- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 27, 2007

D.C. ‘honor bound’ to help clubs

The editorial “No red-light district” (Tuesday) describes progress made on New York Avenue since the newspaper established its headquarters there a quarter century ago, then predicts calamity if nude dancing establishments displaced by the new baseball stadium are allowed to move to the area.

The editorial states: “Red-light districts, like casinos, are inevitable magnets for crime, drug dealers and prostitutes.” But according to information obtained by D.C. Council member Jim Graham, whose bill seeks to help displaced clubs relocate, the new locations identified by the licensees are not clustered together. Nor does their history support the lurid claims of associated crime. The Times simply treats this as a given.

The statement that “the ‘Gateway to the Nation’s Capital’ should not be an aspiring Las Vegas” suggests a row of buildings on New York Avenue with large neon signs appealing to passing drivers. Yet none of the identified locations is on New York Avenue, and experience suggests city regulators would prohibit excessive signage.

If the bill becomes law, the displaced licensees will still have to face the Alcohol Beverage Control Board and the Board of Zoning Adjustment. This bill merely gives them a chance.

The bill’s supporters seek no more for homosexual customers than is taken for granted by customers of the straight-oriented clubs. The bill is only needed because the businesses were dislocated by the city to make way for the new stadium.

The city is, therefore, honor bound to provide a remedy. Most industrially zoned real estate in the city is in Ward 5. The displaced licensees have found suitable locations they can afford and that are well separated. The D.C. Council recently earmarked up to $3.6 million in road funds for the area.

No one is trying to “railroad” council member Harry Thomas Jr. or his constituents, who had the same opportunity as everyone else to testify at last year’s public hearing on Mr. Graham’s bill. Indeed, numerous Ward 5 residents have been lighting up local blogs with defenses of the clubs.

It is rather silly for such a big furor to be raised over a few adult entertainment establishments in a cosmopolitan city like Washington. The Times, like the people stirred up by Mr. Thomas, should stop hyperventilating — or at least stop misrepresenting the facts.

RICHARD J. ROSENDALL

Vice president for political affairs

Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance

Washington

Barking up the wrong tree

Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis’ comments about Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick’s reported dogfighting and his lack of apology are unacceptable (“Portis clarifies view on Vick, dogfighting,” Sports, Wednesday). Dogfighting is illegal in all 50 states and a felony in 48 states for good reason.

People who train dogs to fight typically keep them in heavy chains, taunt them into aggression, and starve and beat them. When dogs lose a fight, dogfighters often shoot or burn them alive. Not only are the dogs dangerous, their “trainers” often are as well.

Mental health professionals and top law-enforcement officials consider cruelty to animals to be a red flag. The American Psychiatric Association identifies crimes against animals as a diagnostic criterion for conduct disorders, and the FBI uses reports of these crimes in analyzing the threat potential of suspected and known criminals. Experts agree that it is the severity of the abuse, not the species of the victim, that matters.

If he is convicted of cruelty to animals, let’s hope Michael Vick is given a strict sentence — including jail time, counseling and a ban on contact with animals — and is released by the Falcons. People who abuse animals belong in prison, not on the playing field.

LINDSAY POLLARD-POST

Staff writer

People for the Ethical Treatment

of Animals

Norfolk

Behind bars

I could not disagree more with American Correctional Association Executive Director James A. Gondles Jr. (“Corrections, please,” Forum, May 13). He decries the use of the term “guard” because “correctional officers” employ an array of skills every day. I’ve been incarcerated for 18 years and have yet to see the skills he mentions.

“First aid” is a guard calling medical on his radio. “Suicide prevention” is locking someone up in isolation. These “skills” seem geared more to his primary duty: ensuring the same number of warm bodies at the end of his shift as at the beginning — which, as G. Gordon Liddy points out, is the textbook definition of “guard.”

Mr. Gondles’ reference to supporting habilitative or rehabilitative programs requiring advanced or specialized training is laughable. Without fail, every single program I’ve taken has been conducted by someone in civilian clothes. The lions’ share of “correcting” these “correctional officers” do is removing an unauthorized cup and/or book from the top of our wall lockers.

Real “correction” would be a radical overhaul from the malaise I see repeated day after day: guys who stay up late and sleep all day. Frankly, it’s little wonder the recidivism rate is so high. Corrections in America is an annual $60 billion boondoggle.

Mr. Gondles says that “guard” is “offensive and outdated” because “correctional officers” do other things than their primary function of security. While in prison, I’ve earned an associate degree and become both a fabricating and certified optician.

Using Mr. Gondles’ logic, I suppose I should no longer be called a “prisoner,” “inmate,” or “convict”; rather, how about “student” — or better yet, “graduate.” Yes, I like that. This way, we can all feel good about this mind-numbing and potential wasting, revolving-door government enterprise. What rubbish.

Even The Washington Times rejects this euphemistic nonsense: witness the May 14 front page Metropolitan section headline: “Former guard becomes inmate.”

JOHN J. LISANICK

Victoria, Va.

For the record — again

I welcomed your story on the poll indicating that most parents do not endorse making the new human papillomavirus vaccine mandatory for school attendance. However, I was dismayed to see the distortion of the Family Research Council’s position on this vaccine that appeared in the same story (“Parents divided over mandates for HPV vaccine,” Nation, Thursday).

You reported that “the Family Research Council and other groups oppose the vaccine, saying it promotes promiscuity and represents ‘governmental overreach.’ ”

It is simply false to say that the Family Research Council “opposes the vaccine.” We welcome the development and distribution of the vaccine and have said so in several public statements beginning in October 2005, including my own op-ed piece that ran in The Washington Timeslast July 17 (under the headline “A promising vaccine …”).

While we believe the question of whether vaccination will impact sexual behavior is an important one that should be studied, my article in your paper stated our conclusion “that the clear benefits of developing an HPV vaccine outweigh any potential costs.”

To say that mandatory vaccination represents “governmental overreach” is a fair statement of our position but omits the most crucial point. What an HPV vaccine mandate would reach over, without sufficient public health justification, is the right of parents to control the medical care of their own children.

PETER SPRIGG

Vice president for policy

Family Research Council

Washington

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