Posted by: bkivey | 30 January 2015

Letter to the Editor II

It’s been some 30 months since I wrote a post based on the Letters page of the local paper, but the 18 January edition was too good to pass up.

Blaming the Victim

Press and ‘moral responsibility’: Let’s not call those who publish provocative cartoons deriding the religious beliefs of others — not just Muslims — “heroes.” By kindling hatred among the few French Muslims likely to respond violently, the cartoons led to many deaths, including those of innocent bystanders. No government interfered. Thus the issue is not freedom of the press; it is the moral responsibility of the press.

Ironically, morality is the cornerstone of all religions. Buddha taught that hurtful speech has consequences. Saint Paul agreed, saying you reap what you sow.

John Folawn

Northwest Portland

Mr. Folawn appears to be under the misconception that only government can repress free expression. Any entity willing to use deadly force can repress freedom, and multiple examples are apparently not enough teach the writer that lesson. In a civilized society, murderous rage is not an appropriate or acceptable response to a slight. Those who worry about offending the ‘violent’ Muslims, how ever few they may be, are already in the oppressor’s thrall.

Missing the Point

U of O’s academic bona fides: I am dismayed about the hoopla over the University of Oregon and its football team. I went to U of O in the 1950s and 1960s, and I chose that school because of academic excellence in its liberal arts program — in particular, mathematics. Nowhere did the university’s record in football influence my choice, and I doubt that members of its outstanding faculty were enticed to the school by a winning football team.

Today, I would almost certainly not choose U of O as a place for my education. Football is fun, but it isn’t the purpose of an institution of higher learning.

Jack Gjovaag

Southwest Portland

Assuming that Mr. Gjovaag majored in Mathematics, or some other technical field, the intervening years haven’t been kind to his grasp of logic. The majority of football powerhouse schools are often in the top academic tier as well: UCLA, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, USC, Georgia Tech, and yes, Oregon. Major sports programs in universities are funded primarily by alumni donors and various fund-raising activities. Oregon has a very good football team, and one very large alumni donor in Nike founder Phil Knight. It may be that some students select Oregon because they want to cheer on a winning program Saturday afternoons, but I suspect most students select their school based on some combination of academics and proximity. I would suggest that perhaps Mr. Gjovaag isn’t enamored of success in general.


‘Growth is not the answer’: The Oregonian editorial board would be far more worthy of respect if it occasionally departed from its monolithic support of any project that produces “jobs” to treating the bigger-picture issue — namely, where is our current business model leading us?

An export-driven economy like Oregon’s sits on a double conundrum: It supports growth at home and growth on the receiving end. It doesn’t matter what the exported product is — but surely fossil fuels are the worst of the lot. Let’s have some talk about where this leads. The Earth already suffers from the effects of too much humanity. We need to be working out how to lessen our impact, not make it greater.

Growth is not the answer — it is the problem.

Steve Iversen


The biological imperative is ‘Grow or Die’. Every organism seeks to expand it’s niche and secure resources to ensure the survivability of the species. Humans are biological organisms, meaning we follow the same natural laws as any other living thing. Even though we’re little better than slightly more intelligent monkeys, our biological niche is at the apex. To say that humans should voluntarily reduce their ‘impact’ (niche) is not rational. We’d do far better to harness our biological impulses for the collective good than try to suppress them. And there’s an app for that: capitalism.


A Lisa Crnich wrote on 19 January that she was appalled at the increase in rates for the use of a public natatorium. And indeed, the rate increase isn’t trivial. Apparently the fee for a single class went from $4.50 to $10 at the start of the year, or a 120% increase. Not even college increases that much. Fortunately, Ms. Crnich clears up the mystery.

She relates that she consulted her tax bill, and found that two bond measures increased her tax bill by nearly 25%. The key quote from her letter:

“I have always been a supporter and voted for the bond levies. I’m not sure I can do that in the future.”

Where does she think bond repayment money comes from? It’s true that the voter information pamphlet provides an estimate of the additional tax burden for bonds, but it seems most people don’t bother to read it or ignore it because it’s ‘for the children’ or some such drivel. Magical thinking, meet economic reality.


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