Issue February 26, 2008

Erosia

LEO welcomes letters that are brief (250 words max) and thoughtful. Ad hominem attacks will be ignored, and we need your name and a daytime phone number. Send snail mail to EROSIA, 640 S. Fourth St., Louisville, Ky. 40202. Fax to 895-9779 or e-mail to leo@leoweekly.com. We may edit for length, grammar and clarity.

Unlocked and Loaded
(Regarding “Have gun, will fire” feature story in the Feb. 20 LEO): Two hotheads with loaded weapons. It’s a wonder there were not two dead men.
Rex Fuller, Louisville

Flash and Stash
When the news first reported about Darren Pickerill being shot by an ex-cop (Richard Koenig), the first thing the media did was point out the officer’s bad record. After seeing that, I thought, “Great, another gung-ho cop getting away with murder.” But now after the smoke has cleared and the evidence has been laid out, I believe Koenig did the right thing. After examining the photos of Koenig’s Jeep blocked by Pickerill’s Hummer, what was Koenig supposed to do?
I have carried a firearm legally for years now and thank God I have never had to use it. I have been cut off, flipped-off and had many other off-color things happen on the road, and never once has it crossed my mind to “shoot the prick” who caused me grief. Why would anyone want to “flash” their weapon anyway? If Pickerill really flashed his gun, Koenig had every reason to believe his life was in danger.
Now we come to the point that pisses me off — the anti-gunners saying, “Oh God, it’s like the Old West all over again.” Mr. and Mrs. Anti-Gunner, let me tell you something: If we had no guns for protection, the thugs, rapists and just plain sick-minded criminals would eat you up in no time at all. Why would they even worry about attacking you if you have no way of protecting yourself? And by now, you anti-gunners are raving about the campus shooting up north. Well, this sick bastard should have been red-flagged a long time ago not to even own a slingshot. The history of his past is enough that the state of Illinois should have kept firearms out of his hands. All of the latest headlined shootings have happened in “gun-free zones.” Hmm, I think I’ll stay away from the gun-free zones. Yes, I do feel more secure being armed, and I know when to walk away from a “cockfight.”
I guess I’ll see you anti-gunners in a couple of months ranting and raving in front of the Fairgrounds for the big NRA convention. Remember, guns don’t kill innocent people, psychopaths do, so let’s put a ban psychopaths.
Philip Todd Ackerman, Louisville

Shot Through the Heart
Although I agree with a number of points Kevin Adams makes in his Feb. 20 Erosia letter, I have trouble being generous to his argument because of the language he uses. Adams argues that although “most bleeding-heart liberals would throw away all the guns if they could,” gun owners are defended by “our Constitution protects the citizens’ right to bear arms.” He continues by thanking God that “statutes are written for the good of us all, in spite of the idiots in the world.”
Many “bleeding-heart liberals” either have no problem with or have come to terms with the constitutional right to own guns. What continues to trouble us is that there is no way to guarantee “the temperament to handle the responsibility” that comes with carrying a concealed weapon.
Although Adams points out that he is not licensed to carry, he, nonetheless, is speaking for all those who are licensed to carry. By turning to combative language to characterize those who oppose conceal-carry laws, Adams exhibits a characteristic that is too often demonstrated by gun-rights advocates, that being the tendency to use hostile rhetoric to defend their rights.
Such rhetoric exhibits an unwillingness to act responsibly while participating in civic discourse. In turn, anti-gun advocates such as myself note such hostility as an obvious and pertinent reason to continue to oppose the expansion of gun ownership rights. Not wanting hostile gun owners to walk around with the right to carry a concealed weapon, when looked at in this context, is not idiotic but quite logical. If gun-rights advocates want to convince more citizens of their right to carry concealed weapons, I’d recommend acting civilly and responsibly when arguing for gun rights. Unfortunately, the most vocal members of the gun-rights advocacy have no interest in acting civilly, as, they so often remind us, the Constitution provides them absolute rights, whether bleeding-heart idiots like it or not.
Matthew Dowell, Louisville

Kudos!
Although many cities have newspapers that feature weekend cultural events (and corequisite ads for “not erotic” massage therapists in the back), most do not include such substantive coverage of humanities conferences (LEO, Feb. 20). Almost none print quality modern poetry. Kudos! Next time, spell Edwidge Danticat’s name correctly, and I’ll really be impressed!
Josh Brewer, West Lafayette, Ind.

Take a Hike
I am writing you to inform you of a growing movement among University of Louisville students to protest the tuition hikes that are making paying for college more and more of an unbearable burden for young men and women from working-class backgrounds. The university has chosen to shift the weight of budget shortfalls on students instead of considering other avenues for raising and saving funds. As students and citizens, we believe that education is a right, and not a privilege. Education is both the site and the practice of self-liberation. Therefore, we would like the community to support us on this issue. We are circulating a petition among students, and we are planning a general walkout of classes on March 26 at 1:11 p.m.
Amar Shah, Louisville

I Love Mountains
I was one of more than a thousand Kentuckians who spent the day talking with legislators in Frankfort on “I Love Mountains Day.” Why would that many people show up to talk with legislators?
• Consider that 421 miles of the streams and creeks in Eastern Kentucky have been filled in with the debris from mountaintop removal.
• Consider that more than 61,721 acres of land are currently used as valley fills in Eastern Kentucky.?
• Consider the number of families that cannot bathe their children and cannot drink their well water because it has arsenic from the coal mining in it. (Imagine that here in Louisville.)?
• Consider the flooding that happens when the trees and soil are removed from the mountain and replaced with rock. Remember people live in the valleys in Eastern Kentucky.?
• Consider the increased water treatment costs that are passed on to downstream communities. (We are all downstream from the Eastern Kentucky waters as well.)
• Consider that Kentuckians have a moral responsibility to care about all citizens, not just those in our own communities.
It was encouraging to see Kentuckians from all parts of the bluegrass standing up for people in the coal counties of Appalachia. But we must do much more to ensure that House Bill 164 — The Stream Saver Bill — has the opportunity to be voted on by the full House of Representatives.
It is very important that legislators, both House and Senate members, hear from the public. You can use a toll-free number to Frankfort and leave your message for your legislators from your county. The phone number is (800) 372-7181. When you do this, each message is printed on a card and delivered personally to the requested legislator’s office. If you want to e-mail your legislator, the address is “firstname.lastname@lrc.ky.gov.”
The most effective form of communication with your legislators is personal. Call them and talk to them. Please ask them to support and cosponsor HB 164. This bill is not about ending coal mining. It is for responsible coal mining. It is for clean water, not polluted water. It would simply end the practice of dumping mining water into “intermittent, perennial or ephemeral stream or other water of the Commonwealth.” That does not seem radical. It seems responsible.
Gregg Wagner, Louisville