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Letters to the Editor 

Tobacco Firm Adds Insult to Injury; A Few Bike Lanes Away From Utopia; Music to Our Ears; Fish Story; Art and Censorship

Murder by suicide: While I agree that the use of the acronym "SCUM" is offensive ("Smoking Gun," Bay View, May 2, on a marketing campaign by tobacco company R.J. Reynolds, called Project SCUM, targeting San Francisco gays and homeless people), I cannot overlook the portrayal of all smokers as "victims." I am a gay male and a smoker, so I do find the acronym offensive -- even if it was never created with harm in mind.

While I believe that there was a time when the public at large were victims of the tobacco companies, there is no excuse for the lack of accountability found today. Each of us is responsible for our own actions. For at least 15 years it has been clearly spelled out to us that smoking can (and in most cases will) kill. So why are so many people crying wolf now?

I think it's time for us to all grow up and take accountability for our own actions. Remind yourself: Who purchased those smokes? R.J. Reynolds? Philip Morris? No, it was you. Stop blaming others for your own bad decisions and start dealing with the ramifications.
Name Withheld

S.F. is nice, but it's no Havana: Thank you, Matt Smith, for the article "Rides and Wrongs" (May 2). San Francisco can become a livable city -- not by chopping down the benches that people who have no homes sit on, but by taking the steps you outline: eliminating some parking garages and wide, one-way streets, and adding more bike lanes and bike paths. It's embarrassing to be so far behind other cities: Portland, Amsterdam, Havana ... they figured out how to be bike-friendly, so why can't we? Pedestrians and bicyclists are motivated by concern for the environment and for their health, an affection for San Francisco's cityscape and citizens, a thrifty and practical nature, and the good mood caused by fresh air and exercise. Rather than killing off 30 and scaring off thousands each year, our city should be creating more of this kind of good neighbor.
Clare Corcoran
North of Panhandle

One more letter and Dan's got a fan club: I wanted to say how much I've been enjoying Dan Strachota's excellent music coverage -- so many great write-ups on Orange Peels, For Stars, Call and Response, etc. It's great to know that underplayed and underappreciated pop is getting such quality journalistic treatment. Your pieces are well researched and always must-reading! Thanks again from a regular reader.
Mitch Lemay
Los Altos Hills

Wobbly letters. You couldn't just give us a compliment, could you, Marge?: Thanks for the incisive and detailed report by John Dougherty on the gray whale ("Russian Roulette," April 25). The photos and maps provided excellent and undistorted views of the locale and people and of the scientists involved in this documentation. My one small complaint is the idiotic wobbly "kindergarten" lettering your graphic designer felt was necessary. Nevertheless, it remains an objective and informative article. I'll be looking for the future reports.
Marge Harburg
San Francisco

The truth about "Cats and Dogs": As a San Francisco Art Institute student who sat a row or two behind Matt Smith during the symposium ("Cats and Dogs," April 25, on a meeting called after a student was suspended for making a film showing genital stimulation of a dog and the skinning of a dead cat), I would like to respond to his own act of censorship after reading his column, and set some facts straight. A group of students immediately tried to bring José Rodríguez back, but also wanted to address not only freedom of speech but the wrongful way that the student was dealt with by the administration, and with how several other students were recently treated.

The symposium (which no member of the administration would attend) was supposed to address what steps should be taken when a student is accused of stepping over preset "boundaries." This format, including hypotheticals, was chosen to make the administration feel more comfortable attending the forum. Until that moment they were refusing to answer our questions regarding Rodríguez.

What ended up happening at the symposium, and what Smith failed to write about, was that students and community members decided to mobilize, after I and other attendees broke open the issue at hand. A large gap exists between the administration and student body that we are attempting to bridge. The student panel, which Smith insulted, and all the people who came to the symposium should be applauded. Without their actions Rodríguez would not be back in school now and we would not be closer to hopefully creating healthier communication between the factions within our school.
Sara Dierck
Western Addition


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