There's a Choice Between Radicalism and Working Within the System
Jonathan Hoffman's Guest Commentary "Occupy Tucson Is an Exercise in Contradiction" (Dec. 22) seems itself to be an exercise in contradiction.
He seems to be saying that the Occupy movement should either be violent and radical in the tradition of the Weather Underground ("I can imagine Bill Ayres rolling his eyes and shaking his head" at the Occupy movement, Hoffman writes), or should work within the system like the Tea Party. Are these really the only choices we have for political action? Has he never heard of the Civil Rights Movement, which, in its first and most-important phase, effectively challenged an unjust social and economic order with creative acts of civil disobedience (the Freedom Rides, the lunch counter sit-ins, etc.)?
Using similar tactics, the Occupy movement has, in just a few months, changed the national political debate by making everyone aware of the extreme inequities of wealth and power in American society.
The Occupy Movement Serves as a Reminder of Injustice
The recent disparaging Guest Commentary regarding Occupy Tucson managed to take up considerable column space and managed to completely ignore the key issues that drive the movement.
The key issues were outlined by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz in May 2011 in a now-classic Vanity Fair article, "Of the 1 Percent, by the 1 Percent, for the 1 Percent." In short, massive amounts of money flows from the very wealthy (the upper 1 percent) and many large corporations (most of which pay no income taxes) into the pockets of the politicians, who then write laws to benefit their paymasters. The current stalemate we now see serves their purposes just fine, as the current laws favor the further accumulation of wealth and profits while shortchanging the citizens of funding for basic needs.
In fact, the majority of citizens are still fairly stable economically, including myself, but an ever-increasing number are suffering from a loss of jobs and poverty (one of four in Tucson). And with unexpected layoffs, even in the health-care industry, one never knows whether he or she may be next. There goes the income, the health coverage and, frequently, the home.
There is nothing that bothers aspiring and elected establishment politicians more than a persistent and highly visible reminder of the above facts and the need for a massive political housecleaning in the upcoming elections. So, do not go away, Occupy Tucson, as well as the hundreds of others in our country.
Stegeman: I Was Glad That Good Teachers Were Retained
The interview with John Pedicone ("Turbulent Times," Currents, Dec. 29) could, no doubt, unintentionally create confusion about my views on the turnaround high schools, Rincon and Palo Verde. When I voted in favor of the turnaround designations, I had asked staff detailed questions about the implications and believed—with at least two other board members—that the teachers who were released from the schools had no guarantee of other jobs within the Tucson Unified School District.
I was glad when many of the released teachers applied for and won other jobs, but I was surprised when teachers who were unsuccessful and still wanted employment were assigned to other TUSD schools without giving the schools any choice in the matter. If I had anticipated this outcome, then I would have voted against imposing such a disruptive process upon the district and its employees.
Having said that, I fully support the current efforts of the reconstituted staffs at the two schools to create a stronger academic environment, and I am optimistic that they will succeed.
Mark Stegeman, TUSD board member
'Young Adult' Is Not a Comedy (Even Though It's Classified as One)
Your review of Young Adult ("Bitch Is Back," Cinema, Dec. 15) wasn't "funny," although reviewer Colin Boyd used the word "comedy" five times.
Sometimes we say a movie is humorous when we might instead call it sad, real or uncomfortable. There was some tittering in the audience, but by the end of the film, I think most of the viewers got it that this was a serious film about a pretty, intelligent lady making some dumb decisions about how to put those parts of her together with growing up in a small, middle-class town and a family that glamorized her, rather than understood her or helped her understand herself.
David A. Ruben
Marijuana Laws Are Unconstitutional!
The proscription of marijuana because it has no medicinal use is an unreasonable and unnecessary regulation of my fundamental rights to privacy, to liberty and to property, and contravenes the Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendments ("Off Schedule," Medical MJ, Dec. 8). For marijuana laws to be reasonable and necessary, there must be a victim who has suffered injury to their rights. The private use of marijuana by an adult does not threaten the rights of others.
The proscription of marijuana is property discrimination and deprivation of rights under the color of law, without due process of law.
Due process applies not only to the reasonable operation of law, but also the reasonableness of the law.