So What If That KGUN Piece Lacked Context, Statistics and Ethics?

What's with the hit piece on Jennifer Waddell? She was just informing the public about a problem that most Tucsonans don't know about ("Bathroom or Bath House?" Currents, Feb. 8).

I found out about gay men meeting for sex at Greasewood Park 12 years ago, soon after moving here. The park is the closest desert park heading west from downtown, and I thought it would be a convenient place to spend some time in the desert. I soon saw what was going on there and have seldom been back. Obviously, there was an abundance of places to go hiking around town, so it was not an issue with me that Greasewood had a major drawback.

In spite of the hysterics in the article about sweeps week and these stories being pulled out every year, I didn't see or hear any news stories on the subject until the recent KGUN Channel 9 piece. It served a purpose in possibly preventing an unpleasant surprise a family might have by taking their kids hiking there. So what if Waddell was being overly dramatic, hammy or whatever you want to label it? I think it reeks of political correctness and just plain immorality to only criticize the style of the report and not what goes on in the park.

Any info from the Tucson Police Department will only have limited value, since that would just show the effort they put into enforcement. Most people probably wouldn't want much time and resources going into sting operations at the park, so it is a low priority problem that is likely to be around for a long time to come.

Brian Brainerd

Claim: Banks' Piece Blamed the Victims

Leo W. Banks' article on migrants walking across the desert and the residents' response is another attempt to blame the victim ("Following the Amnesty Trail," Feb. 15). Immigration policy has driven desperate people into crossing terrain that policy makers never dreamed would be attempted. But people will do seemingly impossible things when there is no alternative. NAFTA, CAFTA and other policies have destroyed small family farms. U.S. policy toward Mexico does nothing to help or put pressure on the Mexican government to stop corruption. What would we do in the same situation?

As for the 5-10 percent who are drug smugglers, who is causing the drug problem? Not migrants.

If we look at migrants around the world, we can see that people don't migrate because they want to; they go because they have to. Most Mexicans and others don't want to come here permanently. They have a dream of helping their families by sending back money and then someday returning. But immigration policy has changed all that and has done the opposite. People can no longer go back and forth as they once did, so they are bringing their families and becoming permanent residents. This means more women and children are attempting to cross.

Banks refers to migrants as aliens, criminals and strays (!) and builds up the fear by showing a ski mask as if it's worn only by thieves, not to stay warm on winter nights. He accuses them of leading an invasion. His words certainly tell his prejudices. He has more compassion for Jason Cathcart, who has come across dead bodies, than he does for those who died. He infers that his immigrant ancestors and others like him (i.e., white) were all law-abiding citizens (except for those who went to the gold rush and also left trash behind) while the brown Americans (we're all Americans here, remember?) are coming here to "abuse the system."

As evidence of their criminal tendencies and uncouth ways, he notes the "garbage" they are leaving behind. An exhausted man who offered to help sweep the floor but could only lean on his broom was supposed to represent laziness.

Cindy and Bob Coping's (ironic name) earnest caring in trying to save lives is the only hint of humanity in the entire article, and they sound like good people caught in a difficult situation. There are lots of organizations who can offer help and who are going out and cleaning up the desert while trying to save lives.

A week before, the Weekly had a very interesting article about Just Coffee, a cooperative factory offering free-trade coffee from Chiapas as a way to keep people employed without leaving Mexico ("Roasting Revolution," Yum! Feb. 8). This is where the energy should go: investing in small business enterprises, stopping NAFTA and putting the needs of people before trade. Building more walls and more militarization won't change the fact that people will come here as long as there is no opportunity for them where they live. It shouldn't be difficult to help change that, and it should be much cheaper than the policies we have now.

Mr. Banks is right about one thing: The border is a war zone. But it's unnecessary and has made the victims into the scapegoats for failed policies.

Nancy Fleck Myers

Claim: Raytheon's Weapons May Save Our Lives One Day

Randy Dinin wrote "A Call for Raytheon Employees to Start the Revolution!" (Mailbag, Feb. 15). When the enemy is marching down his street, he just might change his mind. He will, no doubt, wish that Raytheon and other defense contractors had developed and manufactured the best weapons possible, which could save his right to free speech as well as his life.

Rosalie Wright

Retort: Nielsen Is at Raytheon's Gates Regularly

Regarding Lewis Humphreys' letter ("Nielsen's Commentary Seemed Naïve," Mailbag, Feb. 8) criticizing Gretchen Nielsen's earlier editorial (Guest Commentary, Jan. 25): It is unclear whether Humphreys is new to Tucson or simply new to writing that is restrained, articulate and ironic. And widely published and appreciated. Humphreys' own writing, unfortunately, is unclear, drips with uninformed condescension and is embarrassingly unresearched.

For example, he pontificates: "And why isn't Ms. Nielsen leading ... a sit-in at Raytheon's gate right now? Until she takes action, I'd rather spend my time writing this letter." Well, if he were at the gates of Raytheon with the other activists, he would have long since, and regularly, made Nielsen's acquaintance, and even witnessed her civil-disobedience arrests, as she "took action." She is known at those gates, and he is not. But if he can't get off the couch long enough to learn that, perhaps he could learn to use Google before he commits another mistaken-identity mudsling.

He says he is sure that Nielsen means well and is highly intelligent, and in this, he manages to be accurate, serendipitously. I cannot honestly extend him either compliment, based on this letter. Perhaps his next will be better.

Claudia Ellquist

Where's the Love for Bill Richardson?

Seems to me that Arizonans are--or should be--more interested in Bill Richardson's presidential candidacy than was reported in The Skinny ("Scramblewatch '08: Primary Factors," Feb. 8).

As New Mexico governor, he knows the Southwest. (He's Hispanic, you know.) As former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, he has more international relations experience than the other candidates put together. Both at state and national level, he's experienced at avoiding budget deficits. He knows Congress well (more than 14 years in the House). Unless Al Gore can be persuaded to run, his environmental credentials are unrivaled--as secretary of energy and as governor, he's promoted renewable energy. All in all, he seems the most qualified candidate from either party, and he's possibly the one with the most appropriate concrete vision for America's future. (That's a dig at Obama.)

Eric Force

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