To the Editor:
John Hickey, of the Missouri Citizen Education Fund, wrote in a letter in the May 19 RFT: "In March 1995, three Republican state legislators (David Klarich, Rich Chrismer and Bill Alter) spoke to a meeting of the First Missouri Volunteers. This group is an extralegal paramilitary organization with ties to John Trochmann and other white-supremacist leaders."
This is a very interesting accusation, to claim that Dreste is a member of an extralegal organization or that it is racist. I read the article about Dreste ("The Conviction of Tim Dreste," RFT, May 12) and recall a similar accusation quoted there, that the militia is racist. I would appreciate someone documenting that indeed such an organization is illegal and racist, first by defining what racism is and second by showing policy and actions that are racist.
Saying that this one organization that Dreste belongs to is racist and then saying he's a member of it is pure character assassination. I don't deny that Dreste actually belongs to a militia because I know personally that he does. Whatever happened to freedom of association? Is the American Legion racist simply because it drills with guns or honors the flag? Are your writers and editors at the RFT going to claim your rights under the First Amendment and then deny Dreste his for his association? And where did you prove that Dreste agrees with policy that is racist? Dreste is a Christian and committed to loving his neighbor. Where does that leave room for racism?
If Dreste were a racist as his association would imply, then I suspect he'd make an exception for the abortion of African-American children. He doesn't.
Accusations without support are a threat to liberty. They are also slanderous.
David M. Holden
"PARTIALLY BORN" AGAIN
To the Editor:
It appears to me that Ray Hartmann's "Commentary" ("The Pro-Lie Movement Strikes Again," RFT, May 5) is merely an attempt to derail legislation which is supported by a majority of legislators as well as the majority of the citizens of our great state of Missouri and the majority of Americans. You must have pondered your commentary at great length to determine that the words "partially born" in the proposed partial-birth-abortion bill are not close enough to the words "partial-birth abortions" to claim that "it isn't about 'partial-birth abortions.'" Next you will be arguing about what the definition of "is" is.
You seem to be bothered by the use of the "living infant" phrasing in the statute. Unfortunately, it was the veto by your favored son, Gov. Mel Carnahan, of the passed partial-birth-abortion bill last year that necessitated the changed language in this year's bill.
You asked the question in your commentary, "What is it about safeguarding the health of pregnant women that our moral crusaders find so despicable?" I would ask you, "What is so despicable about safeguarding the lives of babies in the womb?" Aren't you aware that there are criminal laws in Missouri that allow for the filing of murder charges against those who intentionally injure a pregnant woman resulting in the death of the unborn baby? I'm sure you believe these unborn babies should have no rights, just as the pro-lifers believe that some infringement on a woman's right to an abortion is justified.
As to your concern regarding the need for an exception in the bill which would allow for the procedure for reasons of the mother's health, I am somewhat puzzled. First you criticize Sen. John Ashcroft for stating, "This procedure is never necessary to save the life and preserve the health of the unborn child's mother." You later acknowledge that there are no partial-birth abortions in Missouri. It is amazing to me to think that not one of Missouri's share of the tens of millions of abortions in the U.S. over the last 26 years since Roe vs. Wade was performed to preserve the life or health of the unborn child's mother. I know that such cases had to exist and yet the partial-birth abortion procedure was not necessary. It seems to me that Ashcroft was correct. If it is not necessary, why legally protect such a gruesome and horrible procedure?
While you may not be concerned with the "health of the mother exception" loophole, I do see a huge problem. Since the medical doctors who would be certifying these health problems will likely be abortion providers, certainly there will be a health problem found in virtually every patient wanting an abortion. The conflict of interest for the abortion provider is too great. Truly, how many pregnant visitors to Planned Parenthood are counseled not to get an abortion? I would like to see the numbers. Open the books if they have nothing to hide.
As a final thought, I would point out that every reasonable person concedes that abortion is a bad thing. Even legalized abortion proponents claim that they want abortions to be rare and legal. I do not understand why this country wants to promote laws that encourage bad behavior. Additionally, why is the pro-abortion side so against the passage of parental-notification, spousal-notification and waiting-period laws? It has less to do with concern for the patient than it does with concern for the abortion provider's pocketbook.
Scientific and medical advances today are pushing the viability of the unborn baby earlier into the pregnancy cycle. Will we still be debating this subject when technology can finally provide an artificial womb?
Gerard A. Nieters
To the Editor:
I enjoyed your article. It is a sad commentary that our elected representatives will use any issue to try to get a vote. Regardless of which side of this issue you are for, there are no easy choices. That is why it should be left to the individuals who are involved, not someone who is always running for office.
Charles W. Jones III
To the Editor:
Flattening the old city jail years before the new city jail is open will necessitate well over 1,000 unnecessary trips by accused violent offenders for years in rush-hour traffic between Clayton and downtown instead of taking the secure route of "prison elevator to prison tunnel to secure elevator to holding cell behind the courtroom" which now exists. This means moving from a safe encapsulated system to a dangerous open one ("Short Cuts," RFT, May 12).
Successive city administrations have misperceived this whole matter as a "storage" problem as if one was talking about storing 200 inert boxes. Not so. The jail houses 200 kinetic young men charged with unspeakable violence. And history teaches us that they need to be held securely near the courthouse and promptly brought into the courthouse where citizens come to be jurors and witnesses and where the commingling of inmates and citizens is minimized.
Jail inmates are facing massive potential sentences -- 10 years to life imprisonment and the death penalty. They are charged with murder, manslaughter, rape, assault, first-degree robbery. And most of the offenses carry a requirement to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed. They engender anger in victims and victims' families and often boil the blood of revenge. Obviously, facing the most severe sentences, jail inmates have the highest motivation to escape.
Count the dangerous trips: two trips a day, 10 trips a week, over 400 trips a year, over 1,200 trips in three years, over 2,000 trips in five years. And they tell us the new jail will be built by 2002. Sure.
Driving accused "A" felons from Clayton to downtown and back again every day in rush-hour traffic is a dangerous high-wire act. If the sheriff's van has a flat or the water pump blows or a collision occurs, an escape is at hand and lives are in jeopardy.
Remember the image of the Dallas police bringing Lee Harvey Oswald through a public area and Jack Ruby sticking a gun in Oswald's gut and killing him. If the Sheriff's Department -- for years -- will have to bring accused murderers over 1,000 times through public hallways, look for violence. Secure, nonpublic passageways like we now use between the jail and the Municipal Courts Building protect the lives of everyone and discourage the temptations of escape or revenge.
Contrast the meteoric speed of the construction of Kiel Center to the glacial pace of the new jail.
Of course, the old city jail is a mess. But it didn't just get hit with a cruise missile last night. It's been a mess for decades. The closing of the old jail and the opening of the new one should be a transition of short duration, not a chasm of years.
There is also no guarantee that our city prisoners won't be evicted from the Clayton jail because of violent acts in the Clayton jail or attempts to bribe officials to introduce drugs into the facility. And if they are evicted -- say, in 2000 -- then what? Put up an emergency refugeelike facility on the workhouse grounds? Buy the empty Gumbo facility?
The manana attitude about building a new jail must be supplanted with a sense of urgency to build, build, build instead of talk, talk, talk. The languidly slow motion of the city needs to be jettisoned in favor of a vigorous, swift approach. Maybe city leaders should pretend somebody'll play hockey in it.
Bread and circuses should not trump public safety. The emphases of the current proposal are tragically inverted.
Unnecessarily, someone will escape.
Unnecessarily, someone will get hurt.
Unnecessarily, someone may get killed.
Timothy J. Wilson
Circuit Court Judge
To the Editor:
I don't usually find myself writing letters regarding things as innocuous as restaurant reviews, but after reading Jill Posey-Smith's self-important review of Shiitake (RFT, May 19), I was left wondering if her editor took that week off. I won't cite everything that put me off about her pseudo-acerbic style, but really now, consider this line: "Somber charcoal walls ... accentuate the pallor of a smug, excessively Caucasian clientele."
Two thoughts: Before she called the patrons "smug," did she get to know all of them, or just gaze around the room through some hipper-than-thou-colored glasses and figure them all out? This assertion sounds all the more suspect coming from one who later looks down her nose to say, "Unless you've had a $300 kaiseki meal in Kyoto (woooooo!), most of the Asian foods you know and love are populist staples."
Second thought: What, pray tell, does the phrase "excessively Caucasian" mean? Just so I know, what is the acceptable percentage of white people in Clayton restaurants running these days? Should we look to her next review to cite an "excessive" number of Hispanics or African-Americans at another restaurant?
I'm not sure this nonsense belongs anywhere in print, but please keep this kind of tripe out of your restaurant reviews.
To the Editor:
Last week we enjoyed the restaurant review by Jill Posey-Smith, with its memorable cleverness, and this week her "Eastern Exposure" article on the Shiitake Cafe on Forsyth is delightful.
"Irony is the enemy of dinner" is a perfectly placed gem.
Do try to keep her around for more of these. And, yes, I will go to the cafe (on her recommendation of the eggplant alone).
To the Editor:
One of my favorite parts of the RFT is the restaurant review. I was just wondering why you have taken it out and replaced it with the self-righteous ramblings of Jill Posey-Smith. As far as anyone knows, Posey-Smith may be a very good food critic, but who could tell? I see Posey-Smith as a very verbose wannabe novelist. Now, when I read a restaurant review, I would like to know three things. What restaurant? What did you have to eat? Did you like it? I have trouble answering the last two questions when I read Posey-Smith's reviews. She describes the potstickers at Shiitake: they "avoided the glutinous pitfalls that can daunt inferior specimens." Or the calimari: "I broke into a sweat, then broke into a smile; a cool, sweet mango sauce was an inspired accomplice to the impeccably crunchy squid."
Give me a break. What are we talking about here, food or Picasso's show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Just the facts, ma'am, put the thesaurus back in the desk drawer and tell it to me straight. Don't try to impress me with big words or by using four adjectives to describe one simple item. I read Posey-Smith's last few reviews, but could not tell whether she was content or displeased with her experiences. Frankly, I was flat-out perplexed. (I used the thesaurus for that word.)
Fredrick D. Harrison
To the Editor:
I am curious to know why the center music section as been moved. For me, being in a band and enjoying the nightlife in St. Louis, this is the most valuable section of the RFT.
The last couple of issues I had to muddle through to locate it, finding it way in the back. The advertisers that have been faithful to the side strips must also feel somewhat cheated, as this was the section that everybody could open up to and see what was going on in this city of ours. Please change the format back so those of us who use it can find it with ease.
Ray knew what he was doing. Why did you change something that worked so well for so many years?