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Sex Offender
I was deeply offended by two of George Cothran's remarks in "Perverted Justice?" (June 3). Certainly the criminal justice system is ineffective for violent sex offenders, but that does not justify victim-blaming reporting.

Cothran described the action of one of the victims (survivors) as unwise, because she tried to get back her groceries. Sexually violent Felix had repeatedly attacked women, regardless of their actions -- and while it is true that some reactions may be more effective against a potential attacker, it is entirely unfair to judge the victim. To say that Ms. Mackey was unwise places blame on her for Felix's unacceptable and violent behavior.

Later in the article, Cothran added the detail that one of the victims was a virgin. The sentence was placed by itself for added emphasis. Cothran suggests that the crime is more egregious because she had never had sex before. That plays into a nasty stereotype: that "pureness" equals innocence and that non-virgin victims deserve to be raped.

Neanderthal thinking. Want a cluephone? Rape is rape is rape is rape.
A. Pomerleau

Perverted Article
After reading George Cothran's quixotic attempts to de-vilify a serial rapist ("Perverted Justice?"), I find that what is really perverted is the article itself. Cothran spends most of the article building excuses for Felix, a man who has repeatedly attempted to rape women in the Bay Area. Although Cothran suggests that Felix may be dangerous (duh!), at one point Cothran even refers to Felix as a "Boy Scout" compared to other criminals.

I am not a lock-them-away believer. Many criminals deserve a second chance. But not rapists. And most definitely not repeat rapists. The whole manner of Cothran's discussion is shallow and empty. He glamorizes Felix's rapes (mentioning that one victim was a virgin -- what does that have to do with the crime?) and virtually builds a defense for Felix as a poor, Mommy-made-me-do-it-so-feel-sorry-for-me criminal.

Here is my suggestion: If Cothran is so willing to give Felix a second chance, maybe he should let Felix live at his home -- with his family and loved ones. Maybe he should introduce Felix to his girlfriend or wife. Not a good idea, huh? Didn't think so. But Cothran doesn't mind if we, the public, take that chance. Sorry, Cothran, but this is a chance we are not willing to take. Instead of concentrating on setting rapists free, maybe try to make people (including yourself) aware of how serious a crime rape really is. What a shame.

Rom Brafman
Via Internet

Give Peace a Glance
Many thanks to David Pasztor for writing such an informative feature on the state of nuclear weapons testing here in the United States ("Building a Better Bomb," May 27). If left to the major media, most people wouldn't know about the B-61 Mod 11 "bunker buster," and future DOE projects.

In the opening paragraph you ponder the "exact moment when we stopped worrying about the bomb"; and indeed, you give us plenty to worry about -- nearly 25 pages detailing the DOE's vision of a 21st century rife with new nuclear weapons. However, you say little about what people are actually doing about it other than a few "environmental groups" staging actions "almost by rote."

Due to a concentrated effort on the part of Peace Action, there is a steady and growing opposition to the Department of Energy's program to continue testing nuclear weapons. In California we have successfully employed a variety of grass-roots tactics to derail this dangerous and wasteful program.

In 1997, California Peace Action launched a campaign to develop congressional opposition to Stockpile Stewardship. Last summer and fall, Peace Action staff spoke with thousands of Marin County citizens, urging them to press Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Petaluma) to take a leadership role. As a result, Woolsey agreed to write a "Dear Colleague" letter to President Clinton. Woolsey was ultimately joined by 30 additional representatives across the country, including Bay Area Reps. Dellums and Stark. Building on this momentum, Woolsey crafted a resolution calling for termination of the Stockpile Stewardship program altogether.

This election year Peace Action is launching a nationwide grass-roots electoral campaign designed to ensure that congressional candidates address this issue. This campaign, called PeaceVoter'98, will include thousands of volunteers in dozens of communities.

Again, thanks for revealing the DOE's nightmare vision to Bay Area readers. The solutions, however, deserve as much attention as the problems themselves. There are many organized efforts under way to move the DOE from its current course. If the progressive press doesn't give credence to these efforts, who will?

Jeff Jurgens
California Peace Action
San Francisco


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