ROBBED OF MY FATHER
In Coco McPherson's Mad on the Street column [July 31], she asked various New Yorkers whether Kathy Boudin should be paroled. It seemed so simple for these people found at random to answer yes, since Boudin's crimeher involvement in a 1981 armored car robbery and subsequent police shoot-outhad no direct impact on their lives. In my own life, Kathy Boudin and her actions have probably had a bigger impact than anything ever will. This woman was a member of the group that killed my father. Sergeant Edward O'Grady was one of two policemen murdered that day.
One woman asked to comment stated that Boudin "may have not known what she was doing." A man said "she might have thought it was just going to be a bank robbery. A lot of people are young and weak-minded." I'd like to remind people to get the facts before making such statements. This was an educated, upper-class, 38-year-old woman. She was not young, and she was not weak-minded. She was a member of a terrorist group that was committing a robbery to get money to buy weapons in an attempt to overthrow the government.
Kathy Boudin was just as much a part of the crime as the people who pulled the triggers. During the robbery, a Brink's guard, Peter Paige, was shot and killed. Knowing this, Boudin continued on with her mission. She knew damn well that there were people hidden inside that van with semi-automatic weapons, just waiting to shoot and kill anyone in a uniform. As far as I'm concerned, she can rot in jail.
THEATER FOR THE NEW EAST VILLAGE
As the developer of the 16-story building being constructed above the Theater for the New City in the East Village, I feel compelled to respond to Tom Robbins's article "Tower of East 10th Street: Theater High-Rise Stirs Protests" [July 17]. First, federal cutbacks in support of the arts resulted in financial problems for the theater. Our project brought the theater back from the brink of financial collapse, which is where its involvement in the construction project ended. The theater was not involved in deciding what was to be constructed.
Robbins also expressed concerns that we are not employing union workers at the construction site at 10th Street and First Avenue. However, readers who have been following this project closely know that we initially chose a union crane operator. On December 18, 2000, that crane fellnot as it was lifting heavy material, but as the operator was parking the crane for the day. As a result of this accident I decided on a crane operator that owns the cranes it uses, not because it is non-union, but because it has a great reputation for job safety. The crane accident demonstrates just how critically important job safety is.
As for the concerns with the completed structure's size, readers should be aware that neighborhood considerations factored into our decisions regarding the design of the building. We did not neednor did we ask forany variances or special treatment for this project. In order to avoid overshadowing the street and neighboring buildings, we designed the structure to have setbacks of 20 and 30 feet.
We hope that the building's presence in the community will be a positive one, and so far the neighborhood has been pleased with our effort to leave over 100 feet of light to the west of the new building.
Sharon Lerner's article concerning teen chastity ["An Orgy of Abstinence," August 7] was timely, scary, and humorous. It's so sad to see that the same lamebrained schemes that have been around since the mid '70s are still in vogue with the Religious Right. They will not succeed in making headway in the drive for teen chastity with such tactics. Adolescents need access to accurate information. They need mentors who are truthful and open, who do not believe that "character education" is an adequate replacement for sex education. Just what are these abstinence groups afraid oftheir own sexuality?
In response to Sharon Lerner's "An Orgy of Abstinence": I am 66. When I was a teen, abortion was illegal and there was no such thing as sex education. My parents weren't any help, and I ended up marrying earlier than I might have, partly because of the desire for sex. I have been happily married to the same man for almost 49 years, and I did not suffer physical or emotional harm because of my premarital affairs. While I do not think promiscuity is a desirable trait, it may not be the best thing to marry the first man you sleep with either. In my particular case, that would have been a disaster. I envy today's teens their freedom to make a choice, and I urge them not to listen to these campaigns for abstinence until marriage. It is better to shop around a little.
THE SIKH WAY
I commend Michael Kamber for his article "On the Corner" [July 31], which provided an insightful look at the lives of many struggling Sikhs. Mr. Kamber has presented a point of view that is not the norm. The American media has generally presented the biased agenda of the Indian government, and I applaud Mr. Kamber for relaying the experience of Sikhs, and the rampant human rights violations they suffer from in the so-called largest democracy in the world.
There is, however, one correction that needs to be made. In the article, there was a reference to the Indian government's attack on the Darbar Sahib in Amritsar. Kamber referred to the Darbar Sahib as the "Golden Temple." In the Sikh context, this is incorrect. The venue of learning and congregation in the Sikh context is popularly referred to as a Gurdwara; in this case, the name of the Gurdwara is Darbar Sahib. Darbar refers to a king's court; here it refers to the Court of the One (God). Sahib is a term of reverence. The name "Golden Temple" was coined by the British in their insensitivity to and ignorance of the Sikh way. "Golden Temple" does not in any way reflect the immensity of the Darbar Sahib. Furthermore, a temple is a place of worship, while a Gurdwara is not simply that. To Sikhs, the One Creator is omnipresent; therefore, one can worship the One anywhere. A Gurdwara is a site where the Sikhs' spiritual, political, and social affairs are addressed. Historically, the Darbar Sahib has been regarded by Sikhs as of great significance, and for centuries it has been a focal point of Sikh resistance to tyranny.
Also, Mr. Kamber mentioned that the Indian government repressed the Sikhs and that the Sikhs responded to the government's shelling (it was much more than that) of Darbar Sahib by killing Indira Gandhi. In fact, thousands of innocent Sikhs were massacred during this attack. I hope the Voice will continue to look into the Sikh perspective.
Michael Kamber's article "On the Corner" should serve as a wake-up call to all New Yorkers on the need to reduce immigration to levels that America can absorb. But it tells only half the storythe people standing on street corners are replacing American teenagers who need entry-level jobs to learn how to support themselves.
The city comptroller's office has estimated that New York City's teenage employment rate is 20 percent, which is 25 points less than the national average. The reason for the disparity is that New York is overpopulated due to immigration.
The comptroller's office is advocating public service jobs and tax breaks to increase employment, and those are good things. However, the number of immigrants in New York is severely impacting the lives of American children, with overcrowded classrooms and few jobs. That would make an excellent follow-up article for Kamber.
Ed Price, President
Tri-State Immigration Moratorium
Michael Kamber replies: There is anecdotal evidence that immigrants do indeed compete with entry-level American citizen workers. On the other hand, the wave of immigrants in the 1980s is widely credited with stimulating New York's economy during tough times. There have always been movements to close America's doors to immigrants; fortunately, these were not successful before my grandparents arrived hereor yours.
I have just finished reading Michael Kamber's series of articles on the new Mexican migration to New York City ["Crossing to the Other Side," April 17; April 24; May 1]. I am very pleased by the balance in the stories as well as with the fact that The Village Voice took the time to cover this important issue from the human side of the equation rather than employing the rhetoric often found in other publications. I will be using these stories in my upcoming courses.
Arturo Gonzalez, Assistant Professor
Mexican American Studies
University of Arizona
TAKING DRUGS WHILE BLACK
In response to Jennifer Gonnerman's "Tulia Blues" [August 7]: Although the massive Tulia drug bust that devastated a small Texas town is perhaps the most egregious case of racial profiling, the problem is by no means limited to the South. U.S. government statistics reveal that the drug war is being waged in a racist manner throughout the nation. Although only 15 percent of the nation's drug users are black, blacks account for 37 percent of those arrested for drug violations, over 42 percent of those in federal prisons for drug violations, and almost 60 percent of those in state prisons for drug felonies. Support for the drug war would end overnight if whites were incarcerated for drugs at the same rate as minorities.
Racially disproportionate incarceration rates are not the only cause for alarm. Putting nonviolent drug offenders behind bars with career criminals is a dangerous proposition. Prisons encourage violent habits and values rather than reduce them. Most drug users hold jobs and pay taxes. Rather than waste scarce resources turning potentially productive members of society who use "recreational drugs" (other than alcohol and tobacco) into hardened criminals, we should be funding cost-effective treatment.
The Lindesmith Center
Drug Policy Foundation
Re "A.I., A Butch-Dyke Fantasy," [July 31]: Thanks to Eileen Myles for a refreshing take on the film. Reading her piece, I had a dozen "oh yeah" reactions as I remembered the scenes and saw them in a new queer light. Unfortunately, most U.S. moviegoers, docile product-roids that we are, didn't get it, and the thought that the masses will perceive the queer subversion in a Steven Spielberg film is hope-inspiring but unlikely. This is a shame, because with the queer reading A.I. becomes a much better movie.
THE WIND DONE GONE
Examining art shows that use video as media, Jerry Saltz ["Screen Savers," July 31] says of one, Song Poems, that "to see all the song poems, you'd have to stay in the gallery for three hours. Too long." What happened to the Jerry Saltz who sat through Matthew Barney 70-something times?
Thanks for Rhonda Baraka's great article on Full Force ["Flatbush Fast-Forward," August 7]. However, she left out the guys' most significant pop moment: "Naughty Girls (Need Love Too)" by Samantha Fox. This put hip-pop on the map. There were approximately zero white kids riding urban beats to the top of the pops before this dynamic collaboration. Samantha's naughty rap posturing paved the way for Britney and Pink, and set the trend of having "guest rappers" on a pop record.
While Alan Hevesi's campaign may be skirting election law in this year's mayoral race by claiming exorbitant petitioning expenses as exempt ["Hankering for a Loophole," Wayne Barrett, July 31], the real problem is the petitioning process itself, not the manner in which candidates report petition expenses to the Campaign Finance Board.
I worked on a City Council campaign this summer for a candidate whose name appeared with Hevesi on some petitions. I found the petitioning processas implemented by candidates driven by paranoia about legal challenges to their signatures and engaged in ludicrous turf wars in an attempt to curry favor with residential pockets of Democrats or Republicansto be a tremendous waste of time, energy, and resources. The worst effect was the way in which the incessant and unnecessary solicitation of signatures turned off some potential voters to the political process.
New York City's term limits and four-to-one public financing are inclusive and truly democratic functions: The current Board of Elections scheme for accepting and certifying petition signatures needs to go.
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