Letters to the editor

From mountains to Mammon

As reported in this paper [Buzzworm: “Madison Developments,” Feb. 1], the Madison County Planning Board voted Jan. 24 to recommend the rezoning of several hundred acres in Laurel Valley, on three tracts owned by B & E Ventures, changing their designation from residential/agricultural to resort/residential and commercial/residential. Two hundred residents crammed the Madison Courthouse, the vast majority of whom were there to try to protect their treasured rural way of life.

Long-time and newer Laurel Valley residents, their voices shaking, poured their hearts out to an apparently impassive board, expressing vital concerns about water pollution, erosion, sewage, traffic, a jetport and the concomitant devastation ensured by the plopping of a city the size of Weaverville onto a living mountainside.

The most compelling reason the builder, Mr. Bussey, offered to justify his amorphous and grandiose project was that it is just a continuation of his present development, following the “natural flow” — as if mountains left alone naturally tended toward high-density housing of themselves.

Saddest for me was that with a project of this scope and impact on the local lives, the planning board had no questions for Mr. Bussey. Not one of the concerns of the citizens was addressed. It could have been a History Channel reenactment of the Supreme Soviet under Stalin, or the fabled rubber-stamping Iranian parliament under the Ayatollah Khomeini.

At least give me the illusion of due process before selling out our neighborhood to Mammon. You have served your master well.

— Steve Crimi
Mars Hill

Food fight

What the heck is going on with your food “critic,” Mackensey Lunsford? I think she is taking her mother’s words of wisdom way too seriously: If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.

Asheville is growing, and your paper needs to grow with it. I’m sure that the area restaurants can handle some honest criticism. When I read a restaurant review, I would like to know about value, quality of ingredients, quality of service and preparation. I certainly don’t want to read that your restaurant “critic” was given a special meal as a perk for being your restaurant critic.

Please, Mountain Xpress, give us a food critic, not a food cheerleader.

— Tom Robertson

[Editor’s note: The letter writer is apparently referencing “The Straight Dish” review of Heiwa Shokudo from our Jan. 18 issue. In that article, Lunsford shared, in full-disclosure fashion, the dilemma for a food writer whose anonymity is lost while on the job. Taking that approach, she and the editors reasoned, would serve readers well by informing them of exactly how the writer was “outed” while in the restaurant. And while her cover may have been blown, she stuck with the kind of honest that criticism is the standard for “The Straight Dish.”]

Eccentric like nobody else

How novel is novel?
How weird is weird?
What’s your perspective?
What do you hear?

Take the sounds from the air,
and the feeling in your heart —
try and put a box around it,
and it will just fall apart.

Mad Tea Party makes music
That is hard to define —
As we forge our own path
Honest, passionate, sublime.

So what should you call us?
It’s so difficult to know.
If you care to find out —
come to a show!

— Ami Worthen
Mad Tea PartyAsheville

[Editor’s note: While it is not the policy of Xpress to publish poetry as letters, we are making an exception for this response to our recent commentary [“You Hand in Your Ticket and You Go Watch the Geek,” Feb. 1].]

Getting Year of the Dog underway

I wanted to thank the Mountain Xpress for the coverage of the 2006 Southern Appalachian Chinese Martial Arts Tournament and Year of the Dog Celebration held in Asheville on Feb. 4. May this be the first of many SACMAT events!

Asheville Martial Arts would like to extend our gratitude to the entire community for their support and enthusiasm for the Chinese martial arts. May 2006 bring everyone health and prosperity!

— Cynthia Frederick

Extending a passion for justice

Last week, thousands of mourners waited for hours in freezing rain at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church and the state capitol rotunda to pay their respects to the “first lady of the civil rights movement,” Coretta Scott King, who died on Jan. 30. President Bush and former President Clinton led the list of dignitaries at memorial services.

Coretta Scott King was much more than a devoted wife and partner of the celebrated civil rights leader. She traveled throughout the globe on behalf of peace and nonviolence, racial and economic justice, minority rights, religious freedom, the poor and homeless, educational opportunities, nuclear disarmament and ecological sanity. She helped found dozens of organizations advocating social justice, received honorary doctorates from over 60 colleges and universities, and authored three books and a nationally syndicated column.

Coretta Scott King was also a vegan who eschewed all products of animal suffering, including meat, dairy, eggs, leather, and cosmetics containing animal ingredients or tested on animals. Her strong belief in peace and nonviolence extended to the violence perpetrated against billions of innocent, sentient animals in America’s factory farms and slaughterhouses. Her passion for justice extended to the most downtrodden living beings on the planet — the animals bred, abused and killed for food, fur, research and entertainment.

Coretta Scott King truly practiced what she preached. And for that, I salute her.

— Alex Chilter

Words she lived by

With the recent passing of Coretta Scott King, I would like to offer the following quotes from her about gays and lesbians:

“I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice. But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.” — 25th anniversary luncheon for Lambda Defense and Education Fund, March 31, 1998.

“Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union. A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing, and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages.” — Speech at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, USA Today, March 24, 2004.

“‘We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny … . I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be,'” she said, quoting from her husband. “I’ve always felt that homophobic attitudes and policies were unjust and unworthy of a free society and must be opposed by all Americans who believe in democracy.” — 25th anniversary luncheon for Lambda Defense and Education Fund, quoted in the Chicago Sun Times, April 1, 1998.

“Gays and lesbians stood up for civil rights in Montgomery, Selma, in Albany, Georgia, and St. Augustine, Florida, and many other campaigns of the civil rights movement. Many of these courageous men and women were fighting for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and I salute their contributions.” — 25th anniversary luncheon for Lambda Defense and Education Fund, quoted in the Chicago Tribune, April 1, 1998.

“Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood. This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group.” — Speech at the Palmer Hilton Hotel, quoted in the Chicago Defender, April 1, 1998.

— Jerry Edwards

Check your sources

I would like to comment on the initial national news coverage of the West Virginia coal-mine tragedy in early January. After absorbing the horrifying and gut-wrenching aspects of the terrible tragedy, my cynicism about this was sparked two days after it happened when a friend told me about the deaths. Stunned, I looked back at the local newspaper article I had read, which came from an AP service. Right there on the front page of the daily paper, below the fold, the headline read: “Family Members Report Trapped Miners Are Alive” [Asheville Citizen-Times, Jan. 4].

I read it again and noted how carefully it was worded for both what was said — and what was not said.

I wrote to AP to say the reporting was highly confusing, and to ask why ICG [owner of the Sago mine] was in charge of the news releases (an unprecedented procedure, according to [the radio program] Democracy Now!).

Unfortunately, many of us who read the Jan. 4 article may have been misled into believing that “all was well.” A miracle. Rejoice and praise God. And some, when they heard of the conflicting tragedy, may have said to themselves, “No, this can’t be; I read yesterday that they were saved.” Could it be the two stories were intentionally designed to be worded and spaced apart to provide this level of contradiction and confusion? That’s the cynicism part of it.

Local newspapers would be well advised to consider wire-service stories subject to review and question before reproducing them so readily. I’m sure most people who read such in their publication would fail to note and consider the source, thus concluding the fault was due to local reporting, thereby damaging the credibility of the local paper itself. And that would be a shame, were it due to a wire-service source.

— Tom Alba

From peanuts to politics

Back in the day, I voted for the peanut. I am reluctant to write anything partisan. Just as you have a keister, as you do an opinion, “yours” is always wrong. The dialogue always seems to morph (for lack of a better word) into the sophomoric, “gotcha” name-calling and retarded yackety-yak.

Coretta Scott King’s funeral, where some 10,000 souls showed up to pay respect and honor, turned into something else altogether. There is no question where she and her husband will stand in history: as giants, when we think of human rights. Martin Luther King never materially enriched himself with his status.

President Bush spoke with great common respect and honor for Mrs. King. This was a funeral for a giant in the civil rights movement. And then you have the crass and obscene politicization of the funeral by the Rev. Joseph Lowery and one James Earl Carter. Just low-rent, no-class disrespect. That’s the only way you can cut it. Even President Clinton showed some restraint with the respect and class with which he pointed out that there was a “woman” lying there. Show some dignity!

— Fuller Moore
Mountain Home

We’re wiretapped by felons

President Bush recently announced publicly that he was tapping the telephones of Americans without authorization by the courts, and his supporters cheered loudly. Our president breaks the law, and we’re told we’re safer.

Some of us still try to understand what the term “high crimes and misdemeanors” really means. President Clinton’s lie(?) came after Ollie North’s magnificent example of lying under oath to Congress, covering for Ronald Reagan — as Gordon Liddy did for President Nixon.

The current silliness claims that we should not object to having our telephone messages eavesdropped upon so long as we are not involved in any wrongdoing. This is purely crazy and stands the matter on its head. To begin with, the illegal telephone tappers are at once the wrongdoers — nameless strangers (correctly called “spooks”) operating without court approval are automatically lawbreakers, for starters. One’s phone is being tapped by a felon.

So far, the evidence shows that intercepted messages, no matter how they were obtained, may be ignored or underestimated. This doesn’t even include messages from FBI field agents — critical alerts which may have gotten stuck in the vast chain-of-command. Hence, no preparations whatever were made to deal with a calamity like 9/11. Then Katrina came along to remind us we are still not ready.

So much simpler to sit in a cozy office or van listening in on phone calls, hire cronies to peddle nonsense to the electorate, and cover it all with lies calling it national security.

— Allen Thomas

Thanks, Democrats

Wake up, America! We are no longer a nation that doesn’t have to worry about enemies infiltrating our shores. They proved that on 9/11. Get over yourselves and let the president do what he has to do in order protect this country.

I cannot believe the gall of the Democrats who are grasping at straws to do anything they can to undermine the president. I would like them to remember the day of Sept. 11, 2001, to think of the thousands who were killed. I guess John Kerry and Al Gore would like to just put the enemy on food stamps and let ’em “party on!”

Did Al Gore forget to mention that he led the effort to tap every telephone, e-mail, fax and so on while he was vice-president under Bill Clinton? Gore is now one of the loudest mouths attacking President Bush for only tapping possible terrorists!

Get real! We are a nation at war, and our president should have the right and the freedom to do what is necessary to protect our shores and all who live here! Those morons need to quit making everything a party issue, and let’s get this country going in the right direction. That includes the appointment of Judge Alito: Could the Democrats give any solid reasons not to appoint Alito? No! His track record spoke for itself. He will interpret the Constitution as it was written, and he’s proven that.

I would like to thank the Democratic senators for one thing: Because of the embarrassingly ignorant actions coming from their side, I believe there will be a flood of former Democrats voting Republican in the next election year and many to follow.

— Donna Dobbins-McCall

Spying violates our freedom

Our president and his administration think that they are above the laws that are in place to keep them in check. Authorizing spying on Americans without utilizing court-order protocol set up specifically for sensitive and urgent use is against the law and an infringement on our freedoms!

The president has the ability to get a court order to wire tap three days after the surveillance has occurred. If our leaders are not wanting to use the system set up to do the business of protecting us, I say they are violating us! Congress needs to get to the bottom of this violation of our freedom and seek justice for those who have broken the law.

— John Root

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