Amadou's Voice

After drying my tears shed while reading Frank Serpico's article "Amadou's Ghost: Diallo Speaks to Serpico" [March 14], I had to write to you.

God bless this man and all that he stands for. Now, finally, Amadou Diallo has a voice—a voice that should reach to the highest courts and political powers to get a federal prosecutor to come to New York City and get into this case, and right this wrong.

Still crying for Diallo,

Nadine Johnson

Haunted by Fear

The Amadou Diallo case haunts me as it does Frank Serpico. I found the acquittal of the four police officers who shot Diallo extremely frightening.

As a black woman, I sincerely fear for my husband, father, and teenage brother who must go out into the world each day. Now, in addition to the average criminal on the street, I have to worry that some police officer might feel "threatened" by their presence and make a "horrible mistake," as the defense characterized the Diallo shooting.

I feel, as Mr. Serpico suggested, that police officers should be governed by a stricter authority, and that they should be held more accountable for their actions.

Takisha Sexton

Buried, Betrayed

Thank you for Rebecca Segall's extremely important article "Boro Park Betrayed" [February 29]. Police brutality crosses both racial and religious lines. The case of my son, Gidone Busch, may well have been a reflection of both political and religious issues, and definitely was one of police brutality. It is possible there was some anti-Semitism involved here that has been washed over due to the neighborhood where the shooting occurred.

As Ms. Segall noted, they found it necessary to create a false picture in order to justify the shooting and keep the Jews in the community silent. Apparently it had just that effect. There are strong ties to the Giuliani administration. This is a story that needed to be told, and we cannot let this case die. There was a huge effort on the part of the D.A., the police department, and the mayor to bury this case, but the truth is slowly starting to come out.

My son was a religious, sensitive person who would often try to help the homeless by giving extra food to them and occasionally a few dollars, because he always felt that there were those less fortunate who needed help. Hundreds of people from all over came to pay their respects at his funeral and later at the home where he grew up. He touched many people's lives with his intelligence, sensitivity, and warmth. Witnesses can attest that he was not threatening anyone, he had no gun or knife, and stood eight feet from the six or more officers who surrounded him with guns drawn. They had to have been more of a threat to Gidone than he could have been to them.

Unbelievably, there was no indictment. However, we know that a D.A. and a prosecuting attorney can conveniently present an incomplete, one-sided picture. The cover-up that followed should be enough to open this case up to the federal authorities and get some justice for Gidone.

My family and I have been unable to rest since Gidone was needlessly killed, as so many others have been before and since.

Thank you for your help.

Doris Busch Boskey
Dix Hills, Long Island

Savage Attack

Dan Savage's response to a 15-year-old heroin user debating whether to tell a sex partner about his drug use left me gape-mouthed and feeling stung [Savage Love, February 22]. Savage calls the writer a "young skank" and admonishes him with a very standard recitation of the dangers of heroin and speed. Junkies are exposed to this sort of derision every day. This does not motivate people to seek treatment.

Savage scolds the writer back into the far recesses of the closet so that we don't have to hear his dirty concerns. It's a surefire way to guarantee that no one is going to seek help until the problems are beyond solving. How handy: Everyone keeps their drug use to themselves.

The relationship between drugs, sexual risk, and HIV is well-known. Needle-exchange programs work with the realities of drugs and sex, offering intelligent, realistic advice for drug users who are already very familiar withabstinence-based ideology.

Savage's art is his ability to blend sarcasm and wit with no-bullshit insightful and responsible advice on risky sex and bigotry. But in this case, the kid might as well have written to federal drug czar Barry McCaffrey.

Corinne Carey
Staff Attorney
Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center

Dan Savage replies: Ms. Carey chides me for calling a heroin user skanky—which I did as much for his behavior toward his sex partner as for his heroin use—but barely acknowledges the fact that everyone gets called names in my column, including me. She also asserts that admonishments don't motivate addicts to seek treatment, which may well be true, but fails to tell us what does. Assuming that motivating heroin users to seek treatment is my responsibility, what does Ms. Carey suggest I tell skanky young heroin users? As for comparing me to drug czar Barry McCaffrey, I'm a supporter of needle exchange, the complete legalization of drugs (including heroin), and responsible drug use—and not all use, as I've pointed out many times, is abuse. That said, however, I don't think heroin is good for children and other living things, and I will so admonish any 15-year-old heroin user who asks me for advice.  

Wiggy Pop

George Smith's review of the Stooges' Complete Funhouse Sessions ["I Need Less," February 29] is an insult to music fans everywhere. Like the pop marketing machine, Smith treats the Stooges as merely a cultural phenomenon, while failing to comment on the formal aspects of their music. Worse, his cultural criticism is shallow and misplaced. Smith buys (or even embellishes) the Stooge mythology hook, line, and sinker when he accepts that their audience was made of "motorcycle gangsters, their floozies, and lovers of skank weed and roller derby." Thus, since this box set is marketed to "obsessed Netizens," some mystifying transformation is presumed to have taken place. If the former were true, would the latter have occurred?

Though mainstream critics derided the Stooges in their day, such luminaries as John Cale, Lester Bangs, and David Bowie championed them. Though many of their fans may have been biker-stoner-burner types, they also had a following among the Ann Arbor-Detroit intelligentsia. Though they practiced a very basic heavy rock, it was the most sophisticated of its day, and sprang from the era's milieu of post-bop and free jazz, the Rolling Stones, and garage punk. Though the Asheton brothers were perhaps go-nowhere suburbanites, frontman Jim Osterberg was a high school valedictorian.

I suggest that the Stooges' place in our culture is analogous to that of bluesmen discovered by bohemian white audiences in the early '60s rather than the Star Trek juggernaut referenced by Smith. In reality, the Stooges are a band of Midwesterners of some intelligence who created powerful music that expressed equally powerful sexual and aggressive urges.

Smith not only fails to assess the music, but his hipper-than-thou tone seems singularly designed to discredit anyone who might care about it.

Eric Barry

Games People Play

As a board member of OATH (Olympic Advocates Together Honourably), I would like to thank you for Jay Weiner's article "Athletes in Action" [February 29]. Spectators need to know how ripped off they are, and athletes who are retiring because they can't keep up with drug cheats must maintain their passion.

I have had the honor of representing my country at four Olympic games. While I never won a medal, I enjoyed the opportunity to share with thousands of people their culture and the experience and joy of the Olympics.

Over the last decade I have become more aware of political corruption in the Olympic movement that has betrayed the promise of sports to our youth, to the competitors, and to the spectators. It must be recognized that the International Olympic Committee has achieved great reforms. But reform must be seen as an ongoing process of review and revitalization. The lack of democratic institutions within sports appalls me. Sports for sports people, not administrators!

Simon Baker
Mt. Waverley, Australia

Gay Blades

Great article by Paula Hunt on gay ice hockey ["They Don't Skate Straight," February 29]. I was surprised, however, that the Los Angeles Blades Ice Hockey Club was not mentioned.

We were the first "out" gay ice hockey team to compete in the world! Our first season was in 1988. We're in our 13th season now.

We also sent teams to compete in the Gay Games in 1990, 1994, and 1998.

David Knepprath
Los Angeles, California

Thin Ice

Regarding "They Don't Skate Straight" by Paula Hunt: If you think that being a gay hockey player is so unique, try being a late-thirties black American who wants to get other black Americans of his generation to play hockey. It is impossible!

To even ask a black American of my generation if he plays hockey is worse than telling one's family and peers that he is gay. Black males in this country interpret the question "Do you play hockey?" to be an insult. I went to one of the best hockey schools in the country, the University of Maine. In college, I fell in love with the sport.  

Although I do not favor gays separating themselves from straights in mainstream hockey, I can identify with their not being wanted in the sport.

Too bad that black Americans cannot take part in the magnificent sport known as ice hockey, which should be for everyone. Unfortunately, there is not one hockey association for adult black people today.

William Jones
Syracuse, New York

Right to Death

Thank you for the column by Nat Hentoff entitled "Doctor Death: A Newborn Is Not a Person" [March 7].

I have been saying since 1974 that some day we will be actively killing elderly women because there is no one to care for them, and that the reason is abortion. When the right to life is undermined for one group of people, it is inevitable that it will be eventually undermined for all. It is the road to the destruction of a society in which people can thrive.

Pat Goltz
Feminists for Life
Tucson, Arizona


Although I generally enjoyed the two articles by Erik Baard on Dr. Randell Mills ["Quantum Leap," December 28, 1999; "Dr. Molecool," February 1], I was surprised to read in the second article that "Mills has another project in the works at Harvard." I wish to inform you that this is incorrect, and that at present there isno project "in the works" at Harvard for themedical-imaging technology that Mr. Baard describes. In addition, there has not been anything "in the works" for the past two years.

I have been personally interested in Dr. Mills's medical-imaging technology, known as magnetic-susceptibility imaging (MSI), and have discussed this technology with Dr. Mills numerous times. Mr. Baard does quote me correctly regarding this technology, which is of great interest to me.

Samuel Patz
Harvard Medical School
Cambridge, Massachusetts

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