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Letters 9/9/04

Various - September 9th, 2004
Beauty of the Olympics
The Olympics do not stop violence from occurring. They don’t stop people from cheating, nor are they so esteemed that a thing such as bribing becomes unthinkable. The Olympics are for humans, run by, judged by and watched by humans. And, well, humans follow their nature and this nature doesn’t always involve nice things. Since George Foster decided to focus his “Random Thoughts” (8/26) on the negative events, histories and stories involving the Olympics, I’ll focus on just a handful of the many great stories the Olympics have produced.
At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Derartu Tulu of Ethiopia won the 10,000m run. Her victory lap with silver medalist Elana Meyer, a white South African, symbolized the hope for a better future for racially divided Africa.
The 1936 Olympics, held in Berlin, are best remembered for Adolf Hitler’s failed attempt to use them to prove his theories of Aryan racial superiority. As it turned out, the most popular hero of the Games was the African-American sprinter and long jumper Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals. During the long jump competition, Owens’ German rival, Luz Long, publicly befriended him in front of the Nazis.
In defiance of the terrorists who killed 11 Israeli athletes and coaches during the 1972 Munich games, the International Olympic Committee ordered the competitions to resume after a pause of 34 hours.
Kenyan Distance Olympian, Paul Tergat, is an ambassador for the UN’s World Food Program, guaranteeing children one hot meal a day. It’s the same program that lured a young Tergat to school.
In Helsinki 1952, one of the first women allowed to compete against men in the equestrian was Lis Hartel of Denmark. Despite being paralyzed below the knees after an attack of polio, Hartel, who had to be helped on and off her horse, won a silver medal.
In the 2004 Athens games we are following the amazing story of the Iraqi soccer team, who as I write this, will play for a bronze medal. This is a team nobody gave a chance to barely win a game. This is a team which includes Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds that has brought the disparate elements of that country together. In the chaos of post-Saddam Iraq, they have shown that in at least one enterprise, it is possible for all to work together toward a common cause.
For many athletes participating in the events and for many of us watching at home, the Olympics are one of the rare opportunities to see people from different cultures as people and not just a vaguely imagined face read about in newspapers or text books. All cultures share a common love of athletes and because of that the Olympics show how we are more alike than different.
I’m amazed that Foster can’t recognize that this fact is far more important than money, the threat of terrorist attacks or the negative aspects that come with putting on the largest goodwill event in the world. I for one do not think the Olympics need to be abolished. To even suggest such a thing is absolutely ridiculous.

Mike Decker • TC

Thoughts on rejection
On Monday, August 16th, I made the pilgrimage from Petoskey to Traverse City to see our president, George W. Bush. It was a glorious day for an outdoor gathering and I felt enormously pleased and comforted to be surrounded by thousands of likeminded people. The gauntlet of enthusiastic dissenters through which I had to pass only reinforced my conviction that this is the greatest country on earth.
It saddened me, however, to read of the disappointment experienced by the teacher turned away at the gate. The fact that she was denied the opportunity to see and hear the man as exalted as the Pope and the Queen of England must have been heartbreaking.
As for her observation that her rights were violated in a way not experienced during her international travels, I take exception. I humbly submit that, had she attempted to enter an audience with the Pope while wearing an “I Heart Martin Luther” button or a rally for the Queen while waving a Scottish National Party flag she would have met with the same reception – and ejection.

Bill Mayer • Petoskey

On the trail of a writer
In the August 12, 1998 article of the Northern Express entitled “On the trail of a killer,” Tom Mair is interviewed and he suggests that Mrs. Robison may have had an affair (as a possible motive for the Robison family murders in 1968). And now in his most recent article about this case he alludes to a strong possibility that John Norman Collins might have been involved. He states again: “I can tell you, there is at least an ounce of truth here. The co-ed killer did know the oldest Robison boy as a college acquaintance.”
I would like to ask Mr. Mair where is the EVIDENCE that the oldest son had even met John Norman Collins? Mair has never produced a shred of evidence. It sure would help the police if he would come forward with it. I am sure that Detective Sergeant Bobra Johnston of the Emmet County Sheriffs Department would love to have some proof.
Mair finds it hard to fathom that Joseph Scolaro could be the murderer. He states in the 1998 article: “The weakness is that Scolaro had no violent criminal history, except for alleged embezzlement and/or fraud. Going from embezzlement and fraud to the murder of six people at one time is a giant leap for criminologists.”
What criminologists? Those that have a little more experience in this field than Mair, such as the original lead detectives Flis and Stearns, and the new detectives Bobra Johnston and Gwen White-Erikson, certainly believe that an embezzler and a fraud could also be a murderer. Where is the giant leap?
The shell casings that were found at the murder site matched EXACTLY the ones found at the private property Scolaro used as a target range. All his alibis were investigated and found to be false. He failed every lie detector test. And the list of his deception goes on and on. An amoral human being who is desperate is capable of anything.
Tom Mair also mentions Judith Guest’s new book, “The Tarnished Eye,” as bringing rays of hope. What rays of hope? More like rays of fallacies. Confronted with her new book by a veteran reporter who knows his facts about this case, Judith Guest was quick to point out that her book was a work of fiction and that she did not know very much about this case (obviously).
Mair should really know his facts before he continues to malign his dead friend’s mother, and cast aspersions elsewhere.

Laura Good • via email

Interesting
I find it interesting that our parade of luxury homes happens each year. I wish we could have a equal rights parade for the homeless.
I find it interesting that a new mini mall was built south of Traverse City where cattails used to be, right by the offices of a local grocery chain where cattails used to be, that development in Elmwood Township across from the Marina is flurishing where cattails used to be, that anything north of the old Woolen Company was built on where cattails used to be, and yet the only culprit punished is Bill Clous. Maybe Joni Mitchell was right, we should “Pave Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot!”
I find it interesting that a woman can run over a Michigan State Trooper and kill him and only get a year in jail, much less that she was ever allowed to drive drunk again. What is that compared to a victimless crime like Brad Shugart getting a minimum of ten years from growing hemp and his mother forced to pay a $100,000 farm fortiture fine to keep her own farm.
It is also interesting that the media insanity that clouded the John Clark trial was never looked at by another national media. Wasn’t John raking his lawn legally with a holstered pistol? Didn’t his sister Nancy call the mental health authorities from Kalamazoo in order to have a case worker talk with John? Weren’t the police supposed to be there to allow the case worker to peacefully talk to John? Why was the media footage of John peacefully declining to talk any further with Officer Finch and walking through the door and closing it shown? Why did Officer Finch not allow the mental health person to speak with John?
Wasn’t John lured into the light for a sniper to shoot him in the heart, and wasn’t he left to bleed to death? And why wasn’t he allowed to speak at his own trial if it wasn’t just that there was going to be only one version of what happened? Why wasn’t the trial moved? Isn’t it that they had a martyr and needed a victim?
I find it interesting that Leelanau County has grown by 33% since 1990 or by 22,000 people who have built 2,400 new homes on 7,800 acres of mostly 10 acre splits or 12.1 square miles of rural land, of which 1,500 acres were farm land.
Do we have to pay the leadership of Leelanau County and all the county commissioners air and hotel fare to visit Germany or some other country that clusters houses in the corners of fields and keeps on farming for centuries because of meaningful land use taxes and land preservation zoning and practices?
When is a real farm preservation act or meaningful zoning act going to be enacted (after we get more development and traffic problems)?
I see it like a great big blunder that is going on constantly all around us. We are heading in the wrong direction and blame the almighty dollar instead of ourselves for trying to stand up and say or do something.
I lived in Grand Cayman Island, and know you can only sell paradise for so long until you destroy the infrastructure of the area and the quality of life that everyone destroys by coming to be a part of paradise ( bringing with them all they hated when they left). It is like my uncle Gerald “Buck” Williams said in my garden holding a hoe the summer before he died:
“I have worked and stood up for the common man all my life, Gary. The problem is that the day I die the downstate banks, lawyers, and real estate agents will run this town. But there will be one good thing about it: I won’t have to be here to watch.”

Gary Kent Keyes • via email

Dismantle war machine
Considering the headlines over the last two weeks, I feel it is time we renew our resolve to protest America‘s involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The death toll climbs and with no exit strategy, the current administration continues to show its complete and utter disregard for human life.
President Bush needs to apologize to the United Nations, the United States, and the world at large. Then a ceasefire should be negotiated and all American soldiers returned home.
Lobby your legislators to pressure President Bush to dismantle the American occupying war machines in Afghanistan and Iraq. Then in November vote Bush out of office. The American people deserve more compassionate leadership.

Steve Little • Charlevoix

 
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