Letters to the Editor

"Split Decision," Michael Roberts, March 8

Haste Lays Waste

I am (was?) a friend of Michael Andre's, so I cannot claim to be unbiased, but I was angered by the decision of the Denver Post to put Andre's name on the website that afternoon. I also questioned the portion of the story that indicated the Post had tried to contact Andre on his home and cell phone. As I doubt the reporters were trained crisis counselors, the decision to call him strikes me more as vultures trying to get a man's last words than an actual attempt at news-gathering. I communicated this opinion to the editor, who sent me the same justification e-mail he apparently sent to everyone. I did not buy it then and do not buy it now. They wanted the story, and it was better with Andre's name. That was their only concern.

Once the shock of Andre's death diminished a bit, I realized why the Post had to run the story that day: They do not publish on Saturday. While other media could wait on the story for their late broadcast or the paper the next day, if the Post did not run Andre's name on Friday, they would not have the chance to get in on the story. Indeed, that Sunday's Post did not have one word about Andre. He was old news by then -- except to those who miss him.

Responsible journalism is an oxymoron. Journalists need to publish, and damn the consequences. The bias must be for freedom to write, even if it is "irresponsible." However, for the Post to claim its decision was anything but a desire to get readers to its website is crap. The Post made an economic decision, and if they want to pretend otherwise, no one with a brain should buy it.
Brad Geiger

Ask a Mexican, Gustavo Arellano, March 8

The White Stuff

Gustavo Arellano, your column's mascot has my vote. As you stated, being Latino and using it drains its racist power. African-Americans strive to do the same thing with the N-word, and though it is still not wholly benign (and probably never will be), the epithet's many years of circulation in the community has markedly weakened its impact as a racial slur. Of course, no matter how successfully these insults are co-opted by their erstwhile targets, their ugly history must never be forgotten.

Okay, that's enough sociological analysis! Call me a fake or tell me I am in denial, but my first impression of the cartoon honestly was not "fat, dirty Mexican." I perceived a friendly guy beaming over his love of life -- and perhaps a shot or two of mezcal. He embodies the cliched infectious smile, with the disarming touch of a single gold tooth. To me, he looks like a grandfather or uncle who has just caught a glimpse of children at play. That leads me to my suggestion for your logo's name: I think Tío César (as in Chávez) would be a perfect name.

I know this is a caricature of your father, but Padre sounds intimidating, and Papá only works in North America when followed by "Bear" -- or, in this case, Oso. Tío is a nice term of endearment for any male elder -- blood relative or not -- and as you know, César Chávez was a contemporary revolutionary. Good luck!
Karen Caspian

Gustavo, aren't you perpetuating racism, or at least stereotypes, by using the cartoon character at the top of your column and by using the term "gabacho" to refer to all (I assume) whites, "Anglos" or non-Mexicans?

If the column were Ask a Yankee! (since "American" can refer to anyone who's from Alaska down to Tierra del Fuego), would you use a cartoon drawing of Bubba Redneck, or a handsome movie star? Granted, both might be Yankees, but it seems you've chosen to use the Mexican equivalent of Bubba Redneck (gap-toothed, overweight, stereotypical sombrero, ammunition bandoliers over the shoulders).

I'm never sure what the reference is with the term "gabacho," since in my Spanish dictionary (Bantam New College Revised, 1987), "gabacho" means "Pyrenean" (someone from the Pyrenees, the mountains between France and Spain), "Frenchy" or "Frenchified Spanish." I would think most of the "Frenchified Spanish" in America would be found in Florida, New Orleans and the West Indies. Or has the word come to mean something else in the last twenty years?

As an aside, and not to accuse or criticize, but merely to discuss: All "whites" are not "Anglo." "Anglo" is a combining form, as in "Anglo-Saxon," "Anglo-Gallic," "Anglo-Celtic." The Angles were a tribe closely related to the Saxons and Jutes. They all invaded Britain from what is now Germany and Denmark, and eventually England was named after them (Engla land, or Angle land). They interbred with the existing peoples there, who were descended from Celts, Picts, Romans, Norsemen and other ethnic groups. But they weren't all one race or ethnic group. To say someone is an "Anglo" is akin to saying they're "Indo." Indo-what? Indo-European? Indo-Maylay? Yes, I know "Anglo" is a catch-all term referring to those related, however distantly, to the Anglo-Saxons and other tribes from Great Britain. But not all whites are "Anglo." I happen to be half Greek and half Norwegian, with so-called "white" skin (although when I hold my arm up to a piece of white paper, I'm about seven shades darker) and most people would call me "Anglo," but neither the Greeks nor the Vikings were Angles. I think "Anglo" is used too much as a catch-all term.