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October 31 - November 7, 2007

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Letters to the Editor

Prejudiced and Despicable

I MOVED TO SANTA CRUZ eight years ago and have never looked back. This city has always welcomed people from all backgrounds, races, sexual orientation and disability. The community celebrates tolerance and acceptance. This is why I and many Santa Cruz residents feel comfortable and loved in this community. And the complete violation of this tolerance is why we are outraged today!

Today there was a cartoon printed in your paper (DeCinzo, Oct. 24) depicting a mentally ill person being carried off by two men and thrown into a van marked "Darwin House Home for the Mentally Ill." The true meaning of the cartoon was lost, as all the readers could see was the stereotypical and prejudicial depiction of a man with a mental illness. This message fuels intolerance in our community.

Mental illness is not a choice and it is certainly not funny. It is a real organic disease, where people can be plagued with horrifying voices, images and mood swings, beyond their control. The world often considers people with mental health problems to be a nuisance, a menace on the community. But Darwin House, a REAL facility, is one of the few places in the community that accepts people and offers support and comfort to people with mental illnesses. Darwin House is not a locked facility. It is not a place where people are dragged to in straitjackets and handcuffs. It is a rehabilitation facility, where people are treated with dignity and respect. Furthermore, REAL people live at Darwin House.

The REAL people that live at Darwin face stigma and community criticism on a daily basis. The fact that DeCinzo felt it was necessary to pick the Darwin residents out of the crowd and cause them to feel persecuted is despicable! And the fact that he felt it was necessary to depict Darwin House as a place that is just as prejudiced as he is unacceptable!

I invite the members of this community to learn more about mental illness and educate yourselves on the types of programs and facilities your community offers. This community has been known for its support and tolerance of diversity, let's continue this tradition.

I urge a public apology to the individuals that live at Darwin House. They did not deserve to be depicted this way. Nor did they deserve to have their rights violated and their home ostracized for public amusement.

Emma Tiffany, Program Director, Darwin House

Parks No-Go Zones

ACCORDING to a recent Metro Santa Cruz article ("State of the Parks," Cover Story, Oct. 17), funding shortfalls may inhibit the state park system from buying additional park lands, and maintenance is being deferred. I have a suggestion that might solve this problem.

The book The World Without Us states that areas like the demilitarized zone in Korea and a primal wild forest in eastern Europe are flourishing. Why not designate some areas in some parks as wild land recovery areas where people do not go? These would provide fertile sanctuaries for nature to do nature without us.

Although this would constitute some loss of access, I believe the citizens of California would support such a move for the benefit of wildlife and for the pleasure of knowing that we are reserving some land as a primal core for nature. Simply knowing it is there and that we have created this as being so would be deeply rewarding. Maintenance costs would be minimal and wildlife would have a haven and a sanctuary. I imagine this would also improve the mix of wildlife in the larger areas still open to people. This might even contribute to the preservation of biodiversity.

It is true that some very limited patrolling—perhaps by air—would be required and some scientific access would be desirable. Either could be accompanied by a videographer to record the results of the sanctuary for the pleasure of the people.

Charles Huddleston, Aptos

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