By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
In the article "Rage Before Race" [October 16-22] Rivka Gewirtz Little badly misrepresents the positions taken by feminists regarding the rape and near murder of the Central Park jogger in 1989. It was the media that chose to ignore the case of a woman of color who was raped and brutalized two days earlier in a nearby part of Central Park, opting instead to publicize the attack on a blond, white stockbroker. It was the media who trumpeted the guilt of a band of black adolescents. And it was the police who obtained apparently false confessions. In calling attention to the Central Park case, feminists made the point that this was not an isolated criminal act, but part of a larger pattern of violence based on hatred toward women. Feminists did not seek a so-called lynching; they simply sought justice. Any lynching was done by the press. The police provided a successful prosecution based on a practice later called racial profiling.
The National Organization for Women New York City deserves unfettered praise for calling for an independent federal investigation into the New York City police mishandling of the Central Park jogger case. Period.
New York Men Against Sexism
Re "Rage Before Race": Rivka Gewirtz Little falsely claimed that white feminists can only see race and class as distractions from the true feminist issue of sex crime. When the 1989 media put down the female jogger as privileged for daring to be in the park at night, the National Organization for Women defended her. In addition, most women know that when a woman tries to report a rape, race has everything to do with the response of the justice system. That almost no white men are convicted of rape proves this point. These were and are NOW's positions on these issues. (For our actual statements protesting the district attorney on October 15, 2002, go to www.nownyc.org.)
Gewirtz Little wrongfully scorns the new anger of feminists and many New Yorkers as Matias Reyes's recent confession makes them realize they've been duped and lied to by the police, the D.A., and the media. She distracts from where our true focus needs to beon whether the police and the D.A. refused to give justice to the Central Park jogger, and to the community, by pinning the rape on black and Latino men with no physical evidence, and failing to look for the man that the DNA evidence matched. It's time for the D.A. to be examined and held accountable for any errors in this case and others. This looks like the tip of the iceberg.
Alexandra Leader, Executive Director
Rivka Gewirtz Little replies: Kudos to NOW NYC for demanding that the D.A.'s office conduct an unbiased investigation. Had that same demand been placed on prosecutors in 1989, justice may have been served more readily. By overlooking race as part of this case, many failed to see how both the target of this attack and the five teenagers could be victimized. Feminists have historically pressured prosecutors to fairly address sex crimes. A conversation about how to do that in a fair way in no way "distracts" from this goal.
IN THE CROSSHAIRS
In the October 10 article by James Ridgeway about the theory that the D.C. sniper killings may be forming the pattern of a Celtic cross ["Sign of the Celtic Cross," villagevoice.com], he writes that "while [the Celtic cross] plays a part in Christian theology, it is also a pagan symbol." The Celtic cross is not a pagan symbol, and there is no evidence of pagan usage before Saint Paul adopted it as a symbol for those who followed the teachings of Jesus Christ. When it was adopted by the Celtic Church, primarily in Ireland and Scotland, the circle was added. Although the circle was sacred to the Druids, the cross and circle combination was entirely Christian. It symbolized Celtic union within Christianity.
JUILLIARD PLAYS THE BLUES
Re the review of the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra's season opener [The Sound of the City, October 9-15] by Daniel King: King is entitled to his opinion regarding the music, but he gave an inaccurate representation of Juilliard's new jazz program. He writes that "trombonist Wycliffe Gordon recently assumed joint control of the brand-new Juilliard Institute for Jazz Studies" when our advance press release clearly states: "Juilliard jazz faculty member Wycliffe Gordon joins Victor L. Goines on the podium in the season debut of the Juilliard Institute for Jazz Studies' Juilliard Jazz Orchestra." It does not say Mr. Gordon is director or co-director of the program, just the concert. (Victor L. Goines is the artistic director of jazz studies.)
King also falters when he writes about " 'Braziliance' [his spelling], an Ellington tune purchased from the Smithsonian Institute expressly for this performance (read $$$)." A special insert in that night's program proudly stated: " 'Brasilliance' is performed courtesy of Smithsonian Institution/Jazz Masterworks Orchestra."
Janet Kessin, Director of Communications
The Juilliard School
While Peter Rojas does a thorough job outlining the arguments on both sides of the conflict between the Directors Guild of America and the Utah-based CleanFlicks ["The Blessed Version," October 9-15], it is important to note that what he refers to as "movie-censoring" technologies should not be grouped with those companies, like CleanFlicks, who rent and sell edited films. DVD-filtering software such as that marketed by ClearPlay acts as a sort of virtual remote control, enabling viewers to skip sexual content and mute profanity, but it does not alter the content of the film in any way.