November 11, 2009

Inbox — Nov.11, 2009

Letters to the Editor

Violence Roles

As the president of the board of directors of MensWork Inc.: Eliminating Violence Against Women, I would like to thank LEO Weekly and Sarah Kelley for their insightful article (Oct. 28 issue) regarding domestic violence and Amanda Ross’s murder. The article identified the struggles victims of domestic violence face in protecting themselves. The cover artwork was, unfortunately, disturbingly on point in terms of how lost and adrift most women report they feel when they are attempting to extricate themselves from an abusive relationship.

I call on all men to consider their roles in domestic violence. Men can take on three very distinct roles in terms of domestic violence: perpetrator, bystander and ally. The perpetrator should be self-evident, but for those who need a reminder: A perpetrator commits acts of physical, mental and/or emotional violence against a putative “loved one.” Steve Nunn’s violence against Ross prior to her breaking off their engagement is an example. A bystander watches the perpetrator and either explicitly or implicitly supports the perpetrator in his actions. A bystander will stay quiet when a perpetrator blames his victim for his violence or will encourage the perpetrator to “control your woman.” Nunn’s former attorney, Astrida Lemkins, took on a bystander role per the quote in your article, and blamed Ross for her own murder. An ally is a person who steps up and calls the perpetrator out on his attempts to control his victim, on his attempts to blame the victim and his violence toward the victim. An ally is someone who will stand up for the rights of women and for healthy relationships with women rather than allow inappropriate behaviors, violent actions and unhealthy relationships to flourish.

I would ask all men to look at the relationships they are in or are around them and ask themselves what role they play. Perpetrators can learn how to prevent violence toward women through Batterers Intervention Programs. Bystanders can receive help through programs such as MensWork and can learn how to be allies. I commend allies in their attempts to stop violence and spread healthy messages, and urge them to continue to do so.

Mark B. Miller, East End

A Look Inside

Regarding Sarah Kelley’s “A History of Violence”: I want you to know from those of us who work in this field that this is one of the best articles I have ever read on domestic violence. Kelley did an extraordinary job deftly covering recent data, legal details and, most importantly, allowing us to see into the mind of the survivor herself. This is a great piece of investigative journalism, and one that will do much good. Please continue this kind of valuable reporting.

Gretchen Hunt, Louisville

No Excuse

A comment on “A History of Violence” by Sarah Kelley:

“Please drop the charges against my dad. He is going to lose his job in the morning if they have not been dropped.” —Mary Nunn, daughter of Steve Nunn

I understand this is your dad, but this type of reasoning is why women like Amanda Ross are dead. I’m so glad Ross did not drop the charges and took a stand against Nunn and his daughter, although it is truly a tragedy she was killed. We as women must educate ourselves on identifying signs of instability in relationships and disturbed individuals. Too often women tend to excuse this type of behavior. God bless the Ross family.

I commend the LEO and Sarah Kelley on this article and bringing awareness to domestic violence victims.

Jennifer Adams-Tucker, Newburg

Stewart Memories

Attn: Jonathan Ashley:

I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your article on Gary Stewart (LEO Weekly, Nov. 4). He was an American master and deserves to be remembered (and listened to). About 30 years ago, I was working for June Appal Records (a part of Appalshop). Shortly after his accident, Stewart did a benefit concert for June Appal in Wise, Va. After the concert, Stewart was signing autographs when his grandma showed up. I have a picture of the two of them together. At that time, I was living in Thornton, Ky., a place that makes Virgie seem wildly sophisticated. June Appal released a tribute album of Buell Kazee’s recordings. I don’t know if it still available in their catalog, but it is worth having.

Once again, thanks for the very fine piece on Little Junior.

Rick Bell, Crescent Hill

Stewart’s Swagger

I’d like to thank Jonathan Ashley for the story on Gary Stewart. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of country music; then I heard “Drinking Thing” and felt like an infant again. Never have I heard someone sing in that kind of high-lonesome-sound-meets-vibrato rock ’n’ roll swagger that Stewart so easily projected. That, coupled with such stark honesty, might just make the perfect country song. It’s a real damn shame that the one thing that made his subject matter hit home for me and so many others is what eventually killed him. I hope this story gets a few folks to head up to ear X-tacy and order some of his tunes. We must keep this Kentucky legend’s music alive! I’m not sure what the best song ever written is, but I bet Gary Stewart wrote it.

Justin Fitzgerald, Old Louisville

Different Views

Cavan A. Clark seems to regard feminism as a punitive movement whose main goal is to spread around blame, rather than a constructive one that seeks to build a more just world (LEO Weekly, Oct. 28). History has texture. It looks different depending on where you’re standing. I believe we have a responsibility to examine history (both the past and the history we’re making right now) through many lenses, including, but not limited to, lenses of race, class, sexual orientation, age, disability and, yes, gender. But the shedding of light on the experience of one group doesn’t imply that a shadow’s been cast on the experience of another.

I don’t think it’s productive or possible to set up a hierarchy of oppressions, and I reject the implication that feminism seeks to do so. But that doesn’t mean we can’t zoom in to look at the experience of a particular group of people at a given historical moment. If we’re going to dismantle racism, homophobia, religious intolerance and sexism, we need to talk about these things. We need to tell one another our stories.

Feminism seeks to empower, elevate and dignify women. And the way I see it, since we’re all in this together, whatever elevates women elevates everybody. Clark is right to call this a humanistic value. Feminism is a humanistic movement. But unfortunately, history has shown that humanism doesn’t make feminism redundant or irrelevant (I wish like hell it did).

There are radicals fighting on behalf of every imaginable activist cause, from civil rights to environmentalism. Of course Clark is free to dislike a particular feminist’s methods and attitudes. But is that in itself reason enough to write off a whole movement? And why shouldn’t we examine historical struggles through the lens of modern values? When we see how often our forebears got it wrong, we remember that we are human, and capable of catastrophic error. We remember to take a look around and question our assumptions today.

Sarah Lunnie, Old Louisville

Up the Hip-Hop

As a regular reader of LEO Weekly, I have found one glaring fact. Much too often LEO does not appeal to me. There are rarely articles about hip-hop culture in your publication, and to get my hip-hop fix, I read over the few and far between hip-hop album reviews. The blame cannot be solely aimed at LEO; it is a joint effort between LEO and the hip-hop community of Louisville.

The hip-hop/urban community is under-represented in LEO because hip-hop events are often poorly promoted. I believe this makes a journalist’s job unnecessarily hard when it comes to writing about hip-hop events. But, this may not be a problem for LEO if the hip-hop community is not a desired audience.

Lamar Allen, Jeffersontown

Going Public

I strongly support the public heath care option because I’ve experienced it firsthand. For me, it was my best option. Actually, the public option was my only realistic choice, as I could not afford the for-profit path. While the government was involved, I received great services, and no government bureaucrats got between me and my doctors. Without them, my mental and physical health would be much worse.

Unlike some relatives who lost body parts to farm implements and factories, my public option college degrees have given me a safer lifestyle.

Sam Sloss, Highlands