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Letters to the Editor

Right to Snooze

IN THE recent interview with Ed Frey ("Improbable Cause," Currents, Aug. 25), he claims the sleep-in protest is "in the public good." Every politician professes this reason to get elected to public office. Frey wants to reframe the local "homeless issue" as a "migrant refugees" problem, the No. 1 in the world, according to President Clinton.

Sleeping in the "public commons" is a "right to use" that is being tested nationwide, like tent cities. So, turn off your "snooze alarm" for next Wednesday evening at Congressman Farr's meeting and bring your "radical politics" with your opened mind.

Kelley Landaker,

By email

Smearing Frey

THIS article sadly ignores the real issues of the protest and is a caricature and hit piece on Ed Frey.

We read nothing about the failure of the city to expand emergency shelter in the last decade under Coonerty and Rotkin. Nor the passage of stricter anti-homeless laws disguised as "public safety" measures.

Coonerty's Parking Lot Trespass law is one example. It removes more than 10 square blocks of previously public space at the whim of the police. The council passed expanded powers for Parks and Recreation boss Dannettee Shoemaker to now give her the authority to close down public access to property all over town—being used now at City Hall to criminalize the protest at night.

New laws shrink public sitting, spare-changing, performing and political tabling space downtown with new expanded "forbidden zones" leaving less than 5 percent of Pacific Avenue as legal. And 0 percent of the sidewalks in all other business districts.

Last year council passed a law that makes any three "unattended" infractions a misdemeanor. This year, not satisfied, they made any infraction after the third a misdemeanor in and of itself at the whim of the City Attorney.

Curtis hasn't covered any of this nor provided the background.

Worst of all, he's ignored the basic issue at the heart of this struggle: Santa Cruz's Sleeping Ban (MC 6.36.010a), which makes the act of sleeping itself outside or in a vehicle after 11pm a crime.

Recent revelations have made it clear that not only is there no walk-in shelter at all on any night with waiting lists of 25 people at the 48-bed Paul Lee loft backed up four to six weeks.

But the Homeless Services Center, its manager Monica Martinez and its Board of Directors headed by Sally Williams have a policy that refuses to acknowledge this in writing—though it's been verbally admitted repeatedly to those trying to get letters.

The HSC policy further refuses to give out letters specifying the simple fact of no shelter unless you have signed up to be on their waiting list on the night you get a citation for having no shelter and sleeping outside.

The sheriffs and SCPD have issued over 40 citations for 647e—a state penal code that has the same impact as the city's sleeping ban—but will require costly misdemeanor trials. Forty of them, if the victims choose to take these issues to court.

None of this seems to interest Cartier. Instead he just chooses to smear Frey and ignore the issues that continue to shame Santa Cruz each night. This article simply adds to that shame and indicates that "alternative journalism" here seems to be anything but.

Robert Norse

Online comment

Bigoted Logic

THE CONTROVERSY over a Muslim community center and mosque being constructed in close proximity to the WTC's "ground zero" is an exercise in bigoted illogic. The argument goes: It was people of the Muslim faith that perpetrated the horrific murders of thousands and therefore a mosque near that site is an affront to all Americans. Here's the trouble with that argument.

While it's true that the people who ordered, planned and executed that monstrous crime are Muslims, they are members of a small minority of a radical, extremist and murderous faction of that religion of 1.2 billion practitioners, who ardently disavow them, their perverted beliefs and their methods, here in this country and practically every Muslim country. Painting all Muslims with a brush of terrorist or terrorist sympathizer makes as much sense as condemning white Christians for the crimes of Timothy McVeigh, or aligning all Southerners for the acts of the KKK.

Because every religion seems to give rise to some faction of radical, unlawful, psychopathic extremists does not mean it is emblematic of the principles of that religion, and is in fact the antithesis of those beliefs. A radical orthodox Jew assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Rabin some years ago. Are all orthodox Jews terrorist murderers? Drawing such conclusions is preposterous. 

And, more important, it's dangerous. It's an excuse for bigotry and persecution. It's a pretense for denying the civil rights of a group of Americans by innuendo, and if it works this time it makes it all the more easy for it to happen again, whether it's Muslims or some other group.

It's a situation that is being cynically and unethically employed by some politicians to gain support in some quarters in order to gain votes. It is an appeal to the basest instincts, innate prejudices and unwarranted fears of some of our citizens by self-serving politicians and those who abet and encourage bigotry, hatred and distrust—the bottom-feeders of society.

Kudos to Mayor Bloomberg of NYC for defending the Muslim center on First Amendment grounds and dispelling critics' cries of sacrilege. Obama should have had the courage to stop after his first comment instead of equivocating, and Democrats like Harry Reid are political cowards. If President John Adams were alive he'd be the legal advocate for the Muslim group wanting to build in lower Manhattan. He and the other founders knew it was the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights that was the backbone of our democracy, the framework upon which all the constitutional protections are constructed. If it crumbles we all go down with it.

Will Shonbrun,

Boyes Hot Springs

Grotesque Self-Deception

DEAR OLD Mark Twain had them pegged when he described the process that governments use: "Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception."

What he was saying is that it not only serves the government's purpose in blaming the war and destruction on the victim, but the people themselves are then able to soothe their conscience and feel justified, that "They had it coming to them," even if the excuse the government uses is as flimsy as can be! People accept it anyway because they don't want to feel bad about themselves or about their government, and they can keep waving the flag and saying, "God bless America," secure in their goodness and niceness. It's not a new U.S. tactic, either. It's one they've practiced for hundreds of years!

Ted Rudow,

Menlo Park

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