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Originally published Tuesday, August 30, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Letters to the editor

A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.

Last rides

Reserve law for the higher plane of public safety

Editor, The Times:

Why do we even consider allowing motorcycle escort services to use emergency equipment (red lights, etc.) in a nonemergency? ["Kerlikowske halts escorts for funeral processions," Times page one, Aug. 26, and "A dignified procession," editorial, Aug. 27].

The mourners in a funeral procession, as your editorial states, "... would like to ease the ride from funeral home or house of worship to the cemetery." In today's traffic conditions, this is simply too dangerous and unacceptable.

If you have ever observed these amateur escort riders, in faux police uniforms, race down the line of cars in a procession at breakneck speeds, leapfrogging at each intersection, it must surely give you pause. It makes me cringe, not only for their safety, but for everyone on the roadway and sidewalks.

I recognize that, historically, funeral processions have been accepted as an entourage of grief and part of our culture. However, in today's congested traffic conditions, we should realize it is past time to put public safety first.

There must be other ways of getting mourners to the interment site without jeopardizing the living.

— James Laing, Seattle

Ponder the journey

The Seattle Police Department should reconsider its decision and work with clergy and funeral-related businesses to find some solution that will allow the age-old tradition of the funeral procession to continue.

The procession of cars from a funeral service to a cemetery puts before the public in a dignified way the stark fact that a fellow human being has died and helps to reduce that psychic distance we are so often prone to put between "them" and "us."

By acknowledging the power of death, we acknowledge the value of life.

In our hectic, always-on-the-go, daily lives, it can be frustrating to sit at an intersection for several minutes while a funeral procession passes, especially if we are running late.

But, in an age when grandma no longer dies at home and is laid out in the front parlor, we may have distanced ourselves so much from the end of life that we rarely stop to think of the beauty of our surroundings or our relationships with family and friends.

We need more, not fewer, opportunities to remember these things.

— Betty Ruddy, Mercer Island

Coming home

Don't wait until dark

That the Seattle Police dispute the claim that an officer failed to intervene in the horrible assault on two Iraq veterans in the streets of Pioneer Square comes as no surprise ["Police dispute claim that officer saw brawl," Local News, Aug. 27].

Department spokesperson Debra Brown noted there were no officers in the vicinity at the time of the attack.

No officers? Think this through: It's a hot Saturday night in Pioneer Square. It's 2:30 in the morning and over a thousand boozed-up revelers are letting out of the nightclubs. One of the clubs has had shots fired outside the past two Saturdays. One of the nightclub's hip-hop format draws a crowd prone to violence. No officers.

The Seattle Police Department must move beyond its reactionary and periodic announcements of "emphasis teams." Seattle is a big city and we need a strategic plan to deploy officers routinely and consistently in the battle against street crime. More important, those officers will need the support of the mayor and City Council.

It is time our political leadership recognize that "police accountability" ought to be concerned with protecting the society from bad people, rather than protecting felons from the police.

— Chris Martin, Seattle

Light a fire

I may have missed some of the coverage of the beating two U.S. Marines suffered in Pioneer Square. Is anyone else outraged by the seeming lack of support for these two men? Does anyone else want to contribute to a fund to offset their expenses? Does anyone else want to contribute to a reward toward the identification and prosecution of those responsible?

Why hasn't there been an uproar about this atrocity? Please tell me I just missed the compassionate and humane response Seattle showed for these Marines, and the cry for justice for those responsible.

— Robert Rockwell, Yakima

Bad reception

Our antenna's bent

I'm glad TV networks and others are standing up to so-called "watchdog groups" and their ideas that TV needs to be sanitized. Groups of that nature tend to cause more harm than good. ["Networks prepare to take on parents in showdown over TV programming," News, Aug. 25.]

Perhaps the best case in point is what's become of TV during the after-school period between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Several years ago, most stations aired programs that were at least kid-friendly because so many latchkey children were home alone. Then, parent and government groups decided that all children's programming had to have a certain educational content. Shows of that nature are not always well-received and the result is what we have now.

A quick sweep down broadcast channels today shows only one station running children's programming in that time slot (not counting PBS). While some stations still show kid-friendly sitcoms during that time, the majority show so-called reality court dramas like "Judge Judy" and others.

Honestly, were "Tom & Jerry" or "Scooby Doo" so bad for our children that replacing them with idiots arguing about their spouses sleeping with their brothers was an upgrade?

— Devin Cox, Seattle

His empty screed

I wonder if TV Watch will report to the FCC the reprehensible comments Pat Robertson (founding member of the Christian Coalition) made on his TV show, the "700 Club," in reference to assassinating Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez?

I find Mr. Robertson's comments more offensive than what I've seen lately on MTV.

— Hugh Gerrard, Bothell

Essene on TV

Why of the hurricane

Is it possible that Monday's devastating hurricane in New Orleans is God's way of telling us that we should get out of Iraq?

After all, many of the National Guard men and women who could have assisted during the hurricane are in Iraq and, according to news reports, Hurricane Katrina is going to drive the price of oil through the roof, since about 25 percent of our oil supply is processed through New Orleans ["Katrina could push gas prices higher," page one, Aug. 29].

I wonder if Pat Robertson would agree.

— Gary Negley, Mill Creek

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