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Letters to the Editor 

Letters from February 28, 2001

Size Matters

Hey, we don't write 'em, we just print 'em. Up front. Where everyone can see.: Each week I pick up copies of both SF Weekly and the Bay Guardian and immediately turn to the back to see how many pages each contains. When the Weekly bests, or at least ties, the Guardian in page count, my spirits are lifted.

A brilliant woman I used to know had a memorable comment about this odd habit: "It doesn't appear that your mind is overly preoccupied." Indeed. Why I should be concerned with a statistic that should be of primary importance only to your assistant cost accountant rather baffles me.

I suppose it's because the Guardian strikes me as a classic example of the cognitive dissonance that afflicts a certain class of San Franciscan. The primary advertisers in its initial pages are health clubs, supposedly frequented by the upscale dot-commers the Guardian otherwise doesn't have much use for. The accompanying editorial content, however, mostly concerns "progressive" causes, some of which were dead before many of its readers were born.

The Weekly also sometimes shows signs of this confusion. But overall, I get the sense you recognize that each individual in San Francisco is exactly that, someone who can be both politically correct and incorrect, both believer and agnostic, intermittently or even in the same breath. In that, it seems to recognize all of the possibilities of San Franciscans. For that, you should be rewarded with the incremental revenue and margin expansion that a higher page count brings.

Bob Schneider
Richmond District

Sticks and Stoners

We took journalism, but we didn't inhale: Matt Smith's Feb. 14 message to medical pot users ("Smoke and Smearers") was as far removed from the spirit of St. Valentine as could be. It must have been severe indigestion indeed that prompted the nasty spew he directed at what he calls "the doobied classes," against whom he (unnecessarily) admits to having a prejudice.

Smith has two apparent goals: One is to defend the honor, integrity, and employment of embattled Marin DA Paula Kamena, who is facing a recall election in May. He presents Kamena as a prosecutorial St. Joan, simply intent on protecting Marin citizens against the evils of medical pot, which Smith assures us is "a bale of hokum meant to give drug profiteers broader reign."

He also wants to heap scorn on medical marijuana proponents: dangerous people, whose mere exercise of constitutional rights menaces "the fundaments of egalitarianism and democracy."

Stripped of Smith's pompous rhetoric, the nexus of his and Kamena's error is that the law they disagree with was passed overwhelmingly in 1996; loosely written or not, it's on the books. It -- not federal law -- is the one Kamena is sworn and obligated by California to uphold, like it or not.

Smith has left out most of the facts in this case and distorted those he's included. Whatever his over-the-top essay represents, it's neither accurate reporting nor reasonable opinion; and it sure as hell isn't journalism.

In fact, it's exactly what his headline accused Kamena's opponents of conducting: It's a smear.

Tom O'Connell, M.D.
San Mateo

Tendentious? Effluvia? Excoriating? Try putting down the dictionary.: I have to say that this is the most tendentious pile of badly executed, ill-begotten, sophistic flotsam I have read in a long, long, long time (excepting, of course, the editorial page of the New York Times).

Do they actually pay you for such coprography? Unbelievable. Since you write for a commie rag, I have a feeling you are one of those puerile phonies who label themselves "progressive." But that is a pool of effluvia I will wade into at another time.

It's funny that you support people who refuse to uphold the law while excoriating (I realize that word is too big for you. Look it up. In the thick book. The one that says "Dictionary.") people who are working legally to accomplish their goals. Lenin and Stalin would be proud of you.

The simple fact is that the war on drugs is destroying liberty at home and entire nations abroad. Our police have become militarized, arrogant, and completely out of control. They despoil citizens of their property without trial. Our freedom is evaporating all around us. Whatever happened to real liberals? You rabidly lick your chops over the thought of pot smokers in prison. It won't stop there. When they come for you I hope you will remember the words of Martin Niemöller: "Then they came for me and ... there was no one left to speak up for me."

So, while you wallow in the hate-filled, mean-spirited muck that is your soul, I'm gonna light up a fatty of exotic, imported smoking material and enjoy myself.

Scott McCrea
Las Vegas, Nev.

Weed killers: Duuuuuuude, your article and viewpoint are so lame. In the sentence "Like other practitioners of the Politics of Base Urges -- gun nuts, death penalty advocates, etc.," you forgot the category to which you belong: journalists who try to sway others with absurdly misguided views. You are clearly trying to place pot smokers in the same category as violent, gun-wielding thugs (witness your Rambo illustration, bursting from a jungle of hemp, or the statement "armed-and-dangerous marijuana entrepreneurs"). Trying to scare readers into thinking that those who inhale the "acrid smoke" of ganja are destined to commit violent acts on society is stupid. Unless you are extremely ignorant, you may have noticed that people under the influence of marijuana are the most mellow, laid-back, and nonviolent folks you can find.

Have you ever considered demonizing the real drug that leads to the overwhelming number of roadway fatalities, violent crimes, and date rape? Perchance you have heard of this harmful but perfectly legal substance known as ... alcohol.

If what you say about Kamena acting as a fair official, allowing legitimate patients to possess medical marijuana, is true, then I agree she should not be recalled. However, to make your argument, you portray those who use ganja as stupid, lowlife losers bent on ruining society with lies and violence. The technique you use is a common trait with weak journalism. You have to resort to sensational exaggerations to make a point, instead of using facts, logic, and good writing skills to convince readers.

Chuck Dalehouse

High "crimes": Matt Smith's recent diatribe against marijuana users was an unnecessary bit of hatred directed against some people whose only "crime" is wanting to use a particular psychoactive substance. Characterizing marijuana users as teenagers "staring endlessly at a light bulb," or [people who] might often be "curled into a paranoid, catatonic ball," is nothing but hate.

If a DA is going after medical marijuana users -- who might be using the stuff legally -- then by all means the voters should give the DA the boot. Such a DA is only wasting the taxpayers' money, and increasing the likelihood for civil rights abuses and lawsuits.

It is tragic that Mr. Smith is too blinded by his hatred and prejudice against marijuana users to see the obvious point.

J.M. Kowalski, Ph.D.
Vancouver, Wash.

The pothead calling the kettle black: I'm trying to figure out whether "Smoke and Smearers" is serious journalism or just an attempt to get a rise out of the pathetic and hapless marijuana addicts who sit in their parents' basement, staring blankly at the Weekly, waiting for their next fix. Either way, this article is short on factual evidence and long on stereotyping and derogatory language. If this paper cost me anything, I would feel ripped off. If I wasn't so stoned, I would try to figure out how a victimless crime is analogous to the racist denial of civil liberties. Oh, well, I guess I'll go score some dope from my murderous marijuana entrepreneur.

Name Withheld

We thought it was irony till we saw "Va.": I read your story about those marijuana people who want to make that nice prosecutor lose her job, and I want to thank you. You are right, those marijuana people are bad people who should all die. Those marijuana people just want to make children have to take their drugs and then they will be bad people like them who should also die.

My father told me that more people voted for marijuana in California than voted for the president and they should all die. He said we should nuke 'em. He said that we should start by bombing San Francisco because that is where all the gay people run the marijuana business from. I am glad you are in California telling people the truth, but you should make sure you leave before the government bombs all the marijuana people.

Michael Krawitz
Ironto, Va.

Can he use you as a reference?: Simply put, Matt, you are one dumb, arrogant, prejudiced, misinformed m-f when it comes to medical marijuana and the potential recall of DAs who refuse to abide by Proposition 215. You need a job in Washington where your abilities can be put to their best use at the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Van E. Estes III
Hendersonville, N.C.

Funny. Would that it were true: I bet you get a lot of angry letters about this article, but they probably won't arrive for a month or two.

Michael Crowley


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