Voting by Mail
As a native Oregonian living in Memphis, one of the things I miss most about my home state is voting by mail. Eligible voters don't have to show up -- as described in your editorial "American Democracy?" (July 20th issue). They get a ballot in the mail weeks before the election, fill it out at home, and mail it in by Election Day. If you can't make it to the post office in time for it to be postmarked, there are numerous drop-off locations. This easy voting method may help explain why Oregon had the highest voter turnout in the survey mentioned in your editorial. As an Oregon resident, I also enjoyed receiving a nonpartisan voter's guide, which would have been a tremendous help in preparing for this upcoming Shelby County election.
Courtney Miller Santo
As a former resident of Jackson, Mississippi, I have watched the career of Mayor Frank Melton ("Takin' It to the Streets," July 20th issue) with interest. At first, I was hopeful (as were many of my friends who still live in Jackson) that Melton might be the perfect choice for the city: a law-and-order mayor with street cred in the black community. Unfortunately, we have watched Melton self-destruct by lying to the media and making arbitrary, "shoot from the hip" decisions without regard for consequences. He has become the very definition of "loose cannon."
Reluctantly, I now conclude, along with a lot of Jackson residents, that Melton is in way over his head.
World Out of Joint
It seems abundantly clear that all the violent eruptions in the Middle East are tragically related. President Bush's preemptive strike to topple Saddam has opened a Pandora's box and set in motion an escalating sequence of events beyond his understanding or control.
The bloody insurrection and civil war in Iraq now resonates in Gaza and Lebanon. In those areas, Israel's inordinately excessive response to provocations leaves the infrastructure in ruins, hundreds of innocent people dead, and many thousands fleeing their homes.
This spreading spectacle of misery and woe easily brings to mind a paraphrase of the words Shakespeare gave to Hamlet: "The world is out of joint. O cursed spite, that ever Scalia's court named Bush to set it right."
Bianca Phillips' story on Memphis murder statistics ("Black, White, and Dead," July 20th issue) was both depressing and enlightening. As a Caucasian, apparently I have little to fear, since there were only seven white people murdered in Memphis during the first half of 2006. My black friends, on the other hand, should be very afraid. By my calculations, they are almost 10 times as likely to be murdered as I am.
What a sad reflection these numbers are on the city of Memphis and its leaders (most of whom are black, the last time I checked).
Hunters Pay for Hikers
Regarding the recent controversy about hunting in the southeast part of Shelby County near Collierville:
Hunting is only done when the legal season for whatever type of game is open. The firearms that will be used for the new Wildlife Management Area will be short-range, such as shotguns, muzzleloaders, and archery equipment. There are already regulations about what the game warden can do if you are found to have fired a shot in the direction of (or too close to) a residence.
These regulations work well on Presidents Island and in Shelby Forest, so why wouldn't they work elsewhere? Furthermore, if you enjoy hiking in Shelby Forest or in the areas under consideration for hunting, you should thank hunters and fishermen, because we are the ones paying your way. You don't pay fees to support the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency because hunters and fishermen buy licenses and pay added taxes on hunting and fishing equipment to support that government agency.
How much would your readers pay for a fall foliage hike if someone else wasn't paying the freight on the land?