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I was very disappointed with a portion of Ben Ehrenreich’s recent “First Amendment, LAPD Style” news article [June 23–29]. I am not naive to the fact that your news paper has a particular view or bias that it wants to present, and that’s fine. However, I do believe that you still have a responsibility to your readers to be factual in your reporting. Clearly, Mr. Ehrenreich’s statement “The police, he [i.e., Lieutenant Frank] admits, are not motivated entirely by concern for protesters’ comfort” will lead readers to believe that I made that admission to the reporter. Quite the contrary. In fact, I told Ben that it was because of such concerns that we had established the Demon stration Area, where we would provide security, a sound stage and microphone, and restroom facilities for those who choose to use the area. Ben’s “paraphrase” really amounts to an interpretation of what I said, and he should have let the reader know it. I should point out that he could not be any further from the truth in his interpretation. Nonetheless, he is entitled to his opinion.
—Lieutenant Horace E. Frank
Officer in Charge Media Relations Section
Los Angeles Police Department
Re: Margaret Wertheim’s cover story on “Frankenfoods” [July 7–13]. Consider the long track record of America’s mad scientists’ tendency to leap without looking: leaded gasoline, MTBE, breast implants, Rezulin, Bovine Growth Hormone, asbestos, Fen-Phen . . . Now we’re expected to trust that this time they know what they’re doing? And to accept the idea that greedy pesticide companies have suddenly become benevolent saviors of the Third World?
The surprise expressed by researchers over the public’s growing discontent and wariness is insulting. Of course we never asked — we trusted that food was being grown by actual farmers, and didn’t have much reason to consider this wasn’t the case. They consciously chose to keep us in the dark, and continue to distort the truth, evidenced by the billions spent every year to thwart labeling efforts. The FDA requires the listing of every ingredient on every product, from sugar to polyunsaturated Red Dye No. 4. Is reminding us that cocoa is in a candy bar more important than pointing out flounder genes in our fruit?
Margaret Wertheim’s article on genetic engineering was totally off target. The question is not whether genetically engineered food is good or bad for humanity. Only time will tell. The question is whether we have the right to choose what we eat. Here, pro-choice — just as in the context of abortion — means allowing people to make their own free decision. It is definitely Dr. Bradford’s right to feed his kids genetically engineered potatoes. My choice is different, and yet, without proper labeling, I am not able to exercise my choice.
Dr. Bradford suggests that because we have not labeled modified plants before, we should not do so now. We did not label “calories from fat” before. We did not label cholesterol before. We did not label dietary fiber before. We did not care about DDT, or the rain forest, or the ozone layer, or global warming before. We did not allow women to vote before. We did not desegregate the buses in the South before . . .
The people who are “caught in the middle” of this debate are not the nation’s farmers, as Margaret Wertheim would lead us to believe. They are you, me and our children, who may not be given the opportunity to choose the kinds of food we want to eat.
Don’t you think it’s kind of funny that the advertisements surrounding an article about people being afraid of changing the makeup of the foods we eat are all about changing the shape and appearance of our bodies? Maybe the scientists can design foods so humans will no longer require laser hair removal, vaginal rejuvenation, colon hydrotherapy, cosmetic surgery or six-week body make-overs.
Re: Doug Sadownick’s “Acting Up” [July 14–20]. I find the position taken by Rex Poindexter and Rodney Knoll as morbid as it is hilarious. Unfortunately for them, this is not the O.J. Simpson trial, where scientific evidence can be ignored. This is life and death. HIV and AIDS will kill them and â thousands of Africans, whether they choose to believe in it or not.
I see their mistaken opinions as an outgrowth of a typical left-wing ideology, where “big business” and the “right wing” are out to get them. The notion that large drug companies and political leaders are colluding against AIDS victims to get rich is laughable.
I salute Doug Sadownick for reporting the truth that HIV does not cause AIDS. He, along with Rex Poindexter, South African President Thabo Mbeki and Congressman Gary Miller (R-California), has taken a courageous step forward.
In fact, Sadownick’s article on changes in Act Up made no such assertion. The link between HIV and AIDS has been extremely well established.
ON A CLEAR DAY, YOU MAY STILL NEED GLASSES
Re: Brendan Mullen’s Rik L. Rik obituary [July 7–13]. I clearly recall F-Word’s debut at the Masque in ’77, as I was the DJ that night (one turntable, Nuggets and a coupla new punk 45s). Rather than blow away that crowd, it was they who were blown offstage, literally, as they lit into a poorly played, overly aggressive and offensive set. After about three or four minutes onstage, a punkette at the front grabbed a fire extinguisher and turned it full force onto Rik and the boys, who hastily left to the jeers of the audience. It is certainly to their credit that they came back, improved and became one of the great punk outfits of that period. Much respect, Rik.
New York City
BRENDAN MULLEN REPLIES: Sorry to be the bearer of bad news re your memory, old bean. F-Word made their debut on an off Sunday night with no DJ present, since the DJ had quit, complaining to me about there being “too many bands” . . . remember? The band that was sprayed with the fire extinguishers and booed off was the Spastics, a group with conspicuously “uncool” Beverly Hills roots — and the only band ever to get such a hostile reaction during that cheery early period at the Masque.
The least the Weekly could do is get his birth date correct. Rik was born in 1960!
MULLEN AGAIN: The information in the subheadline was an editing error, not mine. I merely stated that Rik was 39 when he died.