By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
This ain't no Disclo
In "Gay Conservatives Confront the Pride Divide" [September 7], Norah Vincent calls her admission that she gave a speech to the Log Cabin Republican conference she reported on "full disclosure." It's really something far more cynical: using the illusion of honesty to hide facts about the reporter that readers of the piece are entitled to know.
Regarding the attack on members of the Fed Up Queers by security staff at the Roosevelt Hotel, Vincent writes: "When [Log Cabin executive director Rich] Tafel heard about what was happening on the street Saturday night, he left the banquet midway through dinner, went out to the front of the hotel, and attempted to talk with the handful of remaining FUQ demonstrators.Such diplomacy is typical of Tafel."
Here's what's missing from Vincent's account: She showed up in front of the hotel and began talking to several demonstrators, including me and another demonstrator from SexPanic! She agreed to try to get Tafel to come down and speak to us, and to her credit, she made good on her promise. However, when a journalist convinces a political operative to meet with dissidents, and then writes a story that doesn't mention her role but credits the meeting to the "typical diplomacy" of one side, it's fair to say that her account lacks integrity. When she includes other information about her participation in the event and labels that "full disclosure," readers can reasonably assume she's being willfully deceptive.
Even in regard to the conference participation that Vincent reported in her piece, her description hides as much as it reveals. "Though I am not a member of the Log Cabin Republicans," she writes, "I attended the banquet." According to journalist Andy Humm, members of the press, including Humm and a writer from the New York Post, were denied entry to the banquet. Vincent's presence in the room raises questions about her objectivity that her very limited disclosure fails to answer.
Norah Vincent replies: I hid nothing. In the original draft of the piece, I did say that I was outside the hotel that night with Tafel. TheVoice, however, encourages writers to avoid using the first person whenever possible. I said that such diplomacy is typical of Tafel because, as I wrote, I'd seen other examples of it atthe conference plenary that morning. Finally, I was invited to the banquet because, unlike Andy Hummor thePost reporter, I'd been a speaker at the conference. They didn't pay me for my speech, so this was their thank-you.
I was amazed by Nat Hentoff's column "WABC Attacks Free Speech" [September 7], concerning talk show hosts Steve Malzberg and Sean Hannity and the arrest of the Unafaxer. Having worked in talk radio in Nashville, Toledo, Atlanta, and here in Fort Wayne, I too have been bombarded by certain callers to the point of being harassed, threatened, and in one case stalked. I never let on-air or off-air verbal assaults bother me. But I have carried a gun for personal protection since a fellow talk host was the subject of a failed kidnapping and bomb plot. He reacted in fear, removing his personalized license plate and becoming even more paranoid than he had been. Malzberg and Hannity overreacted, and they may pay the price. When you invite opinions from those who hold opposite views, no matter how vehemently, you'd better be ready to suck it up!
Fort Wayne, Indiana
In your September 7 issue, you ran a story, "A Love/Hate Thing," by Donna Ladd, about our Web page, www.godhatesfags.com. This is one of many pieces you've run about our ministry. Given your hedonistic, homosexual-promoting propensities, the article was pretty good. A few points should be made in follow-up.
David Goldman of HateWatch.org accurately notes that it is un-civil-rights-like of these creatures to try to silence our words. He pretends not to recognize that these militant homosexuals are utterly unable to resist their base impulses, that they would bankrupt this nation-its treasury, its laws, and its morals-in pursuit of their burning lust.
If his organization was true to its name, it would keep a close eye on these violent homosexuals. They are as violent as they are intolerant, and they pose the greatest danger to this nation that any group has ever posed. Goldman also gratuitously offers that we "freeze up" when it comes to homosexuals in spite of our strong civil rights record. The fact is, we oppose the homosexual agenda as zealously as we protect the rights of legitimate minorities. That's because we're capable of rational thought. It is disgraceful to compare chosen sexual perversion to innocent innate attributes, such as skin color or national origin.
By Goldman's un-logic, we should afford rapists and pedophiles special rights. Mark my word, these perverts will demand protection for pedophiles next. Mr. Goldman can't see past the end of his nose. His agenda is perversion. Ours is to publish the law of God. Those twain shall never meet. No matter how gracious his rhetoric may sound.
The subhead of Donna Ladd's article "Negative Cash Flow" [August 31] stated that Judy Chicago, the artist who created The Dinner Party, "Receives Piles of $1 Bills. Trouble Is, She Doesn't Want Them." This is not true. In Chicago's Web site (www.judychicago.com), any halfway careful reader will find the phrases "we encourage you to become a member of Through the Flower (at whatever level of contribution you wish)" and "We will accept any and all contributions" and "We thank all people who have so generously contributed already and encourage and appreciate all those who will do so in the future."
Part of my purpose in writing the essay I sent out over the Internet was to reach women like myself, who don't want to get involved with meetings or personalities, and to tap the potential of hundreds of thousands of people who might want to contribute a small amount to save The Dinner Party. I have First Amendment rights. Neither the government nor the Fourth Estate in the person of Donna Ladd can tell me I can't e-mail my friends, family, and associates, and urge them to donate money to a nonprofit organization (and also to e-mail their friends and family with the same suggestion).
We've just begun to realize the Internet's potential for worldwide communication and understanding. The more people who have e-mail capability, the more who can talk to each other without the editing of for-profit publications, or the censorship of governments.
I did enjoy Ladd's statement that my essay "could orbit for years." And as it does, millions of concerned people will send money to help save The Dinner Party. That can't be bad.
Donna Ladd replies: My article was not an attack on Louise's initiative or free speech. Instead, it relayed the frustration of theThrough the Flowerstaff, which was dismayed to be on the receiving end of an uncontrollable chain e-mail soliciting $1 bills on its behalf. This frustration was clearly conveyed to me by Donald Woodman, Chicago's husband and director of the group, and is expressed on Chicago's Web site,which states, "While these small contributions are very welcome, handling and responding to a large number of $1 gifts is very expensive and overwhelming to our small staff," and asks that fans become members instead. I admire the sentiment behind Louise's effort, but believe we should carefully consider the potential problems with e-mail missives before we send them into orbit. There is likely a better way.
Only the Loanly
Andrew White's article "Liberals on Loan"[August 31] contained blatant inaccuracies and misrepresented the business practices of Delta Funding Corporation and the subprime lending business. Among the numerous misconceptions in the article, I'd like to draw your attention to the following factual inaccuracies:
Contrary to what White states, Delta does not "target" low-income homeowners. The median income for subprime borrowers in the U.S. is $34,000, and the median income for all homeowners is $37,000. The median income for Delta's borrowers is $46,500.
White accuses Delta of "luring" elderly borrowers and "burdening" them with debt. In fact, the vast majority (70 percent) of Delta's loans are debt-consolidation loans-under the terms of which the borrower consolidates outstanding debt, thereby reducingmonthly loan payments. Delta does not target "elderly" homeowners. The median age of homeowners in the U.S. is 51 and the median age of Delta borrowers is 50.
White alleges that Delta's interest rates range from 11 percent to as high as 14.9 percent. The average rate for Delta's loans is actually 10 percent, and our rates have ranged as low as 7.5 percent.
Delta typically loses $20,000 or more-not including the cost of default management-on a property that goes into foreclosure. This is illustrated in our audited 1998 Annual Report showing total losses on such loans of nearly $6 million. Hence, there is absolutely no motivation to lend to a borrower who we think will not be able to pay or otherwise make a loan with the purpose of taking back the property.
White reported on a loan to Mary Lee Ward, stating that she tried to back out of that loan but was unable to do so. In fact, Delta went above and beyond its legal obligation to accommodate Ms. Ward by giving her the opportunity to rescind the loan weeks after the rescission period had expired. It was Ms. Ward-not Delta-who declined to rescind the loan. After repeated phone calls from Delta advising her that the company was still willing to allow her to cancel the loan, she went ahead and cashed her check containing the net proceeds of her loan.
Ms. Ward later claimed that she did not attend the closing and had never signed any of the loan documents, which she alleged contained forged or duplicated signatures. However,in a deposition, Ms. Ward admitted that the signatures appeared to be hers, and that she did in fact sign the loan documents. Responsible coverage of Ms. Ward's situation should have included reference to the fact that she first alleged and then abandoned her allegations of forgery.
Delta is proud of its 17-year history of prudent lending and its ability to provide credit to borrowers who need and deserve it. Delta is committed to continuing to be the industry leader in consumer protection and setting the highest standards for lending practices.
Andrew White replies: Cohen's statistics lump together Delta's lending in 26 states. In 1997, in the New York City metropolitan region, just over half of the firm's mortgage refinancing loans went to low- and moderate-income homeowners. These borrowers have household incomes well below the metro region's median. This information comes from loan data provided by Delta to the U.S. government under mortgage-disclosure laws. The company's marketing clearly targets black communities, which is actually the point I made in the article. In 1997, nearly three-quarters of Delta's loans in the metro region were made to borrowers in majority-black census tracts. Only 1 percent of its loan applicants came from tracts that are mostly white. Furthermore, every one of two dozen recent Delta loans I examined had brokers' fees and "origination fees," which, combined, were greater than 10 percent of the loan's value. None had interest rates below 11 percent. More than half included penalty interest rates of 24 percent. As for Mary Ward's loan, Linwood Roberts, the broker who sold Ward the $82,500 Delta mortgage-and took a 10 percent commission in addition to Delta's $3300 fee-was a frequent marketer for Delta. In June, state regulators forced him to return his commission to Ward, and she used the money to pay legal bills to prevent foreclosure. Yes, she signed the loan papers, but there are two versions of the final, signed documents, each with identical fax time-and-date stamps. The dollar figure on the second, and official, version is obviously altered with white-out and pen.