Collins not the first athlete to come out

To the editor:

It’s been widely reported that NBA player Jason Collins is the first active athlete in a major sport to “come out” by revealing his homosexuality. Collins himself is quoted as saying that he did not set out to be the first, “but since I am, I am happy to start the conversation.”

While Collins deserves recognition and credit for his courage, it’s at least arguable that Glenn Burke, not Collins, was the first athlete to disclose his homosexuality while still actively playing in a major sport. Burke revealed his homosexuality and was sharing the team’s locker room while an active player for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland Athletics from 1976-1979.

Burke’s disclosure is well-documented by interviews with many of his major league teammates at the time (Reggie Smith, Davey Lopes and others) by interviews with Burke, in books, and by a documentary film.

Burke’s disclosure some 40 years ago was exceptionally courageous, because homosexuality wasn’t nearly as acceptable then as it is now.

Moreover, unlike Collins, Burke didn’t wait until he had played 12 years and had earned millions of dollars before revealing his homosexuality. Rather, Burke made his disclosure early in his career and endured taunts and ostracism while never getting a full opportunity to develop his tremendous talent and earn a substantial salary. After only three years in the big leagues Burke’s career was over in 1979 at age 26. He died of AIDS in 1995.

Because Burke never hid his homosexuality to begin with and it was a known fact at that time, Burke never felt the need that Collins apparently felt to “come out” formally and publicly. That’s probably why Burke has been overlooked or even forgotten as a true pioneer regarding homosexuality in professional sports.

While Collins deserves credit for his courage, it would be a classy gesture for Collins to publicly give Burke his due recognition at this important time in sports and in our society.

STEVE DANNING

LAS VEGAS

Workers’ Day

To the editor:

In response to Danny Thompson’s op-ed in Wednesday’s paper (“This Workers’ Day, celebrate immigrants”), I would challenge Mr. Thompson to state exactly how giving amnesty — because that sure sounds like what he’s proposing to the 11 million illegal aliens — would improve their safety in the workplace.

I cannot believe employers are singling out the illegal aliens who are employed as teachers, nurses, construction workers, caregivers, taxi drivers, dishwashers and farm workers to individually select and subject them to the abuses Mr. Thompson stated.

It’s just more fear-mongering trying to elicit sympathy for these criminals. Why don’t you do some good, Mr. Thompson, and report these abuses to the proper officials? As you’re the executive secretary treasurer of the Nevada State AFL-CIO, I’m sure someone would listen to you.

Or could it be that the employers who you’re talking about are the same union shops that you represent? Could it be that you don’t want to report them for fear that the business will be shut down and you would no longer get the hefty union dues you rely on for your pay and political contributions?

To try to compare the 11 million illegal aliens to the immigrants of 100 years ago is just ludicrous. We have immigration laws now that the 11 million have chosen to break and don’t want to face the consequences of their actions.

Mr. Thompson complains that we don’t have a common-sense immigration process. I would beg to differ, we do have an immigration process already in place, but the illegal aliens have chosen to completely disregard it. They believe that if they cry loud and long enough we will simply forgive their crimes.

Well, I’m sure a lot of people in prison would like that to happen too. If I’m pulled over for speeding maybe I can tell the policeman “Yo no hablo English” and he will just let me go. This is what they are really asking, for this country not to prosecute them for their criminal behavior of entering or staying in this country illegally.

Mr. Thompson, if you are truly looking for hard working individuals just look at the people on waiting lists around the world who are waiting for a visa to come to this country legally. These are the people who we should be helping to come here, not the 11 million that flout our laws and take advantage of our good will and unfortunately weak border.

Why couldn’t the 11 million follow the immigration laws and apply for a visa? Could it be that they would not qualify because of a criminal background or a propensity of always needing government welfare or assistance ?

I, like Mr. Thompson am demoralized. But I’m demoralized that he would ask us to celebrate the criminal behavior of illegal aliens, instead of celebrating the hard work of those who have chosen to obey the law and become immigrants legally.

DOUG FARMER

LAS VEGAS

Respectable

To the editor:

In response to Mr. Kessel’s letter concerning marriage equality (“Redefining marriage is not equality”) I understand that respect for people’s religious beliefs is paramount. But respect for people’s civil rights is also paramount. Forcing the entire state and country to abide by someone else’s religious views is against the “freedom of religion” amendment to the Constitution.

I understand if a particular church doesn’t wish to perform a same-sex marriage it should be respected. However, the couple should still be able to go to city hall and get a marriage license and have the legal rights straight couples have.

There needs to be a middle ground here. We can respect your beliefs, but we don’t have to agree with them. That’s true freedom.

THOMAS GLADUE

LAS VEGAS

Legalize it

To the editor:

Alleged pimp Ammar Harris is charged with shooting and killing pimp “Kenny Clutch” Cherry in a macho dispute over who was the best pimp working the nightclub. The altercation also killed an innocent cabdriver and tourist from Washington state.

This week it was reported that accused pimp Arma Izadi, living high off the hog in a Sky Las Vegas luxury condo, allegedly intimidated, threatened and physically assaulted and tortured one of his prostitutes.

These pimps troll the high-end casino nightclubs peddling their illicit sex with a wink and nod from the club owners and operators themselves. In fact, Izadi was working as a host at one of these casino resort properties. The clubs are periodically fined for allowing prostitution and drugs to abound inside the establishments but they happily agree to pay the fine until next time.

These pimps wouldn’t exist if the clubs inside these casinos were shut down when the laws were violated. Also these pimps wouldn’t exist if prostitution were legalized here in Clark County as it is in Northern Nevada.

If prostitution were legal and taxed it would bring millions to the state each year. Prostitution is already very well regulated here, the girls working in the trade chose to work there and make money. None of the prostitutes working legally in Nevada are physically assaulted by brothel owners nor are they tortured. The girls are also checked and rechecked for STDs.

When the cabdriver and tourist were killed last February, Metro spokesmen told a television crew that prostitution in these glitzy nightclubs cannot be stopped. I disagree. Legalized prostitution could be relegated to a certain area of town and in one fell swoop would immediately halt pimp operations, sex trafficking, and questionable escort services — and the Johns could be assured that the prostitutes are safe and clean. Personally, I am tired of these juiced up politicians, casino moguls and high end club owners allowing sex traffic, sex assault, torture and even murder to run wild in their establishments while turning a blind eye to the idea of having the trade legalized.

Everyone would benefit — the girls, the tourists, and mostly the city and state.

It has already worked in Nevada and other cities worldwide for decades, so where’s the problem?

Vegas is Sin City? What a laugh. Right now it’s more of a Nanny State.

BRADLEY KUHNS

LAS VEGAS

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