Letters to the Editor - Double standards January 01 2004

Police pointing guns at children as they lay face down on the floor is what we expect to see in propaganda films about the Gestapo of WWII, not in the halls of our own schools (News & Views “Pre-emptive Strike Hits High Schools”, Nov. 20th). I’m glad former Congressman Bob Barr finds this image “deeply disturbing” But Mr. Barr still doesn’t realize it was his drug prohibitionist zealotry in the US House that led inexorably to such horrifying incidents as the raid on Stratford High School in Goose Creek, S.C.

Barr decries the raid on students as an “overreaction.” Yet he was Congress’ most ardent drug warrior and chief proponent of sending armies of armed agents to raid medical marijuana clinics in California. The clinics, legal under state law, were victims of the same SWAT team tactics as seen at Stratford High. In one raid on a hospice, police pointed weapons at an elderly invalid, shouting at her to get out of bed with her hands up, while she vainly tried to explain her paraplegia would not allow her to do so.

Where is the dividing line between a drug raid on the terminally ill, which Congressman Barr stridently supported, and a drug raid on equally terrified students, which Mr. Barr condemns?

Americans have easy access to illegal drugs in a huge, violent, uncontrolled black market that no amount of prohibition can ever wipe out. As a Libertarian, I believe in legalization and a move to the inherent regulation of the free market as the best way to ameliorate our drug problems. But while we have a war on drugs, what sense does it make to target the least powerful among us? Can’t we at least take our children and students, and the sick and dying off the battlefield?

-- Ron Crickenberger, Falls Church, Va.

br>?The other drug problem
While I agree with Bob Barr’s outrage over the recent police raid on a school with guns drawn, (News & Views “Pre-emptive Strike Hits High Schools,” Nov. 20) I wonder why more Georgians aren’t equally outraged over the huge number of students forced to take legal drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta. With guns drawn at Stratford High, one remembers all too well the horror of school shootings. Are CL readers aware that at least 7 of the last 12 schoolshooters were on a least one psychotropic drug or powerful SSRI antidepressant? You have to wonder why most folks in the media like to shy away from the fact these legal drugs often play a role a lot bigger than the guns themselves in school shootings and other school problems. It’s sad students from the pre-K years all the way up to high school are used to seeing mega drama at their schools. God knows they don’t need government grief counselors to turn their frowns into smiles. What they really need is to be treated with respect by authorities. And weaned off the dangerous legal drugs school officials and other adults seem to not mind them being on. Our public schools have indeed become something of a jungle.

--Tony Zizza, Douglasville

Fixing the sewers has always been about the money. There wasn’t any money under Maynard Jackson, either. The city was in economic decline, nobody wanted to raise fees or taxes to hasten that decline. Nobody wanted to scare development off with impact fees because there was little or no new building. Jackson was very much for minority inclusion and affirmative action hiring at City Hall. Much to his credit, it needed to be done at the time.

Like many environmental initiatives, concern about the combined sewers started with a few shrill activists who didn’t get much attention at City Hall. Jackson and Andrew Young didn’t hike, camp or float down the river, and neither did their constituents. Pollution of the Chattahoochee isn’t necessarily on your radar screen if you’re battling other demons like racial discrimination, poverty, etc.

We can’t save Atlanta environmentally by killing it economically. When you can’t get the dope house closed down up the street, when the house next door is vacant and crackheads have taken it over, and the city says there is no money for enough cops or housing code enforcement, you don’t want to blow your last dime on cleaning up a polluted river on the other side of town so somebody in La Grange can go rafting. At some point, environmentalism can be more about saving the fish than the people, and at that point it has gone too far. Maybe we’re at that point with this court consent decree. I will no longer give anything to Greenpeace, Riverkeeper or any other environmental cause. Let’s get some federal funding in here over this whole project or lets do what we can to put it off until it can be arranged. If the rural Republicans downstream don’t want to help pay for it, let them drink bottled water. They surely wouldn’t triple water bills in La Grange or West Point for us.

-- Jim Gingles, Atlanta

br>?More on Boortz
Well said, John Sugg. The day the news came out about Neal Boortz’s invitation to the convention, I began firing off emails to the national Libertarian Party members. It is my concern that Neal Boortz is absolutely NOT the face non-Libertarians want to be associated with. Hell’s bells, most people already think we’re an offshoot of Lyndon LaRouche. I’ve found that Boortz provides the same reason to listen that Rush does. About an hour convinces and/or reconfirms one’s core Libertarian beliefs, as Boortz rarely presents a convincing argument. Thank you again for a well-written article. We need more that will simply tell the truth. Those that are offended, well, they’re just going to have to be offended. Get over it. What a great plug for true Libertarians.

-- P.M. Franklin, Ft. Myers, FL

br>?A true happy hour
I cannot express enough my relief that bars in Atlanta will now be forced to close at 3 a.m. It’s about time that the city recognized that it’s during the hours of 4-5 a.m. that drunken violence is most likely to occur. As a resident of Virginia-Highland, I make it a point to be safe in my home by 3 a.m. since I witnessed a fatal shooting on the corner of Virginia-Highland at 4:30 am. That was over 13 years ago, and since that time I have not been out past 3 a.m. and, as a result, have not witnessed a shooting since.

Critics may say that the violence problem is specific to Buckhead and that violence will now just take place earlier. Still, you can’t be too safe. Some have even suggested that customers will now drink more booze earlier and not take the time to sober up before driving home. What they don’t realize is that it’s not people’s behavior nor an inadequate security issue nor the fact that people are permitted to bring handguns into bars; but it is that the hour between 4 and 5 a.m. has a certain intangible power to it that edges people toward violence. I have even felt its dark pressure myself from time to time.

-- John Robinson, Atlanta