Letters

Billy to George: I Am Not an Ignorant Ass!
Though I didn't know her, I was deeply upset by the death of the bicyclist at 24th and Valencia, near where I work ("The Politics of Arrogance," Cothran, Sept. 9). When I went to the vigil, along with candles I took some little cards promoting Dutch-style dedicated urban bikeways, separate bike "roads" paralleling major city streets and sidewalks. I used to live in bicycle-friendly Holland, where such bikeways are common and well-loved; Rebecca Kresse might well be alive today if we'd had them. After lighting candles around the power pole where various messages were being left, I put a few of the cards under a rope wrapped around the pole. They did not cover up any other messages.

Along comes SF Weekly's George Cothran, takes one of these cards, lumps me together in his mind with people pasting rhetoric over memorial messages, never attempts to contact me, prints my name, phone number, and e-mail address in his column, and asks his readers to "contact Billy and tell him what an incredibly inappropriate and ignorant ass he is."

So far, three obnoxious men have responded anonymously to his incitement, two leaving somewhat threatening messages and one shaming me for callously promoting my "business." (Reality: The project is a labor of love. I donate my own time and money to promote dedicated urban bikeways for safer bicycling; a Web site will be up soon.)

Was it inappropriate to distribute the cards at the vigil? Maybe, maybe not. At best, Cothran way overreacted. At worst -- well, I'd rather not reciprocate his insults, but having experienced firsthand his apparent love of vitriolic cheap shots, I will take with a mountain of salt anything of his that I might accidentally read in the future. I suggest that his readers do so, too -- especially those inclined to pick up the phone to insult on command someone that Cothran doesn't have the guts or decency to contact himself.

Billy Ray Boyd
Via Internet

Apologies All Round
I was sad to see your columnist, George Cothran, lash out against those who gathered together in the wake of the tragic loss of a fellow cyclist ("The Politics of Arrogance," Cothran).

Cothran rails against the "unredeemable jerk" with a camera (me) for documenting yet another memorial. He derides the chalk-inscribed well-wishes, decorations, and art which blossomed all over that street corner as being "graffiti," although such offerings are legal, and he further attacks the one which stated simply, "Cars kill everything," totally insensitive to the truth of that statement and the pain from whence it springs.

I'd like to sincerely offer my heartfelt apologies to whomever was upset by our diverse and unrehearsed presence, although I don't know at all how to have done it differently. If we seemed callous at times, perhaps it is because we have been through this too many times already. But I think that if an apology is to be bestowed, Cothran owes us the larger one.

Jason Meggs
Via Internet

Guns Don't Kill Pigs. People Kill Pigs.
It is appalling that in a climate increasingly wracked by violence, much of it gun-related, SF Weekly would print a piece on killing for fun ("How to Stalk, Kill, and Cook a California Wild Pig," Sept. 2).

Surely, of the small percentage (estimated at 7 percent) of Americans who indulge in this so-called sport, extremely few live in the Bay Area. It is unfortunate that your seemingly progressive paper should have pandered to a tiny minority of individuals who take pleasure in aiming a weapon at a living creature in flight for its life. Such killers derive thrills from annihilating beings that are possessed of as many senses, including those of fear and pain, as we have.

The California office of the Fund for Animals is much in opposition to such an activity, which we regard as cruel. We suspect many of your enlightened readers are repulsed as well, if indeed they remain readers of a publication that pushes perversions in which they have no interest.

Virginia Handley, California Coordinator
The Fund for Animals Inc.
San Francisco

Gross, Stupid, and Cruel
"Unless I become a vegetarian," Thomas McGuane is quoted, "I'll get my meat by hunting for it" ("How to Stalk, Kill, and Cook a California Wild Pig"). I stood at that crossroads 32 years ago, but framed it oppositely: If I was no longer willing to stalk and kill, then I should become vegetarian.

You see, I was raised with the hunt. We killed for meat, and we killed for sport. While the hunt was exciting, the actual killing disturbed me. I learned that every creature values her or his life as much as I do mine, and that for me to cause unnecessary suffering or death was to do violence to something precious within me.

Both wildness and compassion are important expressions of who we are. If we try, we can find ways to touch our wildness that allow us to remain true to the voice within not to hurt, violate, dominate, or kill.

The wild pig hunt described in this article illustrates well the astounding capacity of the human mind to rationalize and even idealize that which is gross, stupid, and cruel.

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