Letters from the Issue of August 29, 2002

One cop would rather resign than compromise his integrity

Talk about a lack of historical memory. Remembering the history, suffering, and struggle of African Americans, it's unthinkable that Bennett doesn't understand it is not only rational but it is a moral requirement of black men to defend the rights and liberties of anyone and everyone who might suffer discrimination. Or did black men cross over into social, political, and economic nirvana in America while I wasn't looking? Are we suddenly free enough, smug enough, and blind enough to look down our noses at the discriminatory treatment of others?

Hell, let's just talk about common sense. Looking closely at the code words Bennett uses, it is clear he is accusing gays and lesbians of being subhuman owing to their "choice" of a certain "lifestyle" devoted to exploiting innocent youths, which affronts his interpretation of the word of God. Indeed. Jerry Falwell rides again, this time as a black man who has forgotten what happened in Jasper, Texas -- the lynching of a black man dragged behind a pickup truck by white racists.

I "choose" every day to speak out against racism, to struggle against racism, and to expose racism. That makes me suspect to some people. My lifestyle (as a radical intellectual) is one that makes some people uncomfortable. As a radical professor, it has even been said of me in the past that I corrupt youth. Does that mean that I should forfeit my civil rights and civil liberties until I "choose" to shut up and think, act, dress, even make love like I'm told?

Black men, like everyone else, should support the continued protection of gays and lesbians from discrimination and should make our support felt by voting No on September 10 in order to continue that protection.

Rayfield A. Waller

Barry University

If You Knew Joey Like I Know Joey

Oh, oh, oh what a guy:In response to Antonio Herrera's letter to the editor (August 1) about Joe Arriola, apparently Mr. Herrera must have the wrong Joe Arriola. The Joe Arriola I know donated one million dollars to the United Way of Miami-Dade County, to name only one of the many organizations to which he contributes. The Joe Arriola I know for fifteen years funded a Thanksgiving dinner for less fortunate families from the City of Opa-locka. He also sponsored annual Christmas toy carnivals for more than 500 children and their families. The Christmas Eve event included a day filled with toys, food, and carnival festivities. In addition Joe Arriola mentored a program for Florida A&M that benefited scholarships for over 50 kids. He also sponsored a similar program for the Rochester Institute of Technology that benefited minority children. I could go on and on in mentioning how he is a true philanthropist, but we wouldn't have time to discuss each topic.

Joe Arriola is not the egotistical, self-centered man Mr. Herrera has portrayed. He is a caring individual who has been very generous in sharing his wealth with this community.

Kelly Barket, Jr.

Miami

Being Sick in the Head Is No Joke

Just ask any of us: We at the Miami chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) read Mike Clary's article "The Snake Pit" (July 11). Ours is an organization of relatives, friends, and persons with serious and persistent mental illnesses. "Snake Pit" impressed us because it reflected the terrible conditions our dear ones encounter when incarcerated for minor violations committed mostly as a result of their illnesses.

We are available for information regarding the latest scientific research indicating that lack of insight is a nontreatable symptom of severe mental illness. Most inmates with this condition are unable to realize they are suffering from a treatable illness and refuse care or discontinue treatment as soon as they are left without supervision.

The Florida Sheriffs Association sponsored a bill last legislative session that died in committee. The sheriffs are prepared to present a new bill next year -- an expansion of the standards of the Baker Act to allow persons who are seriously mentally ill, but not dangerous to themselves or others, to be involuntarily evaluated and treated if necessary. The sheriffs may also ask to change existing law to allow judges to order -- for short periods of time and after due process -- assisted outpatient treatment already in use in 41 states. This measure will order mentally ill individuals to continue treatment or be rehospitalized.

Rachel H. Diaz, board member

NAMI of Miami

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