Letters for the week of September 14-20, 2005 

Eddie Zheng deserved deportation; taxing the church seems reasonable, but don't insult sex-abuse victims; plus, Thompson belongs on Fox.

"The Last Stand of Eddie Zheng," Feature, 8/10

Why coddle Mr. Zheng?
I came to this country as a tourist from the Philippines in January 1979, soon met an Anglo-American whom I married after obtaining a Reno divorce from my first husband, and petitioned for my two sons, who arrived in November 1983. My sons and I respect and obey our adopted country's laws and appreciate how lucky we are to be here, while the teenage Eddie Zheng, in 1986, felt the United States was just a big opportunity for a spoiled punk to hone skills as an accomplished felon, bringing shame and misery to two families -- that of those victimized by Zheng and his accomplices, and his own.

While no more guilty than his partners in crime, he is an immigrant, committed a horrible offense, and is therefore the only one to be deported. And while it can be stated that murderers have spent less time behind bars, it doesn't mean he should've been released long ago but that the more egregious convicts should've had stiffer sentences. However, by now he has most likely served more than enough time, is a totally different person than he was in 1986, and, while I may have objected to earlier parole board recommendations for his release, in principle I am against gubernatorial veto power on such decisions, as was exercised quite often by Gray Davis. I would prefer to have deported him immediately upon conviction, letting his homeland worry about him and saving Californians the cost of imprisoning him for nineteen years. No lengthy terms, money, or "good conduct badges" will erase the trauma suffered by the victims. Anyway, we don't get praise for not breaking laws; that we're not supposed to is a given!

I've seen many marriage scams by those trying to stay here, and I suspect a scam with Zheng and his fiancée but there is no proof of a fraud here and while I think it's a bad policy, it is the law so Zheng will probably escape deportation.

It's great that convicts be taught to read and write if illiterate, earn a GED if not a high-school graduate, and be trained for a line of work to minimize recidivism -- but what's with college courses in prison? This policy is, in effect, a reward for criminal behavior, while the majority of law-abiding citizens have neither the time to spare for studying nor the money for tuition, fees, books, and supplies, whether for themselves or their children.
Trinidad B. Warren, Alameda

"Pay to Pray," City of Warts, 8/24

Story lacked decency
"Thank God for child-molesting priests, I always say." I am horrified to think that the editor of this publication didn't have the common decency to guess that these words might offend those of us who were raped, sodomized, and molested by priests. You may have thought that this is a catchy line to get the readers' attention, but certainly didn't think about the unnecessary pain that you might be causing people who were victimized as children by the men who should have been trusted to protect them.
Terrie Light, Castro Valley
Board member, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

It's still happening
Although I agree that the churches are not doing their share of paying taxes, Mr. Thompson and his editor should have the sense not to insult numerous victims of sex abuse by the insensitive wording beginning this story. If you really want to catch the attention of your reading public, contact me. I am a victim of clergy abuse, and I can give you plenty of information about ongoing clergy scandals that are happening today in the Bay Area that directly affect innocent children NOW.
Joe Piscitelli, Martinez

The joke's not funny
I agree fully with the premise of Chris Thompson's column, but I am appalled at the phrasing of the first sentence. I am also appalled that you would print it. Let me say first of all that I know that the sentence was written as a tongue-in-cheek literary device, but it is in a class with joking references to cancer victims. The crime it refers to is so heinous that any joking or ironic reference, even to make a valid point, is utterly insensitive. People's lives have been ruined by these priests, and to print it, even given the purpose of this article, is grotesque. Think of a better hook next time, Chris.
Dave Darcy, Somerville, Massachusetts

Rule requires religion
Great article! Unfortunately religion and state go hand in hand; the ruling class needs religion's ideological support, so unless the people overthrow the ruling class, religion's privileges will continue.
Leo T. West, San Leandro

"The Covenant with America," Feature, 8/17

For Fox News, this is ...
Chris Thompson asserts, "The showdown between modernity and jihadist fascism is the central conflict of our age." Legalized torture, creationism in place of science education, and violent oil plunder as foreign policy -- this is "modernity"?

Michael Lerner's recent conference was an admirable counter to Bush's America of Christian fascism and imperial hubris, yet Thompson's sneering, superior, moralizing essay comes off as only a Fox News-style smear of the "religious liberals" he detests. And Thompson's ranting hostility to the merest suggestion that Muslims might actually have a legitimate grievance against the West begs the question of terror's root causes and our current predicament.

Thompson joins a certain type of useful journalist (Friedman, Hitchens, Kristol, et al.) who bravely upholds the West's divine right to dominate the Middle East and loot the oil resource -- because of our ethically superior civilization, of course. If the bloody Mohammedist wogs have the temerity to object, well then, kill them -- and act surprised when they strike back. If dismembering civilians with F-16s and Apache helicopters in Fallujah and Gaza won't bring those recalcitrant, misogynist Muslims to heel, perhaps Mr. Thompson would share Winston Churchill's 1921 sentiments on Iraq: "I am strongly in favor of using poison gas against uncivilized tribes."
Mark Dewhurst, Oakland

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