Letters for the week of June 23-29, 2003 

Camping isn't a cult leader; vets aren't to blame; you don't know shit about experimental music; and Chris Thompson is an elitist.

"Quit Your Church," Feature, 7/2

Error of biblical proportions
I enjoyed your piece on this theological wack-job. I merely point out that you commit an egregious theological error in your very first paragraph -- hardly the kind in scope and nature that commends you to your reader, especially as the article is itself a piece dealing with religion.

Calvinist predestination does not in fact consign "even the saved to hell," qua saved they are heavenbound by definition. Maybe this was a typo? Otherwise you bludgeon the basic doctrine and make it senseless.
Michael Flanigan, Berkeley

Editor's note
Flanigan is right. The Express ran a correction last week.

Christian charity
Your article on Mr. Camping is one of the best-written that I have ever seen. Besides being well-written, it is unbiased and fair. Such articles are very rare today, especially on Christian reporting.
Bill Patton, Hayward

Christian wrath
Miss St. Clair, I was present, and so was another person as you interviewed my husband, David Morrell. When you interviewed him on the phone you said you would like to write positives. You never mentioned pictures using negative photos. You were not happy mocking the man with words, so you had to take the ultimate step of trying to show him as a buffoon on your cover. The cover of your paper negated whatever you would say positive and would lead people to think Mr. Camping is evil. You were misleading in the article by calling my husband a "retired Philadelphia cop" when you were told he was the head of the Internal Affairs Division. This job trained him for his future endeavors for which the Lord would lead and use him.

You used very disparaging pictures of Mr. Camping and very good pictures of his opponents. Do you think that was being unbiased? You were given additional information by Mr. Tom Holt about Mr. Wiggins' condition and his separation from his wife at the time of his death -- that was not even mentioned. You did your homework, but what you learned about the man's faithfulness to God's word was completely disregarded, and the words of people who now dislike the man have been raised to the level of experts.

Mr. Gistand was completely in line with what Mr. Camping taught for years and because he could not be the minister of that church went to an organization that would make him a minister and compromised his beliefs to fit into their mold. Why was that not considered?

People who believe in truth are not part of a cult just because it is not the truth of others. Cult leaders hold their followers by taking over their lives. Mr. Camping has never done that, and anyone who was not in line with him could disregard the teaching with no harm to them. Jim Jones and [David] Koresh both killed their followers because of noncompliance or wanting to be free of their teachings. You only interviewed two friends of Mr. Camping, and everyone else was in the other camp. I know this letter is like spitting into the wind, but let your conscience be your guide when writing other articles. This article proves Mr. Camping's reason why he gives no interviews. In sending us the article you sent a copy but not the cover. That tells us you were ashamed of your work.
Anna Morrell, Philadelphia

Editor's note
The editors and art director, not the writer, are responsible for photos, captions, illustrations, and headlines.

"Vet Oath: Hypocritic," Letters, 7/2

Last pet letter, we promise
Regarding Barry Schenker's letter, I have a few comments. For starters, I was unaware that in the veterinary field, we "routinely perform so many unnecessary ... procedures." I have worked with few vets who do tail docking, and when they do, it is for working dogs. While not medically mandatory, there are far more benefits and fewer risks than, say, human breast augmentation. (Yes, I am aware that humans can speak for themselves, whereas dogs require someone, namely their legal owner/guardian, to do so.) Even fewer do ear docking, and most veterinarians outright refuse to do declaws. Even those that do will discuss with clients at great length the pros (few), cons (many), and alternatives (several).

It should also be noted that there are instances where declawing is a case where it's either that or the cat is turned in to a shelter, and thus is a case of various unpleasant alternatives -- no simple black and white image here.

Schenker then continues to blame veterinarians for genetic tendencies of certain breeds to develop health issues. I trust he also blames firefighters for the work of arsonists, and prison wardens for the actions of juvenile criminals. With very few exceptions, people do not adopt pets from veterinarians. Breeders and pet stores are the primary sources of purebreds (though on rare occasion, the local animal shelters will have one pass through).

When a person asks for advice about adopting a new pet -- be they a client or an anonymous phone call -- we steer them to shelters, and to adopt a mixed breed, for both health and social reasons. However, it is exceedingly rare that vets are consulted prior to the adoption of a pet! It is only afterward that we are involved -- and quite frankly, there is no way around this. Or would Schenker have us close the clinic doors so that we can go house to house inquiring if the inhabitants plan on buying a dog? As Ms. Cruz pointed out, much responsibility falls on pet guardians -- and this also involves research before making the leap into adopting a pet: calling around, Internet research, checking out books at a library, and so on to determine potential breed-related problems.
David Zucker, veterinary technician, Emeryville

"Cacophony, and Then Silence," Down in Front, 6/25

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