Letter of the Week
Cultural cutbacks

I am appalled that the Voice has decided to cut back its dance coverage to half a page. Cultural news, events, and information are primary reasons New Yorkers read the Voice—and dance is an area that people depend on the Voice in particular to cover. Your dance critics—Deborah Jowitt and Elizabeth Zimmer in particular—are some of the most intelligent dance writers around. What is the editorial policy behind cutting it back? Do you need to increase the amount of space you devote to sex ads? Your reduction in dance coverage is a disappointing and enraging turn of events. I hope you reconsider your editorial priorities.

Molly Hickok

Lethal interjection

Chanel Lee's article "Tookie's Long Goodbye" [December 13, villagevoice.com] failed to detail the starting point of Stanley "Tookie" Williams's journey; it began when he chose to end the lives of four people. What were the last thoughts of the 26-year-old victim as he lay bleeding to death on his stomach among the cardboard boxes and soda cans of a 7-Eleven store? I guess a bleeding heart can prevent one from seeking to understand the whole story.

Daniel Matarazzo
Wailuku, Hawaii

I do not think Williams was innocent of the crimes he was convicted of, but I really believe he matured and I believe his words were full of deep regret. God forgive him, since only some of us were capable of doing so.

Mirian Marquez
Glendale, California

When Americans applaud killing someone on death row, it affirms that our nation is in trouble. Stanley "Tookie" Williams should not have been executed. Should he have stayed in jail? Yes. As a gang member, was he involved in crimes early in his life? Yes. Can people change their lifestyle? Absolutely! There isn't one person alive who can say without a shadow of a doubt that Williams committed four murders. Our judicial system is far too careless to rely on evidence. How many people have been executed for something they didn't do? How many cases were never reopened while judges made decisions based on unconfirmed evidence? There are millions of people who have done things but never got caught. Then these same people stand up and pass judgment on others. Am I against the execution of Stanley Williams because he is black? No! I am against it because you have to be a sick individual to honestly convince yourself that killing a man will help you rest better at night.

Renee Jennings

Child's play

Re Nick Sylvester's "The Rules of Redemption" [December 12, villagevoice.com]: It may be bigger than your brain can comprehend, but clemency is not just some fancy word game, as you idiotically and poorly portray it in this non-article. One of the things that separates humans from animals is that even in horrifying circumstances, we do grant clemency. That is, we do not summarily execute people upon hearsay, without due process. We do not kill fellow citizens gang-style, revenge-style, as the state of California has done to Tookie Williams. What makes America exceptional is its ability to protect the worst of us in order to preserve the functionality of our society. Williams was killed by my state while you ate and watched television or listened to music. Damn both this country and your promotion of callow, sophomoric, and by virtue of non-effort, hateful commentary.

Geoffrey Hoffman
Oakland, California

Pryor's encore

Greg Tate's article "Richard Pryor, 1940–2005" [December 14–20] is by far the best and most complete look at the amazing life of Pryor. His fans were holding out for a comeback, but as Tate appropriately suggests, Pryor has been waiting to rest. Yet he leaves many behind that he sculpted for the encore.

Lynn Scott

Sexual emancipation

Unfortunately, I read Gary Indiana's article on Brokeback Mountain ["West of Eden," November 30–December 6] before seeing the movie. I saw the movie twice, the first time having the cynical viewpoint of Indiana in the back of my mind, wondering, Did he even see this movie? The second time I watched it for pure enjoyment. Not too far into the movie it became clear to me that Indiana has probably never experienced real love before, knows very little about relationships. Sex is a driving force in a man's life, and it is possible to have an ongoing sexual relationship for 20 years, especially if it is one denied and infrequent. Brokeback Mountain did exactly what it set out to do—tell a love story.

Mark Merriman

Indiana's grumpy article on Brokeback Mountain leads me to believe that he hasn't read Annie Proulx's short story on which the film is based. It is perfectly clear in the story that Jack and Ennis are totally baffled by what they feel for one another and that their feelings are about more than sex. The men treat each other tenderly as well as roughly. Theirs is a doomed love affair, and as such, the passion that they both feel lasts over 20 years. It is similar to the passion between a man and a woman who are married to different partners but carry on an illicit love affair that lasts 20 years. As Indiana says, an affair based on sex burns out very quickly, but that's not what happens to Jack and Ennis. Indiana seems to have problems believing that Jack and Ennis actually do love each other.

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