Week of March 14, 2001

Grim, Shady
I guess pretty city girls don't rate as much: Oh, good: another "mean streets of the city" story to remind us all how terrible the city really is and how unblemished the suburbs are [Elizabeth Vega, "Girl, Interrupted," RFT, Feb. 28].

With the Marine Villa flap apparently faded into your collective memory (despite the continued column-inches of letters protesting the uninformed portrayal of a city neighborhood), readers are now treated to "Girl, Interrupted," where a hapless suburban teen is once again mistreated when she ventures into the big, bad city of St. Louis.

What exactly about Dan Marlowe indicates that he "looked like a clean-cut guy from the suburbs?" Is it his whiteness that distinguishes him from what you'd consider a clean-cut guy from the city? And if he could "hold his own in the shadiest neighborhoods in the city," I'd imagine he could do so in the shadiest neighborhoods of St. Louis County, too. Or maybe the county's shady neighborhoods are even shadier than the shadiest of the city, and so he was too scared to go there.

I think it should be enough to say that a young, pretty girl found dead anywhere, anytime, is "no ordinary incident" and is a tragic loss to boot. It mystifies me why that tragedy would be compounded by that young, pretty girl being "from the suburbs found dead in the city." Guess our young, pretty city girls just don't rate quite as high.

Please think carefully before assigning or accepting the next story idea portraying the city as the center of depravity that lures young, fresh-faced suburbanites to their untimely deaths. It seems that as the major daily paper in town has taken a decidedly pro-city stand in much of its coverage, our "alternative" weekly has had to assume the position: namely, that if the establishment thinks the city is OK, then it must not be. As I hope you're beginning to find, there are enough folks living here who have decided not to stand for that crap anymore.
Amanda Doyle
St. Louis

Your true colors are showing: My father used to tell me that he would much prefer to meet a hooded Klansman on a dark country road than a smiling liberal on a well-lit main street. His reason for telling me that was because he believed that at least the racist is honest in his hatred and my dad would be prepared to fight to his (or, preferably, the Klansman's) death rather than have the liberal deceive him with his phony concern, only to slay him once his guard was down.

Based on Elizabeth Vega's article "Girl, Interrupted," I would have to agree with dear old Dad. For quite some time I have read your paper with the thought that here was a fresh, sane, intelligent approach in a town choked on its own ignorance, despair and loser's attitude. A cultural wasteland landlocked by small- mindedness is a vicious combination.

"Girl, Interrupted" is the second -- "Death Trip" [RFT, Jan. 31] being the first -- in seemingly a series of articles devoted to warning suburban boys and girls of the "newly discovered" dangerous inner city. Apparently you and your authors have failed to notice that the ghetto has long been a primary cause of death and destruction for many of its young.

Have you all been so blinded by your verdant surroundings as to not notice that, for decades, denizens of St. Louis have fallen prey by the hundreds annually to the evils of controlled substances, gang warfare and sheer hopelessness? Be aware that there will be hundreds of people murdered in St. Louis this year, and though certainly sad, these are but two out of all those potential stories. While we all feel sorrow and give our condolences to the bereaved families, others are hurting as well, and your ignorance of their grief is disturbing.

Don't tell me that you too have become just another member of the ruling elite that only feels "localized pain"? What would it hurt to broaden your coverage to include members of the community who don't look like "us"?

In an optimistic haze, I had envisioned the RFT to be a beacon in this prejudiced little town, a publication that dared speak out for the disenfranchised, the disillusioned, the spirit-broken "unwashed" who live daily with just the sort of tragedy Ms. Vega reported on.

During your noble days, I thought your paper fought the good fight, even though in my mind I knew it was not real. There can be no connective thought between one from your community with one from a virtual war zone like North St. Louis. In the past you would emphasize the unpopular side of a story because that's what brought you readership (like me), the lifeblood of a newspaper. But, as always, once those numbers have been established, your true colors show through. In contrast, the Post-Dispatch has always been a one-sided diatribe against the poor, uneducated "others" who inhabit our inner cities, often virulent in its one-sided coverage of key aspects of certain cases.

But now it seems as if you too have joined in the chase, and the vigor with which you pursue your prey truly makes you "a credit to your race." Ah, so soon my hopes fade.

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