To say you "support" law enforcement is not enough (Publisher's column, December). A fair and thoughtful person would look at the pepper-swabbing incident from all sides and not automatically condemn the police officer.

Of all the people I debated on this issue not one would dare answer the question, "What would you have done?".

The officers had two options at the beginning. They could have left the protesters there or remove them. Letting the Earth Firsters shut the office down indefinitely is unacceptable.... Would liberals let Pro Life groups shut down Planned Parenthood offices at will?

Once the decision is made to remove the Earth Firsters, then how? Do you cut the heavy metal sleeves or use blow torches? Have you ever looked closely at these contraptions? I have. Someone will be seriously cut or burned one of these times. What will the liberals say when an Earth Firster loses some fingers? Is this kind?

Finally an objective person would see the Earth Firsters laughing and joking five minutes after they were swabbed. Clearly to call this torture is silly.

I really appreciate the in-depth articles your magazine has. That is why I was disappointed that you failed to bring up some of these points.

John Fullerton, C.P.A., Eureka

Editor's note: You may be interested in the guest opinion of John Arnold, former Eureka city manager, in this edition.



Regarding your publisher's column [December]: Please cancel my subscription.

(name withheld), Eureka



I admired you when you showed some gumption in tackling the Board of Supervisors for the egregious law breaking. However, in your December issue you seem to be firmly back on your accustomed conservative perch with any liberal or progressive tendencies firmly held in check.

In a time when the world is ruled by lawless giant corporations and society's values, institutions and rules of conduct are corrupted and trampled in feverish pursuit of quick profit, the only voices defending the public interest come from a few remaining independent media. It's a shame yours is not among them.

I think the 16-year-old women who put their bodies on the line to call our attention to the free fall of the natural world are the heroes of our time, the only ones who see clearly and try to steer us onto the path of sanity. Not you or anyone else in the mainstream seems to grasp that destroying the temples of nature, trees which have been living for thousands of years and the ecosystems they exemplify, is morally and ecologically wrong.

In all my 75 years I have witnessed similar atrocities only in Nazi Germany. Where is your outrage, where your protest? Where is our humanity, our compassion? What kind of monsters have we become?

Kurt Volckmar, Garberville



Your story, "Image seen 'round the world," is a superb piece of writing. Good job.

Jack Hitt, hitt@humboldt1.com



Once again you have demonstrated superb journalistic style by representing both sides of the fence in great detail.

After 23 years in Humboldt County I decided to head out for some adventure and emigrated to New Zealand. I work in an ethnically diverse engineering firm here in Auckland. After getting hold of a Reuters wire on the Net regarding the pepper-spray incident, I showed the article to a Croatian and a South African at the office. Their response, "Is that why you left?"

Regardless Humboldters, you still live in a paradise! Hopefully lessons will be learned! Public dissent must be tolerated.

The police here don't carry guns and they introduce themselves with a handshake if you happen to get pulled over for some reason. This even applies to long-haired, heavily tattooed Mauris riding Harley trikes late on Friday nights! I've witnessed it.

Remember officers, it takes no additional effort to be nice to people. You always manage to prevail at the end. Best of luck.

John Higginbotham, New Zealand



Most people, including media types, have responded to Humboldt County's infamous pepper-spray incident without getting to the bottom line. Earth First! is winning a publicity war with virtually no opposition.

Placing their volunteers, including minors, in a position to break the law while facing known and predictable physical responses from law enforcement officers entails little risk for their leaders and gains incredible publicity for their cause. These leaders had seen law enforcement use pepper-spray tactics earlier, then staged their next demonstration with cameras rolling and the media on high alert.

Greg Conners, gnc@humboldt1.com



A friend passed along a copy of the October issue, which I just got a chance to look at today. I really enjoyed the Chesbro/Walsh article (Cover story), and was particularly surprised and pleased to see a photo I took of Wesley many years ago!

On a different topic, I noted that the "Rumble on the Rivers" piece didn't address potential sources of rock other than mining the rivers. My employer, the city of Sunnyvale, hosts a private concrete and asphalt recycling operation that profitably recycles over 100,000 tons per year of material into base rock. This is the dominant method of handling discarded concrete here in Silicon Valley.

I am well aware that there vast differences between Santa Clara County and Humboldt County, particularly when it comes to access to virgin natural resources. Some of the products coming out of the river are probably not able to be produced by the concrete recyclers. But I'll bet a lot of the concrete being thrown away in Humboldt County could be turned back into rock that could replace some grades of virgin rock and reduce the impacts on the rivers.

This will only happen if those mining the rivers for gravel have to include in their costs the external impacts of their operations. Then the recycled concrete business model would be more viable.

Keep up the good work.

Mark Bowers, mbowers@ci.sunnyvale.ca.us

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