Keeping hikers out
Re "Landowner puts his foot down on hiking," June 27
I share Shull Bonsall Jr.'s worries about the land he owns near the falls and pools in the Los Padres National Forest. I don't think that the public has a right to any land that any group -- conservationists or otherwise -- has deemed open to the public.
In fact, I would suggest that access to mountain or wilderness trails, pools and waterfalls across the state has in many cases led to their damage and demise through graffiti, trash and vandalism. As a hiker and trail runner, I have witnessed firsthand the ruin of what was once beautiful and untouched California land from cans, plastic bottles and just plain trash.
The teaching tool of access to the land comes at great cost to the environment. In the case of these trails, pools and waterfalls, this world would be a great and beautiful place if there were no people in it.
Victor Franco Jr.
Re "A huge word made small," Opinion, June 29
Fighting against trivialization, the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Rabbi Marvin Hier seems to claim that no aspect of Third Reich fascism other than the Holocaust may be subject to comparison or discussion, and that the Middle English word "holocaust," derived from ancient Greek, must be forever limited in use to Webster's definition 3a: "the mass slaughter of European civilians and especially Jews by the Nazis during World War II."
As enormously horrific as it was, the Holocaust has not rendered the writing of poetry "barbaric," as Theodor Adorno said it had, and we shouldn't let it obsolete rationality either.
Rabbi Hier admonishes those who rightly compare the current plight of Latinos to the time before the full-blown horrors of the Holocaust.
Years before the gas chambers claimed its first victims, Jews were forced to live under the repressive Nuremberg Laws. These laws slowly began to isolate and restrict their movements. The Holocaust was a process before it became an event.
The rabbi instead should concern himself with exposing the ways that some states mirror the strategies of the emerging Third Reich.
I ask Jewish Americans to stand with the Latino community and not look to establish hierarchies of suffering as yardsticks of moral entitlement and division.
If a rabbi cannot find the connections between the universal patterns of hate, then, truly, we all may be lost.
Thank you, Rabbi Hier, for accurately defining the word "holocaust."
I am troubled by the repeated references to a forest fire or a plane crash as a holocaust.
"Holocaust" is not a word to be uttered during every serious or even catastrophic event. To do so trivializes the enormity of the evil perpetrated by Hitler and tacitly approved by those who did nothing to stop it.
Those who, for whatever their passion about an issue, invoke the word "holocaust" are insensitive to the need to place that dreadful part of our history in the unique pantheon of shame that it deserves.
Hier includes using the term "holocaust" to refer to abortion as one of the ways the term is being trivialized nowadays.
There are 1 million abortions per year in the U.S. — 42 million abortions per year worldwide. Each abortion is a human life terminated. The only way one could not be moved by these figures and could call this a trivial comparison would be if he thinks these lives are somehow worth less. And isn't that really what the Holocaust was all about?
Hier quotes a mother's statement to Rudolf Hoess as she and her children went to their deaths: "How can you murder these beautiful, darling children? Don't you have any heart?" Those heartbreaking words could well be said now if we took time to really think about what each abortion really accomplishes.
So, no, Rabbi Hier, this is one case where a huge word is not made too small. But then again, maybe abortion merits its own, just-as-horrible word.
Christian club's exclusion of gays
Re "High court supports UC in bias case," June 29
I cannot agree with the Supreme Court ruling that a UC student group supposedly "excluded gays."
This group only excluded "unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle" — i.e., sex outside marriage. This also excluded heterosexuals who engage in sex outside marriage. What could be more equitable?
This is merely requiring a code of ethics for entrance into a group. Those in the military and Congress take an oath. How is this different from that? This is not discrimination, but a desire to be a cut above.
Re "Who can join a Christian club?," Editorial, June 30
The Times apparently is not aware of the difference between religious freedom and bigotry.