professor emeritus of Political Science
Arizona State University

A Loss for Words

A Rose is a Rose: There are many Jaimee Rose fans out here, including me ("Gimme Moore's," Bite Me, Marnye Oppenheim, April 3). One reason is that she is a fabulous writer, who chooses words well. Mundane, inferior writers, on the other hand, have to resort to inane ad hominem, because words fail them or because they lack the talent to say things in an artful manner. It is a shame you are in the latter category.

Eugene D. Cohen
Via e-mail

Welcome to the Jungle

Beat generation: As a drum and bass promoter, it is awesome to see an article like this ("Surviving the Jungle," Darren Keast, March 27). The many hours and dollars we pour into bringing acts out really pays off when you see articles like this. Thank you.

Kim Sassaman

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