Letters to the Editor
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Seattle, WA 98188
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EDITOR: I got baked with [my opponent] Kollin Min just the other day before a candidates' forum ["City Council Candidates Say the Darnedest Things!," Sept 4]. He took me out back and pulled a spliff out of his sock. We smoked it, and discussed the merits of Initiative 75:
Christal Wood: Getting a lot of questions about I-75?
Kollin Min: Yeah--I just say no. [Laughs hysterically.]
CW: Kollin, you've got to be on drugs to think the War on Drugs is working. Everybody knows it--unless you're a prison owner.
KM: Psss-ss-sss [trying to laugh, but keep his toke in]--here.
CW: It doesn't make sense. There is no evidence that pot is especially harmful to anyone's health--in fact, it has health benefits and leaves your motor skills unimpaired. How can a nation that repealed alcohol prohibition not legalize and regulate weed? There are over-the-counter cold medicines more hallucinogenic, and more lethal. How come doctors can prescribe morphine, Valium, Demerol, and OxyContin--but not THC?
KM: You're high and you're taking it all too seriously.
CW: You roll pregnant joints.
KM: So what do you think of I-75?
CW: I'll probably vote for it, but it doesn't go far enough. We're being cowardly. "Lowest priority"? Please. How fairly are cops on the street really going to interpret that? I've been advocating for refusal to enforce federal MJ law since 2001, based on local sovereignty. Constitutionally, the main enforcement right Congress has to regulate any trade is when it crosses state lines. We could totally set precedent for the rest of the nation in taking a stronger stance on what, and in what quantities, we allow to be grown and traded--taxed, even--within city limits.
KM: And that's why you'll be an "also-ran."
CW: Over a million people, Kollin--a million!--are in our federal prison system for nonviolent drug crimes. The absurdity, the cost, the waste of human potential is mind-blowing. Dude, we should just have a big friggin' smoke-out--right in front of the Federal Building!
KM: No more for you [taking a long drag before stubbing the roach out with his shoe]. You're stoned.
CW: And you're a stoned hypocrite. Over 50 percent of those nonviolent prisoners are people of color. Doesn't it bother you just a little bit, Kollin?
KM: Are you kidding? I'm a lawyer, Christal, and an Asian. We represent the smallest ethnic subset of the prison population next to Native Americans. Besides, no one's gonna take you seriously when you say that kind of stuff as a candidate. I'm going for the mainstream vote.
CW: Oh, right. Your position's up; you better go in there and wipe that silly smile off your face. I don't mean to be off-color, but maybe you shouldn't have gotten high before giving your address--your eyes look kind of squinty now.
KM: Har, har, har. Shut up before I set fire to those tired braids. I hope they have food at this thing....
Candidate for City Council
JOSH FEIT: I know I shouldn't put anything in writing in this town... but I can't help it. Your Heidi Wills article today rocked [Five to Four, Josh Feit, Aug 28]. I couldn't agree more. To your point about sexism [in the Seattle Times' treatment of Heidi Wills], I would add some ageism. It's two strikes being a bright young woman who isn't willing to shut up and make the coffee.
Richard Conlin, Seattle City Council Member
HE BACKS COFFEE TAX!
EDITOR: Blasting I-77 was a drug-induced fuck-up ["Stranger Election Bowling League Primary Endorsements," Sept 4]. I-77 is a creative and well-intentioned initiative. I know it's a non sequitur desperation move; but there is a crisis in childcare. If I-77 passes, then childcare in this city will get a much-needed boost; your article just might kill the bill and keep the cute little children with the big eyes from getting the quality care that they deserve.
SEX WORK SUCKS
BRADLEY STEINBACHER: My conscience forces me to respond to your article "The Mercer Mess" [Aug 21]. I have worked as a stripper in Seattle. I managed to fool myself [into believing] that being a stripper was liberating and empowering. But every stripper I have ever met comes to hate men. Men are walking wallets and not real people. And one doesn't have to work in a strip joint for long before realizing that police detectives regularly show around pictures of murdered strippers and hookers in an attempt to identify their bodies.
After I had seen through the whole stripper thing, I began working as a professional dominatrix. My private passion for female domination was now my business. How empowering--until I realized that many of my clients had frightening stories about how they got so fucked up. I had convinced myself that what I did was therapeutic. My shrink said BDSM is bonding through trauma. The turning point for me was when I asked myself, "Would I do this if I were rich or truly felt powerful? Would any truly empowered woman be a stripper, dominatrix, or hooker?" No fucking way!
FOLLOW THE AIDS MONEY
STRANGER: I've followed the whole series on failed HIV-prevention efforts among gay men here in Seattle very closely... and all I can say about this week's issue with all the e-mails [Sept 4] is WOW. Great job.
At the risk of sounding like I'm apologizing for Public Health-Seattle & King County, I think there's one part of this sad story that you're missing. You're right when you say Lifelong Aids Alliance (LAA--what an utterly appropriate acronym... la, la, la) and Gay City are funded by Public Health. But you're wrong when you imply that the department, in effect, "gives" them the money. Both LAA and GC are funded through a competitive grant process. Grants for the next two years were turned in last Friday. If the review panel awards LAA and GC $$, then we're stuck with their slipshoddiness for the next two years, and there's nothing that you, I, or Public Health can do about it.
BTW, it's disingenuous at best for David Richart or Fred Swanson to say they didn't know about rising HIV rates. From February through May they sat on the Seattle-King County HIV/AIDS Planning Council's prevention prioritization committee, which set funding levels for the coming two years. As part of that process, both of them argued for--and got--increased funding for HIV prevention among men who have sex with men. They used the rise in STD rates among MSM as part of their arguments.
There are some other sacred cows out there. For example, People of Color Against AIDS Network has received substantial amounts of $$ to do HIV prevention among MSM of color and heterosexuals, and there's fairly widespread consensus that they've been every bit as effective as LAA and GC (tongue firmly in cheek).
Anonymous, via e-mail
HE HAS MET THE CORE AND THE CORE IS US
STRANGER: I have been reading your coverage of the rising STD and HIV rates [among gay men]. And while I mostly agree that there is a lack of leadership in the gay community, I disagree with the fundamental theory for the rise in these rates--the "small" core-minority that is infecting people out there.
I am a gay, HIV-negative male and I use condoms consistently. I am constantly meeting young men who are more than willing to have unprotected sex. They are not a "small" group with HIV,. They are mostly a bunch of confused, misguided, and uninformed youth who don't know any better. They are constantly bombarded by messages that it's okay if you have HIV--that you can take a pill and it will go away. A lot of them just don't seem to care about HIV at all.
Until we realize that it's not just a few people out there spreading it, we won't even make a dent in the infection rates.
Erik, via e-mail
DEAR EDITOR: This is in regards to Kathleen Wilson's column about... well, I'm not sure what--herself or the flailings of the Seattle Weekly. I understand, and in some ways applaud, her efforts to get down to the matter concerning the accuracy of a quote the Weekly printed. I do not, however, understand why she had to take jab after jab at fellow reporters and editors. I am not condoning what Michaelangelo Matos did, but Wilson shouldn't be allowed to fire attention-pellets like "[he is a] socially inept slob." I'd say she should look deep into that one, but I've never met her longer than she has Mr. Matos, so I'll keep my gab shut.