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Thursday, March 9, 2006 10:02 pm

Letters to the editor

In and around Springfield

We welcome letters, but please include your full name, address, and daytime telephone number. We edit all letters for libel, length, and clarity. Send letters to Letters, Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705; fax 217-753-3958; e-mail editor@illinoistimes.com.

ORGAN GRINDER AND HIS MONKEY Having read “A taste of his own medicine” [Dusty Rhodes, Feb. 23], I have to wonder what goes on in that sheriff’s department. A postread analysis: I am no closer to knowing who did what, to whom, than before. But it is clear that someone isn’t telling the whole story or truth. Chief Deputy Tony Sacco must think everyone on this side of the page is an idiot, or maybe he got backed into a corner and said whatever he thought would allow him an escape. Who knows? But I challenge him to provide the facts to support his contention: that similar complaints, reported by the average citizen, are responded to with equal enthusiasm. Come on, we all know those people “in the ivory tower” live much larger than the rest of society, but most of them are smart enough, or at least have the common dignity, to not shove it in our face. I see Sacco and Sheriff Neil Williamson as having a close relationship: I just can’t figure out who turns the handle and who holds the tin cup. Keep up the good work. Brett Cameron Mount Zion

SURE, HE HAD HIS ROWDY MOMENTS I was totally dismayed as I read “A taste of his own medicine.” If I remember correctly, Dusty Rhodes is a more recent transplant to the Springfield area, and she may not be aware of all the good this guy has done for central Illinois. Over 18-plus years, [Don] Jackson has contributed hundreds and hundreds of hours to fundraising efforts for local charities. In all the years I listened to him, I never heard of him turning down one family or organization that really needed his help. Keeping in mind that Dusty Rhodes has only lived in our community a short time, could she list any efforts she has personally taken to generate help for those in need? Yes, Jackson has his rowdy moments and I loved them, as did most of his listeners. With all due respect, I think Dusty Rhodes’ article was terribly one-sided. Edie Miller Virden

MIGHT AS WELL SLAM MOTHER TERESA Even when dismissing his tarnished radio career and fireworks debacle, I still have trouble mustering up any real sympathy for Don E. Jackson. Even at first glance, the maelstrom of diatribes and accusations both he and his supporters hurl at Dusty Rhodes [“Letters,” March 2] rapidly lose impact and credibility when examined individually. “It’s hard to believe that she has nothing better to report than this!” Jackson asked her to. “I may not have had all of the facts because I had several people telling me different stories, but they all were the same basic story, and that tells me that there was a lot of truth to what I was hearing.” The more divergent rumors are, the more doubtful it is they contain any truth at all. Reality doesn’t operate in cookie-cutter fashion: You can’t necessarily separate inconsistencies and call the remainder the truth (e.g. Iraqi WMDs, [George W.] Bush’s preparedness for natural disasters, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny). Indeed, these unnamed informants could have very well seen the entertainment value in his humiliation and corroborated their stories with just enough of a divergence to incite him more. “So what if she didn’t find any evidence . . . ? Just because she didn’t find the evidence doesn’t mean it isn’t there.” And if it doesn’t really exist, will Jackson blame Rhodes anyway? She has no magic wand with which she can conjure up these things out of thin air. If, on the other hand, evidence does exist, Jackson should be well aware that no amount of prodding by any reporter will guarantee [him or her] details on what has now turned out to be a strictly internal affair. And what could he possibly do with the evidence once he got it? Stand outside Tony Sacco’s office, blow a raspberry, and shout, “Nyah, nyah”? “I . . . gave her what I had — names, positions, the timelines, what to look for, and the right questions to ask ” — Jackson cites none — “and it was her job to sort it out and get the whole story.” A courtesy at best; Rhodes is not on his payroll. “But she did not do that; she did everything possible to slant this her way to make me appear foolish.” Certainly no less foolish than approaching a reporter who should have no real sympathy for him in the first place. Are there no other reporters in Springfield he hasn’t derided on the air? Ones more amenable to stroking a bruised ego? “I will take a lie-detector test to show that I am telling the truth.” About believing what other people tell him? “Dusty Rhodes couldn’t find enough facts to prove Osama bin Laden is linked to al-Qaeda,” and yet she’s done more to expose racial tension in the [Springfield Police Department] and municipal government than any other journalist in Springfield. The Renatta Frazier affair is arguably the gravest racial crisis to hit this area since the race riot of 1908 — one the State Journal-Register, for all its bravado, wouldn’t touch until after the fact. You might just as well slam Mother Teresa. “Lady, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen,” yet how could she have avoided this dilemma? Had she refused the story, Jackson would have taken that as revenge for the willful (and somehow justified) on-the-air defamation of one of her colleagues. Yet when she did and found no evidence that he was a victim, he attacked her for the same reason. Her only other option? To slant the story in Jackson’s favor, no matter what the “facts” were. Jackson would’ve been happy, but then she’d draw more virulent fire from the sheriff’s office — all because of Jackson’s inherent (and almost pathological) inability to examine this affair from any other point of view except his own. I wasn’t able to examine this issue with formal logic or calculus of statement because too many of its elements are conjectural, despite the fairly consistent account Rhodes has provided. Aside from opinions about Jackson’s character and delightful allusions to the Three Stooges, I found nothing that couldn’t be verified by outside parties. Nevertheless, between her account and Jackson’s scathing, imprecise tirades, there emerges a far more pertinent question: Who benefits from Don Jackson’s vindication? None of us can begin to guess why anyone would care, save for a declining horde of supporters who engage in the same pattern of displaced aggression where nothing is ever resolved or accomplished. This they do not out of any real sympathy for Jackson but to vent frustration for their own inadequacies. Thus they strike one as hardcore iconoclasts of decency, mutual respect, and good taste, selectively inbred for sheer awfulness, whose childhoods are spent in dark closets and wicker baskets and who grow up to be muggers, dog thieves, and insurance salesmen. Were they characters in an Anne Rice novel, they’d sharpen their fangs with chisels and sandblasters because they think pain is fun. But to a cyclopic curmudgeon with a deep-seated fondness for making nasty telephone calls, the advantages are evident and considerable. By focusing an inordinate amount of attention on his supposed victimization, Jackson is able to overlook the reasons he’s no longer on the air: obsessions, paranoia, delusions of grandeur — disorders that afford him the comfort of regarding himself as anything but a vindictive shock-jock has-been who eats Blue Meanies for breakfast, a realization he would naturally fight off like some sort of sick death. Don Jackson has had his day, and it rained. Illinois Times will fare far better by continuing its proud tradition of addressing topics of more critical importance. Thomas W. Yale Springfield

NOW I KNOW WHY IT IS FREE Just a comment on “A taste of his own medicine” by Dusty Rhodes: After reading Dusty’s article, it sounds to me as if her investigation included talking to Sangamon County Chief Deputy Tony Sacco, talking to Tony Sacco, and talking to Tony Sacco. Now, considering Sacco and Jackson’s past dealings, that doesn’t sound like the way to investigate. I guess, considering Rhodes’ past dealings with and very apparent dislike of One-Eyed Jack, he was kidding himself, thinking he would get a fair and balanced article from her. It seems to me I’ve found one of the reasons Illinois Times is a free publication. Nobody would pay for it! Donnie Wareham Taylorville

BET SACCO’S STATEMENT ISN’T TRUE I currently do not live in Springfield, but I do read the Illinois Times on the Internet. Concerning the column about Don Jackson, I have some concern [with this statement]: “Sacco said the sheriff’s office routinely responds to citizens’ complaints of telephone harassment with this same enthusiasm.” If that’s true, which I doubt, let’s see the records (real numbers) for the number of citizens‚ complaints of telephone harassment investigations conducted by the sheriff’s office. Let’s find out how many complaints of telephone harassment (real numbers) that occur in a year. Exactly how many (real numbers) are assigned to a detective for further investigation? Let’s also see the records (real numbers) that would confirm the number of times sheriff’s-office personnel obtained a subpoena requiring a phone company to provide the identity of the subscriber from whose phone the call had been placed. I’m betting it doesn’t happen very often. I’ll bet there are hundreds of complaints a year and a handful are really investigated, if any at all. I’ll also bet that plenty of divorced women would agree that they have filed complaints regarding telephone harassment and nothing was ever done about it. I know that I have gone through this myself, not only with telephone harassment but [with] a stalker. Penni Matticks Columbia, Mo.

MILITARY RECRUITERS MISLEAD STUDENTS I think it is awful that military recruiters use misleading tactics to recruit students, especially at a time when so many of our troops are in harm’s way in Iraq. The promise of $70,000 for college is just factually wrong. If you study the GI Bill, you will learn that very few veterans qualify for the amounts that recruiters and advertisements quote. The U.S. government needs to understand that today’s students are smart and can read the fine print about how much money we will actually receive for our education in return for military service. The amounts typically received aren’t even close to the ever-increasing costs of a college education. We need to work together to end these misleading ad campaigns that entice young people to enlist by offering false hope and empty promises. Surely America can do better than that! Enlisting when you are told the truth and have the facts you need to make an informed decision is one thing, but enlisting when you are given misleading or false information is just plain wrong. Silence Dogood Tolono

BEMOANS ANTI-PIT BULL BIAS The headlines should have read “ ‘Pit Bull’ Won Westminster Dog Show.” Bruce Rushton’s media hype, “A dog’s life” [Feb. 2], suggests Madison Square Garden should have been terrified [because] vicious “pit bulls” were everywhere in Westminster, including bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, bulldogs, Staffordshire bull terriers, and bull mastiffs. Bully breeds certainly couldn’t compete in the same show ring as other dogs, as they are vicious and attack everything in sight, and their owners and handlers must be gangbangers and hoodlums. Certainly responsible, educated taxpaying citizens do not own “pit bulls.” Like many of you, I was afraid of pit bulls. I thought they were vicious because of how the media portray the breed. I was wrong. From poodle to Labrador, I’ve owned many dogs. The last two years, I’ve had three pits in my life. All three wanted to play and snuggle, loving people and other dogs. As a “bully” owner, I do not fool myself. I must be a more careful and responsible owner. They must be better dogs and serve as goodwill ambassadors for their breed. These dogs want to live in peace, but ignorant humans force them to fight, promote bad traits, and jeopardize public safety. Don’t get caught up in biased reporting. Educate yourself about the “bully breeds.” Visit Web sites such as www.understand-a-bull.com. And defend the right to own the dog of your choice. Tracy Feger Bloomington

HOORAY! THE CITY PURGED THE BIRDS I wrote some weeks ago about the bird droppings downtown [“Letters,” Feb. 16]. The city has done something. Wow! There were a couple of battered, ugly, and half-dead trees on Adams between Fourth and Fifth that were used as a major clubhouse for small birds that for some reason did not choose to live in a greener neighborhood. The city removed those eyesores on Feb 27. My car feels cleaner already. Thank you, city of Springfield. I feel so embarrassed to sound like such a suck-up, but I feel too good to care. Patrick Johnopolos Springfield

LETTING IRRESPONSIBLE KIDS DRIVE Referring to the recent automobile accident in which a young man lost his life, obviously there is heartbreak. Giving an irresponsible teenager a car is like giving them a loaded pistol. Sooner or later, someone is going to lose their life. Not knowing either party involved, speeding was an invitation to disaster. No amount of if, ands, or buts is going to bring back the young man who lost his life. My sympathy goes out to his family. Perhaps severe, but the driver should have her license revoked until she is 25 and also charged with manslaughter. A message should somehow be conveyed to the irresponsible drivers that they are putting people at risk with their stupidity. Name withheld by request Divernon

WITH BUSH, I SMELL A RAT What is going on with [President George W.] Bush? It’s almost as though he has convinced himself that he is a one-man show and the thoughts and opinions of the rest of the country are meaningless. I have always said this is the worst administration in our history; it has been plagued with secrecy, many times not acted in our best interest, deceived and spied on Americans — and just when you think it couldn’t break any more laws or make any more ignorant or arrogant decisions, it decides to sell six of our busiest ports to a company in the United Arab Emirates. You may not believe in conspiracy theories, but I smell a rat. Wake up, people — we have a serious problem here. William Maas Springfield

WE CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS There’s an odd and ironic California buzz being heard in Illinois. Anesthesiologists in the Golden State who professionally refuse to assist in criminal executions are being held up as noble heroes of conscience. However, it is then illogical and foolish to criminalize pharmacists in the Land of Lincoln who hold to their own religious convictions and conscience in the matter of dispensing dangerous abortifacients, such as the so-called morning-after pill. We can’t have it both ways. Karen Hayes, Associate director Concerned Women for America of Illinois Palos Heights
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