"You think it's unfair to say he's a monster?

How about 'deviate next door,' or 'pedophile next door'? Maybe just 'pervert next door.'"

Feb 28, 2007 at 4:00 am

Letters, February 15, 2007

Monster Mash-Up

Let's call a perv a perv: I'd like to address the four readers whose letters regarding Michael Devlin were printed in the February 15 RFT. First, Courtney Baker, pull your head out of your...bleeding heart, you moron. How did Devlin treat Shawn and Ben? He kidnapped them! At gunpoint! Both boys were terrorized, traumatized, verbally, mentally, emotionally, physically and sexually abused. Ben for just four days, Shawn for four years! And you think it's unfair to say he's a monster? How about "deviate next door," or "pedophile next door"? Maybe just "pervert next door" would be better. Had it not been for Mitch Hults (you're my hero, Mitch Hults!) and Devlin's neighbors, as soon as your sick pervert had "groomed" Ben Ownby, Shawn Hornbeck's body would have turned up in a dumpster somewhere, if it turned up at all. And you want me to feel sorry for Michael Devlin? What, because he got teased in school? Wasn't one of the popular kids? Wasn't a jock? Look, nutjob, because of my olive skin, the two most popular names kids had for me in school growing up were "shit stain" and "sand nigger." I wasn't popular or athletic. Dysfunctional family? Got one! Drugs? Alcohol? Yepper! But guess what? I still don't kidnap and molest children!

Being unpopular didn't turn Michael Devlin into a deviate, and neither did porn, Frank Hogrebe. Saying porn turned Devlin into a predator is like blaming street crime on the street. Man stabs man to death in the street, and we say, "Oh, alas, if only there were no streets, this never would have happened!" Devlin victimized two boys because he couldn't have taken on grown men without getting his ass kicked; he wanted a relationship of absolute control, he's a pedophile, and he's a sociopath. Perverts may enjoy porn, but porn doesn't turn people into perverts. When thoughts occur of deviant sexual behavior, most people reject them immediately. But your young deviate entertains those thoughts. And if those thoughts ever come to action, where a normal person may go a bit too far and be sorry for it and not do it again, a man like Devlin just tries to ensure he doesn't get caught. And the more things he does and gets away with, the less he thinks about it being wrong. He knows right from wrong and chose the latter — at whomever's expense — to satisfy his own desires. His choices made him a monster, not "society."

And not Mountain Dew, Earl Sigoloff.

And no, Sherri Thompson, you probably won't be hearing a whole lot more about this case, and you'll hear virtually nothing about Stockholm syndrome in the news. You know why? Because if it ain't new, it ain't news, stupid! It is not the job of a news outlet to educate you or anyone else about Stockholm syndrome. Luckily there are schools, educational television, public libraries and the Internet — unless, you know, you want every source of all your information and education to be the mainstream media. How scary is that?
Bradley S. Veltre, St. Louis

Unreal, February 8, 2007

Finder Keeper

Junk junkie: Thanks for the Unreal write-up "If You Knew Suzy." I've gotten a lot of hits in just the past few hours! I liked the title a lot, too — when I worked in a nursing home during nursing school, all the old geezers used to sing me that song. They loved rhyming "chassis" with "lassie." As a result I still have a thing for 85-year-old men. My husband gets jealous sometimes. Have fun!
Suzy Crancer, luckyfindgazette.com, St. Louis

Stage, February 1, 2007

Stage Right

Stage wrong: I was disappointed to read the last paragraph of Dennis Brown's "The Kevins Turn Two."" Calling Ron Himes a small-minded segregationist is not only extremely offensive and dismissive, but is also uninformed. As a white actor who has worked with Ron for over five years, as well as other professional companies including Hydeware, Stray Dog and Soundstage, I can appreciate both sides of this debate. Ron Himes founded the St. Louis Black Repertory Company because of a lack of roles for black actors at Washington University, where he was an undergraduate student. His mission has always been to provide a platform for black artists, and to introduce theater to communities who may not otherwise have a chance to experience it. As the founder of a young, struggling company, Ron received little support from the theater community at large, particularly the Repertory Theater of St. Louis. His success despite this lack of support is overwhelming and inspiring.

I got my start as an actor in 2003 with the Black Rep's touring company, which brings children's theater to local schools. Our most popular show was York, a story about a young girl who learns about the life of a black slave who traveled with the Lewis and Clark expedition. The show starred myself and was supported by a Filipino actress and two black actors. I remember speaking with Ron about the show and hearing him say that he loved the idea that people would come to see a show by the Black Rep starring a white girl, a Filipino and two black guys.

The majority of Ron's production team is white. Many members of his board are white. Ron regularly casts white actors, and is not afraid of "non-traditional" casting. I experienced this firsthand when he gave me my first "break," casting me in the mainstage show The River Niger, as the girlfriend of a Black Panther, a role originated by a black actress.

The Black Rep's number-one fundraiser for its community and education programs is the Woodie Awards. This ceremony honors the best of the Black Rep season. Over the years the awards ceremony has struggled to sell tickets, and anyone on the inside of the company knows how important the fundraiser is to the community and education programs, which Ron considers to be his top priority. If the Black Rep participated in the Kevin Kline Awards and patrons had the choice of a ceremony that honors Black Rep shows or one that encompasses the entire theater community, most people will certainly choose to spend their $150 on a more inclusive evening.

Having performed as a cast member of Dreamgirls, I am disappointed that the show was not up for consideration; however, I understand that the Black Rep has been in business for 30 years and is the largest professional black theater company in the country because Ron Himes has his priorities straight. By calling him "small-minded," Dennis Brown is dismissing his enormous contribution to the theater community, both black and white.
Emily Strembicki, St. Louis