"The lesser of two evils" is our response to critics of our cash incentive program to substance abusers to encourage the use of birth control ["$200 worth of prevention," 10/5]. Kris Nyrup, of Street Outreach Services, calls our approach "despicable." It is much more despicable if society stands idly by and does nothing to prevent this legal child abuse.
Drennan, of PICC, thinks we are burning the mother to save the baby. The mother can make choices: Her developing fetus cannot.
Knight, of Planned Parenthood, notes that the proposed bills in the state legislature have not made it into law. Meanwhile, as we wring our hands over this moral dilemma, the pregnancies keep happening. The suffering keeps happening. Birth control can stop this from happening!
Ends justify means
I would like to respond to the critics of this program ["$200 worth of prevention," 10/5]. The common threads running through most of the complaints by agencies working with drug addicts/alcoholics is the use of cash as an incentive and the lack of concern for the drug addict parents involved. For some reason, these agencies that work closely with drug abusers seem more concerned about respecting the rights of the parents who repeatedly give birth to drug-affected babies. Oftentimes these babies are born with HIV or possible long-term effects from damage to the fetus before birth.
It seems to me that these agencies are less concerned about the rights of the babies born to these drug addicts. While Planned Parenthood stresses the importance of education and holistic mumbo jumbo, thousands of babies are being born every year with tragic consequences. Many are abandoned at the hospital or taken away by CPS for negligence and placed in our ever-growing and overburdened foster care programs. Two hundred dollars cash seems to light a fire under some of these people to do a very responsible thing: GET BIRTH CONTROL!!! It is unfortunate these people cannot always make this decision on their own. However, it may be the most responsible thing they ever do in their life. You can call it coercive, bribery, whatever you want, but the ends definitely justify the means.
"Trading on reproductive rights" ["$200 worth of prevention," 10/5]? I don't get it! What about the rights of the children? To have a safe and healthy birth and parents who will take care of them? The state rewards women who become pregnant by providing them with a grant which enables them to continue their substance abuse. Why not reward them not to become pregnant thereby eliminating the chance of abortion or yet another child who is headed for long-term medical care, birth defects, and the foster system? In response to "burning the mother to save the baby," I can hardly see the use of birth control as being detrimental to a person that does not want the responsibility nor is capable of being a mother.
Positive Prevention does not promote permanent birth control and their Web site reflects that not one woman has chosen sterilization for birth control.
The holistic approach to treating a woman's addition sounds wonderful, but in reality, some addicts are not treatable and do not want rehabilitation. I know. My daughter had two abortions and four children before she died of a drug overdose at age 27.
I applaud Positive Prevention's simple, effective piece of social preventive medicine, offered on a voluntary basis, to make choices that the nondrug addled public make, on their own, everyday ["$200 worth of prevention," 10/5]. I don't see what's wrong with offering a reward for responsible behavior. Similar incentives grease our entire society.
What I find odd are the quotes, from traditional allies one would think, who find that offering a drug addicted person, with an average of 3.9 kids already, $200 after they obtain reversible or nonreversible birth control is "despicable" or "coercive."
What is really coercive (and corrosive) for society is its own complacency with irresponsible parenthood.
First don't hurt the children.
Journalism at all?
Rick Anderson's story "Death of a nobody" [10/5], about the death of Jimmy Mize at the Morrison Hotel May 7, fell well short of objective journalism. In fact, I question whether it was journalism at all.
Anderson grabs the reader's attention with the line "The perfect murder?" He then basically interviews himself to make the case that Mize might have been murdered, apparently by someone who injected him with drugs and ran off with the needle. Finally, in the end, Anderson concludes that Mize's death may really be as simple as the police and medical examiner concluded: "Jimmy Mize accidentally killed himself."
In short, Anderson didn't have a story. But why let the facts get in the way? What if someone really did kill Mize? What if the police have some complicity in refusing to investigate? What if the medical examiner is an accomplice in this diabolical act? What if Seattle Housing Authority, owner of the Morrison, can be painted as an accomplice, too?
Allow me to add one further what if: What if Rick Anderson is making all of this up? After all, Anderson is not above telling readers what his sources are thinking, without ever bothering to ask the sources. He notes, for example, that SHA spokesman Jim Kjeldsen "has a few doubts" about Mize's death. A responsible journalist would have called and asked. Instead, Anderson misinterpreted what I had written in an e-mail. What I told Anderson was that if he came up with any evidence, SHA—and I presume the police—would like nothing better than to hear about it.
This is lazy journalism, pure and simple. Rather than really researching his subject, Anderson mixes innuendo, gossip, and rumor with a few half-quotes and offers it to the public as credible reporting.
I don't know what happened to Jimmy Mize. I have no more evidence than Anderson has to make a determination. His death was tragic, as are the deaths of many who strive to get off the streets and back into mainstream life. But I do know that Mize deserves better than Anderson's inadequate attempt at investigative reporting.
SEATTLE HOUSING AUTHORITY
Rick Anderson responds: Well then let the record show that Kjeldsen—the one to point out that the late Jimmy Mize was not a known drug user—has no doubts, regardless. And I agree, Mize deserves more than I— as well as the cops, the ME, and the SHA—gave him in the way of an investigation into his death. Mine continues.
Thank you for Nina Shapiro's piece, "Ralph rocks Seattle" [9/28]. As an ordinary Green, I was pleased to read an objective characterization of the Nader/LaDuke campaign in a major publication for a change. I am writing to direct your attention to recent efforts of traditional Democrats to bully "identity politics" groups into attacking Ralph Nader's (and the Green Party's—don't forget the rest of us!) commitment to feminism, gay rights, and cultural diversity. They have slandered not only an honest man, but also an honest woman—Winona LaDuke—who would never associate herself with the kind of person these groups purport to describe in their diatribes.
That the Republicrats are succeeding in some of their "divide and conquer" strategies comes as an unpleasant surprise to some of us Greens. Perhaps we assumed that these people would know that the Ten Key Values of the worldwide Green movement presuppose social justice, feminism, and respect for diversity. These groups, and your readers, should be aware that Ralph Nader is not into "Lone Ranger" politics—he is into encouraging citizen participation in democracy. I hope that other media outlets will follow the lead of publications like the Seattle Weekly and give the Greens fair and adequate coverage in this crucial election year.
Early in her article ["Ralph rocks Seattle," 9/28], Ms. Shapiro mentions that two local unions have joined the movement to elect Ralph Nader for president. At the end of her article, she characterizes the crowd at the Key Arena as being made up of "professionals, artists, and activists," not working-class people. So which is it? Or is it possible that her neat categories don't quite match reality? Gosh—I work for a living, have been a lifelong activist, even have done some art stuff and made money at it—so, what's that make me? I look forward to the day when journalism matches life, in its complexity and realism.
Uninspired, my ass
All right, so it's time for me to be that annoying, overmotivated letter writer taking exception with a measly word of someone else's well-written and mostly accurate review. Mark [D.] Fefer's description of Peter Escovedo playing with his son and daughter as "unremarkable" [Music calendar, 9/28] just didn't jibe with me. Though the music Sunday night at Jazz Alley didn't push the boundaries of Latin jazz, Peter Escovedo and his band had it going on (insert optional uh-huh for emphasis).
Gusto Amario broke from classic Latin jazz to smoking semipsychedelic saxophone solos. Gusto took complete control by pressing the bassist into double time and leading the band with some funk chops that made elusive (and maybe unintentional) references to Eddie Harris and Yusef Lateef until he ran smack into a soul-shaking wall of percussion. Oh yeah, percussion! Juan Escovedo's hands were a mere blur over the bongo and congo drums most of the night, and Sheila E. often disappeared into a flurry of hair and teeth like some kind of primal drum beast. Not to mention five-year-old Taylor Escovedo, who managed to lead the band in a cute staggering beat while they struggled to fall in behind her.
Uninspired, my ass. I saw a room full of thirty- and forty-somethings begin to wiggle in their seats, smiles on their faces. The air was thick with groove. Did it challenge me musically? I guess not, but I had so much fun movin' to the good vibe that the accessible tunes created that I really didn't care.
Much respect to Mark [D.] Fefer, sorry to be a nitpicker about one friggin' word.
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