Letters to the Editor

Week of 3-7-2007

The Last Laugh?

This is in response to Mr. Cohen's letter (“Black and White,” Letters, Feb. 28), wherein he attempts to trivialize the importance of the photos, saying the self-deprecating humor could not negate the “real discrimination” suffered by Sanders and others. It is obvious that Cohen totally missed the point, which makes we wonder how much he knows about his co-author's testimony and how humiliating it was for him in that courtroom.

I was the deputy city attorney who cross-examined Sanders in the Officers for Justice (OFJ) discrimination lawsuit. The self-deprecating humor was not what destroyed Sanders, it was the fact that he took the stand in a federal courtroom, swore to tell the truth, and then proceeded to lie under oath that he had never engaged in racial humor or horseplay and that he was forced to suffer in silence while his immature co-workers engaged in such conduct. Then came the photos — Sanders as a “spear chucker,” as a “witch doctor,” and as a blond wife in an interracial marriage with a “half-breed” baby.

I also want to point out one of the more outrageous things about the record that was not covered in your article. Sanders claimed that he was actively involved in the OFJ from its inception (1968). But at trial he admitted there was no evidence showing attendance at any OFJ meetings or participation in their events prior to 1977, and the most probative evidence on this point was that he was not a named plaintiff in the complaint, filed in 1973 — as were the truly active members of OFJ. Sanders became involved approximately 10 months before trial, because the OFJs needed a seasoned African-American witness and Sanders saw a chance for some front-page notoriety.

The statements that Sanders was important to the civil rights cause and was a “visionary” are ludicrous, and the people who were actually involved in the struggle should be outraged, because it diminishes the value of their contributions. As I see it, Earl Sanders is a self-centered opportunist and he is to the civil rights struggle what Rosie Ruiz is to the marathon or Al Gore is to the invention of the Internet.

Ken Harrington

San Francisco

No Internal Revenue

The privilege of working for free: I'd like to recommend that no one — student or non-student — should work without pay [“Must Work for Free,” Martin Kuz, Feb. 28]. Students need experience and money, not experience and credit. Among the many negative factors in not paying students to work as interns is the fact that it typically bars poorer students from taking such internships and, in so doing, gives an advantage to richer students who don't need to earn part or all of their income.

Betty Medsger, former chair, Department of Journalism, SFSU

New York, N.Y.

The drudge report: Thanks for writing about this dreadful situation. I'm a former journalism prof, and J-work for no pay is one of those dreadful trends that I used to warn my students about. In fact, our program was rare in that it insisted students take a paying internship, but we bent the rules often because it often seemed like the bigger, better pubs wanted you to work for free. Needless to say, there's a national story to be written on this as well.

Bill Sutley

Pine Mountain, Ga.

See ad at right: Being the newly minted journalism graduate I am, the thought of working for free, or for a Muni pass to the office for that matter, sounds like economic suicide more than it does personal ambition. If a corporate-owned publication can exploit you when you are a budding journalist willing to go to such lengths to get published, who is to say they won't do the same or worse when you get hired as staff? Besides, last I heard newspapers in particular are melting faster than glaciers are from global warming.

If the media industry is really concerned about first-class reporting (in other words, saving their hide in the marketplace) and recruiting young and talented journalists, it should attract them with fair pay. A young journalist who's willing to bust their ass for free or near-free has me questioning their smarts, and I'm concerned that these are the same people that are supposed to be the watchdog of government.

Now that I have got that virus out of my bloodstream, I am looking for a job. I won't work for free, but I will break the stories that you want. Better hurry up, though, the economic selfishness and recklessnesses of the print-media industry has me considering another line of work.

Jason [Last name withheld]

San Francisco

A Little Italy

Mmm … organs: Thanks to Robert Lauriston for his love letter to Incanto [“Mi Amor,” Feb. 14]. Reading it, I wondered why on earth I'd never heard of it before. Clearly, I haven't been paying attention, as I see it's been mentioned in these pages a few times before.

I'm a rustic Italian fan, and particularly like organ meats. I recently traveled to N.Y.C. to visit some friends and had a great dinner at Mario Batali's Lupa, with a killer starter of house-cured meats and head cheese. Thanks to you, I have someplace here to fill the void!

John [Last name withheld]

San Francisco

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