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Letters to the Editor:

Difference of opinion

To the editor:

In the Sept. 14 issue a reader responds to a letter I had written. My letter was, in turn, a response to a letter from the previous issue.

The main ideas of the letter I originally responded to were that 1) Cindy Sheehan is demeaning the memory of her son by questioning the war in Iraq and 2) people who are against war are “naive.” Based on the words of the letter in response to my letter, this person did not read the original letter to which I was responding. The letter writer ignored the two main points of my letter 1) that Cindy Sheehan is not demeaning soldiers by her anti-war activities and 2) people who are against war are not “naive,” but that to be pro-war is “naive.” This was the point of my letter.

The letter writer then lists seven items regarding the war in Iraq. Since these go to the heart of the difference between liberals and conservatives, there is little point in discussing them. If the letter writer feels that all is going just fine in Iraq and that freedom and democracy are just around the corner there, then that is what this person thinks. If the letter writer thinks the war on terror is a success, as opposed to those of us who see that it is creating increased numbers of terrorists, then that is what this person thinks. If the letter writer thinks the American soldiers are properly equipped and that pay/benefits are not being cut, then that is what this person thinks (even though one can read about such things as poorly armored vehicles, families sending food and other needed items to soldiers in Iraq as well as the documented cuts to pay/benefits – these are facts).

Oddly, under these conservatives, our national debt has soared to an amount which is basically out of control. If the letter writer feels that Bush and his supporters Hallibuton and its subsidiaries are not profiting from their war contracts in Iraq, then that is what this person thinks, even though one reads about Halliburton sidestepping the bidding process, overcharging, disappearing funds, etc. This is where our tax money is disappearing to.

As to objecting to war, it takes bravery, maturity and wisdom to be a conscientious objector. We cheer for gang members who give up – and become conscientious objectors – and leave the gangs. Why not armies?

This will be the only end to war, when we stop killing each other. All over the world, there are people who share my belief; that ending war is essential. If this writer thinks that being against torture, killing and war is such a horrible thing, then that is what this person thinks.

However, the main thrust of this writer’s letter is that I can make anyone who does not agree with me pack their bags and leave Santa Monica. I had no idea that I had such power! So to this letter writer I say, be assured that you are perfectly free to remain in Santa Monica, even though we do not share our ideas of the world.

Peter Davison

Santa Monica

Rush to judgment?

To the Editor:

Instead of yet again blaming the poor and powerless for anything that goes wrong, I think the local press should start being evenhanded in their coverage of stories. The recent coverage of the death of two skilled bicyclists on Pacific Coast Highway is a case in point. Repeatedly the bent of the reports were to place sole blame on the shoulders of the Spanish surname driver of the food vending truck and attribute a statement to him that he did not brake the vehicle because he was afraid that the woman cooking food in the truck would injure herself and him. Added was the fact that cooking in a moving vehicle was a crime.

I would suggest that, if these statements are accurately reported, the driver obviously could not afford a lawyer because few people would confess to a crime before seeking counsel, never mind two crimes.

In this rush to justice by our local press, no one raised possibly a more enduring crime: who is responsible for eliminating the shoulder of this already dangerous highway? If cement barriers had not been erected shutting off the path normally taken by bicyclists, the two victims would not have been forced into the traffic lanes. Only in one story did I see the reason for these barriers: construction of a synagogue and social center. This private religious organization is free to ask for such an arrogation of public property, but who granted such a dangerous – actually fatal – request? Why not simply require that they do the construction on the property itself rather than on such a heavily traveled right of way? If the design was such that the buildings would abut the highway itself, under such circumstances what would be wrong with requiring that all construction activities take place on the private property itself even if that meant that the buildings be set back from the highway?

Recalling another recent tragedy that involved those same cement barriers – or rather the failure to put in place such barriers – I refer, of course, to the terrible events at the farmer’s market – I do not recall any hesitancy to point blame not only at the elderly driver but at the city officials who failed to take such precautions even on these normally quiet streets.

While we are ready to pounce on and convict a pair of hard working, humbly paid and powerless sweat workers in print before the trial takes place, shouldn’t we equally raise questions about those far more elevated people who created the dangerous situation to begin with that put two fine people in harms way and may have substantially contributed to their deaths?

William Bolte

Santa MonicaEd. Note: The Mirror story reported the presence of construction barricades. It also noted that the cyclists had a legal right to be on the highway.

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