Readers React
Letters to the editor and readers' opinions.
Destroying lives over ancient relics

To the editor: The federal government managed to wreck the lives of upstanding Blanding, Utah, physician Dr. James Redd, the main family doctor in his county, and the informant Ted Gardiner, who spied on Redd's family. Both ended up killing themselves. ("A sting in the desert," Sept. 21)

Federal agents went after citizens who were collecting Native American artifacts from the pinyon pine area where "millions of artifacts lay strewn" across the region. The Indians could collect them if they had the energy and ambition.

Who was harmed by the Redd family's devotion to the ancient Anasazi culture? Who benefited from the armed raids on the Redd home? Is this what federal agencies should be doing: harassing a doctor, bribing a criminal informant and sending agents on worthless, time-consuming investigations?

The people of Blanding see the government as "arrogant and intrusive." How right they are.

William Goldsmith, Studio City

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To the editor: Your undeniably tragic story of Utah pot...

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Are Americans capable of boycotting the NFL?

To the editor: The only way the NFL will change on the issue of domestic violence is if fans boycott games. ("Apologetic, defiant Goodell vows NFL changes, but many still critical," Sept. 19)

Of course, that will never happen. Physical brutality is the very nature of the game, and we are still living in a culture of aggression that supports and even glorifies gun ownership, war and winning at any price.

Perhaps we all need to take a hard look at our values.

Kathy Welsh, Claremont

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To the editor: In thinking about all the people sitting in jail right now waiting to go to court and plead their cases, I wonder how many will evoke the "Goodell defense strategy," which goes like this:

I made a bad mistake, and I am going to do better in the future. Can I go home now?

Rob Macfarlane, Newport Beach

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Wheyn cyclists and motorists collide

To the editor: It's good to see the dialogue taking place on how to manage the sharing of the road between bicyclists and motorists. While no one is likely to be satisfied all the time, we can hope it will lead to sharing with minimal conflict. ("The law is on cyclists' side, readers say," Readers React, Sept. 19)

As this discussion continues, I'm not likely to forget what my father told me when I first began riding a bicycle: "It doesn't matter whether the rock hits the vase or the vase hits the rock — the vase loses." I feel this is something every bicyclist should keep in mind when tempted to challenge a motorist for his or her rights.

John Snyder, Newbury Park

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To the editor: I don't regard my letter as pro-cyclist or pro-driver, just what seems to me to be common sense. My advice:

First, cyclists should try to travel on back streets rather than major boulevards when possible. In my many years of bike commuting, I found the quiet residential streets much more pleasant than...

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Santa Monica spoiled by developers

To the editor: Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade may make tourists and tax collectors happy, but it's the bane of local residents. The crowds make a trip to downtown akin to traveling to Manhattan — as in New York City, not Manhattan Beach. ("Third Street Promenade steps successfully into its 25th anniversary," Sept. 19)

The old Third Street may have become downtrodden, but it had character; the range of shops owned by local merchants gave it a unique identity. Now almost every store is part of a national or worldwide chain, and you don't need to come to Santa Monica for that. You can get that anywhere.

We used to be a small city with great services and a responsive city council. Now we're developer-friendly, deluded about the alleged benefits of the Expo Line and ready to throw residents off the pier if they interfere with tourist revenue.

Santa Monica used to be special. Now it's just a haven for special interests.

Peter Altschuler, Santa Monica

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Yes, there are atheists in foxholes

To the editor: When swearing to protect us and our Constitution, which literally ensures religious freedom to all Americans, why should Air Force and other military enlistees and officers have to opt out of saying the phrase "so help me God"? ("Air Force drops requirement to use 'So help me God' in oaths," Sept. 18)

It seems obvious to me that those who wish to add this religious phrase to their oath should be free to opt in, but it certainly shouldn't be the default.

You don't have to be Christian to serve our country; the U.S. does not have a default religion.

Diane K. Mitchell, Hemet

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To the editor: Sure, constitutional considerations compelled the Air Force to allow enlistees to omit "so help me God" when saying their oath. But so did logical consistency.

It's ultimately incongruous to mandate that members of our military profess belief in a given supreme being. How might that requirement be reconciled with the Department of Veterans Affairs' tombstones bearing belief-specific...

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If some in LAUSD are uncomfortable, Deasy is doing something right

To the editor: Thank you for the editorial reminding us how far the Los Angeles Unified School District has come recently. As someone who has worked as a third-party evaluator of schools and district programs, there is a nostalgic gravity of the status quo in the school system that is perpetuated by adults and not necessarily in the interest of students. ("The bad-old days at LAUSD," Editorial, Sept. 17)

Student and parent input is often pro forma, and change requires strong leadership and policies that are "disruptive" and advocate for research-based changes. One might argue that unless some proportion of district staff is feeling uncomfortable, then leadership is not doing its job.

The LAUSD has improved and can continue to do better. I pray that we do not go back to the days of chronically underperforming schools left to fester and protected by collusion between Board of Education members and district unions looking out for their short-term interests.

Michael Butler, Los Angeles

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Battling racial bias with better education

To the editor: Stanford psychology professor Jennifer Eberhardt's stunning findings on the effects that social biases regarding skin color have on basic perceptual processes is a marvelous example of creative thought and the importance of the behavioral sciences for society. ("Stanford's Jennifer Eberhardt wins MacArthur 'genius' grant," Sept. 16)

Recent findings in neuroscience provide an underlying explanation of her discoveries.

Traditional thought assumed that our experiences involve two stages of brain processing: The sensory systems first perform objective analysis of environmental stimuli and then pass on the results to "higher" regions of the cerebral cortex for interpretation. The belief in "pure objective sensory analysis" is now known to be wrong.

There is no purely objective perceptual system in the brain. Rather, our basic sensory systems themselves actually give psychological meaning to sensory stimuli based on prior associations. That may explain why an association...

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'Kent State' sweat shirt's timeliness

To the editor: Although I agree with Meghan Daum's views on tawdry, obscene clothing being worn in public, I have to disagree with her take on the Kent State sweat shirt offered online by Urban Outfitters. Not only does it make a historical statement of government's past wrongdoings, it also brings into view the similarities between those responses and those who protest now. ("Is Urban Outfitters waving the bloody shirt?," Op-Ed, Sept. 17)

It is timely. The recent handling of the protests in Ferguson, Mo., was just one tiny misstep away from turning into a Kent State incident.

Joanne M. Mell, San Diego

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Give local elections the attention they deserve

To the editor: Years ago, local elections — for school boards, city councils and special districts — in my part of California were held only in odd-numbered years. Only one special district vote was held in November in an even-numbered year, along with state and national elections. ("A simple fix for L.A.'s voter turnout problem," Editorial, Sept. 18)

At the time, I asked a member of the board of that district why they were on the same ballot with higher-profile candidates. He told me that the candidates for their board were always at the end of the ballot and that discussion of issues affecting the district were drowned out by statewide and national issues. He boldly said this guaranteed that incumbents would always be reelected.

Instead of moving city elections to coincide with statewide and national votes, all local elections should be held in odd-numbered years so we can concentrate on local issues when voting for local offices.

David E. Ross, Oak Park

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Battered women deserve a safe haven in the U.S.

To the editor: In 1939, the U.S. returned the Jewish passengers of the liner St. Louis to Germany, where many perished. Our current refugee protection system came into existence to prevent the return of those fleeing persecution to their deaths. ("In a world full of persecution, how many people can the U.S. protect?," Editorial, Sept. 15)

Around the world, women are beaten and killed by their spouses with absolute impunity, and they, like those who fled the Holocaust, deserve protection. Your editorial blames these women for marrying abusive men rather than recognizing that domestic violence is rooted in patriarchy and brutal discrimination against women in countries that tolerate this violence.

Rather than denying protection to survivors of domestic violence, we should work with the governments of their countries on adopting and applying laws that prevent and punish gender violence. The question is not should the U.S. "make itself a safe harbor for domestic abuse victims everywhere,"...

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The law is on cyclists' side, readers say

Los Angeles drivers are protective of their road space, an attitude made clear by the three letters published Thursday admonishing cyclists to follow traffic laws strictly and to get out of the way of faster cars in exchange for a state law giving them three feet of protection from passing automobiles.

Up until Thursday, no publishable letters taking the side of cyclists on this issue had been sent to us. That changed once the three letters ran; since then, several cyclists have offered their perspective.

Huntington Beach resident Steven Short has a few requests for drivers:

Letter writers are annoyed by the behavior of some bicyclists. As someone who commutes daily by bicycle, I have suggestions for drivers:

Do not drive faster than the speed limit. Put down your phone. Do not drive after drinking. Look for oncoming bicyclists and pedestrians before you make your left turn. Do not throw food, bottles or other items at bicyclists as you pass them.

These are not mere annoyances; to a...

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Is manned spaceflight worth the risk and money?

To the editor: We should review whether we want to continue wasting money transporting people to the International Space Station. ("NASA contracts with SpaceX and Boeing for space transport," Sept. 16)

A separate article describes the inadequacy of funding for NASA's program to to track asteroids and other objects that could potentially collide with Earth. This program has enormous value.

We are misallocating our limited space budget.

Al Barrett, Santa Monica

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