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From the heart
I want to express my deepest gratitude to the Independent for sponsoring the showing of the movie Hearts & Minds. Being a Vietnamese refugee who came to this country 30 years ago, it was incredibly painful to see the destruction and devastation that happened to my mother country. The U.S. government and its bombings had literally destroyed my beautiful country, but not the soul or will of its people. It is outrageous that we are repeating the same atrocities in Iraq; unfortunately, those who really need to see the movie are not there. You did a great service for the community, and I again thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Thu Bui Ostrander

Lose/lose situation
In response to the letter "Don't blame guns" (Back Talk, July 27): Mr. J. E. Stone Parker showed exactly how little he knows about the emotional state of a battered woman. She is certainly not incompetent to use a firearm, any more than a batterer is incompetent to restrain himself from battering. But common sense tells you that if a gun is readily accessible, the batterer will also have access to it.

The bold fact is that Grass Roots has an agenda: Don't take guns away from the batterer and give one to the victim. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the agenda is guns for all. If Mr. Parker will stop and think for a moment--a battered woman applies for a permit, obtains a gun and shoots her batterer. She will more than likely serve jail time, and what happens to her family then? If she doesn't obtain a gun permit when it is made readily available to her, the batterer's defense attorney will use the ploy that if she had really been in fear of her life, she would have purchased a gun. It is a lose/lose situation for the victim.

What idiotic analogies about the police carrying guns instead of a restraining order and insulin needles causing diabetes! It is obvious that Mr. Parker has never lost a precious one to gun violence--their lives taken in horror and terror--and the family left to grieve for the rest of their lives. My precious little Kendall and wonderful Cordae are no longer here on this earth for me to hug and love. Mr. Parker, they were here and they were precious to me. It's true that the gun did not do the shooting itself, but Alan Gates had a gun readily available to him and a long history of domestic violence, and the courts had done nothing to take away the gun or put him in jail where he belonged. So maybe you should take the time, Mr. Parker, to listen to the victims and their families before you make such uninformed comments.
Fran Bumgarner
Kendall Dianis’ grandma

Uber angry
Instead of using the issues that affect proven murderers and/or those who have been condemned as a reason to avoid murder, articles such as these ("House helps death row families," Triangles, July 20) glorify the condemned. It's apparent that some persons or groups just "don't get it" (confuse capital punishment with murder?) or that they truly confused condemned inmates with "victims" or are quick to dismiss those who were murdered. It's no wonder that the nickname for this publication is "the dependant"... (Use of lower case was intentional).
Wayne Uber
Chapel Hill

Support the real victims
If you want to know what rattles the cages of any victim of crime, look no further than attempts to identify offenders as victims. It's bad enough that victims already feel they get the short end of the stick in funding, with the lion's share of cash going to offender support groups (witness the recent disclosure that Canadian murderess Karla Homolka's federal prison tab amounted to $2 million over a 12-year stay); but to have your position of vulnerability suddenly co-opted by the other side is galling to a power of infinity.

So how are we to respond to the recent article in the Independent Weekly (under the perplexing sub-heading "The Religious Left") "House helps death row families" (Triangles, July 20) in which the mother of convicted murderer Elmer Ray McNeill Jr. decries: "It's like having your child kidnapped and his life threatened and there's not anything you can do about it, because nobody's going to help you. I hear about mothers dying while their sons are in jail."

Really? Well maybe Elmer Ray should have thought of that before he forced John Ray and Mike Truelove to the back of a Food Lion and shot them execution style for $2,300 in cash. I think the pain and loss that the Truelove and Ray families suffer could literally drive one to despair and death.

I take no mark at Roberta McNeill. She grieves, she suffers. But if journalists would spend half as much ink on the plight of victims (their never-ending suffering; first through the initial tragedy, then at the hands of a cynical justice system that makes them a spectator, giving them no place to participate) as they do on the death row moratorium discussion (they've virtually celebritized the debate), then I might be open to conversation about restoration and resolution between victim and offender.
John Allore
brother of Theresa Allore
Chapel Hill

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