Letters to the Editor January 20, 2021

Restore real mental health treatment

Rampant homelessness is a west coast phenomenon that has been growing since the 1970s. A local response — no matter how well intended or designed — cannot ever be adequate.

Use of pleasurable intoxicating substances (including alcohol) for more than a few hours per week is incompatible with legitimate employment. There is no cost level of housing that will be “affordable” or accessible for folks with addictions and no legal means of support.

A civilized society should always make provision for those who, for whatever reason, have become incapable of managing their lives – even for those who, arguably, do not deserve such help.

If it were only clean and sober families, down on their luck, that needed assistance, there would be many more local citizens willing to help and the problem would be manageable.

In recent decades, anyone seeking to purchase a piece of California real estate, especially in the very desirable coastal zones, has been forced to compete with a growing world-wide group of well-heeled buyers.

Humboldt County families who dutifully pay taxes to support our wonderful parks and open spaces are entitled to use clean and safe public restrooms, and should not have to put up with meth-fueled and obscenity-laced fights in our public plazas and town centers.

We eliminated large mental health facilities decades ago. They weren’t perfect, but they weren’t dungeons either. It’s time we admitted our mistake and made the effort to restore an effective mental health system, including appropriate protections for both civil liberties and public safety.

Carl R. Ochsner

Subscribe to the Mad River Union and enjoy online access to the full print edition for just $40/year!

The sedition of Yahoos

As I watched, along with many of you, the events of January 6, the word Yahoo kept running thru my brain. “Yahoo began life as a made-up word invented by Jonathan Swift in his book Gulliver’s Travels, which was published in 1726. The Yahoos were a race of brutes, with the form and vices of humans, encountered by Gulliver in his fourth and final voyage. They represented Swift’s view of mankind at its lowest.” I submit to you that what we saw online and on TV was a collection of Yahoos engaged in sedition.

Sedition is very important in the United States of America. In fact, all the revolutionary actors were accused of high crimes and sedition against the Monarchy of England. It also means that the thoughts and laws of our country are very aware of the seduction of insurrection and sedition.

“Sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organisation, that tends toward rebellion against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent toward, or rebellion against, established authority. Sedition may include any commotion, though not aimed at direct and open violence against the laws. Seditious words in writing are seditious libel. A seditionist is one who engages in or promotes the interest of sedition.”

This definition of sedition covers all of the actions we saw last week. No Home-grown Americans have been accused of Sedition since the Civil War in the 1860s. The federal sedition laws are often augmented in times of war, such as the Sedition Act of 1918 which extended the Espionage Act of 1917 to cover myriad offenses, “notably speech and the expression of opinion that cast the government or the war effort in a negative light or interfered with the sale of government bonds.” Some of these “offenses” expired soon after World War I, but they are changed and added to all the time. One of the most notable expansions comes from that paragon of Constitutional law:

“Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. established the “clear and present danger” test in Schenck v. United States (1919). In upholding Socialist Charles Schenck’s conviction, Justice Holmes wrote that “the most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

Anyone and everyone who participated, directed or gave aid to these Yahoos is guilty of sedition. The least they can expect is a 20-year stint in a federal prison. I hope we have room for them. I also hope there is a general population section for those congressmen and senators who were especially helpful to the insurrection. Mike Pence, one of the heroes of the day. He gave a great speech and was apparently responsible for calling out the National Guard to quell the crowd, empty the buildings and secure the safety of the member of Congress.

 While perusing the Constitution, as I am wont to do lately, I made note of the 14th amendment, often called the voting rights amendment. In Section 2 it states quite clearly that anyone participating in rebellion can have their right to vote abridged. In other words, any of these idiots, after convicting, can be stripped of their voting rights, for the rest of their lives. I am pretty sure none of them thought about this or the other consequences of their actions. 

Thank you for listening,
Jan Phelps

Killing to end killing

On January 12 Lisa Montgomery was executed on Trumps order. She had a life of unrelenting hell, of sexual and physical abuse from early childhood on. Her mother gave her to men to do what they pleased. She was forced to marry a half brother who forced her to have a hysterectomy. The only way she could survive her life was to shield herself with insanity. She strangled a pregnant woman and cut her baby out of her and took the baby. The baby was taken away and she was put in prison and was sentenced to die. She should have been put in a mental hospital. She had to be transferred to a men’s prison to be killed. She could not tolerate being in a room with a man, she would go crazy and the prison had nothing but men. A court ruled that she was incapable of understanding she was to be executed but Trump pushed it to his Supreme Court and they ruled she was to die. Her death was as horrible as her life as she died surrounded by men. A long time ago I saw a bumper sticker that said something like, “We kill people so we will learn not to kill.” I will never forget or forgive this execution and can only hope there will be an end to executions forever.

Sylvia De Rooy

The Value of truth

Truth is a thing of value that is often undervalued. Truth is often seen to a barrier to success when it doesn’t fit into one’s perceived agenda. Failure to value truth progressed to problems of catastrophic proportions like the riot of January 6. Had Donald J. Trump respected the results of our November election, many would have been disappointed, but our nation would have been at some level of peace. But his ego could not accept defeat in a fair and secure election. Without the constant hammering on the false claims of a “stolen election,” a lot of anger and hatred could have been prevented. Trump would have had a chance to reclaim the presidency in 2024. But his obsession with presidential power prompted him to many different tactics to overthrow the election. If he truly believes in the God that he claims to, he would observe one of the Ten Commandments that tells us not to lie. If he was able to do that, his own life would now be much better, and the health of our nation would be greatly better. But due to his reliance on lies and inciting the Capitol Building riot, he is leaving the White House in disgrace.

If Trump was able to humble himself, to admit that he lied to us, and to ask for forgiveness, many of his followers would forgive him. Even a few democrats would forgive him. That could heal a lot of pain and division and to put him in a better position. What is possible is often not probable. Sadly some of what we hope and pray for is from Fantasy Land.

Dave Tschoepe

Subscribe to the Mad River Union and enjoy online access to the full print edition for just $40/year!

Skepticism is a going concern

Recent events, such as the pandemic and the election, have shaken loose some preposterous reactions. For example, the idea that vaccines are laden with micro-microchips for sinister purpose, or that carefully managed and audited national elections were massively falsified. 

You might ask yourself why anyone with a trace of discernment would believe these things, much less fight about them. It turns out there is a lively cohort of people who have been having all kinds of fun deconstructing nonsense of this sort of years. 

The skeptical movement, or scientific skepticism aims to apply rules of logic in conjunction with evidence to blow away balderdash. Once you become familiar with the common logical fallacies, you recognize how much, if not most of our public dialogue is based on utter stuff and nonsense, and is a waste of halitosis.

If forming evidence-based opinions, and laughing/crying about popular falsehoods interests you, maybe take the skeptical movement for a spin. It processes new things that come along like the vaccine/5G sci-fear, but also dwell on the full, inglorious range of everyday misinformation-beset topics such as fluoridation, vaccination, genetic engineering, chemtrails, alternative medicine, celebrity quacks, psychic powers, religious fraud, cryptozoology (Bigfoot and his ilk), political buffoonery and innumerable other sources of “woo.” Often we just revel in the real wonder – of science. 

There’s a fairly large skeptical ecosystem, with websites of course, and podcasts, Facebook pages, skeptical celebs and even music. The vision of skepticism, at least as I understand it, is to elevate facts and reason, bring clarity to current events, promote scientific understanding, delegitimize misinformers and minimize pointless arguments and conflict. This of course ensures that there will be some pointless arguments and conflict, but at least there’s a lot of scathing humor, and sometimes beer.

As one portal to this world, come check in at Humboldt Skeptics, but only if you can stand for some of your sacred cows to be challenged. That will probably annoy you at first, but after a while, if you don't already, you might come to appreciate the liberating experience of changing your mind based on facts. You can also enjoy the spectacle when high and mighty skeptics reject and try to spin facts that inconvenience their own silly superstitions. 

Kevin L. Hoover

WHAT COULD IT MEAN? This enigmatic sign is posted at Janes and Upper Bay roads, its instruction eluding the jerk in the Astro van, the ditzy blonde in the Toyota and the asshole in the grow-dozer.

Stop at the damn sign

I am writing today to bring some attention to an occurrence which is becoming too regular. On the corner of Janes and Upper Bay roads is a red, octagonal metal sign, with white letters, all capitals. The sign says “STOP.” 

Nothing else, just that one word. It is really difficult to not see this sign, it is prominent and on the right side of the road, where a driver of an automobile would be hard-pressed to not see it. 

Yet, this late afternoon, as has happened with an increasing frequency, a pedestrian was in the crosswalk, and the black Ford Ranger pickup was obliged to slam on their brakes so hard, I am surprised the airbag did not deploy! I would like to give that gentleman the benefit of the doubt, but, it had been a rather trying day and I just didn’t feel quite polite having just narrowly avoided being run over. 

Did I mention that I was in the crosswalk? I pointed out to the driver that, yes, indeed, the red octagon with the white words says STOP. He did not receive this news with anything approaching grace, and replied to me with the middle finger, of his left hand.

 Now, I do understand, the events of 2020 and it seems 2021, do not lend themselves to patience, forbearance or good humor, but traffic laws have not been impeached, lost an election, been the victim of violence or turned off. You still have to stop at the sign and you are not supposed to run over people in the crosswalk. 

This goes for the jerk in the Astro van, the ditzy blonde in the Toyota and the asshole in the grow-dozer. Those are just the three that have stuck in my mind since New Year’s. It is no secret that I work at Mad River Community Hospital, I am traipsing home in my monogrammed scrubs. 

I do the best I can at my job, and I do think it is not asking too much to at least be able to walk home without worrying that I will be the next person in our Trauma Registry. It might also bear mentioning that that portion of Janes Road is a 25 mile-per-hour zone as there is an elementary school, like, right there, and one day, soon, the kids will be there. It would be wonderful if we could all recall that, indeed, we are nation of laws.

 Thank you for your time.

Tina Wood


Letters policy


Related posts