Letters to the Editor - December 30 2004

In support of 'Trapped'
?We applaud Creative Loafing for its effort to educate the public on the importance of this issue ("Trapped," Dec. 16) and the inherent challenges in realizing the vision of the Olmstead ruling. As CL points out, this is no easy task for Georgia or any other state.

We agree with CL that effective implementation of this ruling requires a shared vision and participation of the entire community — the Department of Human Resources and the private sector, service providers, advocates and families, as well as the education and faith communities. In addition, the media must continue to do its part to understand the issues, educate the public and ask tough questions.

Moreover, while many persons with mental and physical disabilities want to be placed in communities, what they most desire is to live in communities. When we speak with consumers, what they say is "yes," they want to have services near their homes, but they also want to be accepted by their communities. Much work needs to be done in this area and communities must be ready and willing.

As the DHR continues to provide community-based services, we invite all of Georgia to participate in creating a community that says to persons who may look and act differently, "We are glad to be your neighbor."

A collective effort is the most honest answer to this issue.

-- Gwendolyn S. Skinner,

director, division of mental health, developmental disabilities and addictive diseases, Georgia Department of Human Resources

br>?Tarnished legacy
As an African-American, I am especially disappointed that so many members of my race joined Eddie Long in his sanctimonious crusade to deny equal rights to gay couples (Scene & Herd, "Discriminatee to discriminator," Dec. 16). Just a few decades ago, a huge portion of Americans would vehemently object to the extension of basic human rights to blacks. Therefore, our people ought to oppose the campaign against equal rights for gays, not promote it.

The commencement of Long's march from the King Center and the participation of the Rev. Martin Luther King's daughter were totally inappropriate. If King were alive today, he most certainly would not support discrimination, a scourge that he detested. Instead, he would probably devote his efforts to bringing an immediate end to the senseless war in Iraq. Shame on Long for attempting to steal the legacy of this noble champion for equality and nonviolence for his own depraved purposes.

-- D. William Durr, Lithonia

br>?God loves evolution
In response to the author of the letter titled "On their own time" (Dec. 23), it may come as a shock that there are many people who find no conflict with being a Christian and believing in the theory of evolution. In fact, I believe that only God could have created something as perfect as evolution, giving life itself the "free will" to decide the path best able to aid it to survive.

How can people be so blind as to not see that evolution is all around us — when a child is born with traits of both parents, that's evolution; when elephants start being born tuskless because the only elephants left untouched by poachers are the tuskless ones, that's evolution; when humans from areas adjacent to the equator have dark skin while humans from cold climates have light skin, that's evolution. My question is — why is it so hard to believe that God created evolution? I hope it's not because of what humans wrote in a book 2004 years ago.

Do you listen to what God tells you or to what your church tells you, and can you tell the difference? Don't be so blinded by the rhetoric of the church that you can't see the truth when it's right in front of you, or know when the church is conflicting with God (such as when the church told Christians during the Crusades that it was OK to kill their follow man in the name of Christianity). And remember that it was Jesus who empowered the people by telling them that they could talk to God directly any time they wanted to through prayer, thereby avoiding the go-between of the church (which required money if you wanted them to talk to God for you).

-- Tina Lee, Atlanta