Letters for the week of July 20-26, 2005 

Thanks for highlighting the problems with the new Real ID law. No thanks for Chris Thompson's look at public school sex education.

"Opening Old Wounds," Feature, 6/15

The heartbreak of torture
What an amazing article. Thank you for illuminating not only the problems with Real ID and asylum law, but the torture that occurred to many American immigrants who live and work around us. This story was extremely relevant at a time when many ask what separates the US from the "enemies of freedom" if we torture prisoners in Guantánamo (not to mention Abu Ghraib) without access to representation, often sending them to countries that frequently use torture. I was moved and frightened by your piece.
Richard Dry, Richmond

A thoughtful article
Kudos. Thank you for an excellent, very well-researched, and thoughtful article.
Gurinder Singh, San Diego

"Hugs and (Hershey's) Kisses," East Side Story, 6/15

Call Your Mother
My name is Catherine and I have been thinking about meeting Mother for some time now. I read an article about her several years ago and have read several more about her since then; they all call me in a way I've never felt before. Yours in the East Bay Express made me realize that I need to see her more than I thought, just so that I can have the feeling of peace that I seem to be missing ever since 9/11/2001.

I'd like to thank you for your article. It inspired me to visit Mother sooner than I thought I would.
Catherine Wirth, Oakland

"Protecting the Birds from the Bees," City of Warts, 6/22

Unhealthy stereotypes
I just finished reading Chris Thompson's article, "Protecting the Birds from the Bees." Actually, I read it twice because I couldn't believe what I had just read -- printed in a usually intelligent liberal community newspaper.

Did he say that the children of financially advantaged parents in the Oakland hills were just learning how to flirt, while the children of parents dealing with financial challenges and living in Oakland's flatlands were being raped by their neighbors? Yes, he did!

Did he say that fourteen-year-old boys in white middle-class suburban middle schools had friendship and shared ice cream on their minds when walking the halls with pubescent ten- and eleven-year-old girls, while fourteen-year-old boys walking the hall of Oakland's schools had "more than Georgia on their minds" -- meaning sex and lust for those same young girls? Yes, essentially he did!

Did he basically say that that poor ten- and eleven-year-old children of color need sex education in school, while financially advantaged white children the same age did not? Yes, he did!

I don't believe that Chris Thompson is a racist, but he seems to have bought into some unhealthy stereotypes. To justify his premise, Mr. Thompson describes an incident of a girl who had worked on planning programming for Youth Uprising next to Castlemont High being raped by her uncle who was just been released from prison. In my 59 years, I have talked with many women from "good" middle-class homes, who have been raped and molested. It is usually not a stranger. It's their father, uncle, brother, stepfather, husband, friend of the family, neighbor, classmate, boyfriend, priest. And it's not only girls and women. Boys and young men are often victims of sexual abuse.

Mr. Thompson ends his misguided article saying that there are two kinds of students in Oakland's elementary schools: those that need to know what a rapist is and those that don't. I contend that all children need to know that their bodies belong to themselves. They need to know what is inappropriate touching. They need to know that there are caring adults to whom they can go for protection, even when a close family member perpetrates this betrayal.

Finally, if we are every going to move beyond a society in which the rape and physical abuse of women is commonplace, all girls and boys, even as early as ten, no matter where they live or their family's financial status, must be taught about sex -- that it is a gift of pleasure freely given to another with warmth, affection, and love. Boys must be made to understand that it must never be coerced or taken and that is cowardly and not how real men act. Mr. Thompson, please take another look at this subject and print what you learn.
Edward Hannemann, Oakland

"Trash in the Tributaries," Cityside, 1/19

Cleaning up the reservoir
East Bay Municipal Utility District has applied to the Contra Costa County Dept. of Public Works for a Road Closure Permit for the west end of Pinehurst Road located in the unincorporated area of central Contra Costa County approximately a half mile from the Alameda/Contra Costa border. The purpose is to facilitate the recovery and disposal of eleven automobiles, five hundred car tires, and miscellaneous debris located in gullies approximately two hundred feet from the edge of the roadway. The period of closure is from July 25 through August 1.
Scott Hill, ranger supervisor, Orinda

Gaming columnist wanted
The Express is looking for an articulate joystick jockey to write an online column for our group of eleven weekly newspapers. An ability to distill the essential elements of newly released videogames without resorting to technobabble -- and without bowing to industry hype -- is a must. Also useful: An ability to appreciate and explain gaming's role in pop culture. A sense of humor is required; bad breath is optional. Interested parties should send a cover letter, résumé, and two sample columns of five hundred words apiece to Andy Van De Voorde, Executive Associate Editor, New Times Newspapers, at andy.vandevoorde@newtimes.com or 969 Broadway, Denver, CO 80203. No phone calls, please.


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