Week of November 1, 2000

This Won't Fly
TWA management needs to get serious: I have worked for TWA for 32 years. Your article is right on the money, and as long as TWA continues to operate with the middle management that has been in place for a long time, nothing will change [Safir Ahmed, "Blood on the Tarmac," RFT, Oct. 18]. Someday, maybe someone will get serious about running the airline, but I don't think I will be there to see that happen.

Name withheld on request

Thanks, But No Thanks
Cannabis fans don't appreciate stereotyping: A few weeks ago, we submitted a notice for "MO' NORML 2000" state conference to the "Calendar" section, and you featured the event with a big cartoon graphic ["Night & Day," RFT, Oct. 18].

Seems we would be grateful for the exposure, but reconsider the image projected in that cartoon -- three blitzed-out, bleary-eyed, drippy-nosed, postpubescent hippy-dippy geekers, with all the trippy trappings of the cheap media stereotype.

Sorry, but "stoned street punks" are not what St. Louis NORML is about, and the RFT has sold us all short on the real issues of cannabis prohibition:

· The systematic attack on civil rights under color of anti-drug laws.

· The seriously ill patients denied medical marijuana and prosecuted for trying to heal.

· The subversion of hemp as a renewable, sustainable resource for farms and industries.

· The inquisition against people who choose to run their own minds.

If these tough issues don't lend themselves easily to cutesy condescending glyphs, too bad. It's about time journalists started paying attention to the real stories under their noses. Have you observed what goes on at those police roadblocks?

It would be fair to demand substantial reportage that gets to the facts and issues. At least, we should count on the progressive press to refrain from self-indulgent sardonics and lame caricatures that miscast NORML's mission, and distract public discourse on these serious questions of public policy.

Scottie Addison
Volunteer, St. Louis NORML

The Fix Is In

But he's got a better idea (or five): So the RFT has changed its format. How much better it would have been to have changed the following instead:

· Dump Ray Hartmann in favor of a more objective editorial writer. His constant bias serves to drive too many fence-sitters to the other side.

· Drop your obvious policy of running totally uncomplimentary photographs of those you don't like and then showing off your friends in truly glamorous poses.

· Replenish your staff writers with less bleeding-heart types (sorry, Jeannette Batz).

· Send your political cartoonists packing, since they only besmirch your paper and no one takes them seriously anyway.

· Eradicate the sleazy advertising from your paper once and for all.

Implementing one or all of the above would have been far superior to changing your format, and you would have had the additional dividend of putting out a paper of which you could be proud.

Richard H. Gerding

An explanation would have been nice: Perhaps we could accept the loss of "News of the Weird" if you would explain why you are doing it. I really have enjoyed it and do wonder why you have to eliminate it.

Mary Garrett
St. Peters

I can live without you: You just don't get it, do you? When you got a hue and cry for dropping "News of the Weird" the first time, you proclaimed, "We heard you, we heard you.' Now we learn that the time limit on listening to the customers at the RFT is about 15 months.

You don't get it. "Weird" was the gateway to the rest of your product. I'd never know whether your long story or short one(s) would interest me. Sometimes Ray would be readable, and other times he'd be predictably polemical. The arts, entertainment, restaurants and the rest would be hit-or-miss, too. But usually there would be a couple or more in the mix, once I took it home.

The two reasons I picked up the RFT at all were "Weird" and "This Modern World." Now, without "Weird," I can just read the cartoon and set the paper back down. With "Weird," I always took it home and then read through, seeing lots of ads along the way.

I'll give you credit for one improvement over the last banishment. Instead of the Stalinist method of dropping it without notice and expecting everyone to fall in line without a murmur, you did us the vast improvement of letting editor Safir Ahmed insult us. Apparently you think it's only the unwashed trailer trash who appreciated the column. Why else the undisguised condescension?

The bottom line is that the RFT is no longer a compelling pickup, or even an enticing one, even at no cost. I can fill the void and live without you. I won't agonize, and I can accept the reality, Mr. Ahmed. Anyway, it's just a matter of a few more pounds of paper per month in the landfills instead of the recyclables.


Dan Counts
Granite City, Ill.

A mystery to me: The only reason I ever picked up an RFT was to read "News of the Weird." So I'll never know if you print this letter or not.

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