Proposition 19 is the answer
Re "Marijuana profiling," Editorial, Oct. 27
California has the chance to fix a broken system of marijuana laws that disproportionally impact Latinos. I am disappointed that The Times acknowledges this discrimination but still concludes that Proposition 19 is not the answer.
Latinos are two to three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession even though studies consistently find that young Latinos use marijuana at lower rates than whites. Voting yes on Proposition 19 is a vote to challenge this status quo.
Imagine how many violent crimes could be prevented if we freed up public safety resources to focus on serious, violent offenses. Proposition 19 would simply treat adult marijuana use like alcohol or tobacco use. It would move us toward a more fair and effective approach to drug laws. And Latinos have a stake in it passing.
The writer is legal director for the ACLU of Southern California.
Business, money and politics
Re "Corporate campaign spending still murky," Oct. 27
This article misses the point. When corporations and unions can contribute to a political cause or candidate, those who wish to participate in our economy — either through their investments or their employment — must give up their right to determine what causes and candidates they support. The decision will be made for them.
The Constitution was written to protect individual rights. No good can come of giving those rights and protections to corporations and unions.
There seems to be some unwritten rule in the media that there are two sides to almost every issue. Here, The Times forces the reader to weigh two differing statements without enough facts to help determine which is true.
Robert Weissman of Public Citizen says the public needs "to know which corporations and billionaires are behind the attack ads." Following that is a quote from Bradley A. Smith, the conservative former Federal Election Commission chairman, who says, "Voters do know who is funding the ads — every single one of them."
Both of these statements can't be true, and the media should dig a bit deeper to provide an answer.
Getting young people involved
Re "Idealism's next generation," Column, Oct. 26
Sandy Banks' story about her daughter's political awakening was wonderful. But it's disturbing to see that young people are still less politically engaged than their elders.
Part of the problem is that civics education in this country is mediocre. Too many Americans don't fully understand how their government works. Students aren't taught to regard political participation as a civic responsibility.
Because young people don't vote as frequently as older people, politicians don't pay as much attention to the issues young voters care about. Then young people become less interested in politics and so don't vote regularly. It's a vicious cycle.
For Banks to call San Francisco's bus drivers "fat cats" because they earn a living wage that affords them an opportunity to send their children to college betrays her own bias against California's working class. Banks has much to learn from her wonderful daughter.
Daughters, teach your mothers well.
It's over for Aziz
Re "Ex-Baath official to be executed," Oct. 27
It's more than merely regrettable that Tarik Aziz obviously didn't know that an Iraqi expatriate, codenamed Curveball, had been lying to the West about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. On one of his calmer, widely aired, pre-invasion television interviews, I, for one, was impressed — but not quite convinced — when Aziz stated, "There are no weapons of mass destruction" and that many American soldiers would be killed for nothing.
If Aziz had any insider's knowledge about Curveball's sullied background, he could have thoroughly discredited this particular fabricator in prewar interviews. Not only I but many more members of Congress, along with the public at large — and perhaps even President Bush himself — would probably have withdrawn their support for the invasion.
Re "Gender hasn't swayed women voters," Oct. 26
Of the innumerable offensive arguments put forth during this election, the article about gender as a decisive factor in voting is the most disgusting.
The fact that pollsters are still, in this day and age, regarding women as some conglomerate that makes decisions based on genitalia is outrageous, debasing and highly inflammatory.
It is about time pollsters, candidates and journalists recognize that women are individuals, capable of forming opinions based on evidence and thought. To suggest anything less is misogyny.
Re "Discount on phone but not on tax," Business, Oct. 26