Editor's note: For background on the following letter please see "Editor's Note."
Pam [Hardy, senior producer, These Days, KPBS],
This is to express my very grave reservations about your decision to have CityBeat represented on The Editors Roundtable [program] on Friday morning. If you view CityBeat as a mainstream journal, consider what it published in just one article ["San Diego Munch" by Ms. Beak] in the June 4 issue:
"First off, let's deal with the issue of San Diego State University President Stephen Weber's cajones.... But it turns out Weber has plumper balls than anyone could have guessed.... ol' Stevo decided to kick a little jock butt.... there was no attempt to come up with some happy horse-shit.... if Bay hadn't resigned, he was going to bitch slap him.... you won't have to listen to any weenie crap anymore.... the basketball team still sucks, a snot rag for the mighty.... every time they get primed to give UCLA or BYU a real battle, gosh darn it, they get cornholed by the warden."
Pam, do you know what "cornholed" means? It's a term I haven't heard since I was 13 years old. It's crude slang for "sodomize." Apparently sodomize was too polite of a term for CityBeat. As I mentioned to you yesterday, this publication is studded with this kind of garbage. In an article criticizing its much larger rival, the Reader, CityBeat wrote: "They may believe their journalism is different and quirky, but this is shaky ground, especially considering the Reader's famous holier-than-thou attitude toward all other media, as if its shit doesn't stink." Other articles refer liberally to "butt-smooching," "farts" and other sophomoric crudities to which even other tabloids would never sink.
The fact is, CityBeat is far outside the mainstream of journalism in San Diego. I do not want to be associated with it in any way. I am shocked and dismayed that KPBS and SDSU want to be associated with it. And I am very confident Cox Communications, which decided to broadcast The Editors Roundtable to its family-oriented television audience, doesn't want to be associated with it.
At the recent lunch we had with The Editors Roundtable participants, Gloria Penner promised that no changes would be made in the show unless we all approved of them. I want you to know that I emphatically do not approve of having CityBeat on the program. I think you will find that John Warren of the Voice & Viewpoint and Tim McLean of Metropolitan magazine share my view.
Pam, CityBeat is not journalism. It's trash. You are sullying KPBS's reputation for serious public affairs programming by inviting CityBeat's participation on The Editors Roundtable.
Robert A. Kittle,
Editorial Page Editor,
San Diego Union-Tribune
Believe it or not
To Edwin Decker: I read your article in San Diego CityBeat [Sordid Tales, May 28] where you were strolling Venice Beach and ran into Atheists United. Allow me to make a few comments.
1. I am an atheist. Not an agnostic person, but an atheist.
2. I've found that there are two categorizations of atheists. There are the atheists who use the word in the way that an "amoral" person is a person without morals (vs. being immoral). Those people are not theists. They lack a belief in "God." Then there are the atheists who deny the existence of "God." They too are not theists, but are not merely persons who choose not to believe in a theistic religion but are persons who deny that those religions are reasonable, accurate, correct or whatever.
3. I am from the latter group of atheists. I've spoken online to atheists who claim to be the former but are really the latter. One person said to me than an agnostic person is actually an atheist-a person who is "not sure" of what theism to believe is by default an atheist. In a broad sense of the term I'd agree, but I wouldn't walk up to an agnost and declare, "You're an atheist."
4. For a person who denies that God exists and all of that, I'm remarkably tolerant of religion and religious people, unlike other atheists I've known and seen. I do not spend time composing websites or other literature debunking the Bible. I do not spend time arguing with Christian fundamentalists or Muslims or Jews or non-fundamentalist Christians or Catholics or Buddhists or Hindus about their religion in an attempt to convert them to Atheism. When they proselytize to me (OK only Christians have done this), I am polite and merely respond that I do not believe that what they preach as the "word."
That atheist you ran into is essentially an Atheist version/variant of the "fundamentalist." I've seen persons like this on newsgroups or bulletin boards, essentially "picking fights" with religious people for the sake of fighting. They're no different from the fundies that they look down their nose at.
Stockton (San Diego)
Thank you for printing Steve McWilliams' letter to the editor, "malicious tactics" [May 14].
As an American citizen I do not support the federal government's need to cage humans for using the plant cannabis to relieve physical discomfort or to use cannabis instead of drinking a beer after work. It is a federal government mistake to cage Steve McWilliams and the majority of American citizens feel the same way.
Shame on the Bush administration.
I'd like to respond to CityBeat film reviewer Sam Sokolove's letter to the editor in the June 4 issue. In it, Sokolove says that CityBeat "is too smart a publication... to give credence to the myth that terrorism directed against the Israeli people is an understandable result of 'the occupation.'" He further goes on to say that Israel "wants peace."
Sokolove is obviously deluded. He puts the word occupation in quotations, belittling the fact that Palestinians have lived under the iron thumb of the terrorist state called Israel for more than 35 years. And it is only in recent years that the suicide bombings have emerged. Imagine that! People living for decades in oppression, being massacred and looked down upon while watching their homes bulldozed to make room for yet more Israeli settlements. And only recently have they resorted to this kind of violence. A terrible violence, it is. But yes, it is understandable.
The real "myth" is that Israel wants peace. All it takes is a little bit of research on Sokolove's part to see that his letter is based on nothing concrete. I shudder to think what his film reviews are like. I think a journalist of any kind, especially one in the artistic realm, should have enough compassion and understanding for humanity to know that violence often has deep roots. We cannot justify but we can certainly understand. Condemnation without any kind of inquiry is for the cowardly.
I suggest that this film reviewer look no further than the local movie theater for a little more insight. A documentary on one of America's leading intellectuals, Noam Chomsky, just concluded a week's run at the Ken Theatre. Chomsky is widely recognized for his incisive remarks into current world affairs and his knowledge of events. I'm afraid knowledge is something that is very much lacking in Sokolove's letter, despite his bandying around of quotation marks and his condescension towards David Rolland's editorial.
Ed's narrow mind
While I always look forward to reading Edwin Decker's articles and normally enjoy them, I've now had a definite change of heart. As an artists' advocate and staunch defender of downtrodden persons in every walk of life, I found it horrifying that in the year 2003, Ed would make such old-school and ignorant categorizations of musical genres in terms of race and/or skin color ["Sordid Tales," June 4].
Perhaps he needs reminding that all music is an expression by the artist of emotions, feelings and/or storytelling through performance, poetry and sound. The better the listener can relate to those expressions, the more popular that music becomes, notwithstanding such exploitation by any person or company.
While it is true that many great musical genres have come to be recognized as the "real voice of the oppressed," since the dawn of time, human beings (yes, people of all colors, cultures, backgrounds, etc.) can be and have been oppressed in a myriad of ways and expressed themselves through music, whether they are originals or re-inventors. To suggest that a certain genre is "ruined" by white members in the band or even doomed to failure is highly offensive.
People who have soul and talent and appealing expression exist no matter the color of their skin, their upbringing, background, lot in life, etc. Just because a spiritual hymn may have been "birthed" on the cotton fields, does that mean a white choir member should not be able to bless others with her interpretation of that song?
Ed's commentary on popularity outside its original demographic suggests not only is his world still "segregated," but so are his listening skills-perhaps he is latently a "white parent object[ing] to the evil devil jungle music white kids are flock[ing] to." Ugh. Such an overboard defense of music genres which Ed views as the "real voice of oppression" would not be needed with a real understanding (through careful listening) of those expressions.
I'll agree hands down that "smooth jazz" is far too rampant in San Diego, and that it is difficult to find live bands who play the sounds Edwin describes he'd like to hear, but there are plenty of all-black jazz bands that might bore him even more than the one he singled out to slam.
I mean, come on, Ed, need one be Latin to be in an important Latin-Jazz band? Must one be Afro-Cuban to adequately play such tunes? Perhaps Reggie Smith's band pleases a multitude of people-so just because they don't fit Ed's taste, is that a reason to knock them down?
Ed, it seems to me by your article that you'd favor yet another oppressed society, perhaps in a misguided effort to birth another musical genre as narrow as your mind.
Lisa A. Cervantes,