Letters to the Editor

Heavy Fire; The Same Old Story; Savage Attack

Heavy Fire

Weighing in on fat discrimination: How predictable that John Mecklin would rant against the city's historic and visionary guidelines on height- and weight-based discrimination (“Heavy Issues,” Mecklin, Sept. 5). After all, SF Weekly has a civic duty to heckle local politicians in a sophomoric and disingenuous manner; and if that heckling also belittles and discounts the concerns of a significant portion of the readership, hey, what could be better?

Mecklin doesn't want me, a fat chick, to “take this column as a rant against the obese — heavy folks are fine by me, really.” (And believe me, I'm grateful for his permission to continue living.) I also shouldn't mind when he rejects the validity of weight-based discrimination because he doesn't find it “significant” and because he thinks everyone could be thin if we just tried hard enough.

During hearings for the height/weight ordinance, dozens of people testified about their experiences with outrageous, humiliating, and life-limiting discrimination based on weight. That's why the city passed a law against it, not because it was even vaguely politically expedient. Mecklin refuses to mention the testimony of the woman who was told she was overqualified for a job but simply too fat for co-workers to look at, or the college student who couldn't complete her degree because the classroom chairs were too small. These stories evidently aren't significant. John Mecklin (and the Weekly) may not want to admit to being part of the problem, but they sure aren't part of a useful solution.

Marilyn Wann
FAT!SO? author
Western Addition

The Same Old Story

No anger left: At first I wanted to be outraged, incensed, and motivated by your article (“Bang, Bang, Bang … — You're Dead,” Matt Smith, Aug. 29, on the police shooting of Idriss Stelley). But as I read more and your words began to meld into the many other similar articles I have read, the only reaction I could conjure was a shrug. It's sad, yes. But as a black woman living in America I must be as painfully realistic as I am painfully aware of these situations. It's futile to be angered by the actions of those who do this so often that I would be a fool not to call it systematic, condoned, and expected. As much as I want to be moved, I'm not. I wait my turn, wait for one of the brothers whom I love so much to become victims. I don't expect seminars in understanding to change anything, any more than I expect for this terror to end. All I expect is for more journalists to tell me the same story again and again, the only difference being the names.

Senita de Veaux
Las Vegas, Nev.

Savage Attack

Potty animal: I am writing in response to Dan Savage's column about Seth Watkins (Aug. 29, on an HIV-positive AIDS prevention educator who said he sometimes had unprotected sex without informing his partner). I am amazed that you would print such vicious, cruel remarks about anyone. Calling Watkins names is totally poor journalism and disgusting to read. Savage should apologize for his potty mouth and quit attacking people.

Why are gay men with HIV who bareback or slip up attacked from within our community? It would appear that some of our gay journalists have joined the ranks of the right-wing religious bigots in using the same tactics to destroy people. The correct name for Dan is indeed his last name: Savage. Only a savage or brute has to resort to name-calling of this level. Dan, I'm ashamed that you're gay. If this can happen in San Francisco, I guess I'm glad I live in the Midwest.

Rodney Bell
Kansas City, Mo.

Larger issues: Savage is right, Watkins is no hero. In fact, his comments and actions are sad and frightening. Does it help to demonize him? I don't think so. Is he the enemy? I don't think so. Does the fact that he works in HIV prevention make him somehow special? I don't think so.

I believe his deeds speak to the reality that HIV education in this country is a miserable failure. Advertisements sell cars but not condom usage. The rise in STDs and new HIV cases speaks to this. All minorities, including gays, have rampant self-esteem, depression, and drug usage issues to deal with. The HIV educators are missing the boat. The ads out today, no matter how provocative, are not working! Gay men will not stop committing “hate crimes” against each other without investigating these and other issues.

Tim Miller
Lower Haight

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