Letter of the Week
Sketchy toon

Careful, Ward Dude. I think you mixed two unrelated issues in your latest cartoon ["The Great Divide," Sutton Impact, May 31–June 6]. Urban sprawl in the rich world is due to underregulated property development, automobile culture, and unprogressive governance—not unbridled population growth. Many rich countries in fact would have negative population growth rates without immigration, whereas the population growth in poor countries is caused by a web of poverty-related social and economic factors. The provision of contraception alone is not enough to prevent overpopulation. The surest way to reduce family sizes is to improve nutrition, water/sanitation, and literacy rates and provide basic public health measures (including universal access to contraception).

Paul Mathers

Coming clean

Tricia Romano's article on sober hipsters ["The Sober Bunch," May 31–June 6] was great. It is inspiring to learn that so many nightlife luminaries are smart and self-confident enough to put their own well-being ahead of their drunk-ass clientele and bar-owner pushers. I quit drinking a couple years ago and know that everything said by the party peeps profiled is true. I am thrilled that Romano and the Voice saw fit to let the cat out of the bag. The strength of will it takes to be surrounded by uncomprehending addicts five nights a week is arguably the greatest testament to what the sober partyers have done for themselves. Thank you for celebrating sanity in a Jackass culture.

Alex Snell

Thanks so much for the article about the sober party life. Coke parties were where I went people-watching in college (guilty pleasure, I know). Nice to know that there are others out there who feel like it's OK to be sober too.

Raven Hardison

I loved the article about sober people on the scene. I drank and drugged from the age of 13 until I was 28 and tomorrow I will have six months of complete sobriety. It has truly changed my life. I have never been happier. Sometimes it's hard when I need to attend events or get together with my old friends because I feel like I am being judged. This article not only captures the essence of sobriety, it also lets people know that it's OK and you can still be an amazing person without mind-altering substances.

Tonya Bradshaw

Gender defenders

Re Julia Reischel's "See Tom Be Jane" [villagevoice.com, May 31]: I'd like to begin by thanking those fantastic parents for allowing their child to be who she is. Transgender is a term that tends to mean anyone, including lesbians and gays, that transgress society's idea of normal gender behavior. Having had the displeasure of meeting Zucker, and having a copy of the interview questions he gives parents of any child who ends up being directed to him, I can say his way of treating a child like Nicole is inhumane. The old idea that transsexual adults are just failed children who did not have intervention such as his at an early age, while we could still be helped, is laughable. Zucker would have Nicole spend limited time with her mother and extra time with her father. He'd also make her play with boy toys and play boy games. Nicole's parents are brave and extremely loving; they show what it truly is to be a parent. Far too many parents are not there for their children, or they place unreasonable expectations on them. Then there are those children who begin to correct their bodies and their parents turn their backs on them—I know the same is true for some of those parents whose children are lesbian or gay. So I am glad you were able to help report on a wonderful family.

R.L. Forrester
Toronto, Ontario

I wildly applaud the Anderson family for being strong and courageous in the face of public opinion, and keeping their eyes on the prize—the welfare and basic human happiness of their child. The idea that you can somehow train a child into their appropriate gender role by not encouraging their non-approved-gendered behaviors (and where does that end? sneakers versus Mary Janes? baseball versus baking? pink shirt versus blue shirt?) is as ludicrous as the outdated dogma that encourages parents not to respond to their hearing-impaired child's hand signals, lest the child give up on whatever minimal auditory functioning they have in favor of wild gesticulation. Well, ASL worked out pretty well, and God willing there will be more parents like the Andersons (who are obviously not ashamed of their kid but know the last thing she needs is a media circus), who know that their kid isn't the one with the problem.

Jenny Aisenberg

Columbia conundrum

Before Jarrett Murphy wrote "History Lesson" [May 24–30] he should have done his homework. Murphy derided Manhattanville's manufacturing district for being underused but failed to note that the facade of a fading neighborhood has been engineered by Columbia University over the past decade. In its attempt to devour an entire 18-acre district of Harlem, Columbia's strategy has been to vacate tenants from properties that it purchases, or to offer tenuous leases that prohibit investment. Far more troubling is Murphy's conclusion that Manhattanville's businesses, workers, and tenants are expendable. Residents throughout Harlem and Washington Heights know that the same applies to them too. Columbia's plan is from the Robert Moses school of urban planning—people who love their neighborhoods are seen as enemies of progress, and the desires of large institutions are expected, almost by divine right, to take precedent over the needs of any community. Columbia has a 50-year track record of hostile actions against the working-class community around its Morningside Heights campus and has displaced tens of thousands of people there. Manhattanville's manufacturing district is vital to the sustainability of Harlem and Washington Heights's working class, and this is why there has been such vocal opposition to Columbia's plan.

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