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Originally published February 21, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified February 27, 2008 at 12:49 PM

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Letters to the editor

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

Just talk

When speech is sticks and stones in the wrong hands

Editor, The Times:

Regarding the tragedy of last week's school shooting in Oxnard, Calif., where Lawrence King, 15, was allegedly executed [by an eighth-grade, 14-year-old boy] for being openly gay ["School shooting in Calif. called a hate crime," Times, Nation Digest, Feb. 15]: Now is the time for all schools to step up and make sure all students are safe.

The recent incident at Mount Si High School, where the Rev. Ken Hutcherson spoke at its MLK assembly, is an example of a school administration's failure to ensure the safety of all students ["Reaction to minister causes headaches for school-district officials," Local News, Feb. 9]. Endorsing a speaker who is famous for his very public anti-gay activism creates a climate for the possibility of violence against gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual youth.

A child has died in California for being openly gay at school. It's time to act now in our own state, in our own community, in our own schools, to make sure this type of tragedy doesn't happen here. Schools must be proactive with students regarding zero tolerance for verbal and physical harassment, and must create a climate where all students feel welcome, safe, respected and valued.

This is not a "homosexual agenda" — it is common sense.

— Meagan Elliot, Duvall

Bleak like me

According to Dr. Daudi Abe ["Racial slurs in the public square," guest commentary, Feb. 19], the appropriation of the "N"-word by minority youth has become "a term of endearment, representing power and meaning," and serves as a "deconstruction of the artificial social barriers put up by previous generations." I must respectfully disagree.

Last summer on a Metro bus, I had to endure a conversation between two young black males that was liberally salted with the "N"-word and various standard obscenities. It did not seem to me that this conversation "empowered" those young men in any positive sense. The power to be crude and offensive is ultimately self-destructive.

Nor did I sense that any social barriers were being "deconstructed." On the contrary, those barriers were being perpetuated and reinforced. The only things that were being deconstructed were the lives of those young men.

Their hip-hop lifestyle might give them a fleeting sense of superiority over outsiders, but it is a sad illusion. At the end of the day, they will find themselves marginalized and unprepared for life in the real world. That is nothing to celebrate.

— Steve Triesch, Shoreline

So much white noise

I am so grateful for "A savage blow, fueled by hate, and no one steps forward" [guest commentary, Feb. 5] that John C. Hughes wrote about his nephew, Kyle Deschler.

For white people to be placed, out of love for their children, in the unique bird's-eye view of white privilege and white hatred is a startling event for many of us. Hughes summarized years of what I've been through with my not-all-white children, and he did it exceptionally well. "Of all the things I hate, I hate hatred the most" is a line I shall never forget.

I'm praying for Hughes' nephew — he sounds like such a wonderful man — and for his family. Although it is possible that he wasn't injured by someone of my racial group (white), I am sure the vast majority of the most hurtful things done to Kyle all have been done by my people. I am deeply sorry, and I regret it. You don't deserve this.

But I am mightily proud of Hughes' words, and inspired by the lives his family have all led. There is a new day coming — perhaps it is closer than we realize — when all our children are equally loved and respected. And I am glad to know John Hughes, as someone who has surely done his part.

— Sue Taylor, M.D., Seattle

To kill a mocking word

How disturbing to learn several jurors in a recent Spokane trial uttered ethnically biased slurs about the defense attorney in the case, while deliberating behind closed doors ["Jurors' name-calling prompts new trial," Local News, Jan. 27].

Thanks to the courage of two jurors who came forward and brought the nasty name-calling to light, the judge in the case ordered a new trial. Judge Robert D. Austin has sent a clear message regarding standards of respect due every individual.

It is reassuring to note that, although justice may be blind, she does not turn a deaf ear to bigotry in the jury room.

— Hilary G. Bernstein, interim regional director, Anti-Defamation League, Pacific Northwest region, Seattle

Just listen

Do you hear yourselves?

Does The Times really, truly think President Bush is listening to my conversation with my mom about her recent vacation? What about my conversation with my dad about how bad the Huskies are? Oh, I know, he must be listening to me when I'm talking to my sister about personal problems! That's the juicy stuff! ["Uncle Sam is listening," editorial, Feb. 15. ]

Get real, folks! He, and no one he gives orders to, is listening because I don't talk to terrorists. He may, however, listen if he finds that I'm placing calls to extreme Islamics.

I can guarantee that if we hadn't done any wiretapping, there would have been more attacks. I know how you leftists think: "If we just leave them alone, then we'll be all right."

I say this to you fine folks: "Sept. 11, 2001." That is what all of this is about. That is what President Bush has taken as his priority to prevent from happening again. He's done one hell of a job of that.

This wiretapping is essential to the fight against terror. Even a Democratic Congress knows that. So just remember, don't talk to terrorists, and Uncle Sam won't be listening!

— Matt Miller, North Bend

An intelligent conversion

Did anyone pay attention to the 9/11 report? It simply repeated we had all the intelligence needed to prevent the attack. What we didn't have was the organization and cooperation needed to identify and make use of the data.

Yet, this administration insists we need to flood the intelligence community with unlimited access to personal data on all American citizens. Not one thing has been done to better use existing intelligence, besides creating the process-heavy, politically compromised and eerily named Homeland Security Department. Hurricane Katrina was only one of the more blatant demonstrations of how well this super agency has performed.

I ask what possible reason Dubya could have for making intelligence evaluation even harder, and I can think of nothing except strengthening the apparent Republican goal of switching the traditional American role of government — to make us serve the bureaucracy and be easily controlled in every aspect by their Big Brother dream of government.

— Scott Maddock, Redmond

Gist lost

What's English for alienated?

People who support United States' multilingualism forget a most important point: If American citizens are not fluent in English, how can they monitor their government?

We must not rely on translators. Citizens must be fluent in English to monitor their elected government representatives effectively. I, for one, do not want to rely on translators to keep tabs on the "scoundrels in office."

— Molly McMurray, Seattle

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