Copyright 1995 The Chronicle Publishing Co.
The San Francisco Chronicle
MAY 21, 1995, SUNDAY, SUNDAY EDITION
SECTION: EDITORIAL; Pg. 8; LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
LENGTH: 1276 words
HEADLINE: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
BODY: A MAN WITH 20/20 MORAL VISION
Editor -- This letter is to draw attention to the article (May 13) on Rafael Sencion's willing relinquishment of his job for his more needy co-worker, Larry Wood. When budget cuts threatened the New York City SRO Law Project, where the men worked to help poor people avert eviction, Wood, who had less seniority than Sencion by two months, was slated for termination, while Sencion's job was to be retained. But Sencion, a bachelor from the Dominican Republic, intervened because Wood's wife was pregnant. He told his friend, ''You can't afford to lose your job.'' He resigned instead, allowing his co-worker to remain employed.
In these times, when social programs await imminent destruction, when whites fear that their jobs are being taken by minorities, when the commitment to helping those in need is failing, people ask ''Why should I sacrifice my tax dollar to help the poor?'' and ''Why should I step aside for an equally qualified minority?'' Sencion's actions show the moral bankruptcy of this political climate, But his story at the same time is a torch of light in the gloom. Sencion, a member of a ''minority'' community, worked eight years to help poor people stay housed and then sacrificed his own livelihood to help a fellow worker. Unlike the ruling stereotypes of social workers, he had no bureaucratic or selfish attachment to his job and never lost sight of the ''big picture.'' And unlike the stereotypes of minorities as ''special interest groups,'' Sencion's concern for those who needed help crossed race and class boundaries.
Now that he is unemployed, what is he doing? Living on his severance and working with his own community to support striking Dominican grocery workers. And despite the political climate of this country right now, Sencion is not interested in taking the moral high ground. When queried by the press about his actions, he responded, ''There are lots of good people out there who under the same circumstances would have done the same thing. I'm sure of it.'' I would like to believe him. This man's clear moral vision makes him a hero in these troubled times.
IGNORANCE ISN'T MALICE
Editor -- I was only ten years old when my grandmother and I used to ply the public course at Lake Worth, Fla. She drove the ball; I drove the cart. Though it was 35 years ago, I remember clear as a bell her explaining to me how she had some difficulty hitting the long shots because her ''boosoms'' got in the way.
I don't know the facts or the tone of Ben Wright's apparent remarks about women and golf, but my hackles go up when I see editorial writers gleefully skewering the CBS sports commentator. It's always easy to pile on when someone does something stupid.
Inevitably, the editorialists link Wright's remarks about lesbians tainting the image of golf and women being handicapped with ''boobs'' to the self-dethroning remarks made by former sports commentator Jimmy the Greek and Dodgers executive Al Campanis.
I write not to defend ignorance, but to recognize it for what it is -- a lack of knowledge, or perhaps in all three of these cases, the belief in incorrect information. Because it does seem that these men said what they did, not out of rancor, but believing that what they were saying was true. That's different from taking malicious shots at people. Very different.
If the high and mighty in the media and professional sports who are so ready to lynch were more concerned with eradicating discrimination than in looking for the nearest tree and a rope, they would consider re-educating these errants and sending them on the road to share what they have learned.
Editor -- Scott Ostler (Sunday, May 7) fell into a prevalent error when he referred to Caryl Chessman (the ''Red-Light Bandit'') as a murderer.
Chessman, a career criminal, was not charged with murder. His death penalty was imposed for a technical conviction of kidnapping, on the finding that he took his victim a short distance from her car before raping her. He was not found guilty of the series of crimes blamed on the ''Red-Light Bandit.''
EDitor -- That was a great article about the Susanville coach Ed Murin (''The Price of Tenure,'' Sunday, May 7) by Nanette Asimov. I love it that the man mentions that his wife is Italian, to help show he's not prejudiced. I'm surprised such an open-minded person hasn't moved to San Francisco by now.
TELL BOTH SIDES
Editor -- Nanette Asimov's missive on tenure was not a fair look at the issue. As a science teacher, I am fully aware that one case does not prove the rule. She could have focused equally as well on a teacher who was unfairly dismissed for arbitrary or political reasons to ''prove'' that teachers are not adequately protected. That is not to say that the system of teacher retention (it is not tenure) cannot be improved. However, this article is without in-depth research and does not even provide case histories from both sides of the story.
Ironically, the right-wing effort to deny teachers due process may very well backfire. In many districts, the central office administrators put extraordinary pressure on schools to cut down on the amount of flunking. In many schools the only thing standing in the way of a complete abandonment of standards is the protection of teachers from unwarranted firing.
A VOICE FROM THE LEFT
Editor -- Steve McLin wrote (Letters to the Editor, May 7) about how folks on the left side of the political spectrum were quick to condemn Limbaugh, et al, for the vitriol that inspired the bombing in Oklahoma City, while remaining in ''deafening'' silence regarding the Unabomber.
OK, I'll take the bait.
I consider myself on the liberal-to-radical side. Mr. McLin, please note: The deeds of the Unabomber are despicable and repulsive.
He does not represent me or any left-leaner I know. The only people represented by the Unabomber are wackos like himself.
He belongs in a cell, preferably one right next to the rightest militia bombers. They'd probably find they have a lot in common.
QUIET TOO LONG
Editor -- It is with sadness that I reflect on President Bush's repudiation of the National Rifle Association. One wonders how many lives could have been saved had Bush and others in high position had the courage to speak out against this juvenile fascination with weapons that serves no purpose except to kill a daughter, son, mother, father or neighbor. Perhaps he can now join the good company of Robert McNamara in proposing a new amendment: ''Thou shall not kill,'' and some tough anti-weapon legislation to make it a lot harder to disobey the moral imperative.
GRATEFUL TO BUSH
Editor -- I am profoundly grateful to George Bush for his public NRA resignation.
I think many of us are fearful for our country when all we seem to hear is violent rhetoric, and all we seem to see is violent action.
What we as a nation need is a return to civil discourse and civil behavior. President Bush helped that concept along in a very powerful and moving way, and I only hope other prominent leaders will do the same.
Editor -- I really enjoy your Sunday ''First Person,'' so often about a woman's personal experience. It's like talking to a friend -- I love it. Wish they made movies like this.