By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
As an organization that has remained true to its mission for so long, it is especially unfair for Noel to suggest that we could be bought or that reported discussions concerning a possible charitable donation to One Hundred Black Men, Inc. involved some quid pro quo. When Noel called me for comment, I wish he had informed me that he was basing his report on an unnamed "prominent young Harlem politician" who, in turn, got his information from another nameless "senior member" who had "inferred" that members would serve as character witnesses for Mr. Combs in exchange for a donation. I would have had my biggest laugh in months. Any notion that the organization would ever consider accepting any donation with strings attached is preposterous.
To impugn the reputation of a community treasure like One Hundred Black Men, Inc., based on double hearsay is simply dead wrong. In January, Mr. Combs will have his day in court. Rules of procedure will, hopefully, allow for a full and fair airing of the facts involved in his case. It is unfortunate that we can't expect the same from The Village Voice.
Paul T. Williams Jr.
One Hundred Black Men, Inc.
Peter Noel replies: My story clearly points out that Williams's group rejected $50,000 from Combs because it did not want to give the impression it can be bought. It is Williams who does this "community treasure" a disservice by not explaining why it does not want Combs's money.
Thank you for Peter Noel's impressive article "Proof of Life: A Death in the Wu-Tang Clan" [December 19]. I knew Bruce "Chip Banks" Mayfield. He was an artist who was destined to keep it real by doing something to improve his own life and the lives of others around him, especially youth caught out there. Shortly before his death, he called me frequently. He had chosen to be a responsible celebritya role modelbut he felt that he needed my help. I believed him and my help was unconditional.
His funeral was in Benta's Funeral Home, in the same room my slain brother occupied after he caught a bullet to the back of his head in Harlem. For years I couldn't go back to Benta's. For Chip, it was my first visit back since 1977.
70th Assembly District
Hate in the Hills
As a gay man living in a small town in Tennessee deep in religious-right territory, I have been greatly concerned over the possible ramifications of Bush's election. Richard Goldstein's article "Stealth Homophobia" [December 19] is by far the best summation that I have seen of what I think gay people will face because of this election. I have been particularly concerned by the almost total silence of the major gay organizations as the religious right is slithering out from its hiding places. Gay people will face a far more sophisticated strategy from the religious right under George W. Bush than we encountered under previous administrations. We will be mentioned less and persecuted more. Goldstein is dead on. I am very, very afraid.
Robbers in Robes
The United States Supreme Court, by its unprecedented interference in the electoral process, has wreaked much damage. Every first-year law student knows that there was no significant federal issue lodged by the Republicans, and further that the subject matter before the Court was clearly political and traditionally off-limits to it under the separation-of-powers doctrine.
The five conservative justices, while feigning "equal protection" concerns about Florida voters, were in fact prosecuting a shameful partisan objective, intended first to muffle and then to silence the will of that very electorate. So egregious and bald-faced was their act that no attempt to camouflage their ruling in the cloth of their constitutional rhetoric will ever disguise their true intent or their harmful deed!
In a struggle that tried our intelligence and our sensibilities for 35 days beyond the presidential election, and which found liberals defending states' rights and conservatives calling for federal judicial intervention as each side tried to claim the "high ground," the conservative majority of the Supreme Court managed to find the lowest quarter. In the process, as Justice John Paul Stevens opined in his telling dissent, "the nation's confidence in the judge as the impartial guardian of the rule of law" was undermined and damaged for generations to come.
Nat Hentoff's article "Justice Scalia Was Right!" in last week's issue is the best piece in a left-leaning journal that I have read since the election. Absolutely right on, Nat. This was a constitutional question of equal-rights protection for all voters nationwidenot just in Florida; thus the 7-2 decision. The Supreme Court had to step in and clear away the chaos the Florida Supreme Court had created.
It's nice that Michael Feingold is trying to educate us on theatrical history ["More Stagely Mansions," December 19], but he should make sure his facts are straight. T.W. Robertson's play Caste appeared in 1867, so it could hardly have produced a craze for realism in the 1840s. Otherwise, a fine review.