Week of September 1, 2004

Sep 1, 2004 at 4:00 am
Sin No More
A cheap shot: Malcolm Gay's "Immaculate Deception" [August 25] reveals that the author cares less about the welfare of the victims of sexual abuse, but rather aims to promote his own agenda by unjustly attacking the actions and character of the Archbishop of St. Louis. Mr. Gay would serve his journalistic integrity better if he clearly stated and defended his position on contraception, abortion, euthanasia, for example, rather than taking cheap shots at those he regards as being on the "ecclesiastical fast track."

The current incumbent of the See of St. Louis is clearly a man of faith, conviction and moral principle. I personally disagree with the Archbishop on many issues, but what he says challenges the liberal status quo. As such, my suggestion must be that the issues themselves be debated, and that the use of the victims of sexual abuse as pawns in such debates remains a scandal.
Patrick J. O'Rourke
St. Louis

Good riddance to the disgruntled: In "Bishop Takes Queen," his sidebar to "Immaculate Deception," Malcolm Gay focuses more on Archbishop Raymond Burke than on Sister Julie Green. What is his point? How does Sister Green's supposed operation reflect negatively upon Archbishop Burke? I thought reporters were supposed to report the news and leave personal opinions out of it; clearly this writer has an agenda. Perhaps you are hard up for good, objective writers in St. Louis.

In regard to "Immaculate Deception," I found, as a former religious education director for a small parish in the La Crosse Diocese, then-Bishop Burke to be a sincere, authentic and prayerful man, even holy. It seems you have chosen to interview some disgruntled, renegade priests who weren't doing what they were ordained to do anyway. I say good riddance to those who won't obey the Magisterium.

Finally, the titles of the articles are clearly designed to stimulate readership but are crass. Where is the truth in reporting? I feel that this reporter is not interested in getting at the truth, but only to further his own views.

Archbishop Burke is a heroically courageous man. There are many of us in his former diocese that were sad to seem him go. St. Louis is blessed to have him as their shepherd.
Monica Kolars
River Falls, Wisconsin

Pet Peeved
Bad Unreal: Shame on you! As a volunteer of Stray Rescue of St. Louis and as an animal lover in general, I feel sorry that you have misinterpreted such a good deed on the behalf of Randy Grim and all others involved [Unreal, "Doggie Style," August 25]. When is the last time you searched the city streets with the hopes of saving a dog that would otherwise have no chance of survival if left alone? When is the last time you placed yourself in a volunteer situation with the goal being to help someone other than yourself?

Each week I look forward to stopping off at the Stray Rescue shelter to care for the many dogs that I at times consider my own. Until you look into the eyes of a dog that has come close to knocking on death's door and realize the love and potential each and every one of those wonderful animals possess, or until you reach out to comfort a dog who is scared because they have been thrown into an unfamiliar environment or until you feel a dog lean into you because all they really want is some human attention and a little love, don't feel you have the right to bash anyone for doing the "right thing."

There should be more people like Randy Grim, and like all my fellow volunteers with Stray Rescue and other similar organizations. Since when is it a crime to stop thinking we humans are the superior species? And when has it become a crime to care about the rights of other species, especially one so loyal as the domestic dog?
Sally Bobbitt Simpson
St. Louis

Bad, bad Unreal: I just read "Doggie Style." What was the point of this article? What were you trying to accomplish? Your personal attack on Randy Grim was totally uncalled for. Your comments were ridiculous and senseless, much like your magazine. Now I know why it's free. Who would pay to read such crap? I will never stoop so low as to read your rag again. To others that do: "Un-f***ing-real."
Marianne Junger

How'd you like to get neutered, huh, Unreal? Unreal is the one who is "Un-fucking-real," as he obviously fails to grasp the concept Randy Grim fought so hard for the city of St. Louis to recognize. Changing the terminology of the city's ordinances to include "pet guardians" simply reflects the feelings of any compassionate person. Our pets are members of our families, and as such deserve to be recognized as more than just property.

Does Unreal think it's "Un-fucking-real" that parents do not own their children, or that husbands do not own their wives? Perhaps he should take a look at the connection between those who abuse animals and the crimes they ultimately commit towards humans.

I applaud Mr. Grim and St. Louis for taking a step in the right direction in protecting both animals and people.
Polly Hampton

Bad, offensive Unreal: The offensive headline -- "Doggie Style" -- was a way to trivialize an important topic and pull in sex when it is not relevant. Animals in this city are being discarded and abused. Randy Grim's efforts have been phenomenal and successful. The decision to refer to animal "guardians" (not owners) will counteract ignorant beliefs like those of the author, even if the author continues to be inhumane. It's a matter of saving lives and changing attitudes, not being "politically correct."

I'm sure you will receive many letters stating similar opinions. I'll continue to foster and volunteer for Stray Rescue of St. Louis -- their work is crucial to this city.
Lynn Maurer
Webster Groves

Unreal, heel: While I always appreciate a good sarcastic writer, it is apparent that Unreal has never had a pet or at least felt empathy or love for a pet. What Randy Grim of Stray Rescue is attempting by changing the name "pet owner" to "pet guardian" is to keep people from treating their pets like inanimate objects. The law will treat house pets like real creatures with beating hearts and the need for love and TLC. The law will treat animal abusers like the actual criminals that they are.

I think your sarcasm got away from you.
Kristin Stallon
O'Fallon, Illinois

Bad, coldhearted Unreal: Well, Unreal, I'll tell you what we've become. We've become a society where a Franklin County woman can hoard 256 animals, the vast majority neglected, dehydrated, malnourished and diseased, and not only not have charges filed against her but also not be responsible for any of the cost of treatment for these poor animals at the Humane Society. A society where a Belleville man bludgeons a seven-pound dog to death with his golf club and a Shiloh man injures a neighbor's kitten so severely with a firecracker that it has to be euthanized.

Maybe you've never seen firsthand what people are capable of doing to animals without a thought. As a Stray Rescue volunteer, I've seen dogs pockmarked and broken from being used as bait to teach dogs to fight, dogs with horrific burns from the acid they had thrown in their faces, animals scrawny and mangy from being left behind after their "owners" have moved away.

It strikes me as Unreal, and very coldhearted, that anyone who has ever owned a pet could draw such a snide conclusion about such a good measure that helps make people more responsible for animal welfare. If we live in a society where nothing is done to counteract and punish the cruel and thoughtless violence that occurs each day to animals, it will surely bleed into more of our daily lives. And maybe it seems simple and meaningless to change the wording of a bill to make people a pet's "guardian." But it certainly helps pave the way for greater animal rights and less for those who senselessly abuse them.
Denise Marbach-Norris
St. Louis

In Chad Garrison's "Bowling for St. Louis" last week, we misstated the name of Washington University's student union president (David Ader) and botched the date of the upcoming presidential debate at the school (October 8).

Staff Writer
Riverfront Times has an immediate opening for a journalist who understands the difference between magazine-style reporting and the hurried fact-finding of daily papers. Applicants must have the ability to create in-depth and compelling stories that explore the issues, events and personalities of this community.

We offer competitive salaries and benefits. Qualified applicants should send cover letter, résumé and clips to:
Tom Finkel, editor
Riverfront Times
6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200
St. Louis, MO 63130
No phone calls, please.