Letters to the Editor

Voice of the People - June 20, 2008

Combatting biggest health menace

Does anyone remember the biggest public health scare of 2006? Spinach panic. Tons of fresh produce were recalled as politicians railed on TV about the "green menace." The ultimate toll of that E-coli outbreak: 200 sickened and 3 dead.

Imagine the reaction if a preventable public health crisis came along that killed 53,000 people in a year -- not just once, but every year? Apathy for the most part. The number comes from the Surgeon General's 2006 report on secondhand smoke, but this outrageous statistic hasn't generated public outrage. The media have failed to hype this problem.

Patrons who would flee a restaurant with asbestos flaking from the ceiling will voluntarily dine in an environment full of secondhand smoke -- and even bring their children along. Some people who dread flying will work in an office, unconcerned by the much greater risk posed by the smoker in the next cubicle.

Fifty years ago, workers in South Carolina's cotton mills did not know the dust in the air around them was dangerous. Once the cause of brown lung was understood, government mandated safety measures. Today, the vast majority of people don't understand the scope of the secondhand smoke problem. This is why our elected representatives need to step in with measures to protect the public.

In South Carolina, choosing to work as a waiter or bartender doubles a nonsmoker's risk of developing lung cancer and increases their risk of heart disease by 30 percent. A comprehensive secondhand smoke ordinance could change this by simply inconveniencing smokers -- requiring them to take their cigarettes outdoors. The right of cities and counties to enact smoking laws has been upheld in the S.C. Supreme Court. Now is the time for our local council members to step up to the plate and deal with this public health threat.

Floyd B. Hale, MD

Rock Hill

Support Coleman in Tuesday's runoff

On Tuesday, voters in S.C. Senate District 17 have the privilege of electing the Democratic nominee. The word change has been used extensively in connection with elections this year. The words we need to concentrate on in this very important election are leadership and experience. State Rep. Creighton Coleman possesses both these qualifications.

During the past eight years, he has served the citizens of House District 41 well. He has a record of accomplishment and knows how to get things done in Columbia. Creighton Coleman has always responded to any inquiry or request and is approachable and dedicated to all his constituents.

If you did not vote in the primary, you may still vote in this very important Democratic runoff. Please consider casting your vote for Creighton Coleman, a public servant, not a politician.

Carol Shockley


Dance not strictly 'Catawba culture'

I would like to take exception to your picture caption on page 2C on Sunday, June 15. It showed a feathered dancer with the caption, "Getting schooled on Catawba culture."

The dancer's regalia in the picture is that of a northern traditional dancer from the northern Plains Indians. It should not be labeled as "Catawba culture." There are other Native American dances that dancers from the Catawba Cultural Center perform. They are the Grass Dance, a Northern Plains Indians dance; the Hoop Dance, a Pueblo-Navajo dance; and the Jingle Dance, a sacred Ojibway dance.

The Jingle Dance is a healing dance that is still done at Native American powwows to pray for and to heal sick persons. Appropriate Ojibway songs go with this dance. The Cultural Center also promotes regalia with designs from western and midwestern tribes. These designs are in geometric figures (squares, blocks, steps, etc.). Catawbas say they are Woodland Indians, but the Culture Center does not have regalia of circular, flowery designs of the Woodland Indians. It would be more appropriate to call the Catawba Culture Center dances Native American culture, rather then refer to them as "Catawba culture," as if they belong to one particular tribe.

Catawbas once did dances known as the Stomp Dance, Wild Goose Dance, Bear Dance, Fox Chase Dance and Catawba War Dance. If the Cultural Center were performing these dances, that would be Catawba culture. Catawbas, like most other tribes, borrowed Plains Indians ideas, thinking and regalia, and used them in their dances for the public. Only the Plains Indians, both northern and southern tribes, can claim these dances and regalia as their culture.

Jim Largo

Rock Hill