I was thinking about the nature of arguments these days. More often than not, they seem to be one-sided exchanges. This is especially true with e-mail, where it's easy to defend one side of an argument. Simply fire off your electronic opinion, and if you don't want to read the opposing viewpoint, the debate is over and you win, shallow though that victory may be.
Maybe that's why I like the Mailbag section of this paper. It's a more interactive open forum where you readers can agree or disagree with the goings-on in the community or the opinions of us columnists. What I like even more is when a reader sends a point of view compelling enough to change my mind — no small feat, as anyone in my family will attest.
As for my most recent argument, no reader comment could change my mind about Nancy Salas, the 22-year-old who deceptively vaporized during her morning jog, subsequently costing the city thousands of dollars searching for her.
Yes. I understand the city has no basis upon which to collect money from Salas, and I agree with that. I believe the city did the right thing by utilizing its resources, especially since it had no idea whether Salas was in real danger. And I accept that if the city was to charge Salas, it could set a precedent whereby other families may be hesitant to call the police, fearing they could be charged if an emergency turned out to be an erroneous false alarm.
Nevertheless, Salas used bad judgment then and is denying accountability now. Her failure to accept the financial burden comes with a cost to you and me. So my opinion remains unchanged and unaffected by opposing arguments that we simply forgive and forget.
Lest I be accused of straying — I did recently change my mind about something.
It came as a result of Glendale resident Joanne Hedge, who wrote a terrific argument in this paper last week opposing artificial turf, something I am in favor of and something the City Council is currently debating.
Hedge's opinion against was based on the fact that artificial turf is manufactured using petroleum products. She then strengthened that position using the events in the Gulf of Mexico and global warming as sound justification for moving away from plastic products and searching for environmentally friendly alternatives.
When I read those two points, I realized my own opinion on artificial turf was based solely on its ability to save water, and that I had failed to examine how artificial turf was manufactured. Her simple yet solid argument instantly shifted my own perspective on whether to use artificial turf. For me personally, plastic turf is out as an alternative to my water-sucking dinosaur of a front lawn.
Unfortunately, my new opinion against faux sod has a ripple effect on yet another of my arguments — that of the city blocking homeowner's from using plastic grass in the front yards of their homes.
I have long been a firm believer that the city should not be determining the aesthetic choices of homeowners so long as those choices do not pose a physical danger to the public or the homeowner.
So how could the City Council get people like me on board with a ban on artificial turf? Change the rationale of your argument!
If City Council was to oppose it based on the environmental impact of its manufacture instead of it being a threat to the property value of a neighborhood, I'd have to agree. As it stands, I personally know of homes in Glendale with artificial turf in their front yard, and from as close as 10 feet away they look great, so there doesn't seem to be any evidence to support the argument that lawns made from petroleum products are a visual abomination.
We can debate that subjective opinion until the next election. But tell me it's dangerous to the long-term health of our planet and I can't argue against you. In fact, I might argue in favor of you.