PITY FOR RUSH?
I was just catching up on my reading when I ran across the article "Free Rush Limbaugh!" by Robert Scheer. He advocates giving Rush a break--for the unfathomable reason of educating Rush in the counterproductive "error of his ways" in promoting a hard line against drug abusers.
Getting caught in a compromising position--a situation that occurs with horrific regularity in this country--has repeatedly proven to be of little benefit in curbing the vitriolic rhetoric aimed at the most vulnerable and disadvantaged population of this country. Having people such as Rush--those usually protected by their wealth or position from facing the consequences of their actions--actually have the prison experience is the only way to educate them in the failures and fallacies of the drug war. Allowing him to escape prosecution and punishment will only reaffirm the suspicions that a double standard does indeed exist in our theoretically unbiased system of justice. Thinking that Rush will alter his racist rhetoric and elitist philosophy--by giving him a pass--is pie in the sky.
If Rush is required to serve a term in prison--not some country-club retreat, but a real prison with other less fortunate, less prominent drug offenders--he will finally get a taste of the reality he and his peers have created for so many hapless victims. No fancied flight of imagination can replace the actual experience of persecution and injustice endured by millions of hapless Americans caught up in this web of hate fostered in the name of virtue and idealism.
Rush Limbaugh's notorious mouth could be a valuable asset in the battle to modernize US policy on drug treatment, prison reform and equal justice--let's give him the opportunity to do firsthand research as an eyewitness to the vagaries of the drug war and our present justice system. (Too bad he can't have a court-appointed lawyer from the indigent pool to really get the full benefit of this valuable educational opportunity!) Considering that the "good of the many" is at stake, it would be disgraceful to do any less.
No, Robert, you are not duty-bound to defend the rights of Rush Limbaugh. He will have the best lawyers in the country to do that for him. What you are duty-bound to do is, at a minimum, advocate equal justice for all. Beyond that, you might shed a tear for people incarcerated on drug offenses.
If you really care about them, you surely must know that nothing would change law enforcement or sentencing patterns and get nonviolent drug offenders out of jail faster than Florida Republicans having to imprison one of their heroes.
So I think your column was much more about showing everyone how holy you are--so noble to be willing to give Limbaugh a break--than it was about helping people who are unjustly imprisoned.
WHERE SHOULD THE BUSES GO?
New York, NY
The MTA/NYC Transit Authority has committed to be the largest, most clean-fueled bus operation in the country. MTA/NYC Transit policy requires all new 40-foot transit buses to be low-floor and alternative-fueled. This goal has been met by the recent start of delivery of 350 compressed natural gas (CNG) and 325 hybrid-electric Orion VII buses.
CNG buses may not be the answer. It should be noted that diesel hybrid-electric buses have about the same emissions as CNG buses, but are much more fuel-efficient and much more reliable. The refueling is much less complex, expensive and dangerous, compared to CNG.
However, the MTA/NYC Transit Authority should be encouraged to take hybrid-electric bus technology to the next step. Advanced technology buses are now available that do not idle and that have even lower emissions and greater fuel efficiency than the current hybrid buses, which idle. Of course, CNG buses idle also, increasing fuel use and emissions. These advanced technology buses automatically stop their engines when the parking brake is applied.
Finally, MTA/NYC Transit should be more aggressive in seeking hybrid-electric versions of the articulated bus and the cruiser-coach bus, which are being tested in other areas.
PATRICK M. CENTOLANZI
Bus depots have to go somewhere. If you move them to "lower Manhattan," the families and businesses that reside near their new locations may well exercise their option to move out to the suburbs. The residents of "upper Manhattan" are badly dependent upon the jobs and tax revenues provided by lower Manhattan and have little or no ability to relocate. On balance, Upper Manhattan is probably better off with the bus depots than it would be without them.
MATTHEW J. DUNDON