Music to my ears
My profound congratulations to you on your cover story "Harmonizing with Hank" (Sept. 15) The story is nothing less than superb writing from the pen of a gifted writer. You do justice to Paul Hemphill in a difficult format, capturing the man, his talent, his hard living, his grit and his redemption. Even though the Hemphill persona is writ large in his writings for all to see, your article somehow makes him more real and up-close personal. The last few paragraphs were sad, poignant and yet upbeat. What a great way to end the story! I await with eagerness his Auburn football book.
-- Kirby Turnage, Atlanta
It is the stuff of wonderment, Doug Monroe's profile of Paul Hemphill. Two things, OK?
One, yeah, like a hell of a lot of the major writers, Paul has been known to bend an elbow. What rubs is that a solid newspaperman like Doug Monroe can't seem to shut up about it.
Jesus H., what matters -- what really matters -- in the life of Paul Hemphill is the power of his pen. I've known the man for over 40 years. He's published my scribblings and I've published his. He is a writer worth bothering with; more than any other writer I've known (and I've known a lot of them across my long reach into life), Paul brings to this beautiful tongue of ours a style and lyricism that are all his own.
Let me tell you, and no bull, in my book the man makes sentences that sing, and that is not a small thing in his goofy cyber-world. I've read all of his books and at a top of the hat, I'd read every one of them again with pleasure. Spend an evening with Long Gone, his baseball novel; there's none better.
-- Gene-Gabriel Moore, Atlanta
Something is needed
Doug Monroe: I read your column every week and respect your opinions. You and I are on complete opposite ends of the political spectrum, therefore as you might suspect, I almost always disagree with you.
Regarding the new voter ID bill here in Georgia (Humbug Square, "Kicking and screaming," Sept. 15), I feel that we need some sort of identification to vote. What's wrong with asking people to prove that they are who they say they are? It used to be that a driver's license was the most important identification document most Americans possess. When you register to vote, there is only a paragraph to read and sign, stating that you are a legal citizen and able to vote. It's based on the honor system, which makes me nervous in this day and age. Maybe this bill is not the answer, but a bill is needed, I believe.
-- Chris Watford, Roswell
Prepare for peace
Kudos to Cliff Bostock for his clear and important discussion of aggression -- and whether it's inevitable (Headcase, "Failure of the imagination," Sept. 15). I don't think aggression is inevitable. Anger is, but aggression is only one possible response to anger, and aggression is a learned response. And even if personal aggression were inevitable, or instinctive, it would be a mistake to say that this makes war inevitable.
War is vastly different from personal violence. War is systematized, organized and (most important) industrialized violence. Wars require immense mobilization and organization and planning. Few, if any, individuals could maintain a "mad" for the enormous amount of time it takes to prepare for war. This is why populations must be lied to and fed incessant propaganda to go to war.
War is very strictly analogous to slavery. It's a horrendous institution that has existed for thousands of years and has had major, mostly bad, consequences. One hundred-fifty years ago, many argued that slavery was part of "human nature," was sanctioned by the Bible (it is), and was ineradicable.
About the last point, mercifully, they were wrong.
Many argue the same for war, but they, too, are wrong. If you prepare for war, you get war. If you want peace, prepare for peace.
-- Paul Schumacher, Atlanta
Fred is disappointed
Upon reading your cover story, "Atlanta's 11 Least Influential People" (Aug. 18), I was shocked and extremely disappointed to see incorrect information included about the Fulton County Animal Services shelter.
In your feature on Fred the dog, you claimed that "Fulton County Animal Services has seen its kill rate climb in recent years to as high as 57 percent." This information is not accurate.
In fact, Southern Hope Humane Society, the nonprofit organization that assumed management of the shelter in 2003, has worked diligently in recent years to reduce the rate and has managed to do just that -- basically cutting the rate in half. The euthanasia rate is currently down to 46 percent from a high of more than 80 percent under the previous humane society's management. While the goal is obviously to lower the rate even further, Southern Hope has managed to make great strides in a relatively short amount of time -- and we plan to keep doing so.
-- Susan Feingold,
assistant director, Southern Hope Humane Society
Editor's note: CL did report that the kill rate had climbed to as high as 57 percent, and the story stated directly thereafter, "[I]t's not that high now." CL looked at the kill rate reported in the first few months after the pound's current administrator, Southern Hope Humane Society, took over from the embattled Atlanta Humane Society, in 2003. The kill rate in that time period was 57 percent.
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