Letters for November 28, 2002

Pot laws are no joke, dude

It's se-e-e-erious:Eric Barton's November 21 story, "Cashed," was humorous. His point was perhaps to prod drug-policy reformers into action? I hope so, because there is nothing humorous about drug prohibition. It is the social policy that causes far more societal damage than it prevents.

On one hand, we have our avuncular drug czar, John Walters, chiding us for sending the wrong message to kids. On the other, we have ten times as many drug felons entering prison as we did in 1980, hundreds of thousands of families destroyed by antidrug laws, and small Colombian farms being "fumigated" to sustain $2,500-an-ounce drugs on the streets of the U.S.

The subject of the article -- that of allowing patients to have cannabis to ease their symptoms -- is the tip of the iceberg. To see the rest of it, I suggest www.csdp.org.

John Chase

Palm Harbor

Someone supports the music editor:I don't dispute Jeff Stratton's November 21 Bandwidth column on MARS Music. I support what he says. MARS Music stores were the manifestation of Mark Begelman's Office Depot mentality.

Office Depot survives because it has basic equipment and supplies that everyone can use at work or home. The people who ran MARS failed to consider that not everyone is a musician. I might buy an office chair for my bedroom, but if I am never going to be a musician, do I need a guitar or guitar strings? The mom-and-pop music stores survive because they are smart enough not to try to outgrow a limited market. If they don't have it, the small stores will order it.

In the end, the question is whether Begelman is a big enough man to admit it was an experiment that did not, and cannot, work. Walking into MARS was a beautiful experience; the array of new and vintage instruments was amazing. Its failure is a sad reality.

As a resident of South Florida, the MARS store I visited was on Powerline Road in Fort Lauderdale. That stretch of Powerline is a rundown, blue-collar industrial area. My assumption was that the MARS business plan was to rent or buy large warehouse buildings in scuzzy areas at low commercial real-estate rates.

In the end, the customer will find alternative outlets for merchandise. For vintage instruments, there's always eBay. And as far as new equipment, let me paraphrase the Kellogg's Corn Flakes commercial: Try Guitar Center again, for the first time.

Marc Smilen

Dania Beach

Give peace a chance:New Times and Bob Norman are to be commended for recent reporting of the antiwar movement in South Florida and the protest in Washington, D.C., on October 26 ("The Antiwarriors," November 14). Not surprisingly, the vast majority of the corporate media has chosen to ignore or downplay this growing movement. Perhaps it conflicts too much with the State Department propaganda being passed off as news reporting nowadays.

Although Norman's perspectives on the local group that I'm active with, the Broward Anti-War Coalition (BAWC), was for the most part balanced and fair, there is one point I'd like to respond to and a couple of others that should be clarified. Mr. Norman states that while he opposes the impending war against Iraq, he supported the attack on Afghanistan, which he mischaracterizes as "The bombing of al Qaeda and its Taliban protectors." Although it hasn't been reported in this country, reliable news sources in Europe and elsewhere have stated that from 3,000 to 5,000 Afghani civilians died as a result of the U.S. bombing -- more than were killed on 9/11.

Afghanistan today is still in ruins and split among various "Taliban Lite" warlords. The U.S.- installed government controls a few square miles in Kabul and not much more. Sadly, the lawlessness now rampant throughout the countryside has made many support the return of a Taliban government. Plans for the war against Afghanistan were in the works well before 9/11 and have more to do with an oil pipeline through that nation than ensuring the safety of American citizens. As BAWC stated last October, the so-called "war on terrorism" and U.S. policy in the Middle East will not bring us additional security, but will lessen it.

It's unfortunate Mr. Norman happened to attend an attempt at a meeting that was poorly planned. Of course, it was our bad luck that the only time this has happened coincided with the only time a representative of the media showed up!

This was in no way typical. I can assure New Times readers that the BAWC, while small, has members active in the community who are doing our best to connect issues of the impending war against Iraq with attacks on our civil liberties in this country.

The article also contained an incorrect e-mail address for us. The correct address to contact BAWC is antiwarbroward@yahoo.com. Readers can visit our website at www.antiwarbroward.org to find out about upcoming events. We appreciate the coverage provided by New Times and only wish the Sun-Sentineland the Miami Herald showed the same interest in the local antiwar movement.

Paul Lefrak

Broward Anti-War Coalition

Fort Lauderdale

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