May 27, 2009

Inbox — May 27, 2009

Letters to the Editor

Let’s Get Along

The idea that this city is racist, as Kaila Story describes it in her ongoing controversy with Woody’s Tavern (LEO Weekly, May 20), is absurd. While Louisville is by far not perfect, its track record on civil rights and race relations is stellar compared to nearly every other city in the South and, dare I say, a good number of cities in the Midwest and North.

What’s even more absurd, however, is the idea that Woody’s should be the target of protests and a boycott. Those who would propose a boycott have evidently never set foot in the place. Whenever I’ve been there, I’ve seen blacks, whites, lesbians, gays and straights all commingling easily. Many patrons are well known in the GLBT community. The owner has had African-Americans in his employ as well as heterosexual men. In other words, it’s no different than a great many other bars in this so-called “racist” city.

The main problem isn’t racism or misogyny. It’s a total misperception of the dynamics. I know the owner, David Norton. He has a temper. I’ve been the object of it a couple of times. When he’s in one of his rages, he may say things he doesn’t remember later. I can appreciate why Story might consider the owner and his bar racist, but I’m afraid she was just another victim of his temper, not racism.

The tragedy here is that both sides aren’t talking. I don’t care whose fault that is. As long as there’s a continued absence of communication, this issue will fester, boycotts may be called and, in the end, everyone will suffer, including Story, Norton, Woody’s and Louisville itself.

David Williams, Old Louisville

Second Thoughts

Regarding Stephen George’s column on the J.D. Sparks incident (LEO Weekly, May 13):

J.D. Sparks does not represent the entire Republican Party. I am a Republican. I have never voted a straight Republican ticket in my entire voting life. I don’t always see eye to eye with my preferred political party. I am a liberal Republican (yes, we exist, trust me). And I will not vote against my beliefs.

I am also a member of the NRA. Please don’t think that Sparks’s actions in any way reflect the entire organization. He may work as a volunteer for the legislative arm of the NRA, but he does not represent me. No member I have ever encountered or sanctioned literature I have ever read from the NRA has ever advocated either censorship or violence.

Now, Sparks may be an ex-Marine, but no veteran worthy of the title would ever deny a person’s First Amendment rights. My sisters and brothers fought and died defending the right to free press. I may not always agree with everything printed within the pages of LEO Weekly, but I would die defending your right to print it. Sparks should be ashamed of his actions. As a veteran myself, I know I am.

One last problem I had with your column. Why exactly did you have to bring the Second Amendment into this? Neither Sparks nor Jonathan Meador (the writer) had or used a weapon. The Second Amendment bashing that runs throughout your column seemed, at best, in bad taste and, at worst, just petty. Sparks carried no “Big Guns.” He is just a small fish with delusions of grandeur.

Yes, freedom extends well beyond the Second Amendment. The mere fact that you can write and publish your opinion freely should tell you that.

Cynthia Mullaly, Germantown

Editor’s Note: To clarify, the details of Sparks being an ex-Marine and member of the NRA were given in the context of his biography, not as an implicit criticism.

Special Interest Farming

Thanks for the article on the USDA and its impact on small farmers (LEO Weekly, May 20). The only surprise will come to those who believe that the USDA is supposed to help all farmers and the country as a whole. U.S. farm policy largely helps the USDA and corporate farming — two special interest groups — at the expense of consumers, taxpayers, small farmers, the economy and the environment.

The Environmental Working Group provides a phenomenal database on (direct) farm subsidies at farm.ewg.org/sites/farmbill2007. It’s particularly fun to search for distant relatives, members of the Mellencamp clan, Scottie Pippen and assorted Rockefellers.

One other factoid: Do you know the agency from which the federal Food Stamp program is administered? Health and Human Services? No, but that’s a good guess. It’s the USDA — something for its bureaucrats to do, as the need for their work was dropping along with the number of farmers.

D. Eric Schansberg, Professor of Economics, IU Southeast

Stink Stays

For the sake of discussion, let’s say the processing plant on Story Avenue started up in 1955. Those homeowners in the surrounding area who purchased their homes before the start-up of this processing plant have a legitimate complaint about the “stink” coming from the JBS Swift plant; all others should relocate. This is the same demand the residents are making to JBS Swift.

It is not a bad scam to purchase a house in Butchertown at a price that reflects the location and then start a campaign to drive out the reason for the low price. There is no way this plant is going to satisfy the residents, and they have already gone on the record stating that the processing plant cannot eliminate the “stink.”

Who speaks for the hundreds of workers who owe their living to this plant, who will be out of a job? This type of business cannot afford the expense of relocation in this area. If the residents are successful in their campaign to drive this business out, they will have increased house values at the expense of the workers. That is the real “stink” coming out of Butchertown.

James R. DeSpain, St. Matthews

Fake Friends?

Regarding the May 6 letter by Ryzek Mal and Syd Bishop’s response last week: I’ve tried to bite my tongue for three weeks and can stand it no longer. Mr. Mal, my daughter was the bass player for Guilt, and I can assure you she was not “sad, dirty or mostly pathetic.” I will admit that I didn’t truly understand the music, but the “straight edge” group she was with was very serious, dedicated and, sure, trying to have a little fun. The several events I went to were well attended, but in legal drinking establishments, so I can’t comment on your 14-17-year-old dig. But the twentysomethings who were there seemed to love it.

Ashli played at the reunion at Headliners and then went to the book signing in Chicago. She had a great time and said it was well received, so, Mr. Mal, I’m going to say they were real musicians. I’m not so sure about your “friends.”

Anthony W. State, Louisville