Our causes have more in common than meets the eye. We share more similarities than differences. (For more information, go to www.marijuananews.com.) Maybe the politicians are required to adhere to the party line of prohibition because law enforcement, Customs, the prison industrial complex, the drug-testing industry, the INS, the CIA, the FBI, the DEA and the politicians themselves can't live without the budget justification. The drug war also promotes, justifies and perpetuates racist enforcement policies and is diminishing many freedoms and liberties that are supposed to be guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Myron Von Hollingsworth
Fort Worth, Texas

School's Out

Regarding Alan Prendergast's "Lessons From the Third Grade," in the January 27 issue:

I am a former DPS first/second-grade teacher. I taught for four years, three of those at Swansea. Swansea was very similar to Ashley; in fact, it was almost "blown up" in 1997, at the same time that Ashley was reorganized.

I left teaching this year due to increased stress from behavior problems and paperwork, lack of parental support and disappointment in the amount of true teaching/learning time. I have had mixed feelings about leaving teaching. I identified strongly with the experiences of Gayla Tracey. The article validates my experiences. Unfortunately, there are many talented, professional, caring teachers who do not get the support they need to continue to dedicate the endless energy demanded of them. Thanks for the insightful article.

Name withheld on request

The Rest in Peace

I am extremely upset that you have allowed such a tortuous argument to continue on like this, with all the letters in response to Steve Jackson's January 13 "Blood In, Blood Out." How would you like salt rubbed into your fresh wounds? You sit back and watch our family defenselessly uphold my cousin's identity of how we knew him. Can you actually sleep at night knowing that several families suffer from the cold words in the letters that you have actually had the nerve to publish? Do you not realize that these words fall into the ears of his mother, father, sister, brother, wife and daughter, who have had everything unimaginable except a peaceful moment since this horrible ordeal began? Danny's loved ones deal with the reality of never being able to love and hold him again. They also live in fear every day of losing their wrongly accused relative to the justice system.

Now, Westword, please let this be the last letter you publish on behalf of my cousin and our family. Let us mourn in peace without negativity. You have done nothing but print an inaccurate version of D-Ray's story and you have allowed unnecessary and cruel words to be published, which have only prolonged our healing and grief. Our family has never expected sympathy from anybody, nor did we expect to be judged by anyone who felt they were self-righteous enough to do so. We only wish that our loved one can now rest in peace and that we may go on to deal with our pain and come to some kind of closure. Danny Lopez did the crime, and now he has paid the price with his own life. Please put an end to all of this negativity. Let my family deal with our tragic loss in peace.

Desiree Lopez
via the Internet

Word Without EndThe letters about Harrison Fletcher's January 13 "The Mouth That Roared" and Leonard Carlo's use of the words "fuck" and "fucking" all missed the point. The point is this: Sometimes no other adjective will do.

Linda Sanders
via the Internet

This is in response to that dumbass, J. Ryan, whose letter about Leonard Carlo appeared in the January 27 issue. Mr. Ryan may think himself a hotshot superman, but may I remind him that we live in a country of laws and rights?

Try this on: People with self-respect and self-esteem can take language in stride, because words can only destroy those who have no self-esteem. Would your "black belt who spent half of his life on the streets" respond to words with physical violence? If so, you don't seem to have self-esteem -- you're more the bully, temper-tantrum type, besides having a blatant disregard for the ancient arts and philosophies.

The point of Fletcher's article was to show a man, in his own establishment, being violated of his rights to speak freely and to not have his possessions dragged out of his place of business without due process. We're talking First Amendment rights and due process here, not egos.

Would you like it if some law official broke into your house and stole all of your self-portraits and your mirrors to save the rest of us from your conceit? Aren't you glad you can call Leonard names without being punished? We all use these rights. Remember, it was the first person who threw a word instead of his fist who created civilization.

P. Wright

Women in Chains

In her January 6 letter regarding the ongoing coverage of Joe Paolino and the Department of Corrections (most recently in Off Limits, February 3), Susan Church is correct: Bad though it might be for female co-workers, the abuse of female inmates is the most significant cultural manifestation of these abuses. I work on Chinese and Asian human-rights desks for a Christian charity, and it would be a mistake to presume that the former two were in any respect more pervasive than the American abuses. The United States sexually abuses more female inmates than any other country on the face of this earth. Having lots of electricity and automobiles does not paradise make, nor does it make women prisoners safer. Rather, it's the reverse. The U.S. has state-sanctioned sex abuse. That is the sad truth. It is a rogue nation with respect to female incarceration. It is a "dirty little secret" that has been going on for decades -- in my honest opinion, from the beginning.

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