No freedom in impermanence
Dear editors of C-ville,
The cover of your last issue featured a picture of the "free speech" monument on the downtown mall. My question to you is what could this monument possibly mean to you?
I can only assume that as an independent weekly publication in a world of media empires and syndicated local news, you must care about this question. In the midst of the outrage over the practices of the worlds biggest media empire, people all over the world are asking the question: what do we want from our media? These questions are in the air right now, and they are related. So it saddens me to see a very basic confusion over what free speech actually is, in the form of this monument on the downtown mall, and even more so in the attention it gets from your publication.
The basic confusion lies in the difference between a newspaper and an asylum. Perhaps the first institution in the world to recognize the rights of individuals to free speech was the asylum. People were locked away, constrained to a particular space in which they could say anything they pleased. This is precisely how the downtown monument to free speech works. It does three things which make actual democratic "free speech" impossible:
1) It makes the writing temporary. Rather than write on the walls with something permanent, like spray paint, constrain your words to this surface of slate, which can easily be erased.
2) It eliminates the possibility of authorship. There is no need to guarantee the right to free speech when no one ever knows who is speaking.
3) It subjects the writing to the editing of any passer-by, or even to the weather itself. If I don’t like what you write, I can just change a few words around, or erase it altogether. In the case of the monument on the mall, even a small burst of rain can edit what we write. I think we should all recognize that things are going badly when in the world we have made the rain itself is a form of censorship.
In effect the monument on the downtown mall functions to guarantee free speech the same way that asylums do: by constraining the space in which speech can be free, and making that space an anonymous space of inmates rather than individuals. Nothing can be political there. Nurse Ratched designed our monument to free speech.
This is why I am saddened to see a publication that has much more of a claim to being a monument to free speech than this monument, give it so much attention. When you publish your next issue, it will be written in ink that cannot be edited, by authors who are known and can be held accountable for the words that they write, on a medium that can be distributed and is material rather than ephemeral. This is the difference between an asylum and a newspaper.
Let’s try to keep this distinction in mind.
Too old to be new
Yes, a bypass for 29 is a very good idea. But the plan being pushed doesn’t even meet the definition of bypass, which is “a road or highway that avoids or ‘bypasses’ a built-up area, town or village.” This route has been tabled and defeated for 20 years because it’s bad – hideously expensive, detrimental to schools, residences, quality of life for many AND largely ineffective in reducing traffic congestion on 29. How about looking at 2011 conditions and starting anew. A logical northern starting point might be around Ruckersville. Not “through” Ruckersville, but “around.”
Huja for Downtown
In a recent C-VILLE article about the possible relocation of the City Market, Council Member Satyendra Huja was quoted as saying that the market offered an economic opportunity for Downtown. Mr. Huja understands creating greater economic prosperity through careful planning and discussion.
As City Planner for decades, he took criticism for his focus on the Downtown Mall, which is now a thriving business district. Likewise, while many of us citizens just plain love the Market experience, Mr. Huja (who also is a Market habituee) understands its role in the economic vitality of Downtown. As a Council member, he also comprehends how the Market – with City participation — could contribute to the redevelopment along Water Street, leading to greater vitality for both the Market and Downtown.
I hope Democrats and Independents will support Mr. Huja in his bid for a second term at the “firehouse primary” at Burley School on Saturday, August 20. With an ability to make decisions based on the city’s long term interests, he has excellent urban planning background, a proven record of working with all sectors of our community and a lifetime commitment to public service.
A New Definition of “Sustainability”
Do you know what “sustainability” means to the Jefferson Area Planning District Commission? It means creating “conditions that promote a healthy balance of wealth, power and privilege”—”to be measured by the gap between incomes of the rich and the poor.” In order to do this “societal benefits and costs are equitably shared by all citizens.” Can you see redistribution of wealth?
Sustainability means controlling Albemarle County’s population related to “age, race/ethnicity, income/personal wealth, education and employment status.” In other words we should all be exactly the same?
Sustainability means ensuring that “every member of the community has access to adequate and affordable transportation.” Who decides adequate and affordable?
Sustainability means “every member of the community is able to obtain employment that offers just compensation, fulfillment, and opportunities for advancement”. Who decides just compensation and if every single person is fulfilled?
Does this sound like sustainability to you? —- or does it sound like big government making all your decisions for you and doing all this at an exorbitant cost? How can this be sustainability? It will result in bankruptcy just like the problems the nation currently faces !
Do you realize this document called “The 1998 Sustainability Accords” has been adopted and in place in our County since 1998?
How do we get rid of this? Ask your members of the Board of Supervisors.
You really must read this document in its entirety to see for yourselves — to see how this document means to increase the pervasive attempt to change our lives and makes all our decisions for us. If you cherish the freedoms our forefathers fought and died for, now is the time to be especially aware and do all possible to reverse this trend.
Mary Ann Doucette
Defend the air you breathe
If someone were to ask you to select which issue is the most important to you personally, air pollution or your family’s health, you might think on this and answer with one of them. In actuality, it isn’t right to choose one issue over the other when the two are so tightly intertwined.
A study by the National Resources Defense Council determined that coal-and oil-fired power plants produce almost half the toxic air pollution in the United States.
The facilities that generate our electricity are also our biggest sources of air pollution, including both smog and acid rain, and also mercury, which rains down and contaminates us through the fish we eat. Just today I read that Virginia now has the distinction of being chosen as one of the 20 states with the most air pollution in our country. On July 23rd, Alexandria issued a “Code Orange” which is a smog alert telling people to keep their children indoors so as not to allow outdoor play.
The EPA estimates that the reduction of toxic pollution would save as many as 17,000 lives every year by 2015. Up to 12,000 cases of childhood asthma could also be prevented if reductions are successful.
Air toxic from coal-fired power plants cause cancer, birth defects, and respiratory illness. Just one of those air toxics, mercury, damages the developing brains of fetuses, infants, and small children. It robs our children of healthy neurological development and native intelligence.
Thank you, Michael Bloomberg, mayor of NYC for calling attention to this most pressing of issues, big, dirty coal and how it relates to air pollution and to the health of all Americans.
Thank you for your time and $50 million dollar donation to the Sierra Club to halt the creation of more coal burning plants. Now we al need to do our part to encourage alternative cleaner forms of energy.
As concerned Virginians, we should write to our power companies and representatives to let them know our feelings and to encourage them t enforce the EPA standards to refurbish the existing power plants with scrubbers and filters. House Republicans are doing everything they can to tame the EPA.
Sidney and Rochelle Sitzer
Jinx is tops for BBQ
I greatly enjoyed your article on BBQ, but disagree on the methods of judging. It would be like rating eight martinis all placed waxed Dixie cups. Anticipation and presentation are part of the overall pleasure in both food and drink. The kaleidoscopic decorative art and personalized conversation with Jinx provide a delightful ambience integral to the overall gustatorial experience.
If someone doesn’t want to shlepp a half hour to the two “winners” clean-well-lighted places, Jinx’s joint is Charottesville’s BBQ winner.
John S. Marr, MD