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Going Postal

Meaningless mockery
I found little of the intended meaning in Hollis Gillespie's recent column ("The search for meaning," Aug. 15). I did find it pitiful that her friends, Grant and Daniel, took such pleasure in displaying "Sister Louisa's" placard proclaiming "Nothin' Harder Than a Preacher's Dick" in their shop directly across from a church.

I wonder if they would be equally proud of themselves if they had displayed "Nothin' Funnier than an Uncircumcised Jew" across from a synagogue. Sister Louisa's work is not art. It's a stupid uncreative attempt at gaining notoriety through the shock value of dissing someone else's religion. Hollis need not be concerned that her friends have "pissed off God"; he suffers fools -- even those moronic enough to be duped into believing Sister Louisa is an artist, or that what she says has meaning.

-- Brad Pearce, Atlanta

Blame it on the G.O.P.
Dear Mr. Land: As a resident of Habersham County -- I moved up here last year -- I can only congratulate you on your judicious piece regarding the local controversy of "smart growth" ("Targeted for U.N. takeover?" Aug. 15). As you correctly demonstrated with quotations from Larry Copeland, et al., the true motive for fighting even the mildest land use regulations is greed.

Copeland is free to publicly admit to his greed because of the outcome of the national election. With a Republican philosophy of "no government," he and his ilk can now openly state their plans of turning this beautiful piece of nature into a paved parking lot, since they feel protected from any governmental oversight, local, state or national. It's hardly surprising that their "philosophy" attracts gun nuts, U.N. takeover conspirators, religious fanatics, etc.

Having followed this controversy on "smart growth," we were greatly disappointed that only the local paper, The Northeast Georgian, reported on it. Your piece is the most valuable exposé as yet and deserves a wider audience. To call attention to the shenanigans of these crooked little nobodies, I will send a copy of your piece to the national press. Thank you for your wonderful work.

-- Elfriede H. Kristwald, Clarkesville

Deregulate the nightlife
Concerning your recent article, "A queer situation" (Aug. 1), I too, intend on voting out as many of the city council members as I can. I wrote my council member when the after-hours vote was coming up. And apparently, a unanimous decision leaves no doubt in my mind that these representatives have no idea what is good for the city.

At issue with the after-hours clubs is not sexual orientation. It's Atlanta's nightlife. In the past, Atlanta has been awarded conventions specifically because of its big-city nightlife and hometown charm. Atlanta's hospitality industry needs a place to go after work. The after-hours clubs feed that need.

Additionally, alcohol-related businesses seem to be the only ones that are regulated by the government. Most business owners follow these regulations to the letter of the law, yet they are constantly being scrutinized and accused of all problems in the community. Also, alcohol-related businesses are the only ones that have their honest livelihood threatened by more government intervention. It would be better to patrol these areas with funds that these businesses pay in tax dollars rather than attempt to regulate them out of business.

We elect city council members to represent us. Based on the feedback I heard from the vote, most weren't even paying attention to what they were voting on.

-- Aron Siegel, Atlanta

Rage against the (sewage) machine
Mr. Berry: Excellent work on the "Inside the machine" piece (Rant, Aug. 22). As a native Atlantan, I can sincerely appreciate your sentiments. Although we all like to quip that New Yorkers consider themselves to be ultimately sophisticated and yet end up looking completely ridiculous clinging to political correctness, we Atlantans also have had a bite of that little pie ourselves.

And also as a native of this city, I am particularly disappointed to find that after having the apparent good luck to be able to purchase a home near the neighborhood in which I grew up, my house is flooded with what is essentially raw sewage and runoff mixed from the street and runoff from the development behind my house.

Now I get to deal with two forms of human life that make Darwin's theory sound like an understatement: the city government and the general contracting pools. My house is 80 years old and I think it's damn worth saving, but after a meeting at City Hall with the Deputy Commissioner of Public Works, David W. Peters, his initial suggestion was to simply have the city purchase the houses in my neighborhood and bulldoze them into a "green space." A green space with serious sewage and drainage issues -- not exactly my first choice for a weekend trip. Plus, this is my home and neighborhood.

Your story resonated with me out of my own recent experience, and the thought was that if all of the disenfranchised neighborhoods (the cover story of the same issue speaks to this) could organize themselves, we just might keep this city a nice place to live, where draconian tactics are frowned upon as are meeting some predetermined reactionary ideal.

-- Ted Duncan, Atlanta

Teach, don't preach
Though it was a harmless piece of oft-repeated fluff, I have a problem with Kamau Mason's outburst about the wonders of education (Soapbox, "Life-saving labor of love," Aug. 15).

But as a spokesman for education, Kamau is little better than our blathering politicians who should never be allowed in the same ring as teachers. He writes a feel-good article about saving peoples in school -- and that is exactly where the problem starts. In the first place, Kamau begins by saying how much he loves his profession and that in itself is suspect. No American worker -- and teachers are workers -- should ever love his profession every day, all the time.

Secondly, American students are far from rosebuds waiting to blossom. In Kamau's classes sit our future taxi drivers, rapists and convenience store managers right there with the airline pilots, politicians, stockbrokers and Budweiser route drivers. As a group, they have very little in common, and it is the great overreaching misconception of the education establishment that teachers are there to save their souls. Every individual who interacts with another will make some sort of lasting effect, and it is just wrong for teachers to always be seeking to do this. Makes them sound like preachers.

I can't imagine a teacher going in every day asking himself whose life am I going to change today. When he does that, he's out of the box. He has romanticized himself into the fairy tale, tell-it-to-the-PTA world that too often clouds the vision of our educators and their important profession, which is no more noble than any other. We don't have noble professions, but jobs well done.

My advice to Kamau is chill. Do the best job you can and go home and have a beer like the rest of us. Teach literature and stop trying to save souls. Do your job, and who knows what will result. A more literate kid? That in itself would be enough. -- Gary Kolar, Atlanta

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