Letters: Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Clue on Homelessness
To the editor: Clueless is the word that comes to mind concerning Mr. Patrick Disney’s comments regarding homelessness in Fort Worth (Letters, Dec. 26, 2007) and the article “Too Many in Their Back Yard” (Dec. 12, 2007). This is typical of someone who has not the slightest experience with the chronically homeless. The statement that “homelessness rarely, if ever, is truly a choice” sounds like it comes from someone who was raised in a “country club” neighborhood and educated in private schools. Instead of trying to trash Ms. Conlin and Mr. Bermes for their hard work in trying to keep all of East Fort Worth a great place to live and work, perhaps a review of “Fear and Loathing in Woodhaven” by Jeff Prince (Feb. 23, 2005) might be in order.
Drug addiction, alcoholism, the mentally ill, and the problems of panhandling, public intoxication, people relieving themselves in public, and generally trashing every corner that the vagrants populate should be the subjects we are discussing. Instead we are debating whether or not being homeless is a choice and suggesting that “transitional housing” for people who do not want a hand up, just a handout, is somehow the solution because it makes us feel better about ourselves.
Stop coddling vagrants and vagabonds by labeling them the poor “homeless” people along with those who are truly in need of medical care or without a roof over their heads through no choice of their own. If they are truly “homeless,” offer help out of the situation (if that is what they want) and require an equal amount of personal effort to attain that. How about telling them, “Get off drugs, get off alcohol, get off the street, go to work, or get the hell out!”
Louis McBee
Fort Worth

To the editor: The article on homelessness by Haley Hunter addresses all the prevalent problems that neighborhoods with a high volume of homeless and vagrant people endure. Panhandlers have dominated certain sectors of town because of a relaxed enforcement policy and the discrimination factor.
Some of these homeless folks are subsidized by the government. They receive disability checks and have the options of rehabilitation and assistance such as the shelters. Many do not take advantage of these amenities because they involve rules that must be followed. So freelance panhandling is a career choice, since there is a profit to be made.
To make someone change their ways and become self-sufficient, there have to be viable alternatives and incentives. State Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth was successful in getting a bill passed that regulates liquor consumption around homeless shelters, in tandem with a city ordinance. This was a spark plug for change. Along with supportive housing, this will ultimately pay the dividend of helping the chronically homeless get onto the right path.
Jerry Watkins
Fort Worth

Third World at Carswell
To the editor: The Weekly’s article “Paying the Price for Free Speech” (Dec. 5, 2007) puts the Carswell women’s federal prison facility back into the limelight. Staff writer Betty Brink has kept this crusade for justice in the public eye for a long time, and her perseverance will eventually yield positive results.
If Carswell were run effectively and staffed well, officials wouldn’t be so worried about inmates invoking their right to freedom of speech to talk with reporters.
The apparent violations of these inmates’ civil rights are comparable to Third-World torture. The shame is that this is federally sanctioned, and we, the taxpayers, are milked for these “services”! These acts of terrorism and official oppression are draped in a schadenfreude syndrome by guards, but also go up the ladder of authority directly to the warden.
Thanks to a decade of coverage by the Weekly, Congress knows about these allegations. Why are they reluctant to intervene to stop these abuses? Even the Geneva Convention provides better rules for prisoner treatment.
Thank God for Ms. Brink’s talent and professionalism in reporting these public-interest, high-impact stories.
Dee Taylor
Fort Worth

Glass Houses
To the editor: Laurie Barker James’ article “A Broad Heart” proves how many people treat religion and beliefs in buffet style — picking and choosing what beliefs to hold to.
Until 1973, homosexuality was considered a mental deviation, punishable by being incarcerated in a mental facility. Gays were classed with pedophiles. People’s intolerance for changing attitudes is based on a refusal to learn about preferences and customs.
The religious community needs to stop finger-pointing. They condemn homosexuality, but it’s all right to sin by overindulging in drinking, fornication, and infidelity. The old cliché sums it up — “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
Ethyl Brown
Fort Worth

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