Letters to the editor

In praise of the men and women in blue

Like many, one of the highlights of my week is snatching spare moments with the Mountain Xpress. Today I caught David Lynch’s commentary “Who’s Watching the Police” [Sept. 17]. I appreciated his interest, clarity and succinct communication style. I had a little harder time with the heavy hand he laid on our Asheville Police Department.

Having spent a good bit of one-on-one ride-along time with these public servants, I have a personal sense of the difficulty of their task. Struggling with the policies, perils, personalities and politics [that they contend with] is no one’s idea of an easy job. Anything so complex will involve mistakes. Mr. Lynch seems to be trying to make a case that the APD makes a lot of them. My experience, to date, does not support such. More objectively, the facts as represented by complaint figures, lawsuits, public input, state comparison statistics and other objective criteria in no way support his assertions.

That said, the mistakes that happen do matter. If you see an officer doing something that seems wrong, please contact the police department and let them know. If the situation is serious, then give serious consideration to filing a formal complaint with the department. Finally, know that you always have an open door to the city manager, mayor and all City Council members. Together, we represent oversight resources that can, have and will respond to patterns of inappropriate behavior.

I thought it unfortunate that Mr. Lynch’s commentary was so clearly devoted to attacking, criticizing and vilifying the primary defense between you, me and the criminal elements running around out there. It’s not necessary that we duplicate his model. As we all seek to address mistakes and right wrongs, let’s keep a larger eye on the good that our police do on our behalf: It means more than you may know when you demonstrate appreciation and pass on compliments with equal passion [as you would] criticism. It’s in our collective interest to support the enthusiasm of the men and women protecting you and me from the bad guys.

— Carl Mumpower
Member, Asheville City Council

No locals, no thank you

My husband and I, being great fans of both bluegrass music and fine microbrewed beer, recently decided to attend the Brewgrass festival [on Sept. 13] in Asheville. Because we live 40 minutes away in Waynesville, we made the decision to rent a room within walking distance of downtown in order to enhance the quality of our experience (read: preclude a drive home).

We chose to stay at the Days Inn Downtown, as we have stayed there in the past and been quite satisfied. I called the hotel and was informed that there was availability for Saturday evening. As I gave my phone number to the clerk, however, I was informed that I was not allowed to make a reservation as I lived too close to the hotel. Apparently, the owner had made the decision to refuse rooms to local persons, as history had shown that local people “trash hotel rooms and do drugs.”

Am I alone in finding this odd and offensive? My attempt to enjoy the downtown Asheville area at night while avoiding a drive home after drinking was foiled by this strange geographical prejudice. So, all ye locals, beware — it seems ’tis better to drive home after drinking, or drink at home, than spend more of your hard-earned dollars on downtown businesses like the Days Inn. Go figure.

— Karin Parramore

[Ed. Note: Xpress invited the Days Inn Downtown to respond. Owner/General Manager N.K. Patel wrote us: “Like many other area hotels, we do not rent rooms to ‘locals’ as our past experience has shown that it [is] not in the best interest of our business.” A Days Inn employee noted that the “local” designation extended to 30 miles from Asheville.]

No meat-ing of minds

I read Tom Graham’s letter [“The View From the Top of the Food Chain,” Xpress<'i> Sept. 3] on why its justifiable to eat meat, and it made no sense. He says that the Golden Rule is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Then he says that since a hyena, crocodile or tiger would eat us alive without a second thought or guilty conscience, we should eat meat ourselves, because they do it. And he also says that an elephant or buffalo would turn us into a pancake. This evidence presents no compelling reason why eating meat is OK.

For starters, what kind of dingdong would be dumb enough to go tromping through the wilderness where wild animals live and not expect them to get territorial? Secondly, if an animal attacks you, [it] will instinctively go for the neck, not eat you alive. [Wild animals] don’t want a struggling dinner. And also remember that those sorts of animals (excluding elephants and buffalo) have specifically evolved so that meat is what they require to survive. Tigers, for example, have sharp teeth and claws and stomachs, [and] digestive systems [that] are more well-equipped to handle meat than [they are] plants. Now look at the human body: We have blunt teeth and fingernails, not quite the sort of implements ideal for devouring flesh for our survival. Also we have an advanced brain that allows us to find alternatives.

These days, it’s really unnecessary for humans to have to be cruel to animals just so we can eat their dead flesh. Soy products taste better than meat, and don’t come with the danger of getting fat. So if we have those alternatives, what is [our] excuse for imprisoning several chickens into a small cage where they must go to the bathroom all over themselves and their inmates, then [injecting them] with chemicals to get them fat, and then [chopping them] up into little, convenient pieces and [wrapping them] in plastic, [freezing them] for safe keeping, and then later [eating them]? Yeah, now that’s humane.

So using Mr. Graham’s logic of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” it’s perfectly all right, then, for chickens to cage us, plump us up, and then chop us up and eat our muscles. I highly doubt that anybody would want that done to them, so why should we do it to animals? With the human brain comes a conscience, and I’m surprised this barbaric practice of slaughter still continues. Evolve, people.

— Elliot Long

Don’t let your idealism squander votes in next presidential election

For the first time in my life, I have realized how important it is to put aside my idealistic views with the hopes of defeating President Bush in the upcoming presidential election. Since 1967, when I first registered to vote, I have always been proud of my independent, unaffiliated — and, lastly, Green Party — status, and the reality of the situation is that I have never voted for a winner. But seeing how President Bush has shattered my dreams for America, I [have been] reminded of the power we would have to reclaim our democracy if we all came together and if we were able to inspire the approximately 50 percent of registered voters who no longer vote due to disillusionment in our system.

So I invite everyone to take part in the 2004 presidential campaign. Personally, I support Howard Dean because I see in him a willingness to put aside some of his idealistic views with the hopes of being able to implement legislation that will benefit us all. I am so inspired by his record as an unprecedented five-term governor in Vermont, where he was able to achieve health-care access for all; a fair wage; less dependence on foreign oil, with one-third of Vermont’s energy coming from renewable resources; and a balanced budget in a state with unemployment well below the national average. During his [tenure as governor], he preserved hundreds of thousands of acres of forest and farmland. And [by focusing] on education and family support early in life, he was able to cut child abuse in half.

His vision for America is so refreshing — focusing not only on health-care access for all and balancing the budget, but also on fair trade (not just free trade) and reversing our unilateralist and isolationist foreign policy. And he is not afraid to stand firmly on equal rights for all Americans. If you are interested in Howard Dean and his platform, visit www.deanforamerica.com or call toll free (866) DEAN4USA. On the first Wednesday evening of each month, “meetups” for Dean take place all across America (including in Asheville). For info on local Dean events, write to wnc4dean@yahoogroups.com.

I truly believe that we can reclaim our democracy, and that we have the ability to create an America that both we and the world can be proud of if we all vote, and if those of us who are idealists will be willing to compromise for the future of us all.

— Sally MacMillan
Cedar Mountain

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