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Letters to the Editor 

Week of October 16, 2002

Hear Yee, Hear Yee

You mean there's a way to discriminately kill and harass birds?: Hats off to Matt Smith for being gutsy enough to expose Supervisor Leland Yee for being such a panderer to the small but vocal "rabid" pro-dog, but anti everyone and everything else, people ["The Horror," Matt Smith, Oct. 2]. Mr. Yee has grabbed hold of this issue like a pit bull to its prey. He has not considered who (e.g., children) and what (e.g., natural areas and their inhabitants) could be adversely affected by his no-leash policies. Instead he continues to kiss up to his dog people, which I'm sure he hopes will return the favor in his bid for the Assembly seat. As a biologist I have read extensively on the adverse affects of free-roaming dogs and cats on natural areas. They are both devastating, especially to birds. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal for us humans to indiscriminately kill and harass birds, yet via our pets we are doing just that. We need to impose reasonable restrictions in order to preserve the gift of nature that exists even (in pockets) in our fair city.

Andrea Jesse

Hey, it's hard to whip up emotions while sitting on your ass: I object strongly to Matt Smith's column dated Oct. 2. I realize that his antagonistic style is part of his persona, but I would be more inclined to appreciate this if he got his facts straight. Perhaps drawing on past hysteria of the Whipple furor about dogs is considered acceptable to the Chronicle, but it is not to me. I suggest you ask your employee to perform some investigative journalism rather than sit on his ass and whip up emotions with old news and biased reporting.

Martin Fieldhouse
San Bruno

Actually, Pope said, "A little learning is a dangerous thing," but maybe that's too difficult to recall: Matt Smith might want to reconsider his taste for tortured analogies involving local politics with whatever irony du jour blows in from abroad. By using the 27-year-long Angolan civil war -- ended recently with the death of Unita rebel leader Jonas Savimbi -- to score points against the leftist bent of our Board of Supes, he only demonstrates the truth of Alexander Pope's saying, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

It is easy to point out the obvious (U.S. oil company's "ironic" support for a Marxist regime), the clichéd (location Africa, invoke Conrad's Heart of Darkness), and the trite: "No San Francisco leftist ... has managed to be so S.F.-left as to spend a quarter-century funding Marxist soldiers in a Third-World guerrilla war."

But the cynicism of this editorial exercise is revealing for what it omits: that Savimbi was supported by the white minority government of South Africa and [by] the United States. Although lauded by Ronald Reagan as a "freedom fighter," Savimbi was a spoiler who lost a free and fair election in 1992 and decided to resume a civil war, which, besides killing half a million, displaced 4 million people -- a third of the country's population.

It is hard to precisely tally the suffering experienced by this Southwest African nation. Much of the country's infrastructure was destroyed; now malnutrition, land mines, and regional instability are hobbling recovery. Surely it is not too difficult to recall the role that Cold War rivalries and South Africa's policy of destabilizing its neighbors during the apartheid years played in destroying the hopes of generations of Africans.

But to Matt Smith none of that matters so much as a gotcha opportunity to tweak the supes and other progressives with a specious anecdote on the strange bedfellows that capitalism finds in the oil fields of Africa, and to disingenuously aver that the country's chaos is a result of Marxist kleptocracy rather than a civil war that was cruelly prolonged by superpower intrigues and proxy fighting with successive U.S. administrations bankrolling an anti-democratic butcher named Savimbi. Forget the real causes of the war, and the U.S. role in prolonging that country's misery -- this is not the kind of news that Smith is equipped to bring to the readers of the SF Weakly [sic].

D.S. Black

No Footnote

Bagged another one: Just wanted to send my heartfelt thanks for writing one of the better mainstream articles on footbag ["The Pain of the Disco Ninja," by Matt Palmquist, Oct. 2]. This sport rarely gets accurate or serious coverage from the press, and it brings those of us in the sport who love it so much no end of disappointment. Cheers to SF Weekly for a thoughtful account of one of freestyle's most famous athlete's struggles. All of us know Tuan and the inherent injuries involved with advanced freestyle, but I don't think many of us were aware of all that he's had to endure.

Ernest Crvich
Boulder, Colo.


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