Feb. 10 2015 09:57 AM

Our readers tell us what they think


Highlighting humanity 

I have mostly appreciated your editorials since I moved to this town a decade ago and found your weekly. Early on, CityBeat seemed to lack focus, being, I'm guessing, a kind of street-scene music rag. Since then, I found your editorial commentary and the direction CityBeat moved toward worthwhile. And then, more worthwhile, because, with exceptions, your endorsements of candidates in the political scene were worth respect. 

David Rolland, your Jan. 14 "Editor's Note" is the most honest, straightforward I have seen, from any source—Internet, multiple newspapers (I do not watch TV crap). I just want to thank you for revealing yourself and, in so doing, revealing the best thing we have going: our humanity. 

Bonnie Bekken, Normal Heights 

Not the right job for you 

Regarding your Jan. 14 "Editor's Note": You're making this way too complicated. And sorry to react harshly, but free speech is the essential element of your magazine—of your enterprise. So, if you're not willing to take risks inherent to the job, which include inappropriate, unfair, mean, crazy, stupid or even perhaps homicidal reactions, which is, of course your prerogative, then this isn't the right job for you. Ditto the folks who work with you who should be permitted the same choice. Ditto firemen. 

Mike Angello, Normal Heights

Fear and courage 

I read your Jan. 14 "Editor's Note" and was relieved to hear someone else put voice to my own thoughts. 

I have had death threats twice in my life, one when I was on the San Diego City Council. For one week I had bodyguards 24/7. That week was one of the longest and scariest times in my life. It had to do with a vote that a crazy man didn't want me to make. Anyway, many of the things you said struck home for me, including concern for staff, no religious beliefs and standing up for a cause, but, like you, to be honest, I was just plain scared and did not want to die.

The question of freedom of speech and the press presents really difficult questions for me, as well. Of course it is supposed to be an essential thread in the tapestry of what America is all about, and we need to protect those threads. Sometimes, however, even for me, some lines are crossed. Having been subjected to a couple of very ugly cartoons during my tenure on the council, I know the personal pain, humiliation and emotional suffering those seemingly innocuous pieces inflicted in my life. 

I have spent a great deal of time living in France during the last several years and I have witnessed the growing problems for all sides due to the dramatic shift in demographics and the accompanying adjustments or lack of adjustments that must be made. A friend of mine who has French press credentials said that Charlie's work often was "over the top" but there is no excuse for the response they received.

I fear that we will see a growing number of violent acts as more and more people feel disenfranchised and frustrated with their lives. We all have to face up to our individual national problems—violence and fear are not the answers.

Thanks for the courage—yes courage— to write your own personal thoughts. I almost never write responses, but I wanted you to know that I appreciated what you had to say. 

Valerie Stallings, Downtown

Rolland's a coward 

Concerning the Jan. 14 "Editor's Note": I have to respect you for your honesty. It is not often that anybody openly admits to their cowardice. Bravery is the rarest of virtues, yet it is the one virtue that makes all the others possible. And it is as hard to find as gold, especially in these days of mass and instantaneous communication through the Internet and social-media sites. 

The Charlie Hebdo event shows the fragility of freedom of speech when its supposed guardians are so eager to abandon it. It's a very efficient form of terrorism: Kill eight cartoonists and millions of journalists, newspaper and magazine editors and television executives around the world are intimidated into self-censorship. Even here, in sleepy, right-wing San Diego, protected by distance, and the presence of Navy and Marine personnel, you can't bring yourself to show the cartoons that cost your fellow journalists their lives. 

And you seek justification in solidarity with all those millions of media types who exercised their editorial prerogatives to shut up and cower before Muslim violence. "They aren't cowards," you said. But that's exactly what they are. They engaged in a massive outpouring of cowardice on a global scale. And you even tried to provide cover for them with a completely gratuitous and unsupported accusation that Charlie Hebdo occasionally lapses into racism: Racism, the Swiss army knife of accusations—good for a thousand and one uses, including justifying cowardice.And then you blame religion—all religions, not just the Muslim killers—as if the Quakers, the Amish, the Yazidis, the Baha'i and the Lubavitchers all equally have blood on their hands. 

But be of good cheer. Time will pass. The current outrage will fade in memory, and you will be able to crawl out from under your desk and resume your career of bashing Republicans. At least you know they won't kill you. 

Rob Houghton, El Cajon

CityBeat is Charlie

It's late, and after a tantalizing conversation on Twitter about turning off notifications for posts and the importance of Pinterest to farmers markets, I decided to wind down my evening with a quick read through CityBeat. I'll admit that, normally, I flip directly to the arts section, add a few events to my calendar and maybe drool over a food review before closing up shop and heading to the mattresses. However, tonight I found your column first. Damn you for including the Adam and Eve photo in your layout. 

All fun aside, I commend you for admitting to not being ballsy enough to die in the face of free-expression. It's OK to not have those kind of cajones. Not everyone does. Not even me. 

I will ascertain, however, that being Charlie in the proverbial sense isn't so much that we're willing to stand up and take a bullet for our words but that we shouldn't have to in the first place. Although I will be the first to go on record to say that though freedom of speech might give one the right to say something, it does not, however, protect one from the consequences of saying it (forgive my ending with a preposition); that is, unless, one is yelling fire in a crowded room. All bets are off. I will also be the first one to defend one's right to do so whether I like what is being said or not. 

You may not, personally, in your "older, increasingly existential" self, believe yourself to be Charlie, but the reality is that by publishing what you and your staff believe to be true, you are, in fact, Charlie. CityBeat continues to be a source of relevant information in San Diego, not only providing the cursory food reviews and band schedules, but also shedding light upon the issues that continue to beat up on our great city. CityBeat and its editorial staff provide a voice that may otherwise be unheard, and we can only hope that, even without a fundamentally slanted cartoon, CityBeat will continue to do so. 

Brandon A. Smith, North Park

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