Letters

Week of June 20, 2001

Radioactive
Lizz's brand of liberalism is full of hate:Never let it be said St. Louis lacks a voice in hate radio: Ours is clearly Lizz Brown, local racial provocateur, sometime attorney and even a teacher of some kind of PC puff course at Webster University. To say Brown talks about racism [D.J. Wilson, "Yin and Yang," RFT, June 13] is a bit understated: She rants; raves; speaks softly, loudly; ridicules; criticizes; vents; froths; spews; and most of all, whips up her audience into an ignorant frenzy of hatred and racial anger. But, thankfully, her audience is about 10 in number -- including those few who do try to nail her reckless slanders and accusations. The folks who get close to nailing her wind up getting hung up on, and until that point, she drags out first-year moot-court tactics to bully and talk down her questioner. Only her less skillful critics get to stay on the line to be mocked and belittled.

St. Louis radio and Chuck Norman can do much better than Lizz Brown. We are a city in need of racial healing, not strife. Perhaps rather than giving Mizz Lizz so much credit, we should expose her for the fraud she is and let all her employers know what we think of her brand of hatred and ignorance.

Oh yes -- Lizz, we really did send men to the moon.
Patrick McCarthy
St. Louis

People Who Like People
Heaven forbid St. Louis should loosen up! Eddie Silva's recent article regarding the People Project was aptly titled ["Tedious People," RFT, June 6]. "Tedious" is how I would describe his negative rant. Heaven forbid the St. Louis community be allowed to loosen up and have a little fun. Each time I have encountered a "people," it has brought a smile to my face and I have found myself slowing down and enjoying it for what it is. Kudos to the folks with the courage and vision to make it happen.
Bret Bachmann
via the Internet It's cool: I like seeing the People Project around town. It's cool. My favorites are the one on Ballas on a bicycle and the clown on the bicycle at the Galleria. I like the expressiveness and the entertainment spread throughout the region. Makes me feel we are a vibrant community. I am saddened that you have endorsed and proliferated a negative view on the People Project.
Loree Rowe
Town & Country

Silva wasn't critical enough: I'm not a huge fan of Eddie Silva, but someone needs to defend his article on the profoundly embarrassing People Project. While every bad thing Silva had to say about the People Project is true, I don't believe he went far enough in his condemnation of these hackneyed, artless objects. The true blame for this fiasco belongs not with the clueless deep pockets who funded it or whoever had the miserable idea in the first place but with each "artist" who participated. If this town had any artistic spine, no one would have been able to scrape up enough People-makers to have it work. Anyone who has a faint hint as to what art is or where it comes from would have refused such a derivative, soulless proposition. If someone's excuse is that they did it for the money, they're a whore, and anyone who participated in any way has indelibly defined themselves as an awful hack. In my mind, they should all be made pariahs, not just for the lousy art or whatever toned-down thing they want to call it but for making St. Louis just that much more difficult and humiliating for the people who take art, and the endeavor of making it, seriously.
Matthew Strauss
St. Louis

We Are Not Animals
I used to have raging hormones, too:I was a teenager once, with raging hormones, but the social reality for me was to wait until I was married to have sex. Does that make me unusual or extraordinary? I think it makes me normal.

The problem I have with your argument against abstinence programs is that you are basically saying that our young people are more like animals than human beings, slaves to our sexual desires and hormonal drives [Ray Hartmann, "Misplaced Morality," RFT, June 6]. If this is the case, then how can we hold anyone personally responsible for rape or some other "hormonal" condition?

Obviously you have a point of view that understands the world in a rather naturalistic and purely material manner. I suggest to you that the world is much more than mere matter and energy.

Even if you don't believe in God or the human soul, you have to acknowledge that one of the things that distinguishes humans from the animals is our ability to make rational choices, to consider consequences.

The reality is that by allegedly promoting sex without consequences, we are harming our young people and locking them into a slavery that calls itself freedom but is really nothing less than licentiousness. I would suggest that before you summarily dismiss abstinence programs that you take some time to examine them. Speak to the young ladies and men who have made commitments to remain sexually inactive until marriage, and I guarantee that you'll find these young people well adjusted and truly free.
Ed Bryant
St. CharlesAll options should be presented:Thank you for your honesty and clarity. I am sure you hold as steadfastly to your convictions as I do to mine. I am, as you say a "self-proclaimed pro-lifer." However, I do not "masquerade" as anything; I come right out and state my beliefs. One such belief is that, while abstinence is the ideal answer, the reality isn't always so pretty.

The answer? I'm not so hypocritical as to say unequivocally that I know the answer. Yet I believe a part of the solution can be found in parental involvement in the education of their children about sex, including abstinence.

Ultimately, the choice about sex, as well as abortion, is up to each individual, regardless of how I personally feel about the situation. However, I believe that all options should be discussed openly with the woman, as well as anyone she decides should be involved in the final outcome of whatever she does.
Heather Tucker
St. PetersPower Player
Proponents of deregulation are already in a "say anything" mode:Your story on the looming danger of electric-utility deregulation in Missouri made a good start toward a public debate on this critical issue [Chris Lawton, "Power Play," RFT, June 13].

The article cited a Missouri Alliance for Campaign Reform study, which I authored, that examined campaign contributions by the utility industry to members of the state Legislature. One of the key findings of that study is that the industry "targets" its giving to members of the General Assembly most likely to be able to do them some good. Members of the House Utilities Regulation Committee get far more than their House colleagues from the industry, as do sponsors of industry-friendly bills and members of party leadership.

The chair of the committee, Rep. Carol Jean Mays, receives even more than her fellow committee members. The figure cited in the article was that Mays received over five times as much from utility sources in the last election as did her average House colleague.

Mays responded angrily, "It's totally ridiculous. If he [Harvey] had bothered to read my contribution list, he would have discovered that the utilities were not a large part of that donation list...." The problem is, in preparing our report, I did exactly that. I looked in detail at utility contributions over the last three election cycles (six years), with special attention to the full contributor lists of all of the key players, especially Mays.

The single figure quoted in the article barely scratches the surface of Mays' intimate political and financial connection to the industry she's charged with regulating. Over the six-year/three-election period we examined, Mays has taken over $8,400 in contributions from industry sources, well over four times the amount given to the average House member. She received more money from the utility companies last year, and in the six-year/three-election period, than any other House member.

As to the notion that these industry funds aren't a significant share of her total contributions, the facts show otherwise. Mays tends to be far more dependent on the utilities for her total campaign budget than is the average representative. While the average House member got only 4 percent of his/her year 2000 funds from the industry, Mays got 10.7 percent of hers from utility sources. That makes her over two-and-a-half times as dependent on the industry's money as the average representative. By both standards typically used in evaluating campaign contributions, total dollars and share of total budget, Mays' financial relationship with the utility industry goes far, far beyond the norm.

Beyond correcting the obvious misstatements of fact in Mays' comments, I think there are two important points here. First, by her long-term, unhealthily close relationship to an industry she's supposed to oversee on behalf of Missouri voters, Mays has made herself a walking visual aid for systemic campaign-finance reform. When a legislator we trust to regulate an industry can be this unusually dependent on that industry for her campaign resources, there's something fundamentally wrong.

Second, Mays' angry but inaccurate comments in your article serve to demonstrate that the proponents of Ameren-sponsored deregulation are already in "say anything" mode in the utilities restructuring debate. Deregulation failed in California not because of the peculiarities of that state's legislation or market but because it's a fundamentally unsound idea: the ideological drive to impose a market philosophy on a service or commodity that, for a variety of reasons, inherently doesn't lend itself to market treatment. In the face of this fact, Sen. Peter Kinder, Rep. Mays and the other spokespeople for the utility industry are going to need to take a really creative approach to the truth in order to get their collective way. Mays' outburst in your article was just an early example of a trend for which your readers should be watching.
Patrick Harvey
Hazelwood Buffalo Thrill
I admire Ivy's writing and thinking:Could you please communicate to Ivy Schroeder, who doesn't have an e-mail address listed, how much I enjoy her thoughtful and astute reviews in the Riverfront Times? I realize I may be the only person in Buffalo, N.Y., who reads her prose, so I thought I should let you (and her) know that I very much admire her lucid writing style and her equally crystalline thinking process.

Reine Hauser
via the Internet

Do Us a Favor
Testing is just one measure of performance: I am a teacher in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, and I was shocked after reading the letter by Lisa Payne-Naeger, a member of the Francis Howell school board ["Letters," RFT, June 6]. The tone of her letter, which called for a more "balanced" view of standardized testing, is really an antagonistic attack (for lack of a better word) on the state of public education, and how it will all be fixed with standardized tests! I am ever so grateful that our school-board members are more supportive partners in the educational process than she appears to be.

Standardized testing is a complex, highly charged and emotional topic for all of us involved in educating children. However, holding schools solely accountable for kids' tests scores hardly constitutes quality education, which is what everyone wants out of our school systems. Certainly it is important that the state tests be taken seriously. But state standardized tests are only one measure of a student's performance. Until parents are held equally accountable for doing their jobs of ensuring kids complete homework, are read to, are fed properly and are put to bed at a reasonable hour, standardized testing will not measure real learning.

Holding a public education system accountable for student success is truly everyone's job. But do all educators a favor: Walk in all of our shoes so that you sound more informed about educational process. Education is, after all, part art, part science, and standardized testing is but one piece of the educational pie!
Jackie Mafuli
FlorissantMusic to Her Ears
You've spotlighted a true underground group:Thank you to John Darnielle for his review of Eyehategod's newest CD ["Rotations," RFT, June 6]. Not only is it wonderful to see the RFT throw a spotlight on such an underground group, but the article is so astute in its contrast to mainstream rock. For a girl who listens to everything from Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire to PJ Harvey and Air, Eyehategod is sublime sludge mood music; the feedback alone is inspired.
Christine Kennedy

St. Louis

The Cynic René
Disappointed in your cynical approach: I agree with René Saller that there are a number of bands in St. Louis currently, both good and bad ["Radar Station," RFT, June 6]. I also agree that it must be difficult to consistently receive correspondence from bands.

The coverage of the bands mentioned -- the Julia Sets, the Star Death, the Fantasy Four, the Homewreckers, etc. -- is well deserved. I, too, have an affection for what I have heard from these groups.

However, I am disappointed that the Riverfront Times has for years taken a very cynical approach to covering local musicians. Additionally, having only one voice covering the local scene (i.e. Saller) is limiting. I am not knocking Saller personally. Each of us has diverse tastes in music. Some of us who love music may often debate over topics with a certain ferocity behind our opinion, so I can understand why Saller would constantly be disappointed with some of the music she receives. Not everything will fit into each individual's perception of "good local music."

However, her individual opinion of good versus bad cannot begin to touch on the diverse tastes which underlie the entire St. Louis music scene, nor can it elaborate on the bands outside her particular niche of taste. Having only one voice is a disservice to the local community.
Rich Williams
Maryville, Ill.

My Never-Ending Story
Mary Engelbreit wasn't naked! For the record, I encountered August Busch III and IV in ICU room 5 at St. John's Mercy Medical Center [Wm. Stage, "Funny Business," RFT, June 6]. The story had the right room but the wrong hospital.

As for Glenn McCoy, the very gifted creator of the syndicated comic strip The Duplex, I'll see about sending him some royalties from the T-shirt of his that we once sold through Snicker. The revenues are tied up in one of my offshore Cayman Islands accounts, so I may have to pay him in the local currency, which is rum or hashish, I believe.

In the article, Mary Engelbreit insinuated that my drawing of her was an obscenity. I drew her with all her clothes on, not naked, so how can that be considered obscene? The courts define obscenity two ways: You have to show some genitalia, and there has to be penetration depicted at the same time. Neither was shown in my depiction of our sweet Mary.

Lastly, in your story, Mr. Wald wonders why I got excited with him. He stated, "I've never seen anybody open the box, buy a paper out of there." Before he cut the cord and moved our vending machine, he purchased a copy of Snicker from that same box. He then decided that he didn't like it and that nobody else must be allowed to read Snicker, either! Notice, when you go past 6655 Delmar, the other newspaper boxes belonging to the Post-Dispatch, USA Today and the RFT; Mr. Wald didn't dare try to remove these other newspapers' vending boxes! So Mr. Wald can't understand my excitement at having my personal property moved by him? Get real!

Why was the First Amendment placed first in our Bill of Rights? Because the right to think and communicate ideas to others, no matter how objectionable or unpopular they may be, is of paramount importance. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin all thought so. The Dan Walds and Mary Engelbreits of our world do not.

That's not only un-American; in my opinion, that's obscene!
Rich Balducci
Editor/publisher
Snicker

Like, Omigod
I'm disappointed and completely pissed off:I was part of the graduating class from Bishop DuBourg. I had many friends who were part of the planning-for-prom group. You recently did an article on the planning [Jeannette Batz, "The Last Dance," RFT, May 30] and on the actual prom. You did a horrible job! You only mentioned a few people, not the entire group. You jumped topics entirely too much and definitely told a one-sided story. Some of the things said by one particular girl were not only rude and completely uncalled-for but just trashy. The person writing the article obviously had no real idea what was going on. I am outraged by the way this portrayed my school. I believe I speak for the majority of the faculty and students when I say I am disappointed and completely pissed off about this whole thing. I hope next time the writer has some experience and a little more insight on what should be printed. Unfortunately I'm limited on how many words I use, otherwise I could go on criticizing this crappy article for hours. I am completely outraged.
Stephanie Stockmann
St. Louis

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