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Bill Rickords
Via e-mail

Lesson not learned: When was the last time Professor Russomanno actually worked as a journalist ? By his absurd stance, he merely underscores that old saying about tenured J-school faculty members who've forgotten everything they once practiced -- "those who can't, teach . . ."

F.P. Model
New York, New York

Blank endorsement: I fail to see how boycotting a function given in honor of someone is akin to censorship. If Professor Russomanno chooses not to sit through any more of Andy Rooney's idiotic ranting than he has to, that's his choice. And if by choosing not to attend he sparks similar protest from his fellow professors, which ultimately may lead to the Cronkite school not getting all the money it needs for the year, hey, he's shooting himself in the foot for the sake of making a statement. But the point is, Russomanno is actually exercising his First Amendment rights to make a symbolic statement of his views (i.e., that Andy Rooney sucks). To suggest he's trying to undermine the First Amendment with such action is just a misreading.

Even if the protest succeeds in its ultimate goal -- to make the school reconsider its choice of journalist of the year-- it's still not censorship. No one's saying Andy can't go be racist or sexist wherever he likes and in whatever media he chooses. Russomanno's just saying the school ought not to honor the career of someone who is so clearly an asshole. If they do reconsider (which I doubt they will), Andy can always set up across the hall and give some highlights from his career if he wants to have his say on campus. It's just that the Cronkite school wouldn't be endorsing him.

This just smacks of controversy for controversy's sake. You could have covered the story as something interesting going on over at the J-school instead of spinning it into the "First Amendment Scholar Advocates Censorship!" story that it is. If we were talking about a department at ASU wanting to honor, say, Louis Farrakhan, and the Jewish students decided to use their freedom of expression to make a statement and boycott the event, would you have written the same article?

Tara Seals
Via e-mail

Trial and Error

Credibility gap: I am awestruck by Paul Rubin's latest article about Dr. Brian Finkel ("The Practice," August 28). So much for "impartiality" in reporting, which New Times constantly claims as its greatest forte.

I also attended the opening arguments for the trial and have sat in on the testimony of two prosecution witnesses. Apparently, Mr. Rubin and I were not in the same place -- Courtroom No. 704 in the Central Courts Building at 201 West Jefferson.

What I heard was defense attorneys Richard Gierloff and Kristen Curry make the prosecution's witnesses look less than credible. No wonder Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley offered Dr. Finkel a plea offer of 12 years just before the trial started. Perhaps this offer says a lot about the state's case.

If Mr. Rubin continues to cover this trial, I hope he makes it to the right courtroom.

John M. Carpenter

Imperfect attendance: After reading "The Practice," I wondered if Paul Rubin and I were following the same trial. Mr. Rubin was seen at the opening statements and then only sporadically for the past two weeks, and then only to talk to the prosecutors. If he had been in attendance, he would have heard Dr. Finkel's counselors Richard "No dummy in the courtroom" Gierloff and Kristen Curry impeach the testimony of alleged victims and expose the biased and unprofessional investigation by Phoenix police and county investigators. Skipping class and copying someone else's homework isn't the mark of a competent reporter. New Times has a well-deserved reputation for cutting-edge journalism and deserves a better effort from Mr. Rubin.

John N. Bode
Via e-mail

Street Scene

Just say no: Meth is the worst drug. Only one in six gets clean and stays clean. Much is written about it, but no one has mercy or compassion for those addicted to it ("Meth Mess," The Street, September 4). No one offers any solution or explanation of how meth affects a person. They label them all losers. Those losers might not have been losers before meth and maybe they won't be after meth. There are people out here trying to do something different besides labeling people. Trying to turn the tide of our country's failed drug war and our current incarceration frenzy. I have more than six years clean of meth and I'm not a loser.

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