The dialogue continues

Causing a Commotion

I have some concerns about the cover article that was published this week (August 6), “Doula Dilemma at Mary Birch.” It’s about Sharp Mary Birch’s doula program, which I am a part of. The whole article is filled with inaccuracies that need to be addressed. It’s causing quite the commotion in the doula world.

  • Karen S.
  • via voicemail

Against Diversion

I’m very concerned about this Best Buys article (“Hydrate Your Hair for the Summer,” July 30). As a stylist, part of my job is to sell product. I would only ever suggest products to a client that I think would benefit them and that they would actually use.

As a stylist that happens to use both Moroccanoil and Neuma, I am flabbergasted that you would ask a stylist’s advice, and then post that it’s available on Amazon. I am aware of the owners of Millicent, and I know they are against diversion. Diversion is when a product is sold to a third party to be sold again, when a product is counterfeited and then sold, or even when someone empties out a product to fill it back up with another product (so, what is in the bottle is really something cheap).

By you telling people to shop at Amazon, all of these things could happen. Please do some research about it. There are articles about a lady digging through trash, cleaning up bottles, and then selling them on eBay and Amazon. Do you really want your readers to buy these kinds of products? Moroccanoil doesn’t sell to Amazon; neither does Neuma, nor hundreds of other brands. They are salon-only, because this is part of our livelihood.

I know that poor stylist didn’t know you were going to say that you can find these products on Amazon, or else she wouldn’t have helped you. This girl could be fired, for all you know. If she was in my salon, she would be. And it would be very hard to find another job because of it.

I get that you are trying to save money. If that is the case, do an article about product lines that work but aren’t as pricey. I can give you two lines. Loma is a natural aloe-based line that is extremely cost-friendly, and the line actually works. I can also tell you salons that sell it, since mine doesn’t. There is also a professional line called Verb — and everything costs $14!

Do your research — as a writer this is your job. You just jeopardized this stylist’s job, the salon’s integrity, and your readers who shop online — their scalp and hair could be jeopardized by buying counterfeit products.

  • Steffanie Conley
  • North Park

Or What

I was anticipating some whimsical folly when I opened the Reader’s July 30 News of the Weird, but was quickly horrified with Chuck Shepherd’s second item, “Is This a Great Country, or What?”

Chuck implies that there must be a serious malfunction for a country not to suspend the constitutional rights of suspects just as they do for someone convicted of a violent crime. Chuck thinks suspects should be presumed guilty.

But it’s worse than that. I’m really being charitable using the term “suspects,” because suspects means there has been a crime, and that law enforcement has looked into and determined that someone is “of interest” in that crime. Chuck is actually talking about a watch list of people who they think may be capable of a crime.

So, what Chuck is saying is that anyone capable of crime should be stripped of their constitutional rights without due process until they can prove their innocence — of a crime that has not been committed.

This is the type of thing I would expect to read living under Stalin or Mao.

  • Leon Lamb
  • East Village


Re: Letters: “Getting Thinner,” August 6

I know the reason the paper’s getting thinner. A lot of people cant read it! The print is so little that, if you’re over 50, you won’t be able to read the puzzles, for instance.

  • Name Withheld
  • Clairemont

Not Legal in the UK

I was breastfeeding my daughter in the early hours of the morning when I came across your article on pit bulls. By the title, I assumed it would be an article about irresponsible owners who buy (not adopt) pit bull puppies thinking they’re cute, and then get rid of them as they get bigger because they didn’t realize the responsibility that comes with owning such a large dog.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that, in fact, it was a ludicrously outdated pit bull-hate piece, akin to something found on dogsbite.org, the most biased anti-pit bull (and large dogs in general) website I have seen. In fact, the author even used this website as a scientific source, when a fair bit of research would have given him genuine facts. Although, why would he do that, when the facts wouldn’t back him up quite as well?

I could sit here, a proud “pit bull” owner (pit bulls are not legal in the UK, and the term pit bull — whilst still encompassing a type, as in the States — is a lot more specific and regards dogs which resemble American pit bull terriers, not my Staffordshire bull terrier or Rottweiler/American bulldog mix, which are therefore legal to have), breastfeeding my child and quote statistics at you, but I get the feeling statistics aren’t going to matter here.

I could tell you about the time my Staffy was attacked by a Labrador, but that won’t persuade you of anything. I could tell you about the amount of times my “bullweiler” has been attacked and growled at by Jack Russels, Chihuahuas, and various small breeds, resulting in fear aggression. I could explain dog behavior, but I won’t because the quality of

journalism in your published article is nonexistent, and why would an editor who chooses to publish such an article, have any regard for fact and journalistic research?

Had your article actually been, as I first assumed, about bad dog owners and their mistreatment of pit bulls, a much maligned and misunderstood “breed” or type, you would have had a new reader. Bad owners really are a big issue in the dog world, as evidenced by your anecdote in which the dog was attacked on the beach. I would be livid and devastated if the same happened to my dogs, and I would’ve probably sued, and violence may have occurred (wrongly, of course) if I would’ve had to tell the terrible owner to put her dog on a lead. People like her, with her cropped-ear dogs, set back the movement to disprove daft myths every day. I apologize to the dog owner on behalf of all pit bull owners.

However, I would tell her, and your author, to spend time with some pit bulls. Mine are currently in the bed as I feed my daughter. I am teaching them the command “watch the baby” so they continue to feel loved, wanted and useful. Any dog can be good or bad. My Staffy is the most social dog I have ever seen, even after he was attacked by a Labrador at a young age. Their doggy best friends are a mastiff and a boxer, By the tone of the article, those dogs, too, wouldn’t be trusted.

The vitriol in a poorly researched article is aimed in the wrong place. Aim it at the bad owners, at the people who buy a powerful dog without realizing the training involved (whether that dog be a pit bull or a St. Bernard).

I am truly sorry about the author’s cat, but that could have happened with any dog. The author should aim his hatred at dogs in general. Would he have written a hate-piece if the cat had been killed by a Spaniel?

I would urge your editors to proofread the pieces your journalists submit to check that their sources are credible. I would urge the author to widen his spectrum of research other than an opinionated site which supports his views. I don’t expect to see such bad journalism these days and, if I were you, I would be disappointed and ashamed. I expect my letter won’t be the only one you receive on this subject. I hope that the letters from the intelligent owners actually make your attention.

What is better in life, especially as a news editor, then to educate ourselves? That is, with science and not just anecdotal evidence.

  • Sophie Bolton (Holmes)
  • United Kingdom

Let the Dialogue Continue

I write this letter as someone who had the most dramatically intimate experience of my life with a pit bull named Jesse. In the mid-’80s I moved into a building in Oakland. My window opened to a large roof where Jesse lived for ten years. His deceased owner had lived across the roof; the family still took care of Jesse. Jesse gravitated to my window, and we got to know each other very well. Jesse was old, mellow, very lovable, and very big. I was told that people in the neighborhood were scared of him, so he had not left his roof domain since his original owner died. He was well cared for, and seemed content.

One day a fellow who was visiting a neighbor decided that Jesse needed to have a walk in the neighborhood. He took Jesse out with a leash. The first dog Jesse saw was an elderly mongrel who was the lifelong pet of a minister around the corner. Jesse lost no time in pulling free of his leash, running across the street, and clamping his jaws into the chest of the minister’s dog. A crowd gathered and tried to pull Jesse off. The minister grabbed a rifle from his house and shot Jesse several times. Jesse held on. (It had been a rough neighborhood; that’s why Jesse’s owner original bought him, and that’s why the old minister had a rifle.)

Someone came running to get me, because they knew I was close to him. I took a handgun with me when I heard what was going on. When I got to the scene, the crowd was literally speaking in tongues. The minister still had the rifle aimed at Jesse. I called to Jesse, and he came to me right away. I sat down and Jesse sat in my lap. He would not take his eyes off the terrified minister, who was still aiming the gun at us.

If this sounds like a dream, or a nightmare, that’s how it felt, but it was real. Jesse was gushing blood everywhere, but he still faced the minister with his sad eyes wide open. It was very clear that Jesse was going to die. I hugged him close, said goodbye, put the revolver to his head, and pulled the trigger. Jesse died looking right in my eyes, and I cried. I loved that dog. I told the minister that Jesse couldn’t hurt anyone any more, and he finally lowered his rifle.

I’m no dog expert. I had a wonderful black lab back in the early ’70s. A friend once asked me to take care of his pit bull puppy years ago, and I did, from when he was young enough to fit in my shoe until he was six months old. What a sweetheart that puppy was. My experience with Jesse gave me pause. I loved him. I knew the depth of his intelligence and his strength was inspiring. The guy who took him for a walk was a jerk. But Jesse flipped in an instant when he was taken out of his routine. He was deadly. He ripped that dog’s chest in half. Yet he died with tender resignation in his eyes. I remember him with love, although people were not wrong to be terrified of him.

I understand the devotion that pit bull owners have to their pets, but I was sorry to see so many nasty posts by pit bull owners regarding the original Reader article. I understand why they object to pit bulls being singled out, or profiled. I also understand why people want to discuss what our society should do to regulate powerful, potentially deadly dogs whose owners may not know how to handle them. It’s not an easy issue. I say let the dialogue continue, and I’m glad the Reader published the story.

  • Richard
  • Mira Mesa

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