Letters for the week of March 8-14, 2006 

Nihilism in the neighborhood, death in Dublin, baiting in Berkeley, and outsiders in Oklahoma.

"Hood TV," Feature, 2/15

Outklanning the Klan
No matter how hard it tried, the Ku Klux Klan couldn't have created a more stereotypical propaganda piece against black people in America than Hood 2 Hood.
Nat Mastick, Oakland

You're nihilists too
The front-page picture with gangster and guns titled "Hood TV" caught my attention, as did the article. It used to be that sex sells, but in this case violence and verifying our worst fears sells. Let's see: How about we sell magazines and "street documentaries" by depicting the most hideous and outrageous stereotypes of African-American males? This is as nihilistic an enterprise as the gangsters they depict. The only problems is that it makes it harder for hard-working and honest black males to break into careers and enterprises dominated by white employers who say that black males are uneducated, illiterate, dishonest, lacking initiative and motivation, and involved with gangs and drugs.

How about we show on the front page a black male in a tool belt holding a hammer and screw gun, showing up to work and supporting a family despite having friends and family members decimated by the ravages of "the hip-hop lifestyle"? A person like this actually works for me. But I guess that doesn't sell rags to people looking to affirm their racist stereotypes. We must all get over the racist gun-toting gangster attitude, go to work, and get these kids educated and employed so they can join our boring old civil society.
Bill Hamilton, Berkeley

And now, this Toronto sales pitch
Your article was definitely a good read. This kind of knowledge and nonbiased coverage is commendable. I am the producer of The Real Toronto DVD, a ghetto documentary which made a lot of noise in Canada, and share almost the same experiences as Aquis Bryant while filming for my DVD. Which features a lot of the similar content that you will see on Hood 2 Hood, but everything is filmed in the different hoods of Toronto. Check it out.
Madd Russian, RealTorontoDVD.com, Toronto

"The problem was childhood," Letters, 2/15

We don't know till you're dead
Sorry you didn't listen to Kevin Ahern's correction regarding life expectancy. Since I taught baby demography for thirty years, perhaps you'll listen to me. "Life expectancy" means nothing at all, as it doesn't specify when the measure is taken. "Average life expectancy at birth" is usually meant. The life expectancy of a cohort of people of the same age is affected by age of death throughout the lifetimes of all those in the group, until all are deceased.

As Ahern said, life expectancy at birth may be very low, even as low as 25 years on average, but those who survive the early years will have much higher life expectancy, even surviving their eighties and nineties. Never speak of "life expectancy" without specifying the age to which you refer.
Jeffrey M. Dickemann, professor of anthropology emeritus, Sonoma State University, Richmond

"A Suburban Horror, Revisited," Cityside, 2/15

Tragic, but understandable
I read your article with great interest and am a Dublin resident. Regardless of how this turns out, this was a tragic situation for the families involved as well as the officers and their families. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

Many people underestimate the lethal threat a man with a knife represents. A drill called the Tueller drill demonstrates that by the time an officer can present their firearm and place two well-placed shots on an attacker, the attacker can close a distance of 21 feet. So at 21 feet, the officer is likely to shoot the attacker and get injured or killed in the process. Depending on the skills of the officer and attacker, this distance may even be greater. With this in mind, a man with a knife showing questionable intent is a lethal threat to officers in most homes given the distances discussed above.

Clearly Kwang Tae Lee needed to drop the knife. He was a perceived threat to officers and should have complied. Regardless of one's ability to communicate, the message is pretty clear when you have two uniformed officers start taking action to defend themselves. I have traveled in many foreign countries and know how to respond to uniformed officers taking police action, even when I can't speak their language.

I look forward to the final results of the police investigation and hope it brings closure.
Name withheld by request, Dublin

"Hit and Miss," Culture, 2/1

Uninvited company
In Eliza Strickland's critique of the John Perkins (Confessions of an Economic Hit Man) event, I was amazed that she stated: "Perkins' credibility certainly wasn't bolstered by the company he kept. ... At the auditorium door ... various progressive causes were handing out fliers ... [including] ... that the World Trade Center towers were brought down by explosions planned by the US government."

These people come to events like this and pass out their weird fliers, which Mr. Perkins had nothing to do with. Two days later, I had a similar event in San Francisco with Mr. Perkins. Just as he started his presentation, along came the same fliers down the rows to folks trying to listen to him. These "conspiratorial theorists" are quite rude and did not ask permission to do this. They take every opportunity to try to foist their ideas on others as that is one of the few ways people even pay any attention to them. Please remember we cannot help what they do; certainly we cannot control their actions or want to "be in their company."
Dolores Perez Priem, San Francisco

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