Letters for the week of November 17-23, 2004 

Clarifying the policies of AAA; correcting an allusion to Maugham; calling for common sense on drugs; congratulating our article on Power 92.7.

"Till Court Do Us Part," Feature, 10/13

AAA gets an A plus
Thank you for "Till Court Do Us Part." The profiles were vibrant, moving, and a good reminder of the human beings behind this very important issue. However, in the section profiling Johnny Symons and William Rogers, William was quoted making an assumption I believe is inaccurate regarding AAA's policies. He says, "We don't get the family rate at AAA." My husband works for AAA and has been very proud that AAA's policy is to treat registered domestic partnerships the same as licensed marriages.

Though it was unclear from the article whether William was referring to AAA membership or insurance, my understanding is that the policy is companywide and that William and Johnny should be eligible for any discounts a heterosexual married couple would receive. I encourage them to contact AAA (1-800-922-8228) to make sure they are receiving all the benefits they are entitled to.

Kudos to Kara Platoni for a well-written piece.
Gabriela Zim Kremer, Berkeley

"Hail to the Drama Queen," Film, 10/20

Give Maugham his due
Theatre by Maugham is not a novella, it is a novel -- it is close to three hundred pages long. Whether it is major or minor, I can't dispute; it is not Ulysses, nor is it Mrs. Peabody's Enema. I just finished rereading it and realized that the book is a comedy of manners; at times I was laughing out loud. I sincerely doubt that the movie is better than Maugham's work. I speak for all of the Julia Lamberts when I say this.
Allen Horne, Berkeley

"Witch-Hunt Victim or Shoddy Doc?," Cityside, 10/20

The war on common sense
Not only should medical marijuana be made available to patients in need, but adult recreational use should be regulated. Marijuana prohibition has done little other than burden millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens with criminal records. The University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study reports that lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the United States than any European country, yet America is one of the few Western countries that use its criminal justice system to punish citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis.

Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. The short-term health effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared to the long-term effects of criminal records. Unfortunately, marijuana represents the counterculture to many Americans. In subsidizing the prejudices of culture warriors, the US government is subsidizing organized crime.

The drug war's distortion of immutable laws of supply and demand makes an easily grown weed literally worth its weight in gold. The only clear winners in the war on marijuana are drug cartels and shameless tough-on-drugs politicians who've built careers on confusing drug prohibition's collateral damage with a relatively harmless plant. The big losers in this battle are the American taxpayers, who have been deluded into believing big government is the appropriate response to nontraditional consensual vices.

The results of a comparative study of European and US rates of drug use can be found at MonitoringtheFuture.org/pubs/espad_pr.pdf
Robert Sharpe, policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy, Washington, DC

"And the Vultures Descended," Down in Front, 10/13

How depressing
I'm a fan of Jeff Buckley. I love Grace. I like some of the songs off of Sweetheart and some off of Songs to No One. However, I'm still not sure any of those should have been released. I definitely believe nothing should have been released after those two. Your article is right on, and I'm glad you wrote it. I'm sure some of his fans will be angry at this article, but I do not see it as being negative toward Jeff at all. On the contrary, I see it as someone who cares about his memory and music -- the music released when he was here to put his finishing touch on it, that is. His mother is a horrible woman for what she's doing to her son's memory. In my heart of hearts, I believe he would hate it.

I remember how shocked I was when I heard "Hallelujah" played over the weepy images of September 11. Has anyone truly listened to the words? In my opinion, using that song in concert with that event is terribly inapplicable. It reminded me of when I was in college during a ceremony for Senior Elite. It was to be a joyous occasion for those who had worked hard in their disciplines. So for the lovely song to set the mood, the music department puts a soloist up there to sing "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables?! Again -- has anyone listened to the lyrics of this song?! How inappropriate! How depressing!
Randi Marx, Memphis, Tennessee

"Fighting the Power," Feature, 10/6

Inspiring the next generation
Aye the cover story about 92.7 and its troubles was awesome and explained a story that was unknown to most. As editor-in-chief of my high school paper (Albany High School's The Cougar, CougarOnline.net), it showed me a good way to present the topic.

In December we're having a big two-page spread about local rappers, with interviews from Andre Nickatina, Domino from the Hieroglyphics, and MC Balance. This article really inspired me and gave me a greater understanding of the hip-hop scene.
Brendan Irvine-Broque, Albany

Correction
Last week's Sports/Outdoors item "Simply the Best" about Cal swimmer Natalie Coughlin was slightly out of date. She graduated earlier this year.

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