Thank you for the outstanding article "Free-Speech Zone" (Feb. 5-11). Every time I think I will no longer be surprised by the Bush administration's excesses and abuses of power, I'm surprised again. It's good to know that there are still publications willing to engage in journalism rather than just printing the latest press releases from Washington. I was most recently appalled by the administration's "Federal Marriage Amendment" (H.J. Res. 56/S.J. Res. 26). This measure would amend the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as strictly between a man and a woman as well as invalidate all the protections that many families currently enjoy.
I fail to understand what benefit this act is intended to accomplish. While I do not think it is appropriate to force religious organizations to perform religious ceremonies if it conflicts with their religious beliefs, the question of gay marriage is fundamentally a question of civil unions and the benefits entitled to two individuals who make a firm commitment to share their lives with one another. Without the ability to engage in civil unions, many Americans are severely hampered in their ability to protect and provide for their loved ones and families.
I have heard of this legislation referred to as the “Defensive of Marriage Act.” In my opinion this is just one more example of political doublespeak by the administration that has brought us the Clear Skies Act, the Healthy Forest Act, the No Child Left Behind Act and the USA PATRIOT Act. All of these bills claim to do one thing but in fact do the exact opposite. George Orwell was only 20 years off in his novel 1984.
A true "Defense of Marriage Act" would put some money into education and counseling for the millions of Americans who struggle in their marriages or do not fully understand the depth of commitment and communication needed in a marriage to make it work. But instead of providing a constructive solution to the problem of broken families in America, this legislation attempts to block access to a whole class of people who do want to be a family, based solely on their gender.
Let us not stoop to becoming a nation of hate and fear. Further, let us not mar our beautifully crafted constitution with language that expressly denies American citizens the rights of "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Elisha Allen Albuquerque
While I was reading your last issue (Jan 29-Feb 4), I came across a column called "The Straight Dope." I have to admit that I have never seen a column that was more aptly named. The author is, indeed, a dope. I certainly hope that this column has the little disclaimer saying that what it contains is the opinion of the author, because I noticed some discouraging misinformation masquerading as fact.
The author stated that officials of the Roman Catholic Church may have been responsible for smuggling Nazi leaders to South America after WWII. I realize that by now, everyone has read "Hitler's Pope," but it's sad how many people repeat all the "facts" therein without stopping to verify them.
First of all, Nazis hated Catholics almost as much as they hated Communists. Newspapers from Nazi Germany had offensive anti-Catholic political cartoons right next to their offensive anti-Semitic political cartoons. By the end of the war, Catholics were being rounded up and sent to concentration camps just like so many other unfortunate groups. Yet, despite all this, Vatican officials would joyfully help those who harassed and killed their people? That stretches Christian charity a little too far to be plausible.
Second, if the Vatican were engaged in smuggling anyone to freedom it was the Jews. The Vatican issued many passports before and during the war so that Jews could escape fascist Italy. Convents and monasteries in Rome and elsewhere were actively engaged in hiding Jews, and many priests, monks, nuns and lay Catholics died for their efforts. Many Catholics who have been recognized for their brave assistance have credited Pope Pius XII, yes "Hitler's Pope," for organizing their work and making it possible. Recent archival evidence proves that Pius XII battled the Nazi regime vigorously, despite the setback of being entirely enclosed in a fascist country that could squash him like a bug.
The idea that Catholic officials would give anything more than a glass of water to Nazi leaders is absurd. Unfortunately, people now will believe anything about Catholics as long as it is bad. What is really sad about this is that a columnist from your fine newspaper could write such slander as though it were unquestioned fact.
Maria Staiano-Daniels Albuquerque
So ... What Are the Answers?
Unfortunately, your feature story “Tunnel Vision” (Jan,. 29-Feb. 4) was little more than an echo of Alibi columnist Greg Payne's unwarranted criticism of Tempur-Pedic and its planned manufacturing plant (Nov. 6-12).
Reporter Jeremy Vesbach interviewed me for the article, and I answered several questions of great interest to him, including this one: Why didn't Tempur-Pedic choose a different site? Despite my detailed response, he wrote: “Still, City Councilors ... have been publicly asking questions like why not build the manufacturing plant at an infill site where there are already water and sewer lines. But thus far, those questions seem to have been ignored.” Pardon me, but it's not the questions that have been ignored. It's the answers.
Unknowingly, you hinted at this through the headline's reference to “failed policies of the past.” Those policies have resulted in large tracts of land within the city to be rezoned from industrial to residential use, forcing manufacturers to the fringe or to other communities. Those policies have allowed apartment complexes and houses to encroach on land dedicated for industry, also forcing some users to go elsewhere. Those policies suggest that most citizens don't want a manufacturer moving into the same neighborhood where they live. Or are you suggesting that they do? Can we count on the Alibi to stand up in defense of the next manufacturer that has problems securing neighborhood support for an infill location?
There are a handful of reasons why the company selected this Bernalillo County site, and I described each of them to your reporter. It's disappointing and a bit curious that they weren't included in the story.
Vesbach also writes: “If the prospect for truly successful, widespread Downtown redevelopment and revitalization of our existing neighborhoods has an enemy in this city, it's the competition of sprawl development sucking business and tax dollars out to the city fringes.” Convenient rhetoric, but you need to find the real demon. I suggest you start with an analysis of the hurdles encountered by the private sector, whose ability to create jobs, investment and wealth are central to developing truly successful neighborhoods throughout the metro area. Companies we recruit bring new money into the city and state are generating significant tax revenues to help finance local governments and are a vital part of the solution to the redevelopment and revitalization important to all of us as citizens. I encourage you to learn more about the benefits associated with expanding companies such as Tempur-Pedic.
In the future, a balanced review of the facts would result in a less tantalizing but more believable story that would better serve our community.
Gary Tonjes, Albuquerque Economic Development, Inc. Albuquerque
Dear Congresswoman Heather Wilson: Your rant on the television industry and decency has thoroughly offended me. This is the United States of America. This country is founded upon free speech and just because less than .05 percent of the population of the United States makes complaints to the FCC you find that opportunity to tearfully grandstand and rail against an industry that has not lined your pockets with donations as other industries you vociferously support have. Your attempted shakedown of the communications industry is something I would expect of Jesse Jackson. You are a phony. Your antics repulse me, please throw out your television, smash your radio and lock up your children. You are a hypocrite, who, if had been a recipient of political donations from CBS or other media entities would certainly turn a blind eye to the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.
As a fellow Republican, who firmly believes in the Constitution of the United States of America, I must tell you that your counterfeit antics and tearful grandstanding completely disgust me. I will make a donation and support any opponent in your next election even though I live in California.
Darr Hawthorne Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Editor's note: According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Viacom actually is one of Wilson's campaign contributors. To hear the audio (and to make your skin crawl) log onto www.alibi.com.
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