In last week's cover story ("Make a Run for the Altar," July 8), Gustavo Arellano profiled Latino couples whose sham marriages make citizens of illegal aliens. Among the, er, interesting responses was this comment by Sip:
"Unfair? WOW!!! Are ANY of these people cognizant of the fact that they crossed ILLEGALLY? To make it simple, I'd say that illegal aliens have NO rights other than the right to not be assaulted, not held without charge, basic HUMAN rights. I think that most, if not all, of the people in this story honestly think that the person committing the crime is the victim — WOW!!! This is why we need a strong border fence and increased military presence with shoot-to-kill orders. The outcry would be severe and strong initially with such a policy, but with a clearly marked and difficult-to-penetrate border fence, illegal entry would be simple to deter. You cross this fence illegally, you will be shot. In Texas, we keep our personal home boundaries safe with just such deterrence."
Not to be outdone, Carlos writes, presumably from California: "I say we legalize all these Mexis on the condition that the fGGt boludo who wrote this krappy article is deported to Mexico. He can be Carlos Slim's nerdy little boTTom and listen to NPR music from Tijuana."
You want to know what boludo means? Write to "Ask a Mexican" for a definitive answer but in the meantime think: a stupid person with big cojones. Well, at least part of that description applies to Mr. Arellano!
THE KIDS ARE NOT ALL RIGHT
Sam Slovick's piece detailing the failures of L.A. County's probation system ("Who Can Fix Camp Nobody," July 8) brought this thoughtful response from Karen Youra: "Mr. Slovick's writing, embraced in a broader sense, begs for intelligent, inspired solutions; out of the BOX. If the current system is clearly only marginally successful, let us wake up to a new way. Applauding this reporter's work as I am left brainstorming rather than judging — inspired rather than defeated."
"Sam Slovick's own troubled youth and the path he's run for his own betterment is inspirational," adds Deborah. "His writing has always reflected his desire to help forge a path for every kid that struggles today. Thanks for giving a voice to the kids in the L.A. probation system."
Roberta Villa is an L.A. Trade Technical Community College teacher quoted (misquoted, she says) in the story: "I never said that the Probation Dept. traumatizes the youth. They come in traumatized by so many things, and the Probation Dept. 'houses' them — they do not offer much in the area of rehabilitation, and staff are not hired with education, counseling backgrounds. The biggest issues are using the time a youth is incarcerated to redirect their lives and to dispel the myth that incarcerated youth, especially gang youth, want this kind of life. Trust me, they don't. What did I do that was different? I always address them by their FIRST name, never ask them 'where they are from,' and treat them like smart, capable students. Ninety-two percent of them want a different life."
THANK MR. GOLD
Jonathan Gold's review of La Cevicheria ("Blood and Clams: Ceviche to Die for," July 8) inspired an unusual number of comments, most of them thankful notes from fans of the restaurant. Kent was an exception: "Great, now I gotta see every hip Westsider in this place, probably asking why they don't have enchiladas. Thanks, Gold."HOLLY
GOLIGHTLY, TREADING HEAVILY
Karina Longworth's interview with author Sam Wasson ("How Audrey Hepburn Shaped Sex," July 8), regarding Hollywood's Production Code, as eroded in part by Hepburn's Breakfast at Tiffany's call girl, Holly Golightly, did not sit at all well with reader Msterion. Ms. Msterion writes such an effective letter, we publish it in full:
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"As a product of the women's lib movement of the '70s I have been baffled and concerned by the spiking obsession by young women with the film iconography of the stylishly mercenary, aggressively rootless Holly Golightly. I now realize why many girls identify with what I have always seen as a deeply tragic character: barely literate, orphaned then statutorily raped by her protector in her early teens, marooned in an age (either the '40s of the novel or the later era of the film; take your pick) where men generally doled out the opportunities.
"It is because this 'bygone' era when many of even the most spirited and intelligent women became co-opted and subjugated by men if they lacked education and skills that allowed them to live independently, to freely choose men for companionship, lust and/or love — rather than out of desperate need for financial support — is back with a vengeance. Thanks to the horrific state of our schools, the deepening recession, and 360-degree, 24-hour media that equates wealth with achievement, and early sexualization with maturity, we are breeding generations of studiously attractive but intellectually unequipped, spiritually hollow young women who haven't even heard of the original Breakfast at Tiffany's novella, much less have the reading skills or critical-thinking skills to read it for the cautionary tale it can tell to contemporary youth.
"Instead, many of our young girls' best chance of survival is hugging a stripper pole for as long as they can get away with it, or dressing stylishly at Skybar and leveraging rent money from several 'boyfriends' as the more subtle, 'independent' Holly Golightly–esque method of topping from the bottom of the educational heap, while hopefully saving some of these proceeds for the day that they become too old and rugged to compete with the next generation of Holly Golightlys: shudder!"
SPEAKING OF AUDREY HEPBURN
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