Letters from the week of July 6, 2000

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Letters from the week of July 6, 2000

Arrested Development
Regarding Allie Johnson's "Breach of the Peace" in the June 22 issue: As a participant of the People's Rally on May 13, I'm honestly still a little in shock over the arrests of Mike McCormack and Sarah Viets. This was the most peaceful, respectful group of people I've had the pleasure of meeting and coming together with.

I'm having a real difficult time rationalizing the manner in which both Mike and Sarah were "apprehended." It just doesn't fit. I also distinctly remember being told by Mike and his attorney that not staying on the sidewalks could result in arrests. Every (refreshing) child, woman, and man who chose to be at the People's Rally that Saturday afternoon came together to try to learn and find solutions and really talk (something that seems rare these days) about issues we were all concerned with.

I can't believe, after everything I was taught in school, that my First Amendment rights as a citizen of the United States of America mean nothing. I mean, it's almost an insult to my intelligence that Volker Park was being "staked out." From my understanding, the Kansas City Police Department was to escort us on the march and did not show.

I won't be ashamed for paying my taxes and exercising my rights. Thank you for the thorough article. I am pleased.

Peace.-- Kara Werner

Kansas City, Kansas

Despite his arbitrary arrest for peaceful activity, Mike McCormack is careful to point out in his interview with PitchWeekly that he and his associate are not "antiauthority or crazed anarchist lunatics." It may be a surprise to McCormack and many others, but it is possible to be an anarchist without being either crazed or a lunatic.

Anarchists are opposed to government and all other coercive social arrangements. Period. This is what makes one an anarchist. While different anarchists favor different economic arrangements between individuals and groups, ranging from free communes to systems of private property and use of money, what all these arrangements have in common is that they are based on voluntary participation. And, as in economics, anarchists favor free choice and participation in all aspects of social life.

Anarchists favor the abolition of government in all its aspects: police, taxes, "public" schools, the military, laws, prisons, welfare, etc. All of these institutions are based on force, and anarchists desire a society free of compulsion in any form. We believe that free people, unrestrained by government, are more than capable of figuring out how to take care of themselves and others peacefully and fairly.

Governments don't like it when their subjects disobey. McCormack was arrested by the agents of authority and government, not because he did any harm to anyone but simply because he failed to follow the rules set up by those who hold power. That is the nature of government. And that is why I am an anarchist.-- Joe Peacott

Kansas City, Kansas

Train Wreck
I love trains. Underground. On ground. Above ground. Just like The Jetsons! But even if Clay Chastain and his "small cadre" come up with a free rail system that solves all our air quality and transportation problems, I'd oppose it (Patrick Dobson's "Clipboard in Hand ... Again," June 15). A closed planning process destroys a perfect solution.

A planning group segregated by physical, educational, cultural, or ideological differences does not have the range of information needed for public decisions. Segregated committees cause resentment in the community, feed conspiracy theories, and unequally split contracts and work. "But," we activists sometimes protest, "we'll take care of 'them.'" But what we are actually doing is keeping people powerless, helpless, and angry. Even children too young to vote deserve input -- so much more so than disenfranchised adults!

As Abraham Lincoln quoted, you destroy people when you do for them what they can and should do for themselves. We harm people when we make plans and policies for them rather than with them. Doing so teaches people they are helpless and that their ideas are not worth considering. Good policy cannot be made in an ivory tower, ignorant of the real lives of the real people being affected. An imposed plan, even if technically perfect, will be hated and sabotaged.

In one training I went through for a soup kitchen/shelter/tutoring, the instructor advised us that while two-thirds of our time should be spent in direct service, one-third should be spent changing policy. Otherwise, we were just taking the fire out of those suffering injustice. Likewise, I think that while policymakers spend two-thirds of their time formulating plans, they must spend the other third in the communities they are affecting, seeing how people live, soliciting ideas, and recruiting workers. The process will be slower. Planners will have to deal with anger and the diverse views of reality as well as with their own biases. The end result, however, will be respect for both the project and the planners.

Mr. Chastain, why are there no announcements of planning meetings posted on street poles and in discount stores, no notices published in The Call, Dos Mundos, or weekly shoppers?-- Connie Lamka

Kansas City, Missouri

Life and Breath
I have emphysema, and I too was destined to die within a year (Peter Downs' "Life and Breath Situation," June 15). But I had LVRS (lung-volume-reduction surgery), as a self-pay patient, as Medicare would not pay for the surgery. I had my surgery at Chapman Medical/Lung Center, with Dr. Richard Fischell doing the surgery.

I am one year and five months from surgery, and my FEV1 is still up around 54 or 55 percent, from 23 percent before surgery. I had qualified for surgery in the NETT study but was randomized and was going downhill fast. I dropped out of the study in December 1998, after being randomized, and the NETT doctor agreed with a chart that I had made, that I would not live to see the year 2000.

Now I've seen 2000 and expect to see several more years. I was 73 years of age when I had my surgery and am going about doing normal things that I could not do before surgery.

I am an advocate for this surgery, provided the patient is qualified and the procedure is performed by a qualified surgeon. -- Glenn Farris (no relation to Jim Farris in Overland Park, the subject of the article)

El Cajon, California

Pitch This
Have you ever heard: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"? Everyone loved SexFiles with Dr. Carroll. Everyone loved the Pitch's great coverage of local events, like the annual Mardi Gras pub crawl (?) and interesting local theater events (Frankenclown?). Everyone loved the "local nature" of the Pitch.

And finally, I loved the movie reviews. Even though I didn't agree with every reviewer, I knew them and their tastes. I used their number rating system as a basis for all of my movie viewing. Firing them (and changing the reviewing style) is the biggest mistake you've made and the last straw for me. I have read the Pitch for 10 years. Now I have no reason to (and won't) ever pick up a Pitch again. How sad!-- Andrea Ways Newman

Kansas City, Missouri

CORRECTION:
In the June 22 story "Spin City," the name of the DJ-friendly record store near 39th and Broadway was incorrect. The store is called 180 Records.

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