North Carolina's forced sterilization program; President Obama and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer face off; a poll on Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative

Twice a victim

Re "Sterilized by N.C., she felt raped again," Column One, Jan. 26

Who in the world mutilates a 14-year-old rape victim? The Taliban in Afghanistan — and the defunct North Carolina Eugenics Board, which forcibly sterilized Elaine Riddick in 1968. Where in the world does a court refuse to hear the case of this rape victim? In mullah-controlled Iran perhaps — or in the United States, where the Supreme Court refused to hear her appeal in her lawsuit against the board.

We need to be better than the Taliban in this country; our Supreme Court needs to be better than Iran's courts. And to be better, we must talk about Riddick and other victims like her.

There must be national outrage. Victims such as Riddick should be defended not only by the ACLU; they must have the whole nation behind them.

Ergun Kunter

Irvine

Never in my life would

I have considered that a state government would have a eugenics board that determined who should have the right to reproduce.

No one should choose to cauterize a 14-year-old's fallopian tubes. Riddick was robbed of future children by a government that obviously did not care about her rights, let alone the rights of the other nearly 7,600 people it forced sterilization on.

And 44 years later the state tries to make it up by paying Riddick $50,000? Pathetic.

All we can do is learn from this and resolve to never again allow such immoral mistreatment.

Sean Mohr

Santa Clara

Getting the picture

Re "Pointed words on an Arizona tarmac," Jan. 26

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the photo of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer pointing her finger at President Obama sickened me.

Where do these ultra-conservatives get off being disrespectful of the office of president?

Brewer should be ashamed of herself.

Joe Petrotta

Carpinteria

The picture of Brewer and Obama seems to show that the Arizona governor does not quite understand the difference between being "shrewd" and being a "shrew."

I do understand there is a fine line between the two, but one who is shrewd may be seen as being clever, while a shrew can be viewed as a screaming, out-of-control person.

Helen Aragon

San Fernando

Last tax chance

Re "Poll shows strong support for Brown's tax hike plan," Column, Jan. 26

The state does need to increase the tax base. However, I would caution Gov. Jerry Brown and other elected officials: This is your last chance to get it right.

It can be argued that Brown is holding the California school system for ransom: Your money or your education. Voters are giving him the benefit of the doubt that money raised through tax increases would go to education and other programs that really deserve it.

But if it turns out that money were to go toward pensions and the black hole of high-speed rail, then those responsible for the bait-and-switch should not be surprised when voters demand their heads on a platter.

Kevin Driver

Riverside

History lesson

Re "Ancient ways like today's," Jan. 26

I was captivated by the social networks and cooperation among the Hadza people of Tanzania. I could not help but chuckle at the test used to determine "which individuals were more cooperative and which were free riders, opting to secretly keep their [honey sticks] while also benefiting from the redistribution of sticks in the common pile."

With President Obama's having touched on issues of working as a team, and the disclosure of Mitt Romney's taxes, it's difficult to abstain from drawing obvious parallels.

Which political party wants to share its honey sticks with everyone, and which one prefers to hoard the sticks while benefiting from the resources of the common pile?

It makes me ask if I am willing to share my honey stick to be redistributed evenly. The answer is a resounding yes.

Maria Berumen-Hooyenga

Ontario

Bad manners

Re "Dude, we're not that rude," Editorial, Jan. 26

"Next time you get cut off in traffic, check the plates of the offending vehicle. Surely they're not white with blue lettering." You're kidding, right?

Not only are hometown drivers notorious cutoff artists, they're great at inventing new variations on "road chicken." The latest is making left turns directly in front of oncoming traffic. This happens everywhere in L.A.

The perpetrators don't get ticketed and the local driving standard falls another notch.

Bonnie Sloane

Los Angeles

Gingrichisms

Re "Newt's debt to Clinton," Opinion, Jan. 26

Meghan Daum tells us that red states lead the nation in rhetoric about family values that runs in inverse proportion to their actual implementation. In other words, hypocrisy runs rampant. But since so many good people are outright hypocrites, the term has gradually lost its negative connotation and in fact has become for many a sign of virtue.

But what good is being virtuous if one has no way to express it?

Then, as luck would have it, along comes Newt Gingrich. With his historically bad behavior, is he not the perfect sinner for the red staters, not only to forgive but to embrace as a brother?

A vote for Gingrich, then, becomes a vote for hypocrisy, which is good.

Ronald Rubin

Topanga

A sociopath

Re "N.C. death row inmate taunts, 'Kill me if you can,' " Jan. 26

The article's closing paragraph about Danny Robbie Hembree, who had a taunting letter published in a North Carolina newspaper, said, "And lest Hembree be dismissed as a complete sociopath, note that moments after he was convicted in November, he blew a big kiss to his mom."

I must take issue with the assertion that such a gesture is at odds with being a complete sociopath. In fact, it's precisely the sort of gesture — evincing self-possessed, blithe unconcern for both the gravity of his circumstances and the heinousness of his crimes — that is an identifying hallmark of the complete sociopath.

Elizabeth DuVall

Glendale

Facebook's IPO

Re "Wall Street clicks 'like' on IPO," Business, Jan. 27

After reading about Facebook's stock sale, expected later this year, and what it means to investors, I can only hope Harvard dropout and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, 27, has enough sense to complete his degree to have something to fall back on.

Daniel Perez

Norwalk

Losing out

Re "Egypt's parliament members sworn in at inaugural session," Jan. 24

I was dismayed to read that out of 498 legislators elected to the new Egyptian parliament, only five are women. This is the new, liberated Egypt brought about by the Arab Spring? It seems the women of Egypt are still regarded as second-class citizens and may need an Arab Spring of their own.

Ruth Shapin

Orange

'Browndoggle'?

Re "Bullet train fiscally risky, auditor says," Jan. 25

If Gov. Jerry Brown doesn't quit pushing his useless $98.5-billion bullet train, he's going to contribute a new word to the English language: "browndoggle."

Mike Engler

Santa Barbara

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