Absolutely no justification: Your story on the way Juan Mendoza Farias died is, indeed, shocking. It's a gross understatement to say so ("The Shocking Details," John Dickerson, November 20).
There seems no way that the county jail guards were justified in treating a human being so savagely. And what was Mendoza's crime? Being drunk, being Mexican. We pay our corrections officers to handle such minor offenders without injuring them, much less killing them.
The problem here is the example set from the top by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Chief Deputy David Hendershott, and the rest of the Sheriff's Office that treating prisoners worse than rabid dogs is not only expected, it's demanded.
Look, the electoral majority in this Third World country called Maricopa County is ignorant beyond rural Mississippi or Alabama. Stupider and drunker than Alaskans. That it put Joe Arpaio back in office doesn't mean that state Attorney General Terry Goddard or a new U.S. Attorney appointed by the Barack Obama administration can't bring the sheriff and his SS up on charges.
I pray for the day this happens.
Maria Gonzalez Davis, Phoenix
Where are the feds?: Corruption — that's what it is. Nothing but good old-fashioned-from-the-South corruption. I always thought that with the incidents depicted in the movie Mississippi Burning the FBI would have a handle on this type of crap, but apparently not. The FBI must investigate. It must. No excuse.
Stacy Paratore, via the Internet
A Briggs apologist pipes up: While I certainly don't agree with all of Mark Briggs' actions, they hardly amount to illegal ("Sylvia Nobel and the Case of the Missing Movie," Sarah Fenske, November 13). You failed to mention that the movie was never even close to full funding. Your article made it sound as if the loan prevented the movie from moving forward. Did Nobel tell you that they needed an additional $2 million to even start?
Did Nobel tell you that William Wages took 10 months to do his rewrite? LaMont is hardly to blame for that. Since when is a stuntman an experienced filmmaker?
You also make it sound as though her not being able to find an attorney is Briggs and LaMont's fault. Isn't it possible that there isn't a case? Briggs (yes, I'm a friend) is a really smart guy. Everything he did was done in a legal way (maybe not appropriate).
I know you like to take the side of the victim. But is she really a victim? In the film industry, people labor for years to make a film. She's unhappy because she wasted time? Welcome to the movie industry.
I'll give you this: You certainly gave her story a nice dramatic touch. Too bad it wasn't very journalistically ethical.
Tom Simon, Tempe
A must-read for any writer: Thank you so much for printing Sylvia Nobel's story! I've met her several times at book fairs and conferences but hadn't seen her for a while and assumed she was working on a new book. Can't begin to imagine how she feels. What an ordeal!
As president of the Phoenix Writers Club, I will be handing out your column and telling our members to read and never forget every word. We all dream of having our books portrayed in a movie, and now we have new insight into that experience.
Mabel Leo, Phoenix
Attorney/artiste: What a great article, but I do need a little correction. I never said Mark Briggs told me he owned 75 percent — he just laid it out, finally letting me know that Sylvia owned only 25 percent instead of 50 percent. He said investors got 50 percent and Mark/Chris LaMont split the other 50 percent with Sylvia.
Also, [I was quoted in the story as saying,] "I still don't understand how an attorney ends up owning something. He was brought in for a fee." Yet he ended up owning a good chunk of the potential profits.
What I didn't understand was how he was saying he was the final "artistic" say. Attorneys never get involved in the artistic aspect of a film.
Debbie Haeusler, Santa Monica, California
Is that you, Mrs. Briggs?: Mark Briggs is well known for his good works, public service, his excellent legal skills, and a great sense of humor. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would question his ethics or his intelligence.
A complete article would have included a more in-depth look into the reputations of the players involved.
Extinction would be a good start: Bishop Thomas Olmsted should be ashamed of himself. He won't get involved in an issue adversely affecting his Hispanic congregation, and yet he chooses to denounce same-sex marriage. How can he look himself in the mirror ("Baaaad Shepherd," The Bird, September 25; see also "The Bishop and the Millstone," Feathered Bastard blog, November 10)?
All the scandals in the Catholic Church have depleted its membership over the years. The most loyal followers it has left are Hispanics, and yet it turns its back on them in their time of need. Bishop, what would Jesus have done?
With the kinds of attitudes displayed by Catholic clergy over the past decade and a half, the church may well become extinct. It's sad, because it could be a force for good in this community, instead of a political shill for right-wing ideologues.
Jim Moore, Phoenix
Olmsted's hypocrisy and sin: If the Catholic Church would've spoken out against Arpaio's raids and abuses, he would not have gotten 55 percent of the vote in the election. Because of Olmsted's hypocrisy and sin (yes, sin), his own people suffer and innocent children are without parents.
For me, it's official: I no longer call myself a Catholic. This bishop has even had a photo op with Arpaio at Tent City, of all places.
Bishop Olmsted believes gay marriage is a bigger problem than more than 70,000 children without parents. The victims of Arpaio's raids and sweeps are mostly Catholic.
Dennis Gilman, Scottsdale
Troubled society: Thanks for the courage to speak the truth. Children torn away from loving parents is one of Arizona's hidden tragedies. It transcends "immigration" and says more about what we are as a people.
The Lord doesn't even care, Ann: As usual, The Bird's railing against somebody who's upholding the law ("Mr. Disingenuous," November 6). I'm glad [ICE's] Matthew Allen is standing behind Sheriff Joe Arpaio on ridding this state of illegal aliens. As far as I'm concerned, both are on the side of the Lord in this. If it takes a little spin control for Allen to get by with his superiors in Washington, so be it.
Ann Spencer, Phoenix