letter to the editor275

Hotel facts Re: Hotels cast out renters during Games (The News, November 10) In November, the River View Hotel has one social assistance recipient…

Hotel facts

Re: Hotels cast out renters during Games (The News, November 10)

In November, the River View Hotel has one social assistance recipient renting a room.

This sole social assistance recipient has already made arrangements to move into an apartment starting December 1.

Genesee Keevil reported that the River View Hotel has “about 15 low-income Yukoners living at the River View Hotel.” This is incorrect.

To jump to the conclusion that anyone who rents a room in a hotel on a monthly basis is low-income is simply wrong.

Please ensure that your reporters get the facts straight before printing articles in the Yukon News.

Ed Festel, owner, River View Hotel, Whitehorse

Overstated, misunderstood

Your recent large red headline “Violent psych patient escapes” (The News, November 3) is a flagrant example of the kind of media sensationalism that does a disservice to people facing mental health issues, and the organizations that are working to support them.

When we get past the blaring headline, we find nothing in the article itself to substantiate the public fear that the front page tries to instil.

The lead paragraph tells us that he is a “violent, mentally unstable man facing criminal charges” who has “escaped.”

The lead sets it up for us, doesn’t it? The trigger phrases “violent”, “criminal” and “mentally unstable” are all there, making it easy for us to jump to the assumption that what we have here is a menace to society.

The allusion to “escape” is also somewhat misleading.

The November 6 edition of Whitehorse’s other paper states that, “On Friday, he was brought into court for having left the hospital.”

Your paper quotes Crown counsel David McWhinnie as saying that the hospital is not a secure psychiatric facility.

“Evidence came out during the hearing that if (he) chose to leave, they don’t have the ability or the inclination to stop him.”

Kind of puts a different twist on escaping, doesn’t it?

In fairness to reporter Graeme McElheran, the rest of the article is reasonably factual.

We are not told in any detail what the circumstances were behind this man’s “assault and uttering death threats during an altercation with two men.”

Be that as it may, it might be wise to keep in mind the findings of Virginia Hiday, a sociologist at North Carolina State University.

Hiday’s study reported in 2000 that 8.2 per cent of a group of severely mentally ill patients who had been discharged from psychiatric inpatient treatment had themselves been the victims of violent crime before they entered hospital.

The incidence for the general population was estimated at 3.1 per cent.

A summary of her study findings says, “Hiday was interested in studying victimization of the mentally ill because she wanted to see if their victim status might prompt them to behave violently towards others.

“‘One of my theories is that people act out because people pick on them,’” she says. ‘They’re victims.”

The equating of mental illness with violence is pervasive throughout much of our media.

A 1997 content analysis of American TV found that “72.1 per cent of adult characters depicted as mentally ill in prime-time television drama injured or killed others.

“Characters with a mental illness were almost 10 times more violent than the general population of other television characters, and 10 to 20 times more violent during a two-week programming sample than real individuals with psychiatric diagnoses in the US population were over an entire year.”

Research shows that the reality of the situation is far different.

The lifetime risk of someone with a diagnosed mental illness seriously harming or killing another person is represented by a fraction of a per cent, while the risk of them harming themselves is around 10 per cent, or 2,000 times more likely.

It would be helpful if your future coverage didn’t buy into stereotypes so readily.

Brian Eaton, Second Opinion Society, Whitehorse

Wildlife harassment

I’m sure many of you who are familiar with the Annie Lake Road area have probably noticed that, over the last decade, the chances of seeing caribou, moose and bear along the road have greatly increased.

There are probably many reasons for the increase of sightings in this area, but it really comes down to the fact that this area is excellent habit for these animals.

Many of us who live along the road will tell you of seeing these animals in our yards or their tracks passing through our property.

We will also tell you how lucky we are to be able to have these chance sightings and how long those images stay with us over time.

I had a chance this Saturday, Remembrance Day, to watch a moose grazing on our property. I was outside working near our woodpile when I looked up the power line towards the Annie lake road, and I noticed this moose grazing near the boundary of our property.

She looked at me as to acknowledge my presence and then continued to feed. I stood there watching her for sometime when I heard an ATV approaching at what appeared to be great speed down the power line right of way.

I was hoping the ATV would slow down, but it didn’t.

Instead, it came to our laneway did a series of doughnut turns (tearing it up in the process) then sped back the way it came doing more doughnuts on what I would consider prime grazing ground for these animals.

So what does the moose do during this time? I would have to say she was frightened as she bolted at incredible speed but must have been very confused as she stumbled and hit the ground and then went crashing through the bush, knocking into trees and breaking off branches in the process.

I felt so sorry for her, but just fuming mad at the inconsiderate driver of the ATV.

I walked up to where the moose had been and then along the track left by this ATV looking at all the ground this machine had torn up in its senseless journey and wondered: how could this person find any enjoyment in what they had just done, especially when the road and a well-established recreational vehicle trail beside it, lay just a 30 metres away?

I don’t know if there is any way to make these individuals see the wrong of their activities, but I would sure like the chance to talk to them and try to make them see that there are more sensible ways to drive these machines, which would also allow them to get some enjoyment out of their use.

But to use them in the manner I saw on Remembrance Day serves no benefit to anyone.

Al Foster

Annie Lake Road

Crack dealers ruin lives

Crack ruins lives and kills.

Crack, it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Crack will steal your smile, even from your eyes. It will steal from your family and friends, even your lover.

Thank you, drug dealers for that. You don’t even seem to care, not even for yourselves.

Communities are dying. Souls are dying, health, strength….

Hearts are broken, families are broken, kids ruined, just because there’s crack and drug dealers selling and taking advantage of their innocence.

Who knows if someone is selling to your niece or nephew, sister or brother, friends, lover, wife, husband, child?

Is that OK?

Drug dealers, is being heartless with others and helping them die to put money in your pocket more important?

It’s just a stupid drug that makes whoever wants to be stupid, stupid and go on a nowhere road.

Life, love it forever.

Name held by request