Protesting while black
I was glad to see an article exposing the shocking arrest of Damon Terrell at the Wisconsin State Capitol on Aug. 26 during the recent protests for freedom of speech and assembly by Solidarity Sing Along participants and observers. ("Videos Could Play a Role in Capitol Charges," 9/6/2013).
But it's an egregious error not to mention that Mr. Terrell is an African American man, and that protesters of other races have not been targeted with this level of violent intimidation. As multiple YouTube videos show, the Capitol Police approached Mr. Terrell and within seconds tackled and took him down to the ground, then restrained him and carried him out. They did this though he was peacefully observing the sing-along, and then jailed him for several days, threatening him with charges of felony battery.
By treating Mr. Terrell this way, the Wisconsin Capitol Police have perpetuated the reality of the police state that exists for African Americans in Madison and across the country. Add to "driving while black" and "walking to the store while black," now "protesting while black."
"Let's Meet for a Drink" in the Isthmus Drinks supplement (9/27/2013) is rubbish and accomplishes nothing. I am a native of Madison with 13 years of experience frequenting our local pubs, so I'd like to think I know a thing or two on the subject. Find a writer who will take the time to truly soak in the atmosphere of these beloved institutions of alcohol so readers can be informed of this city's hidden gems. Explain what type of message you'll really be sending your mom when you take her to Le Tigre. We deserve better than a fluff piece.
Shades of gray
I had to pinch myself while reading Bennet Goldstein's article "Straight People in Gay Bars" (9/27/2013) to make sure it was in fact the 21st century in "progressive" Madison. I was hit by the blatant and potentially offensive presumptions that both the author and general populace make regarding strangers' sexualities and genders. Just because some person who you think is a dude and some other person you think is a lady are canoodling in the corner of a gay bar certainly does not mean that these two humans are straight. It irks me time and again when the "B" and "T" are cast aside, forgotten by the LGBT community.
Gay bars in town, start recognizing and celebrating your bi- and pansexual patrons and the trans men and women around you. Madison, stop making hurtful assumptions about your neighbors' identities. Let's bask in those shades of gray instead of painting everything black and white!
Helmet? Hell yes!
I applaud Isthmus for putting the bike-helmet-wearing issue front and center ("Helmet? Hell No!" 9/19/2013). I regularly shake my head in astonishment at the idiocy of bike riders who wear no helmets on even the busiest streets. My only problem with the article is the quote by the trauma surgeon, that the brain "is not going to work very well." Could such vastly important information be any more understated?
I'm also wondering where the Wisconsin Bike Federation stands on this issue. Last summer my brother-in-law was in a near-fatal bike accident; had he not been wearing his helmet he would be dead.
It just makes sense to wear a helmet. Freedom is a state of mind, and being able bike safely in this beautiful city is pretty damned freeing if you ask me.
The recent article on bicyclists and decreased helmet use was very disturbing. I can state from tragic personal and recent experience that accidents happen like a bolt out of the blue.
It's true that helmets don't reduce your chances of being in an accident. However, they certainly increase your chances of surviving the accident. I've seen them save more lives than I can count. So why not be as safe as possible? Wear your helmet. To do otherwise risks not only you but your loved ones and many others.
Nathan Rudin, M.D.
Associate professor of rehabilitation medicine, UW-Madison
The bike helmet debate is a replay of the motorcycle helmet debate. And to me the resolution is obvious. A win-win for both riders and the public would be an "implied consent" law. Riders agree to donate all transplantable organs in the event they die in an accident while riding a cycle without a helmet. People remain free to choose to wear one or not. But this solution would save the lives of thousands who now die while awaiting an organ transplant.
I'm always puzzled when educated adults refuse to take easy and practical measures to protect their health. In 2013, the vast majority of people wear seatbelts in cars -- why should helmets be considered any differently?
Just as with seatbelts, helmet use should be mandated for minors. For adults, insurance companies could create incentives for helmet use, adjusting rates to reflect the risks taken by non-helmeted cyclists.
I strongly encourage all cyclists to buy a MIPS-equipped helmet. MIPS is new technology yet to be mandated by slow-moving standards organizations, but the helmets are available now (mipshelemet.com).