Opinion » Letters


Appalling and reprehensible
         As a loyal New Times reader, I am incensed by the caption that underscores the frame still from Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain.� Just to get New Times readers up to speed on this utterly illogical pairing of an offensive, demeaning, deprecating and malicious caption with an accurate and thoroughly objective review of the movie (I have seen the film in three separate metropolitan venues outside of San Luis Obispo County prior to its arrival at the Palm) — a copyrighted still from rottentomatoes.com has been paired with a review written by David Dylan Thomas, a writer, filmmaker, and Johns Hopkins University graduate, based out of Philadelphia, and an often-featured critic on filmcritics.com.  
         It is important for New Times readers of this letter, if it is actually printed, to be fully cognizant of the fact that the review, word for word, is the work of David Thomas, and that the vibrant and striking still of both Ledger and Gyllenhaal is a capture of award-winning cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto. Therefore, by plain and simple deductive reasoning alone, New Times is completely and fully responsible for the caption “Homos on the Range,� and the readers of this letter can determine for themselves what it defines about this publication in terms of journalistic integrity and responsibility to San Luis Obispo County in its promotion of tolerance, particularly in its seeming selectivity in its “unbiased� promotion of the arts.
         “Homos on the Range� is unambiguously an exceedingly poor pun of “Home on the Range,� pitiable in both its sense of tolerance as well as its etymology (the term “homo� is classified by the Oxford, Merriam-Webster, and American Heritage dictionaries as an “offensive term for a gay man� as well as a “dated slang insult;� read: epithet, comparable to any racial, ethnic, religious or gender-based slur). If the incongruous pun were not attempted, the next word, sequentially working downward within this range of intolerance, would be “Fags on the Range.� The New Times has, however, made it apparent that clearly defamatory diction would not conveniently suit its needs for alliteration with a song title that bears absolutely no meaning either lyrically or in title to the clear sense of disjunctive tension of the oblique meaning of “home� as applied to the work of Lee and his immensely committed cast. As if this were not disconcerting enough, even applying the notion of “Home on the Range� is misrepresentative of the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning author E. Annie Proulx, the short story from which additional Pulitzer Prize winner Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana (screenwriters), as well as Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee, drew this impeccable film, as the film’s leads at best are subject to the tension that leads from an immensely impassioned romance that cannot find a home within its principal Wyoming setting.
         On a final note, perhaps one need look only as far back as 1998 (or the latest issue of New Times) and the events that transpired in and around Laramie, Wyoming, and the world-focusing hate crime Matthew Shepard endured — a relatively concise distance, interestingly enough, from where the story of “Brokeback Mountain� is primarily set to clearly delineate how “new� times have become. I suppose one could ask Mr. Shepard how he would feel about reading journalism as solipsistic as yours, that is, if he had the luxury of being alive. This, however, is of course no longer an option based on views not unlike those indicative of diction found within your periodical, views implicitly linked to language which thankfully makes no attempt to even be coded within a benignly “palatable� manner. Thank you, New Times, for allowing San Luis Obispo County and its residents who actually read your publication a clear litmus for where the tolerance and state of journalistic integrity actually reside within this community.     
         As for Matthew Shepard, I am certain his father Dennis or his mother Judy could provide far more penetrating insight than mine on the price paid for print found in your seemingly free publication, and perhaps Dennis Shepard’s own words regarding his brutally murdered son would serve best in conclusion: “Every time you celebrate Christmas, a birthday, the 4th of July, remember that Matt isn’t. Every time that you wake up in your prison cell, remember you had the opportunity and the ability to stop your actions that night. You robbed me of something very precious and I will never forgive you for that. Mr. McKinney, I give you life in the memory of someone who no longer lives. May you have a long life. And may you thank Matthew every day for it.�

M.S. Cook

Morro Bay
Run for the money
         Nobody should be surprised that Katcho (Supervisor Katcho Achadjian) is running for re-election. One of the reasons for running he didn’t mention is that he will be fully vested in the state employee pension system in two more years, which I am sure will give him a lifetime pension close to his supervisor’s salary.
         At least that is better than the Sacramento county supervisor who didn’t want to run again, but instead made a deal with county staff for token employment for two years after his eight years on the board.
         I guess you could call that a left-handed compliment. Which is appropriate, since I am left-handed.
Bob Anderson

Arroyo Grande
Libraries aren’t free
         In King Harris’s article in New Times bemoaning the sad state of public libraries in California (“A Remembrance of Libraries Past�), I think the best thing to right the situation is to sell the libraries to for-profit businesses.
         Our libraries flounder for many reasons, but the primary reason is poor management by the county. Harris, in the article, points out the main things that are “free� at public libraries. That’s nonsense, of course, since the whole crux of the problem is that overburdened taxpayers don’t want to fund these “free� things. I love libraries, and I believe that the market for their services would sustain them much better than public subsidies. Hollywood Video and Blockbuster are libraries that thrive with no taxpayer funding. These video libraries operate at convenient hours, have convenient locations, and carry the titles that most people want, because these for-profit businesses would fail otherwise. If our video libraries had the same unimaginative, unresponsive management, and the same lack of market discipline that our public libraries suffer, they’d be in the same sad shape.
Jay Stewart

Arroyo Grande
Not what you think        
         In response to Ms. Prince who wrote in about “Those crazy lines in the sky�. After I stopped laughing, I felt I should write to try to educate our paranoid friend.
         As an airline pilot, I witness these firsthand every day, and they are nothing more than water vapor. Simply a big version of the vapor you see coming out of your car’s tailpipe on a cold day. They are colloquially known as “con trails� which is short for condensation. That word should tell you something, Ms. Prince. In addition, nothing sprayed into the high (50 to 150 knot) upper atmospheric winds is going to reach the surface anywhere near where it is sprayed, if at all.
         My bankrupt airline, like so many others, is not in collusion with the government. If we were, I doubt very much that we would be in our current financial position. Besides, the government evidently doesn’t need to spray us with mind control drugs — just look at the results of the last election.
Mark Hoffman

Santa Margarita
Good grades don’t mean you’re smart
         The only thing you can tell for certain about anyone who does well on tests is that they are good at taking tests. I taught at a college for 10 years in a small community and it is the B and C students who I found later to be the productive citizens in the community.
         On the other hand I personally know a person who was always in the 97 to 99 percentile on standardized tests and today is in prison because of what he did under the influence of drugs. And I knew a very bright individual, a psychologist for the local school board, who took home a girl he picked up on the street and got beat up and robbed by her.
         I also personally know people who had average grades, one who dropped out of school and later got a GED, who are fine upstanding citizens and great parents.
         All too often those with high grades are given the impression that they will get life on a golden platter. And that intelligence equals wisdom, when they are far from the same thing. A woman in her 30s told me she was the valedictorian of her high school class and couldn’t understand why she was not successful in life.
         In my own case, my college grades, which were Bs and Cs, were never asked for by an employer. Just having a college diploma was all I needed for my first job, and the others I got because of my experience.
         At 80, my advice to young people is this: grades are far from everything. Set flexible long-term goals, what you may want to be doing in 20 years. And flexible short-term goals to get you there. Which most likely means delaying engagement, marriage and having children until you have some life experiences. The reason for goals is not to achieve them but to have anchors in life, so you won’t feel adrift.
         And above all, don’t be afraid to try anything (except drugs) and of failing at anything you try. Failure is the real teacher in life, if you are willing to learn from it.
Ed Phillips

It’s going to happen again
         In the last issue of New Times, there was a letter from Kelly Lewis, in which she told of notice to vacate her affordable rental in Los Osos so that the property could be redeveloped into high-priced homes. I feel very sad for Kelly and her young family.
         But is this not the fault of the Los Osos CSD’s decision to stop work on the sewer under construction. I warned of this possibility at a CSD meeting soon after they took office.
         Apparently, before this CSD was elected, property owners didn’t feel that there was a problem absorbing all or part of the sewer fees. And there was no threat of fines as work was progressing. Rents, and home sales, were stable. That is not the case now. Kelly’s case will be repeated and repeated.
         I could say, “CSD, I told you so� but that doesn’t help Kelly or families in her situation. The better solution would be for the CSD to hand over the sewer project to the county, which CAN get a low-interest loan, and continue only with other aspects of local government.
Jean Fergus

Los Osos 
I feel sorry
         Many years ago when the county was in charge of the sewer project with George Gibson as project engineer, Mr. Hensley, Mr. Gustafson, Pandora Nash-Karner, Rose Bowker and other CSD board members, along with a large group of interested Los Ososans, traveled to Santa Barbara to attend the Regional Water Quality Control Board hearing regarding the county plans for the sewer. Los Osos citizens were having a problem accepting a project with an unspecified, unlimited budget for them to pay for, as well as the location. Mr. Gibson was highly chastised by a Regional Board member for putting Los Ososans in this predicament with only generalities and no facts regarding costs, etc., and stating that he should be ashamed of his actions and lack of information. I actually felt sorry for Mr. Gibson. Do you feel good about giving back control completely to the county, with all its many bureaucrats and the 17% administrative costs on top of everything?
Martha Hansen

Baywood Park

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