Letters to the Editor

Blackface and Comedy

January 31, 2005

To the Editor:

A white man running around in blackface is racist, pure and simple. You cannot erase or ignore its historical significance of degrading and dehumanzing an entire group of people, which is what folks like Greg Durham wants to do (“Letters to the Editor, Jan. 27-Feb. 2)

Nor can you equate its social expression with a Chris Rock ribbing other African Americans. There is a very big difference between telling jokes about a particular group and treating a particular group as a joke, and the latter is exactly what Chuck Knipp does every time he dons his dark make-up to “portray” a welfare queen with a dozen-plus kids.

In order to end racism you have to know what it is and clearly Mr. Durham, like so many other misguided queers coming to the defense of Shirley Q. Liquor, hasn’t a clue.

Rashad Turner


January 29, 2005

To the Editor:

Shirley Q. Liquor (Chuck Knipp) is not racist in any way (“Unforgivable Blackface,”by Andy Humm, Jan. 20-26). You are just too thick to see this. “She” is a parody of a non-existent stereotype.

I do understand that there may be actual racists who think “she” is a real “type,” and that could be a danger, but I don’t think it is much of one. Numbskulls who think Mr. Knipp should be censored are much more dangerous. If Chris Rock was doing Shirley, you and others wouldn’t say a word. Could that be a type of racism as well?

Race exists. Characters of all types also exist and belong to many races. No sane person thinks because he sees a joke stereotype, that the world is like that. Name one black person who thought they were being made personal fun of by Shirley and maybe you have a case. I don’t think you will find one.

R. Simmons

Austin, TX

Lesbian Rape

January 20, 2005

To the Editor:

I cannot imagine how you justify giving the ink and the space and the front page treatment that you did to the “Lesbian Rape Charged” story (Jan. 20-26, by Mick Meenan). When you have real stories on housing for people with AIDS and the onset of a new sexually-transmitted disease, is there any reason, beyond circulation/titillation to give sensationalist, tabloid treatment to a story about “bad girls” from another town?

Bill Heinzen


Hands Across Town

January 27, 2005

To the Editor:

In his editor’s letter, “A Welcome for an Unlikely Ally,” (Jan. 6-12), Paul Schindler says, “I for one am willing to take a step toward reconciliation and welcome a positive position taken recently by William Donohue….” Schindler was referring to my decision to back a gay couple who have their kids in a Catholic elementary school in California; some parents reportedly want the kids expelled. He ends his piece by saying that “unwelcome as my acknowledgement might be to Donohue, he should be given credit where it is due.” Paul got this one wrong: I indeed welcome his overture. Having taken a lot of flak from some Catholics over this issue, I most certainly welcome fair-minded commentary on my decision. And I really don’t care whether it’s coming from gays or straights.

William Donohue


Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights


Tom Shanahan vs. Pauline Park

January 30, 2005

To the Editor,

I was struck by the contrast between the clear thinking and healthy political assertiveness in Pauline Parks Jan. 18 letter, “Pushing Wall Street on Gender Rights,” and the vagueness, personal hostility and invective in Tom Shanahan’s Jan. 21 response to Ms. Park, “Pauline Park vs. William Thompson.”

Far from attacking Mr. Thompson, Ms. Park simply presented a legitimate criticism of his actions. She urged him to push more aggressively for transgender rights in his management of city investments, and she showed your readers the respect of supporting her position with strong argumentation, citing the increasingly widespread corporate support for transgender rights that has been reported in this paper.

Mr. Shanahan, on the other hand, presented the unsupported idea that Ms. Park was motivated by selfishness and obnoxiousness, and tried to cast aspersions on Ms. Park by reference to an unexplained, past personal difference over transgender activism.

I appreciate and applaud Ms. Park’s good work for transgender rights, Mr. Shanahan’s strange attack notwithstanding.

Gregory Bynum


Leon Trotsky and Alexander Blok

January 14, 2005

To the Editor:

I don’t know your source for the statement “… Akhmatova’s friend Blok was a Symbolist [and vehemently attacked as such, and as counter-revolutionary, by, among others, Leon Trotsky]” (“Defying the Gulag’s Fate,” by Jerry Tallmer, Jan 13-19), but Trotsky devoted a whole chapter of “Literature and Revolution” to Alexander Blok. He ends the chapter with: “To be sure, Blok is not one of ours, but he reached towards us. And in doing so, he broke down. But the result of his impulse is the most significant work of our epoch. His poem, ‘The Twelve,’ will remain forever.

“The most significant work of our epoch” — hardly a description of a counter-revolutionary.

Brian Shannon

Williamstown, Massachusetts