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April 4-10, 2007

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Letters to the Editor

Dark side of paying it forward

In "Gore of Babylon" (March 28), Hannah Strom-Martin inadvertently (I hope) subjects her readers to the same assault and violation that she was subjected to. There are many ways she could have communicated her message without the detailed, graphic description of mutilation and torture she used. This seems to be a natural response. Those who are violated in some way and who have not done the deep and difficult personal work necessary to release the trauma tend to reenact it--sometimes as victim, sometimes as perpetrator. They will do this repeatedly until they release/resolve the injury they have suffered; it's sort of the dark side of "pay it forward."

Ask any psychotherapist or cranial-sacral therapist. We are all victims and perpetrators. Much of the horror and violence that is sweeping the world today is a result of this "repetition compulsion." Recognition with large amounts of compassion is the first step to breaking these cycles.

Geoffrey Levens, Sebastopol

Singular Reportage

Peter Byrne's column has been a lively, interesting addition to The Bohemian's pages (which, as it happens, I contributed to in the late 1990s, when it was the Sonoma County Independent). Partly for that reason, I enjoyed being interviewed by him recently (The Byrne Report, "Chass Cover-Up," March 28). I also firmly believe that public analysis and coverage--they are different creatures--of media decisions ultimately serves everybody well.

I do, however, have a quarrel with how Mr. Byrne characterized my response to his questions about my reporting on one aspect of the Jeremiah Chass shooting case, that being Deputy John Misita's tactics in the past. I did not say I knew about "Misita's background" but decided not to include it. I said I was aware it had been reported, but that "I like to do my own reporting."

Which I am.

Jeremy Hay, Reporter, Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Calling it like it is

Finally, someone is calling it like it is (The Byrne Report, "Chass Cover-Up," March 28). From the "oversight" of not reporting that Jeremiah Chass was black and the rest of his family and the deputies were white to the daily changing story of what happened when deputies arrived on the scene that left Jeremiah shot eight times within a few minutes, Peter Byrne has supplied real information and analysis in both of his columns. I followed all the Press Democrat stories online and entered comments on their blog asking some of the questions Byrne has brought up and looked into. Only one out of eight of my comments appeared on the site. Instead, I read racist name-calling and callous comments about Jeremiah, as well as support for pro-lethal force and an accusatory speculation of Jeremiah being an eventual mass murderer. But today when I picked up the Bohemian and saw another article by Byrne about the cover-up of facts, I could hardly contain myself from yelling in line at my local store, 'Finally! Yes! Yay to Peter Byrne for taking on the PD and both police departments!' We can't bring Jeremiah back, but his parents and brother and all his friends--as well as the many of us in this community who have been very affected by this tragedy--deserve to have all the facts, and to ensure that this never gets repeated again. The Chass family should be compensated for this horror in some way.

Alexandra Spencer, Occidental

Accuracy not in question

The death of Jeremiah Chass was the result of a convergence of multiple factors that nobody could ever conceive would happen. His death has been used as a bully pulpit by a cornucopia of experts, along with a variety of political action committees. Journalists of all stripes have also jumped in with gusto and your Peter Byrne has definitely stood out in this crowd.

His hearsay version of events, supposedly from Jeremiah's parents, really took me by surprise. ("Deadly Force," March 21). I really value a tenacious investigative reporter, however when the Chass family and their attorney won't talk to you, does it justify relying on their supposed friends? I am disappointed in Mr. Byrne, since I have enjoyed his other articles. I now have to question whether they were truly as accurate as I thought.

Eugene Lane, Santa Rosa

Recognizing the human need

Always interesting and humorous to review your Best Of issue (March 21). Appreciate the work that all collectively put into it, and recognize the human need to be congratulated for one's excellence. Did enjoy some of the full-page profiles: the one of the diner classic; the one of the qigong teacher leavened thankfully with the headline; the post-50 sexologist/author, hilarious. However, as always must be taken with a rock of salt. In an area where there might be only a few bookstores, qigong teachers and a small handful of tattoo parlors, it's inevitable that the same places and people get called out year after year with slight variations in order. At least the editor picks vary from year to year. A very entertaining read.

Thank you for your work.

Siggy Barlow, Ukiah

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