Crappy Birthday

Richard Goldstein, in "The 'Faggot' Factor" [May 11], wrote, "Take a kid who's seething with insecurity, bait him on a regular basis, and you've given him a good reason to celebrate Hitler's birthday."

I think not. Take an incredibly unimaginative kid who's seething with insecurity, bait him on a regular basis, and you've given him a comprehendible but lame excuse to celebrate Hitler's birthday. And lest Goldstein suspect that I'm insufficiently sensitive to taunted teens, I was on the receiving end of the "f" word on multiple occasions during my wonder years— not just from peers but from my gym teacher, no less. (Hmmm, maybe I should have sued.)

As a friend of mine from those days recently remarked, "If I didn't shoot up my high school, nobody else has the right to either."

Glenn Kenny

Richard Goldstein replies: Of course there's no excuse for what Harris and Klebold did, but there's an explanation. Sexual taunting not only hurts people; it drives them crazy. And, yes, you should have sued the gym teacher so he wouldn't bait anyone else.

Holy Unnecessary

Reading Frank Kogan's article "School's Been Blown to Pieces" [May 4] was a walk down memory lane. The horrific events at Columbine High School did not surprise me in light of some of the experiences I had growing up in Littleton, Colorado.

One thing I remember about my upbringing is that a lot of us began sentences with, "As a Christian, I . . . " When I hear the surviving Columbine High School students mention praying in school, I think to myself, "That's a big part of your problem."

I'm a gay man who came out to myself in 1981, while a junior at Arapahoe High School (the same one Kogan visited). My parents tried to send me to a Seventh-Day Adventist preacher to get me to change, even though we were "Catho-holic."

Whatever went through those two troubled fellows' minds, the trigger probably lay— at least in part— in that seemingly placid town, maybe at the hands of someone committed to Jesus Christ, perhaps a "foobaw plair" or "cheeeeerleader" or perky preppie bound for law school.

I believe something about Littleton itself contributed to the creation of the Columbine massacre— its culture of affluent white competitiveness and entitlement wrapped inextricably in its own God-concept.

Richard Morell

Little Deflowerer

How atrocious that Mayor Giuliani would even think about auctioning off the land that has given joy to so many people in the city [J.A. Lobbia, "Rudy Deflowers New York," May 11]. I am moving to New York in September— and I plan on supporting whoever opposes Giuliani in his next run for public office.

I remember the 1980s, when these gardens were beginning to sprout in unused parts of New York City. Gray, vacant blocks were soon replaced with flowers and greenery. Gardens give people an escape, if only for a short time, while they tend to their lots.

Kaitlin Joan Martin
Boston, Massachusetts

Colonial Lies

Kudos to Mark Schoofs for his article "All That Glitters: How HIV Caught Fire in South Africa" [May 4]. All too often in the media (including in the Voice), HIV in Africa has been presented in a blame-the-victim manner. This dramatizes the problem in a way that serves the interests of authorities who have not properly dealt with HIV and castigates those who have contracted the virus.

Africa, as an emblem of world poverty, is like no other place on earth, and AIDS is like no other on the planet. Generations of colonization without any semblance of independence have left Africa in an abyss of deprivation that is unique even in the Third World.

As Schoofs noted, Africa has so many other endemic immunosuppressive diseases that it takes relatively little exposure to the HIV virus to wreak havoc. Add to that the fact that African health-care facilities are so devoid of proper sanitation that the virus can sometimes be caught simply by undergoing treatment in a hospital.

AIDS can be defeated via safe sexual and social practices. Understanding the African situation will help us in that quest.

Don Sloan, M.D.

Young Frankenstein

Never have I read such self-righteous crap as Paul Forrester's rant on the sinners of professional sports ["Dream Makers, Heartbreakers," May 4]. Has Dick Young risen from the grave and started writing for the Voice?

Besides the tired old rehash of careers past, Forrester practiced some mighty selective amnesia when batting around Darryl Strawberry. He must be swallowing hard since hearing about Strawberry's negative urine-test results the day before and the day after the big cocaine bust.

John Davis
Middletown, New Jersey

Paul Forrester replies: No one wants to see Strawberry (arrested for possession, not use) disgraced, but when he and other "heroes" repeatedly break laws and indulge habits for which most of us would lose our jobs permanently, it's time to stop currying their favor.

Long-Playing Bird

Gary Giddins proved once more that he is one of the finest writers of music criticism with his piece on Duke Ellington ["The Long-Playing Duke," May 4].

I was unfamiliar with Ellington's music, having heard only his well known tunes and his album Black, Brown and Beige. But Giddins's writing just about conjured up music from the page.

Thanks again, Weatherbird.

Andy Yue
Toronto, Canada

Khan Artistry

David Sprague's "Smooth Operator" [May 11], about "techno-cabaret" artist Khan, was an absolute riot (pardon the pun).

I'd like to be a fly on the stained wall at his next soiree!

Corey Whitehead
Richmond, Virginia

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