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307 West 5th Street Austin, Texas “darsal” were non-standard pronunciations. The judge just looked at me. Then he lectured the audience that indeed, the pronouncer was correct. During an intermission, he kindly sought me out to explain. “You see,” he said, pointing to a phonetic guide in the spelling bee word book, “the `o’ has a dot over it. That means the word is pronounced `CRUCIFARM.'” I tried to reason. “What’s the vowel symbol for “farm” like where you raise wheat? “That’s an ‘a’ with a dot.” “Well then, how can an ‘a’ with a dot be the same as an ‘a’ with a dot?” “Because they’re homonyms!” Again he was all patience and self-confidence and hubris. I gave up. “Boy,” my son said later. “I’ve seen people pronounce things wrong before. In El Paso they’d admit it. But here, they’re stubborn!” “It’s not about stubborn,” I tried to explain as we left Trinity. “It’s about power. That’s the difference between where we used to live in Texas, and where we live now.” He didn’t quite understand. I started to elaborate: stuff about Anglos and Hispanics and conflict and politics, and when I got to hegemony, I realized I’d lost him way back. Then I said something like, “But things are better now before, they were really horrible.” He didn’t catch it, but I did. I’d said “harrible.” I shut up and let him talk the rest of the way home. LI Debbie Nathan is a longtime Observer contributor and a reporter for the San Antonio Current, where a version of this article first appeared. “Dialogue,” from page 2 for a crucial, though relatively small, patch of ancient redwood forest. We have also made the point, repeatedly, that federal and state negotiators were working with a gun to their head -not because of the takings lawsuit, but because of the failure of the federal, and particularly the state government, to place proper regulation in place for forest practices on privatelyheld forests. Cockburn evidently still lives by the rule he cited to me when I first pointed out a blatant error of fact in an article attacking the Sierra Club, and asked him why he never bothered to get our side of the story. “I’m a columnist, not a repoqer,” he told me. It’s a good thing, I guess because he would never make it as a reporter. Cockbu l m’s other potshot at the Sierra Club is that we didn’t do enough to save more of the forest. It’s true that we are not yet satisfied and we will continue to fight Hurwitz until we save the rest of the Headwaters Forest. But saying that we didn’t do enough is, frankly, an insult to the thousands of activists who have fought for a decade to save the forest from the ravages of Hurwitz’ chainsaws. I invite Cockburn to join the fight rather than just lobbing pot shots from a distance. Or if he insists on pot shots, he could at least have the journalistic integrity to get the facts right. Carl Pope, Executive Director Sierra Club [U.S.A.], San Francisco DUGGER & DAVIS & REAVIS… Last night I read the exchange between Rod Davis and Ronnie Dugger about the 1981 thought that I should make clear to you that only after Davis hired me. did I learn that Ronnie Dugger knew who I was. I think that I was also told that he didn’t particularly like my writing. I thought of it as some kind of fraternal critique, a warning that my words in the Observer’s pages would be watched. Had I known that Dugger had the power to hire and fire me, and that he had already nixed my hiring, I don’t think that I would have taken the job. Dugger is off in never-never land with his obsession about violence. I have never advocated the use of violence in the present. I haven’t seen a practical use for it. Like most of the Smith Act defendants, I have advocated “the theory of the violent overthrow of the United States government,” and I can only conclude that that is what worried Dugger, who is a Cold Warrior, as his letter shows. Dick Reavis Austin FLAMING TIMIDITY The firings of Observer editors Rod Davis in 1981, and Greg Olds in 1970, by Ronnie Dugger, were both violations of trust. It’s true he owned the paper. But he had a lot of help starting it, and the Observer was meant to truly be “a journal of free voices.” Dugger was keeper of a fundamental trust for progressive Texans. These incidents are symptoms of what went terribly wrong with the liberal movement in Texas during the Cold War years, when many liberals piously joined in the finger-pointing or ran and hid when the red-baiting started. The fear of the “Communist menace” \(to quote the first Senator Mcthem that any idea to the left of Ralph Yarborough was suppressed. Incremental social change? One wonders if this is not a retreat even from the flaming timidity of liberalism. When Greg Olds wrote his famous front page editorial, “Twentieth Century Heroes” \(April temerity to suggest that there might just be other ways to change the status quo than the tired trek to the polls. It was heave-ho time. Greg was one of the Observer’s very best editors and he was committed to the aforementioned credo of the Observer the one about free voices. He did not castigate the New Left with the absurd idea that we all advocated violent overthrow of the government. There was a most refreshing openness to the Observer’s coverage of crucial social issues that we saw again in 1980 with Rod Davis. Also, the Observer lost out on good writers like Dick Reavis and Steve Russell. There were golden opportunities for the paper to blossom into something more than the sycophantic voice of Democratic politicians and the too-easy and ultimately tiresome Lege-watching every two years. There was a vast panorama of progressive thought, opportunities to chronicle history in the making so much that was trying to happen in our country. It’s a little late for Dugger to trumpet the socalled Alliance for Democracy, be it third party or tea party. He did too much to kill what is needed now: militancy. Jim Simons Austin FECATHLON? I am sure that you have already caught wind of the bill introduced by Representative Ellis from Livingston, which would make it a felony for prison inmates to throw feces at guards surely put an end to the problem! This is one for the Bad Bills Girl. degree felony? Make it a capital offense so we lature is presently bending over for the cretins who want to impose an Olympics on us, let’s kill two birds with one stone and make “chunking” into an Olympic event. “Chunking” can become a statewide source of pride as such. I enjoy the Bad Bills Girl and all your coverage of the comedy at the Capitol. Keep up the good work. Fred Lazare Houston MAY 14, 1999 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31 ,04,1*.00000.1.110#91011111.011.1.14,10.4.4.,-.’