Like many regular readers, I wasn't going to comment about the fish hook-hanging woman article ("Hooked," Sept. 9). Hank Sims is a big boy and knew he would take the heat. But the "Publisher" response from Judy Hodgson last week was certainly a head scratcher (Sept. 23).
Judy, Judy, Judy. You fill your newspaper with a bunch of lefties and wonder why you get stuff like this. As it is, judging from the page after page of marijuana advertising, frankly I wonder why you care at all what is on the cover.
While the new direction of the Journal may play well in a black-lighted dorm room at HSU, I assure you, the continued love-fest with anything counterculture will eventually leave you with a publication no one without a nose ring will want to be seen reading in public. But then again, maybe that is your plan.
It's a shame really. For years I have been taking heat for standing up to my fellow conservatives and defending the NCJ. Work with me, Judy.
How in good conscience you can one week push the "Take Back The Night" march, and the next glorify not only the objectification of women, but actually try and mainstream their torture, is beyond me. Your publication laments constantly on the poor plight of the Humboldt illegals, yet never mentions the crime and drain on services associated with them. Christians or the fiscal responsible lock their doors and pull the shades when your tolerant fact-finders wander the countryside. On the other hand, if you are hanging a young girl from a hook or hiding illegals in your basement, the door is always open and herbal tea ready.
The buck stops with you, not Sims, who you were so quick to point a finger at. Sims is the best raw political analyst in the county and you are lucky to have him. Stupid cover, but we all do stupid things.
If you truly care about the paper and the community, how about doing something more than climb out from under your desk during situations like this and actually make sure your staff doesn't consist of nothing but Obama button-wearing left-wing ideologues.
Otherwise, just stay under your desk.
Tom Fredriksen, Eureka
I read with interest the apology column from publisher Judy Hodgson in the latest edition of the Journal. Okay, so she is ultimately responsible for what gets printed under the masthead, but she almost never sees what will be in each issue until it hits the streets.
But the person who oversees everything that gets into the paper is the editor, Hank Sims. And he ain't apologizing, at least in public.
It's pretty clear that Sims likes to tweak noses. Take that cover story a couple of years back, the one about the local marijuana grow scene, which happened to come out the opening week of classes at HSU (I can't quite remember what the cover image was, but it was something to do with pot leaves and the gates to the school). The powers that be at the university did not like that one bit, and I understand that they immediately stopped all advertising in the Journal.
Or the end of 2009 Seven-O-Heaven extravaganza that made fun of Rob Arkley. Too long, in questionable taste and not very funny (and I like the strip). I noticed that the full page ads for the Arkley Center disappeared from your pages right after that. No surprise there!
I'm sure that these sort of editorial decisions make the jobs of your hard-working advertising staff much more difficult. And, since you are a free publication, you depend on all of those advertising dollars to survive. Which makes these sort of cover choices puzzling. Doesn't Sims want to keep his job? Doesn't everyone at the Journal want to keep their jobs?
I agree that you should have the freedom to print anything that you see fit. As Americans, we cherish that unalienable right. I think that you do a great job of keeping us informed, exposing wrongs, uncovering truths, and entertaining and enlightening us all. Continue doing that.
But perhaps Sims should think twice, three, even four times before he makes some of his decisions. Like printing news of a local candidate's DUI before an election, and not after. I think many of us would be happier, and maybe there wouldn't have to be as many apologies.
Russ Cole, Arcata
I have until now been your stalwart defender. But a girl seeking recognition by hanging herself by meat hooks? A decrepit building in Eureka? A blog war between Bigfoot believers?
Those are the cover stories for the month of September?
Did anyone at the Journal happen to notice that, somewhere in that same time span, our district attorney won a significant class action lawsuit against a national corporate adult care institution? That lawsuit will ultimately have a large impact on hundreds of local elderly people and their families -- as
well as on many thousands statewide.
Local public officials beware -- if you would like media recognition, forget doing important beneficial work for the community. Instead, you could try prosecuting someone's virtual space alien avatar -- or maybe just tattoo your testicles. (And maybe I shouldn't have written those last few words, because if someone does that, I'm afraid we will have to see it in the Journal.)
Alan Sanborn, Arcata
OMG, somebody call the waaah-mbulance! Could it really be that the The Most Libertarian Place on Earth has an Achilles heel? Even more surprising to me is that it is actually something as seemingly innocuous as wacky and totally avoidable fringe performance art. Yes, I'm talking about the suspension shows. Eww, blood! Quick, let's try to censor our local free newspaper!
The gushing vitriol of the response letters to your recent cover story left me both wildly entertained and utterly disappointed. I thought I landed here in live-and-let-live country for some perks -- freedom of expression, open-mindedness and the pursuit of happiness amongst them. Lord knows the run-amok libertarianism comes with some nasty downsides. Yet time and time again, I find that Humboldt's "eek, it's from outside, reject it" button is incredibly easy to trigger. (Yes, the same outside from whence you and I, in all statistical likelihood, came). I am not sure if it's the insulation from other major societal influences, the fact that practically everyone came here to escape same, the general lack of diversity, or the desire to return to ... what, the wholesome Amish days we never really had because we were too busy opting to party down? But the end result -- zero tolerance for anything outside of these super-specialized Humboldt social mores -- slays me. Gah, if you hate it so much, stop reading/staring. Exercise a little bit of human evolution and check your "stare at the train wreck" urge.
I found your story to be interesting and was pleasantly surprised to hear that our very own charmingly behind-the-times Humboldt has a suspension scene, even if it's mostly just one attention-loving lady. My sole criticism is that the complexities of this activity weren't explored more -- the mind-body relationship, meditative aspects, the impetus of self-"mutilation," the differing responses to pain and pleasure stimuli in different human bodies. Yep, the things that make us different and help us transcend the grind! Imagine that.
The cover photo, though grotesque to the eyes of understanding adults and perhaps confusing to children, did not seem to be chosen for its retch-inducing qualities. I feel it accurately represented the story -- it was the bottom line. A little bit of shock doesn't mean you are running a tabloid. I really appreciated Mielke's comic in the subsequent Journal -- excellent point, and I am positive that The Sweet Little Darling Children have seen ickier, nastier, more visceral gore than that, standard roadkill and dinner componentry included.
All that said, the items of local news that inspire this level of lashing out are a sorry state (of Jefferson): bloody freaky live performances, whether or not Humboldt is a tad weed-centric, etc. If only topics that pose serious, lasting, genuine threats to our community and the land it depends on elicited this sort of reply. Kudos to you for reporting on so many of the conundrums that have no easy answers, but make us think and talk and work toward solutions. This one was a no-brainer -- whatever floats (or stretches or bloodies) your boat!
Natalie Arroyo, Eureka
In reference to the rash of letters you received in reaction to your cover, I noticed your ironic award for best letter in the last edition. You chose the most thoughtful, least vitriolic, least passionate writer upon which to bestow your favor. You like writers who show concern for their neighbors' sensibilities -- thoughtful, mellow (what's the opposite of pithy?) comments. Opposites attract eh?
Mari Adams, Eureka
Sweet Spot: Confidential to Mari Adams -- good writing, like good ice cream, comes in many flavors. This week Natalie Arroyo opts for something more piquant, and in doing so wins a Bon Boniere sundae for sending our favorite letter of the week.