Letters To The Editor

Don Chapman
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January 16, 2008 - MidWeek
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We lose

In her letter to MidWeek, Laverne Higa, director of City Department of Facility Maintenance, declared the war on potholes is being won. No, the fact is that the war has been fought and won - by the potholes!

Hung Wu

PBS ratings

As the person who oversees programming at PBS Hawaii, I would like to respond to Bob Jones’ column item about our Nielsen ratings.

PBS Hawaii does not, and never has, used ratings as a measure of success. If we did, we would be undermining our mission, which is to provide Hawaii viewers with quality programming that informs, inspires and enlightens. Ratings measure popularity, not quality.

The commercial networks live and die by the Nielsens because they survive solely on advertisers’dollars that increase when the ratings are up and decrease when the ratings are down. PBS Hawaii operates on contributions by loyal viewers who feel that having a television entity not influenced by advertiser dollars is very important to them and the community we serve. By this measurement, the station is definitely in a growth mode, as we now have the means to provide Hawaii with PBS’s core programming and six locally generated shows a week (Na Mele, Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, Leahey & Leahey, Island Insights, Pacific Showcase, and Everybody’s Business with Howard Dicus.)

Comparing our ratings with those of the commercial networks is like comparing the box office receipts of studio blockbusters with those of small independent films. In the television universe, PBS Hawaii is in the latter category.

Robert Pennybacker
VP of Creative Services

PBS Hawaii

Swedish suicide lie

Bill O’Reilly is entitled to his political beliefs, but based on his column in the Jan. 2 MidWeek he needs to get his facts straight about Sweden.

Being Swedish, I have focused on his assertion that Sweden has an enormously high suicide rate. This is an old myth from the 1950s that President Eisenhower helped to create, which shouldn’t be encouraged. Although it’s true that Sweden then had a suicide frequency that doubled that of the U.S., it was never the highest. Denmark, Finland, Switzerland and Austria had higher numbers than Sweden. Since committing suicide is a strong taboo in many countries that are dominated by religious values, one prefers to classify as many suicides as possible as “accidents.” It’s widely believed that the Swedes were more honest with the numbers and reported them as they were.

Sweden, according to WHO’s statistics (the numbers come from the ISA, Invest in Sweden Agency) now is in 33rd place with 19.7 suicide cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year. The U.S. is in 40th place with 17.6 cases. It’s not a significant difference.

Sweden is also a very progressive and orderly country, and Mr. O’Reilly’s comment “anything goes” is simply fiction.

Lastly, both Swedes and the Americans have the freedom to choose their own religion, and it’s none of Mr. O’Reilly’s business.

If Mr. O’Reilly so freely gives us distorted facts, how do we know that any of his writing is credible?

Pia Jordan
Hawaii Kai

What kind of nation

The answer to the question of whether America is a Christian nation or not is not as clear-cut as some may think.

Fred Metcalf and Dave Gerrard are correct that America is not officially a Christian nation. Over the years, Congress has considered amendments that would declare us “a Christian nation.” None has passed. Our Constitution, upon which our government is based, does not endorse Christianity or any other religion. It does, however, ensure each American the right to practice religion freely.

But Dorothy Farmer is also correct that we are a Christian nation. From the beginning, the majority of Americans have held Christian beliefs, not from compulsion but by choice. That is still true today. As a result, Christian thinking and values are deeply embedded within our history and culture. The influence of these beliefs on the formation and practice of American government, laws, commerce, education, etc., cannot be understated. It is safe to say that the America we know and live in would not exist without Christianity, and perhaps would never have come to be.

It is this dichotomy of being officially impartial toward Christianity, and yet in many ways being Christian in practice, due to the freedom granted by that same impartiality, that makes America a great nation. I’m guessing the three individuals mentioned above could agree on that.

Steve Klein

Send your letters to MidWeek Letters, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 500, Honolulu, HI. 96813; by fax to 585-6324, or by email to dchapman@midweek.com. Please include your name, address and daytime and evening phone numbers. We print only the letters that include this information, but only your name and area of residence will appear in print. Letters may be edited for clarity and space.
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