Letters to the editor

Bah, humbug to unappreciative sons!

After having read the article “I Can’t Stand It” [Holiday Season Guide, Dec. 6], I am obliged to inform you of the fact that the author of this untrue, misleading and very libelous tale is flying under false colors.

I, his father, once took great pride in his achievements — such as when he was nominated for homecoming queen and when he was star of the field-hockey team. No longer do I look upon his endeavors in a favorable light.

Your readers should know that I arrived in your great city of Asheville on the week that this article appeared. At that very time, when the author should have had great shame, he had the audacity to enlist my help in erecting his Christmas tree! I consented, and rejoice in the fact that my granddaughter will now have a properly standing Christmas tree.

On my next trip to Asheville, it is my intent to start an organization of fathers against unappreciative sons.

— Stanley Sarzynski
Clearwater, Fla.

Embrace fear, abandon control

Regarding “From sleaze to prestige” [commentary, Nov. 29]: I become agitated when I read opinions-presented-as-authoritative-information that so blatantly suggest that some people have the right to control other people. It is particularly upsetting when it is couched in what looks like good intentions. Apparently, ambition has overshadowed clarity here. What looks like important health information is really an “infomercial” that uses [a] negative message — what we fear, we must control — to direct people’s thinking, [and] thus, their behavior.

It is not for some people to control others if they disagree with or fear what some might do. This is a spiritual misunderstanding. Ms. Huff, being a professed holistic practitioner, probably recognizes the quantum principle that we are not the victims of our experiences but the creators of them. In supporting legalization of controls, we are whining: We could be made victims if we are not properly protected! This is the key illusion in modern life: We “forget” that we attract what most helps us grow (including our “accidents”) and we project our enemies and our saviors. It is our “blame syndrome” that has made us powerless.

Ms. Huff’s conclusions are examples of the counterproductive thinking we have been taught to use, which says: We are not and do not want to be responsible for our choices and our destiny. You choose for me! And to say that those who lack a kind of training should not be allowed to touch anyone professionally without being punished is arrogant and ignorant. It is the inverse of saying that some have the right to stop those seeking care from getting it from the wrong (unapproved) folks. To say that licensing insures safety or quality is ludicrous. That is like saying someone with “initials” cannot err. But look at the medical profession.

As always, we must ask: Do our guidelines (laws) insure our freedoms or do they control us in an attempt to pre-empt what we fear might happen? And: Can we afford to continue to allow ourselves to be emotionally manipulated into believing what another wants us to believe?

Life is a chaos of events that harmonizes itself spontaneously under the direction of divine intelligence. It cannot successfully be controlled artificially to eliminate certain things construed as bad from happening. Harmony is about natural relationship and develops organically among people only when all is allowed. We will continue to be a society controlled by bureaucratic ideas as long as we do not trust life.

I suggest we, as healers and creators, practice what is our professed focus — unconditional love — and embrace what we fear rather than trying to control everything. I suggest we first embrace our fear of the freedom to choose in all its manifestations.

— Alexander
Asheville

Erroneous letter reprint led to confusion

In regard to the letter to the editor you entitled “Kudos to Charter Hospital’s Dr. Kim Masters” [Dec. 6]: I submitted this letter, which I believe you printed in February of 2000, right after Charter Hospital closed. The letter is no longer timely or accurate, nor does it reflect our current condition in Buncombe County or my opinion. [Editor’s note: Xpress received the letter from Ms. Bauknight via e-mail approximately two weeks before it appeared in print. Neither Ms. Bauknight nor we know how or why this happened. Ah, the mysteries of cyberspace … ]

I would hate for anyone to have the impression (due to the erroneous reprint) that the situation is unchanged since February of 2000.

Mission/St. Joseph’s [Health System] has risen to meet the needs of our community and will soon announce the opening of a children’s psychiatric unit. The plans for this unit include an impressive array of therapeutic approaches managed by very competent child psychiatrists. The hospital has employed experienced administrators and staff for the children’s eight-bed psychiatric unit, some of whom were once employed by Charter Hospital. The administrators, psychiatrists, nurses, psychiatric workers and many other people employed by Mission/St. Joseph’s have worked very, very hard to make this unit become a reality as quickly as they possibly could. They deserve recognition and thanks from everyone in Buncombe and surrounding counties.

Additionally, many, many individuals and professionals have worked countless hours through the Buncombe County Mental Health Consortium to seek ways to fill the gaps left by Charter, such as the need for 24/7 out-of-hospital crisis intervention and stabilization. The work of these determined and dedicated people has resulted in measurable progress; considering the state of our mental-health system, any progress is commendable. The work has been very difficult, because our mental-health system continues to be underfunded, in turmoil and in need of sweeping reform. Buncombe County Mental Health Consortium members deserve recognition and a whole lot of gratitude for their hard work and for their progress.

I am concerned that the erroneous reprint of this letter will slight the many people that have toiled to improve the condition of children with emotional problems and their families. Please ask your readers to thank anyone they know who is working for the benefit of severely emotionally disturbed or mentally ill children — especially the administrators, psychiatrists and staff of the new children’s psychiatric unit at Mission/St. Joseph’s, and anyone who has worked to help resolve our children’s mental-health crisis through the Buncombe County Mental Health Consortium. All of these people deserve our gratitude and support for their willingness to begin the task of tackling a monumental problem.

— Diane Bauknight
Fairview

Let’s relax about genetically modified food

With the controversy surrounding the genetically modified corn that found its way into Taco Bell food, I waited to see what the excitement was about. Certainly some illnesses — or, worse yet, a death or two — would be reported. But no, the anxiety continued to build, farmers found their entire crop suspect, Taco Bell withdrew its corn supply — but still no illnesses. Not even a high temperature?

So far, I must have missed the key news as to how this genetically engineered corn was bad. Livestock sick? I must have missed it. People sick? Couldn’t find it.

What has me beginning to wonder is the whereabouts of the burden of proof we normally expect from the accuser(s).

If there is none, are we merely being treated to another health hoax, like the Alar scare a few years ago that hurt the apple producers unnecessarily, but had no health-related basis?

We have been happily consuming genetically modified food for years. A favorite of mine is the various varieties of white sweet corn, but I’ve yet to hear of the dreaded threat to health these hybrids pose. To name the many popular foods we now consume that are genetically changed by man into something different than “natural” would take more space than permissible. All by herself, nature has arranged that some plants hybridize naturally, creating new forms all the time.

I have no quarrel with the health-food disciples, but when a neurosis gets out of control and begins to harm the farmer, we should all take a deep breath — and maybe relax a little.

— Allen Thomas
Asheville

Holder didn’t support CP&L settlement offer

I would like to submit a point of clarification. In your Dec. 6 article regarding settlements and the WNC Regional Air Quality Agency [“Settling the settlement question”], it was stated that I supported a settlement offer from Carolina Power & Light. This is incorrect. What I supported — as I thought I had adequately explained to reporter Steve Rasmussen — was a public discussion by the board for the purpose of deciding what our policy should be regarding the entertainment of settlement offers, since we had no procedure for such on the books. At no time did I support a specific settlement proposal on behalf of any industry.

The necessary policy discussion has finally taken place (on Nov. 13, 2000) and we now have a written policy regarding settlements, which was correctly outlined in the article. Further, Steve did his usual good job of elaborating on his subject, explaining the status of settlements in the context of environmental regulation elsewhere. I personally appreciate Steve’s continued fairness and sense of responsibility in the coverage he provides of our board and agency, and the consistency Xpress provides in offering this information to the public.

— Nelda Holder
Asheville

USDA/AKC complicit in horror of puppy mills

I am glad that Jamie Feingold wrote about the horror of puppy mills in her letter [that appeared in Xpress on] Nov. 15. Earlier this year, the TV show Dateline did a story on puppy mills and the deplorable conditions. They also exposed the complicity of the United States Department of Agriculture and the American Kennel Club in perpetuating the situation.

The USDA simply looks the other way and rarely enforces the Animal Welfare Act. Why is this the case? As usual, it is all about money. Puppy mills are big business, and they produce what is considered to be an agricultural product. The mission of the USDA is to promote agriculture. The Doris Day Animal League is currently suing the USDA because they have failed to stop cruel and inhumane practices at puppy mills. You can check this out on the Web at www.ddal.org.

The AKC’s complicity is particularly despicable. The AKC is in the business of registering dogs. They register hundreds of thousands of dogs every year, and much of that business comes from puppy mills. By registering puppy-mill animals, the AKC increases the value of the puppies and makes the puppy mills more profitable. The registration papers are not in any way an indication of the animal’s quality and not even proof of the animal’s breed. As shown in the Dateline expose, papers are sometimes used from dead dogs to register mixed-breed animals. AKC papers are easily falsified, since they are based solely on the breeder’s word.

According to the International Society for Animal Rights, former AKC inspectors confess that the organization is a sham. On Dec. 31, 1995, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Rona Farley — an AKC inspector from 1991 to 1995 — estimated that 90 percent of the breeders she inspected failed to meet AKC record-keeping requirements. Sharon Reed — an AKC investigator from 1986 to 1991– also referred to fraudulent records and declared, “AKC registration is worthless.”

So what is a person to do? Never, ever buy animals from a pet store or a breeder. Animal shelters are overflowing with animals and must kill millions annually. And a large percentage of those animals are purebred. You can also get purebred animals from breed-rescue groups. The best animals are mixed breeds, which are less prone to genetic diseases from inbreeding. The concept of breeding animals to our specifications for prestige and to satisfy human needs is quite twisted, as are dog shows. But that is a whole other subject.

If you would like to see the Dateline video, please contact me at 298-4647.

— Terri David
Asheville

Where have all the mailboxes gone?

I am curious. The mailbox at Watauga Street and Montford Avenue has disappeared. The mailbox on upper Charlotte Street has disappeared. I hear from friends that this is happening all over town. I am wondering … in these days when air pollution is at the top of the Asheville agenda, we — who previously could walk a block or two to mail a letter — must now get into our cars and drive to a central post office. I would like to know why.

— Peggy Seeger
Asheville

“Fortunate” is relative

Today I heard television and news personalities, business owners, city and county officials, and professionals talk about “those less fortunate than ourselves.” I would like for those fortunate people to define “those less fortunate than ourselves.” Maybe those less fortunate have a happy, loving and caring family life. Maybe they apply Christian values, morals, ethics and character to their lifestyle daily, while those fortunate do not. What class is less fortunate? The perception in Western North Carolina is that business owners are unrepentant Ebeneezer Scrooges (paraphrased). It may be that, in the sight of heaven, the “fortunate” are more worthless and less fit to live than the millions like “those less fortunate than ourselves.” To livable wages being paid in WNC: Bah-humbug!

— Jim Inman
Asheville

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