Hear No Evil

To the Editor,

On occasion I browse through the Tucson Weekly for entertainment purposes, but I was drawn to the August 31 issue and Tom Danehy's "Frosh Heir"--particularly, the blurb entitled "Dirty Little Secret"--caught my eye. It is surprising that there is such a low level of comprehensibility of foreign GATs at the University of Arizona, as all international teaching assistants are compelled to take the SPEAK test, which is a test of spoken English, upon entering the university. This test requires GATs to have a level of spoken-English ability that is actually quite high, a much higher level than many Americans would hope to achieve in a foreign language.

I would like to point you in the direction of an important dissertation written in 1994 by McCone, titled Student Linguistic Response to Perceived Foreignness of Teaching Assistants. In this study, videos of people of different nationalities were played, and the same voice was dubbed to be synchronized with each person's lips. Thus, there was a Chinese face, an Indian face, a black face, a white face, etc.

The subjects (undergraduate students at a major state university) were asked to listen to each videotaped person speak--only each person had the same voice. Not surprisingly, it was the white male who was the most comprehensible to the students. Actually, it was only student perception of foreignness that swayed them to believe that the Chinese, black and Indian people were less comprehensible. The Chinese was, by the way, deemed least comprehensible. These were all the SAME VOICE, SAME ACCENT.

By the way, a similar study was done comparing the comprehensibility of males vs females. Guess who was more comprehensible? The males. SAME VOICE!

Small wonder that such ethnocentric attitudes exist, as we are so subtly influenced in education that whiteness is better than non-whiteness, that male is superior to female. I am only disappointed that the Tucson Weekly would not only condone but perpetuate such discrimination, especially when targeting students only beginning their experience in higher education.

--Caroline Vickers

Ethnic Studies

To the Editor,

At the end of Tom Danehy's "Frosh Heir" (August 31), I noted a kicker devoted to "Five Majors You Probably Didn't Know Were Offered (and would be wise to avoid)." The five majors were, in descending order, Oboe, Studio Art 2D and 3D, Racetrack Management, Dramatic Theory and Mexican-American Studies.

While I understand that these particular university majors were selected on the basis of their irony in a world that moves progressively faster toward a business mentality, I was unable to find any humor or irony in the selection of Mexican-American Studies, or in Danehy's comments that the degree evolves from "a pyramid scheme" and that it can only be used to "teach other people foolish enough to major in Mexican-American Studies." Danehy goes on to make equally denigrating comments about Afro-American or Black Studies programs.

I'm a doctoral student in American Indian Studies. AIS, like other "ethnic" studies programs, is not, as Danehy contends, devoted to "learning about one's heritage." Our programs, and American Indian Studies in particular, are devoted to decolonization, an activity that must first take place in our own "ethnic" societies before it is directed toward the greater mainstream society. AIS focuses on law and policy, societies and cultures, language and literature, and education. Mexican-American Studies, Black Studies, and Asian Studies do much the same from their own perspectives. What we all work toward is a day when racist attitudes like Danehy's are gone from educational materials such as history and political-science books, and from the media, including the Tucson Weekly.

--Mike Two Horses


To the Editor,

The Weekly postures as a kind of counterculture publication, but Tom Danehy never misses a chance to take some shots at the vegetarian/environmentalist/pro-animal position.

In "Dem Bones" (August 24), he badmouths PETA with that tired old bit about why aren't they making life better for people, then endears himself to animal lovers by stating that to him, a cat is worth about 37 cents.

Way to go, big guy. That's the kind of enlightened stuff you'd expect to hear from some pedestrian peckerwood sitting on a bench outside a general store in Hogbutt, Arkansas dribbling tobacco juice down his chin.

At least those PETA "dorks," as you call them, Tom, are putting their rear ends on the line for something they believe in. When's the last time YOU got manhandled by the police for taking any kind of stance against the status quo?

It would be one thing if Danehy were just an isolated voice at the Weekly, but the recently departed Jeff Smith was cut from the same cloth. His rantings made it obvious he was so ensconced with the ranching community that he couldn't see the forest for the cow flop.

Indeed, one has got to be pretty myopic in this day and age not to recognize that those who champion the cause of any segment of the interconnected and interdependent web of life are ultimately helping to benefit us all.

So now (big surprise) we get Susan Zakin, a castoff from the hunting and fishing magazines. It'll take more than a page full of ads from swingers to set the Weekly apart from mainstream publications. Without a regular contributing voice from the ecological perspective, you're about as counterculture as Doctor Laura.

--Timothy J. Schaefer


To the Editor,

Tim Vanderpool's story about the competing proposals for power lines to Mexico ("Power Charge," September 7) missed one major point.

The second paragraph briefly noted that power could flow both ways across the border, but only discussed electricity moving into Mexico.

Many of us opposed to these transmission lines are more concerned about the potential of power plants being constructed in Mexico to feed growing demand in the southwestern U.S. TEP and other utilities would love to take advantage of loose environmental protections and limited opportunities for public opposition that hinder construction of new power plants in the U.S.

I suspect these utilities will feel left behind if they can't build maquilas like other industries have. There is no doubt in my mind that these plants would pollute both air and water flowing northward. Furthermore, it would once again allow electric utilities to ignore more benign solutions such as solar, wind or (gasp!) increased conservation.

Even if I'm wrong and the lines are truly meant to send power southward, it will only lead to more maquilas and their associated human and environmental costs.

--Jon Green

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