Letters

Week of September 15, 2004

Love to Hate You Baby
Inspiring burned-out social workers everywhere:What a riot! I absolutely lovedMike Seely's clever and witty and very (to me) true piece ["The Ten Most Hated Men in Rock," September 1]. As a longtime Deadhead, who first saw the real band (with Pigpen) in the Panhandle in 1966, I so appreciate Seely's kind and wise words about Jerry. As for Bobby, well....

Mike, you're an excellent writer! Thanks for the fun and funny article. It made this almost-burned-out social worker's day!
Stephanie Mardahl
Seattle, Washington

Balls R Us:Hey Mike, just wanted to let you know that I totally dug your article. I am glad to see someone in the press has some balls. Owning an independent record label, I have grown weary of many musicians and what does and does not get attention. Seeing the likes of that phony Chris Carrabba made me smile massive -- so good work on this one.
Jason Foster
Baltimore, Maryland

We're also high in protein and low in carbohydrates!I loved your list of the ten most hated men in rock. Props to you for having the guts to say what everyone is thinking. It's great to finally read something so honest, funny and refreshing.
Naomi Allen
Abbotsford, British Columbia

Faint praise?The article on the ten most hated men in rock was possibly the best piece of critical journalism I have ever read.
Ted Hesson
New York, New York

Damn, we forgot Bono!I loved your article, and I just wanted to say how glad I was to not see one name on your list: Bono.

I love U2 and get tired of hearing people crap on Bono when they are so far from sellouts, and really the only great major rock band left.
John Hawbaker
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Um, no:I actually thought that was a very well-written and funny article. You backed up your assertions well, even if I didn't agree with some of them.

Does Sting get any credit for his environmental work?
Rob Turner
Decatur, Georgia

Jess kisses up:God, where do I begin? Do you recall several years back when Columbia put out Santana's Greatest Hits? I listened to that CD and ended up editing out the ten tracks I like and junked the m.o.r. filler the public ate up. I love Carlos -- don't get me wrong -- but you were spot-on with the scathing review of that dreck Shaman. Then I listen to the Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, show from June 22, 2004, that's been passed around -- and he's great. Go figure.

Rod Stewart will always be a hack; his best years were with Jeff Beck because it was Jeff Beck. Take away the hair and he's just another Phil Collins (another hack too). Jackson Browne, as well-intentioned and well-meaning as he is, drones on with endless tripe that rarely moves me. Kid Rock is banging Pamela Lee, so he can't be that big a dip unless she is too. Hmmm....

If you have any openings for reviews 'n' such, let me know.
Jess Mayers
San Clemente, California

Dave agrees to disagree:Dude! How hysterical! A couple of comments, though.

1) McCartney: As the world's most disappointed fan, I like what you said. However, the Beatles were very significant for their time -- sort of a right place/right time gig. McCartney tamed Lennon and Lennon tamed McCartney. Neither had anything really astonishing after they blew their load in the '65-'69 era, although you could put together an album of worthwhile stuff of their post-Beatle music. I do think McCartney was kick-ass on Ram, some of Wildlife and parts of Band on the Run, but I agree he is a shadow of his former self, and I stopped buying his drivel after Pipes of Peace. I disagree about the wife thing. I admired his and Linda's love affair (my wife, who is clueless in modern music, even had a very sad reaction when Linda died) very much, but I also understand Paul is someone who needs a strong woman around. It didn't offend me when he picked up with Heather not long after Linda's death.

2) G.E. Smith: He irritated me from day one. Good one on that.

3) Rzeznik: I disagree about GGD. I find the melodies of "Name" and "Iris" to be beautiful, and the lyrics are awesome.

Again, great article.
Dave Muzyka
Houston, Texas

Tom holds fast to the Beatles:Very well written -- and an almost entirely accurate article. No such thing as complete agreement, is there? The Beatles were hardly an overrated boy band, and you know it. I'd be willing to bet that line was included for nothing but outraged refutation.

"Summer of '69," like its cousin, "Born to Run," while sounding anthemic, is actually anemic. Both are performed by pretenders. Once aware of that fact, both songs fall short and are actually nothing less than annoying, reminding one of the mental image of the candy-asses that performed them.
Tom Wright
Holmes Beach, Florida

Buttmunch writer, pedophile editor:Hey, Shit for Brains, I notice you didn't list any Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd or Who members. That's about the only thing you got right.

You've obviously got issues. What the fuck happened to you, boy? Were you dropped? Did your older brothers flog your ass with LP versions of Back of the Egg when you were a child? You're obviously a commie-pinko, and anybody who went commercial is now a sellout in your eyes? Get a grip, buttmunch. Stick to critiquing your genre -- whatever the fuck that might be. It obviously isn't rock & roll. Friggin' Pet Shop Boy lover. You suck! And your editor is a pedophile too, for letting you publish such tripe. Die, loser!
Pablo Smiles
St. Louis

So could your letter, Billy-boy:You are an idiot. Your column could have been written by a nursery-school student.
William Still
Wamac, Illinois

Mike Seely, hateful hack:Your so-called "writer," Mike Seely, is a hateful hack who is not fit to exist in the same universe as a true talent like Paul McCartney. Unlike Sir Paul, who has brought joy to millions and changed the world with a pen, Mr. Seely apparently delights in sharing his misery with the world. To call Sir Paul's wife "a one-legged starfucker" is vicious and mean-spirited -- as well as ignorant. Heather Mills McCartney was a star in her own right, rising from a life on the streets to become a popular British model. And how dare he attempt to dictate a widower's appropriate means of mourning a wife and living his own life.

Admittedly, [in a phone call] I did tell Seely to rot in hell, but that is markedly tame when contrasted to his comments regarding McCartney. Of course, any critic who labels the Beatles "a grotesquely overrated boy band" should be sent back to whatever lame-ass community college barfed him out in the first place.
Jason Molnar
San Diego, California

There goes the sun:Some of your article was right on, but to put down Elton John -- give me a break! Hope the sun goes down on you.
Greg Zimney
Windsor, Ontario

In defense of Stevie Ray:Why did Stevie Ray Vaughan get an honorable mention? Were you put off by his unselfish decision to leave a high-paying job as guitarist for David Bowie's backup band to try his hand at making his own music with his friends? Perhaps you did not like his tireless work in giving drug- and alcohol-education seminars that teenagers would actually pay attention to? Maybe his untimely death on the verge of superstardom was too commercialized for you?

I suggest you kill yourself in order to show us how Stevie could have plummeted from the sky in a hipper and more lovable fashion.
Dave McNally
Boston, Massachusetts

At least Stan didn't make this list:So I figured after the Stan Musial "Burning Man" suggestion ["Burning Stan," August 6, 2003] there was nothing else some doughy journalist could pop off about to get me reaching for throwable objects. Well, here comes Seely with Paul as most hated man in rock and the Beatles as "an overrated boy band." Paul may not be the coolest Beatle, but the fact remains that while John gets the avant-garde crown more often than not, Paul had been making Stockhausen-influenced tape loops years before Lennon dated arty junkies. All this coming from some dolt that prefers Sammy over Dave in the Van Halen argument ["The Great Debate," July 21, 2004].

Back to being overrated: OK, so a band that sells records to a large percentage of the human race and changes the way music is written and recorded in less than ten years is overrated? Then I'm guessing John Coltrane is an overrated side man, Hank Aaron was an overrated power swinger and the Enola Gaydropped an overrated cherry bomb. We are all impressed that your musical tastes run so deep and mighty that the Beatles get shoved to the side. Wait, no we aren't.

Most music critics should have their ears and hands eaten off by starving weasels while they sleep. Although Mr. Seely may not be a music critic per se, he still might wanna retire each night in mittens and a football helmet.
Bryan Pollard
St. Louis

Peter Gabriel -- how could you?!With all due respect -- which is more than you gave the guys on your most hated list -- I feel obligated to respond.

1) Paul McCartney: You've got to be kidding. He clearly had something going on. He was, after all, Lennon's best friend. He also wrote some of the most memorable songs in the history of music. Clearly, he was at his best with Lennon, but Lennon was also clearly at his best with McCartney. As for your comment about his most recent marriage, how crass and sophomoric. Regarding your statement about the "grotesquely overrated boy band," I would offer that your perspective would clear up if you pulled your head out of that dark, smelly orifice it is currently imbedded in.

2) Carlos Santana: What guitar solo do you play that rivals the solo on "Black Magic Woman"? Oh, I forgot, instead of playing the guitar you were in the bathroom with a picture of Christina.

3) Jimmy Buffet: Whoever said he was rock & roll?

4) The Adams Family: Well, maybe you aren't so bad after all.

5) Elton John: Are you homophobic? Check out Madman Across the Water. Great album. In his pre-emergence from the closet (mid- to late 1970s), he was the incarnation of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis.

6) Johnny Rzeznik: You just wish you could wear you hair like his.

7) G.E. Smith: See the Adams Family.

8) Conor Oberst and Chris Carrabba: To be on a most-hated list that more than seven high college kids must know who they are.

9) Fred Durst: You are coming around, my friend. How could anyone do to "Behind Blue Eyes" what he did? I wouldn't be surprised if Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend cornered him in an alley and beat him up.

10) Bob Weir: Give him a break. Everybody compares him to Jerry Garcia. Let's face it, Jerry's trust continues to make a bunch of money because of his necktie collection.

Regarding the rest: I suspect you don't like them for various personal reasons, not musical reasons. Dave Grohl -- get over it. He is a very talented guy. Nirvana is the most "grotesquely overrated boy band" in history. Cobain was nuts -- not even a genius nuts -- just nuts. Anyone who would commit suicide and leave a child to be raised by an equally nuts Courtney Love tells you all you need to know. But to be fair, the four chords Cobain could play he could play well.

Yet to me, the most undeserving on your list is Peter Gabriel. The man doesn't try to churn out album after album. He writes words and music that defy the standards of what is commercial music. Now for a few names that are missing: How about Madonna (besides the breasts, prove she's not a man), Kurt Cobain, all of those involved in the Jefferson Starship, Journey after the first album, Boston and the guys in Chicago after Chicago 3? I feel better. Now that I think of it, I bet you felt better after you wrote your article.
Reggie Knowles
Kerrville, Texas

That's it -- Seely's fired!Mike Seely, last time I looked, didn't have a fan base that even came close to a canceled, never-aired TV pilot. While I disliked some of the artists mentioned in his horrid, slanderous article, I could not see how they are hated.

If all those artists are so hated, then why do they have millions of loyal fans who go to their shows and buy their albums? Osama bin Laden is hated. Adolf Hitler is hated. No one would buy one of their CDs -- or Mike Seely's. This article should have been called "The Ten Rock Stars That Tick Me Off Because I'm Not Half As Talented or Well-Respected As They Are."

Also, when did Bob Weir become a rock star? Everyone knows Paul and Elton, but most people don't even realize the Dead are still around, let alone name the remaining members. Mike Seely, go out and find a loyal fan base of devoted diehards because you did something that had a profound impact on someone's life, and then run your mouth. Until then thank your bosses that you have a job, because it has to be a gift and not based on any intelligence or talent that you have. This is obvious.
Clinton Legendre
Collinsville, Illinois

Actually, we're sophomores:Has the Riverfront Timesbeen taken over by high-school freshmen who are just beginning to express opinions about musicians? Mike Seely's shallow, unfounded diatribe doesn't even come up to the standard of baseless criticism. This is the kind of thing they were doing in my junior-high-school paper, from young wannabe writers who had just discovered a notion that it's cool to tear down rock icons. Wow, what a concept! It's not worthy as criticism. It's not news. It's as old and stale as the ridiculous "best of" and "least of" lists that masquerade as entertainment trivia. Is this the best that St. Louis' only urban weekly can muster? And who made the decision that this was not only worthy of article space, but the cover as well?

Like punk music, it's actually the most simple-minded, conformist attitude that thinks it's being cool and rebellious. I'm sure many readers will agree with Seely's picks, personally. But what kind of diatribe is "hated"? Valid criticism is usually constructive, or at least provocative. This was just idiotic. How about the word "overrated," or "just not icon-worthy"? Is "hate" really true or valid? If your music critic is expending energy and wasting words as a hatemonger, maybe he needs to find a less stressful line of work.

I travel frequently and read several of the nation's urban weeklies on a regular basis. Village Voice, LA Weekly, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Chicago Reader. I'm always defending the fact that St Louis has a decent culture and music scene, but I sure couldn't send this kind of piece to friends in New York, LA, Chicago or even Omaha as an example.

And Mr. Seely -- as long as you're trying to tear down and "hate" icons, here's just a couple of things to consider: You're obviously into your own opinion, but get some facts. It's no longer cool to rip Paul McCartney as the overrated Beatle, or haven't you heard? Guess what -- Lennon was the overrated hypocritical one. Let's see -- Lennon wrote about love as he abandoned his wife and child; he wrote against materialism as he purchased very swanky digs on Central Park West. Paul McCartney wrote what he always admits are "silly love songs" as he remained dedicated to his wife and raised his children on a farm in Scotland. So he worked with Michael Jackson when Jackson was at the peak of his creative abilities (if you'll recall, lots of people did; who knew he was a pedophile then?); McCartney was against Jackson's purchase of Beatles songs. "Go fuck yourself, Paul McCartney?" Wow, dude, you have issues. I think they go beyond dissing a writer of silly love songs.

G.E. Smith, a "most hated man in rock?" He's a footnote in the Hall and Oates and SNL catalogs. If you're into destroying icons, he's...not really an icon. Thought I'd let you know.

I could go on about artist selection and omission, but it would be as pointless as the article itself. In the future, how about some real coverage of local artists or musical trends, something that's newsworthy and not sophomoric.
Lance Tilford
St. Peters

Youth Will Be Served:Not only did Mike Seely insult very talented musicians, it felt as if he was insulting the people who love them. I can honestly say that at least half of the artists mentioned didn't belong on such a list, and obviously Mr. Seely is quite mistaken.

How he managed to go about saying such awful things about those people is beyond me. It's not exactly my generation of music; I'm only thirteen. I don't know who could hate Carlos Santana, John Cougar Mellencamp or even Adam Levine (the talented frontman of Maroon 5). I bet if you went to a concert of any one of the "Hated Men," you could easily see that there is more love in that concert stadium than there ever was for a music critic. Even if it was a William Hung concert, more people would respect that young man's courage to go up there and portray his talent (or lack thereof) than to hear Simon Cowell rant about "how dreadful" he sounds.
Angela Moltrup
Syracuse, New York

The Bob Weir Marching and Chowder Society will now come to order:Besides the fact that most of the "hated" people are talented enough to earn a living at an art form many starve at, these individuals are by far more talented than Mike Seely. But my main concern lies in the fact that Bob Weir is listed.

If Seely was versed in the years and ways of the Grateful Dead, he'd understand that Weir was a striving influence in the Grateful Dead style throughout all 30-plus years. Obviously Seely has little understanding of what makes the GD experience, and he should keep his moronic babbling out of an art form he knows nothing about. Weir found key additions, like B. Mydland, and added great styles of music that are revealed in tunes like "Samson and Delilah" and "Minglewood Blues." The GD was not and will never be a Garcia-only show (that's what JGB was for -- that's Jerry Garcia Band). Today Deadheads are lucky enough to have PLQ and Ratdog, two bands that are more musically able than most new musicians on the scene will ever be.

I am going to go on a hunch that Seely has no experience in music, let alone knowledge of the Grateful Dead, their history and what they evolved from. If he were well-versed, he wouldn't put down a man who sang over 60 percent of the Grateful Dead's songs in addition to the variety of other aspects of our world Bob Weir has affected. How many musicians that are so "hated" save thousands of acres of rainforest every year while performing over 100 shows (where each one is different)?
Rich Dobrushin
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Who you calling anal retentive?I'm straining very hard not to lace this correspondence with the obscenities that the anal-retentive Mike Seely is seeking to elicit from baby boomers such as myself. How can you presume to write about such lunacy?

When the Beatles were first exposed to the U.S. audiences, the record label and promoters may have thought they had a boy band, but this group was anything but. Through their tenure, the band continued to evolve and produce fresh and revolutionary forms of music. This "overrated boy band" is one of the cornerstones of the music you still refer to as rock today. I can't think of any serious musician who would discount the Beatles (any of them!) as a boy band.

Seely, you must be relatively young or just ignorant. Don't try to rewrite history. Every album that the Beatles produced displayed evidence of a unit that was never complacent. Of course, John Lennon is one of my musical heroes but I refuse to discount any of McCartney's efforts. Since the demise of the Beatles, what should he have done to placate idiots like Seely? Stop playing or composing?

For that matter, why can't Carlos explore new idioms? Yeah, I loved Jerry Garcia's guitar playing, but he wasn't onstage alone. He is dead -- what the hell is the rest of the band supposed to do?

I can respect a cat like David Byrne. But Seely writes as though he's some kind of rock purist. Please! For years jazz musicians have endured the "sellout" label when they attempted to make their music more accessible. This juvenile assessment of people who play for a living is asinine to say the least. Seely enjoys a forum to express his narrow view of what is and is not rock. I guess I'm just too old and out of touch. But I enjoy people like Sting.

Are musicians not supposed to be popular? Does their artistic and musical integrity automatically come into question when they acquire a certain level of popularity? If Hendrix were alive, or Jim Morrison for that matter, what would they be doing in 2004?

Oh yeah, Seely, you @#@#$%%^&*())&*%^$#, you failed to mention Jimmy Page's venture with P. Diddy/Puff Daddy. Since Clapton isn't supposed to collaborate with an artist like Babyface and Santana shouldn't do anything that doesn't conjure visions of Woodstock -- I guess you forgot about his explorations with Mahavishnu/John Maclaughlin -- didn't that violate your Rock sensibilities? Seely, one day, you'll review what you've written and realize how immature and silly your waste of paper reads.
Raymond L. Moore
St. Louis

Mike Seely, not cool:At what point does a top ten list quit being a top ten list and start becoming an attempt by a writer to make himself look cool by ripping on people who are infinitely more talented at their craft than he can ever hope to be at his? Are we expected to believe that if Mike Seely was offered a job paying $100,000 writing for Peoplemagazine he wouldn't jump on it in a heartbeat? Yeah, right.
Steve Maliszewski
St. Louis

Maybe he's amazed:Maybe I'm amazed...at your stupidity, for insulting the greatest songwriter of the twentieth century. Paul McCartney (Sir Paul to you) has championed kindness and love in all his songs, while you sit in front of your computer composing anger and agitation. Paul McCartney has championed animal rights, the fight against land mines and numerous other children's causes throughout Europe. What have you done besides try and make a name for yourself? His lyric are filled with hope, yours with venom and contempt.

McCartney's wealth is measured not in dollars, but in four decades of accumulated smiles and tender words to a world that needs more people like him. Try writing something nice next time. You'll feel better about yourself.
Neal Morrison
St. Louis

Rhetorical flourish:While I agree with much of the opinion (and it is only that) in Mike Seely's article, the writing is rather inconsistent.

The premise of eleven self-appointed "judges" assigning values the rest of us should hold as "truth" is faulty. A faulty premise most often results in conclusions that fail to convince or hold value -- and this article has many.

It also appears that the main reason Mr. Seely gives for the eventual "winners" is that they do not live up to expectations the "panel of experts" thinks they should. It is refreshing to find such integrity. Mr. Seely and his colleagues would never, I am sure, "sell out" in order to make a living. Most likely he would find it an honor to be hated by all whose expectations he has failed to live up to.

The article is neither articulate nor cogent. Perhaps a writing class would help.
Mark Edmunds
Springfield

Back to Paul:Yes, yes, yes, very funny and mostly accurate, but Mike Seely does the usual thing of lambasting McCartney as being the more indulgent and less intellectual of the Lennon/McCartney duo. That's not to say he isn't worthy of your hate, particularly by the criteria set out at the beginning of the article. But really. Not fit to carry Lennon's roach clip?

Not fit to tie his arm, and make veins bulge in preparation for another fix? Maybe. Lennon was caught dosing more often than McCartney during the Beatles' career -- and any music journalist who isn't aware of that, or chooses to ignore it, is the equivalent of whatever he is accusing McCartney of, and isn't fit to carry a well-informed music journalist's library of books.
Demetrius Romeo
Sydney, New South Wales

Damn, we forgot Mike Love!Ten most hated men in rock? How could you possibly forget Mike Love?

He loves the Maharishi, hated Smile and has almost single-handedly made the Beach Boys into what I call "just another one of those '60s bands with only one or two original members left, who regurgitate their old hits at county fairs and medium-size venues, in front of people who buy their records at Wal-Mart."
Bill Shoemaker
Catawissa, Pennsylvania

R.I.P. Rush:That was Grammy material. Truer words have never been written and needless to say, I was ROFL. Thanks.

It needs to be expanded to the Top 100. As much as I hate to admit it, Rush was always one of my favorites, but Geddy sold out years ago. Shame on them. The old stuff is still great.
Chuck Kadunce
Butler, Pennsylvania

You're welcome!Genius. This is so right on, and so hilarious. Kudos! Great perspective, sense of humor and true understanding of what's goin' on! Thanks!
David Lott
Brooklyn, New York Finally, a low point inRFTmusic coverage:Mike Seely's profanity-ridden diatribe, "The Ten Most Hated Men in Rock," is a low point for the RFT's music coverage. Mr. Seely should be ashamed of himself for advocating hatred of anyone (even Fred Durst).

Every person, including myself, believes that certain artists are undeserving of their success. However, it is simply wrong to hate a person just because he makes millions of dollars entertaining other people.
Ron Frandsen
St. Louis Wrong, wrong and wrong:That's what you came up with? Carlos Santana, one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Jimmy Buffett. Beatles, Dead. For a band that's hated, post-Garcia, they sure do seem to sell out shows. I actually saw them this year at another festival, and they are doing pretty good.

As far as hated, we've got Vanilla Ice, Backstreet Boys, Marilyn Manson and many others. Plenty of crappy boy bands, freaks and white rappers.
Roger Webb
Ballwin

Art for Clayton's Sake
Here's the poop:Having read Randall Roberts' "Fair Ferment" in the September 1 issue, I charge that the Saint Louis Art Fair's executive director, Cynthia Prost, is filled with sophistry and self-importance, or just plain poop.

St. Louis is not Chicago or New York, and Prost is not curating a show for the Navy Pier, or the Guggenheim or MOMA. In St. Louis we leave the major world-class exhibitions to our art museum. The art fair cannot compete with the major shows, and we cannot pretend otherwise. This in no way demeans our own artists or their art or our local art culture. Prost does not understand that the purpose of any St. Louis-sponsored art show, first and foremost, must be to promote our great city and its culture. Consistent with this is to provide cultural events for the enjoyment and enlightenment of our own citizens. This encourages our own artists and patrons to become involved, rather than putting them on notice that we, as a community, are not "good enough," and that our own art does not count.

If Prost is wondering where she can find quality artists to fill the fair, then she need look no further than the St. Louis Artists' Guild, located in Oak Knoll Park -- in Clayton.
Gary Minkin
Wildwood

"Immaculate" Reception
A bad match for St. Louis:This is just a quickie fan letter to tell you how much I value your courageous investigative journalism. Malcolm Gay's "Immaculate Deception" [August 25] provided a fascinating and damning view of Archbishop Burke's highhandedness. We in St. Louis know of it because of the political bombs he has lobbed against politicians who support reproductive choice, and because of his insensitive treatment of St. Stanislaus parishioners.

While I am not really surprised by what Gay discovered in La Crosse -- a church hierarchy that stonewalled abuse investigations and priests who left the priesthood because they could not in good conscience serve under Raymond Burke -- still his stories affected me viscerally. Burke's leadership style is so at odds with our city's temperament. I had often wondered why in the world St. Louis became afflicted with this man. And a funny thing: Only one day after your story appeared, the Post-Dispatchreported that the archdiocese had just settled eighteen abuse cases. Hmmm, could there be a connection? Maybe Burke's hardball ways made him the "perfect candidate" for St. Louis!

Thanks again for a terrific job.
Anne Bader
Frontenac

An eye opener:Thank you so much for all the time and trouble that you went through to put this amazing article together and for having the courage to print it. It is time that we all opened our eyes and see what is happening in the way the Catholic Church is being operated. There are some very wonderful priests and they certainly deserve credit for the work they do, but it is long past time that we clean up the running of the church and bring it back to what Christ wants.
Mary Ellen Kruger
Webster Groves

Lies and the lying liars who tell them:Apparently the "dirty little secret" that followed Archbishop Raymond Burke to St. Louis is that he is loath to blindly accept the validity of decades-old allegations from accusers who have no evidence to substantiate their claims. The lawyers for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests would of course prefer that they not be challenged to prove any of these charges and that the archdiocese simply open the checkbook.

The American bishops' imprudent methods in the past of attempting to keep a lid on the scandal with hush money have damaged their credibility. Now victims'-support groups are counting on the attitude that when an accusation is made there should be no other alternative than to believe everything the claimant says. The large settlements made in the Boston archdiocese have cemented the tactic of "hitting the jackpot" by threatening litigation.

No one disputes that child abuse is a terrible crime, but no crime is so terrible that someone wouldn't lie about it for a payoff.
George Haberberger
Imperial

Ken Lay has nothing on Raymond Burke:The article about Archbishop Burke should be published in every Catholic Church bulletin. His handling of victims of clergy sexual abuse would put a corrupt corporate executive to shame. He is supposed to be the good shepherd leading his flock to a moral and Christ-like life and instead he is practicing slimy legal tactics.

I hope this article will encourage Catholics to write the archbishop and demand that he reach out to victims and work to protect all the children in this diocese.
Barbara Doris
St. Louis

Raymond Burke -- not to be trusted:Thank you for the article about Archbishop Burke, who I considered from one look into his eyes as someone who couldn't be trusted. Of course, I knew about him prior to his arrival in St. Louis from my relatives in Wisconsin. I am a supporter of the SaveSt.Stans effort and attend prayer services each Sunday. I recently moved to rural De Soto from St. Louis and almost missed this issue of RFTbecause of infrequent visits to my favorite saloon.

Once again, congratulations on this information and don't let up exposing the criminal activities of this man. He is in the words of the times "an extremist," but his views are distorted and to effectuate his desires, he twists the meaning of the rules of the church to meet his end results. I hope this article will help divert his attentions from St. Stans.
Frank Medved
De Soto

The cold dead heart of the church:My compliments to the Riverfront Times and especially to Malcolm Gay for his extremely well-written and informative piece, which exposes, in graphic detail, the "deficiencies," not only among the hierarchy of the Diocese of La Crosse, but in the Wisconsin state house as well.

I do however, disagree with Peter Isely's statement that "[l]oyalty to the church is of the highest order" for these men, whom I prefer to call the anointed yet tarnished princes of the church. From East Coast to West Coast, and everywhere in between, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States are only concerned with the loyalty they owe to themselves and to each other. These lofty positions to which they have risen and the power that comes with those positions have made them lose sight of why they entered into holy orders in the first place: to serve God, to serve His people, to serve His church. There is no love of God or fellowship of the Holy Spirit present in their treatment of these brokenhearted, broken-spirited children of the church who have been raped in body, mind and soul. In truth, these "men of God" have only proven how cold and dead the heart of Holy Mother Church really is.

Anyone who has read the Report of the National Review Board is aware of that now-famous quote: "The smoke of Satan was allowed to enter the Church." With this quote in mind, we can only wonder: What master does the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church really serve? Can the church be saved? Do the laity have strength and courage enough to take back their church?

Time, as they say, will tell.
Victoria Martin
Santa Monica, California

More on Mason:I was a member of the Roncalli Newman Center when Jim Mason joined us. We found out about his "ways" through the media when he was charged with third-degree sexual assault. Truly a sorry time. I am happy to see this in print.

He was a troublesome man and I can't believe he is still on the La Crosse Diocesan payroll. 'Tis a pity. This man was charming and smart but got to be a very disturbed man. I hope he is kept away or stays away from underage or vulnerable people. Thanks for listening.
Sarah Hundt
La Crosse, Wisconsin

Scapegoating the Catholics:I am greatly saddened by the crimes committed by those priests of the Catholic Church, and I believe that such wrongdoings, when substantiated, should result in ecclesiastical, civil or even criminal punishment.

What perplexes me is that recent allegations of similar sexual abuse in our nation's public schools have been practically ignored, while we have experienced several years of intensive scrutinization of Catholic clergy abuse. The Shakeshaft report on public-school sexual abuse estimated that approximately 4.5 million children in eighth to eleventh grade in the year 2000 had experienced sexual harassment or abuse by school workers. In contrast, the National Review Board report on child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy reported 10,667 individuals alleging abuse by ordained clergy during the 53-year period from 1950 to 2002 (17.2 percent also said they had siblings who were also abused). Both reports included incidents ranging from inappropriate touching and sexual language to statutory rape.

The difference in absolute numbers between the two reports, both issued this year, is staggering. Even if the public schools' figures are wildly exaggerated, and if the Catholic numbers are far higher than reported, the public schools seem to have a much higher incidence of sexual abuse than the Catholic Church.

The real difference in interest in these two reports is due to an impression of hypocrisy in the Catholic Church. The Catholic clergy are assumed to affect an image of holiness and to promote an impossible standard of conduct, while the public schools are assumed to be progressing toward an ideal of openness to universal sexual expression. In other words, the alleged sexual behavior is unbecoming to a Catholic, while the same behavior is admired, at least in some circles, by the secular world. This is then a secular examination of Catholicism by Catholic standards, and not by the standards of the secular world -- which I consider unfair, even though I must admit it is very effective.

Archbishop Burke is a lawyer by training and is acting like the chief lawyer of any large organization would do in similar circumstances. Punitive lawsuits are so potentially destructive to any organization that a certain measure of secrecy is prudent; corporations, governments, and academic institutions are also secretive. Perhaps doing the right thing -- even though it means total worldly loss -- is heroically virtuous, but the church does not require such heroism of its members.

American Catholics were a persecuted minority until the Second World War. During that war, Catholic mothers who hung four, five or six service stars in their front windows, symbolizing sons in military service, demonstrated the patriotism of Catholics and their commitment to the United States. The election of John F. Kennedy to the presidency proved that Catholics had finally arrived, even though he promised no influence of his Catholicism in his service. Catholics supported Martin Luther King in the civil rights struggle and also assured equal employment rights for themselves. Vatican II liturgical and artistic reforms assured that Catholics would not be distinctive anymore and would be viewed as normal Americans. Catholics did all they could to please the world. Acceptance was assured for a while, but then came pressure to conform to new worldly standards. Now we are told that we were no longer liked and have to change again.

The resurgence of traditional Catholic practices and increasing Catholic moral pressure against the mainstream may mean that Catholics are once again outside the pale, but at least high Catholic standards will recover, and this sexual abuse will diminish further.
Mark Abeln
St. Louis

Irreverent, indecent and disgusting -- an unholy trifecta!Your display of bitterness toward Archbishop Burke reached the limit of decency in your deplorable caricature of the archbishop in your endeavor to belittle him in the eyes of your readers. Granted, you have the right to criticize, but to display all the intimate happenings serves little purpose but to arouse disgust in the minds of readers.

Your paper should be a sounding board for good happenings for St. Louis. I feel sure you have not turned many Catholics against the archbishop but have turned away many from your low-grade endeavor to smear him.

Finally, your play on words using a Catholic doctrine of the Mother of God to further insult the archbishop is a true lack of reverence for the Catholic Church.
Fr. Valentine Young, O.F.M. Cap
St. Patrick Church
St. Louis

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