Letters to the Editor

Week of Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Smoking KRONic

Local snooze-cast:Ron Russell's KRON story ["KRON's Last Gasp," April 12] was interesting but it still doesn't get to the heart of the problem.

The 9 p.m. newscast, which used to be a solid hour of news, has sunk to a new low as "Gary's Hour." It was bad enough when Wendy Tokuda and Pam Moore used to giggle over serious news stories and fumble their words throughout the broadcast.

Now Gary "Can't Shut Me Up" Radnich comments on celebrity break-ups, all sorts of trivial non-stories, and, when he gets a minute, sports events. I clock him at three or more appearances during the hour; he's occupying large segments of time.

The owners/managers disparage their audience with the worst news hour broadcast I can remember in my 35 years in San Francisco. Bring back Evan White!

Until that happens, I'm watching the 10 o'clock news on Channel 2 (along with all my friends).

Nancy DeStefanis
San Francisco

A sister in the Brotherhood speaks out: The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers consists of camera operators, not "cameramen," as Russell wrote. I am a member of IBEW and I am not a man. There are several women photographers in this market and this kind of mistake is sloppy and unacceptable.

Lisa Goldberg
San Francisco

A Tale of Two Moms

Shades of grief:I was saddened by Matt Smith's telling of the Woo tragedy [April 12], but also by his use of the Lashaun Harris case as its introduction. While he apparently found little need to weave these morbid threads together but minimally, it was impossible for me not to wonder if Harris would be the media's pariah had she a Subaru Outback parked at her Ingleside home in which to murder her children by portable grill. While any story of this sort is horrific and unimaginable, I'm sad that Smith appeared to have used the drama and fire around Harris simply as a foil to this sanitized, or as he says, "prosaic," example of infanticide in our increasingly sanitary and whitewashed city.

One wonders if the mother and children had been pretty tow-headed blondes from Pacific Whites, what the media response would be? Maybe a lush cover story instead of a short opinion piece? Is it too much to hope that we can learn to understand each other (and I mean every other) a little bit better so that we don't need to find out?

Mikal O'Neil
San Francisco

Downsizing the World's Oldest Profession

Thanks, but no thanks:Though I believe the initiative put forth by the Erotic Services Providers Union ["Too Sexy for Their Social Services," April 9] was poorly written, I do think they are dead on in what needs to be done.

The problem is not with programs offered to help women trying to escape prostitution or men trying to overcome sexual compulsions. The problem is the harm that befalls sex workers under the guise of helping them.

Let's start with the first-time offenders program, which is basically a way of shaking down men who speak to decoys for extortion money. Does anyone actually believe that it deters sexual predators or violent criminals from attacking prostitutes? Of course it doesn't. What it does is scare off the good guys, whose lives would be ruined by having a police record; some of whom are guilty of nothing more than trying to help out what appeared to be a downtrodden young woman in a dangerous part of town. They'll sign away their rights and cough up $1,000 to attend "john school" to avoid getting arrested and fighting it in court.

Not all sex workers want to be helped out of the business, and all these organizations that claim to be acting in our own best interest are patently offensive. We risk so much in terms of stigma and incrimination trying to make our voices heard, only to be trampled on by abolitionists armed with vague, heart-tugging stories and ridiculously over-blown, unsupported statistics. Thanks to the Bush Administration's contingent, AIDS funding and the threat of sanctions against countries that don't crack down on prostitution, many South Korean sex workers have lost their livelihood. Thousands of prostitutes took to the streets of Seoul staging mass protests and going on hunger strikes to fight the laws enacted against them thanks to the efforts of groups such as the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.

[Human trafficking] is how so many South Korean sex workers came to be working in San Francisco's massage parlors. The desperate state of poverty they found themselves in led to the huge debt bondage they took on to be smuggled to our fair city. The offensively named "Operation Gilded Cage" has led to the deportation of most of the women, with a dozen or so material witnesses being kept here for the duration of the trials.

As long as prostitution is criminalized, sex workers will face abuse with little or no recourse. When women like Melissa Farley fought so vehemently against Measure Q in Berkeley, it became clear that [the city] hated prostitution much more than [it] cared about prostitutes. At least Norma Hotaling will acknowledge that some women choose sex work and don't want to be rescued. Unfortunately, she ignores us and our rights in her unrelenting crusade. Until she starts listening, the city and county of San Francisco should stop funding her efforts. It's not like the money she gets from the Feds, Christian Right groups, and Oprah isn't enough to fund her abolitionist movement.

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