October 14, 2009

Inbox — Oct. 14, 2009

Letters to the Editor

Serve and Protect

I read Phillip M. Bailey’s article (“The art of peddling,” LEO Weekly, Sept. 30) on the recent ordinance passed to protect the St. James Court Art Show, as a juried art and craft show, and other events in the city from renegade vendors who pop up a tent and start selling in and around the area. I heard earlier that this ordinance had been passed, and it brought back a memory from several years back. About four years ago, I had a customer in my business who had purchased a seasonal item at the St. James Court Art Show the day before for $15. I was selling that same item for $2.99. She couldn’t believe it and was very upset. The item was a silk-screened piece and could very easily have passed for a handmade craft if the tags were removed, and that is exactly what had happened. A show as large as the St. James Art Show, which brings in people from all over the country, is an easy target for unscrupulous vendors who want to make a quick buck — and lots of them on that weekend. Unfortunately, the visitor to the city who had been scammed at the art show by one of these vendors may not come back. This is why protecting the St. James Art Show and other venues is so important. Thanks to the Metro Council for passing this so-called peddler’s ordinance.

Linda Rowley, Crescent Hill

Unchallenged

I just read “The art of peddling” by Phillip M. Bailey. In it, Margue Esrock says, “The people who are setting up outside without having paid into the art show, basically they are not helping to preserve this neighborhood.”

Those people are the neighborhood. I rode my bike through Old Louisville for four years going between classes at U of L and work downtown. I would love to hear how artists from hundreds of miles away have anything to do with Old Louisville more than three days out of the year.

Oh, and one more thing: I went to the St. James Court Art Show two years in a row. The first year broke my heart. The second confirmed for me it has nothing to do with art. I’m willing to give the visiting artists the benefit of a doubt that they do produce art that can challenge me, spark my imagination and make me feel uncomfortable sometimes. That’s art. But St. James hasn’t got the balls it takes to let an artist actually express himself.

George R. Scheibert, Downtown

Rational and Unusual

Regarding “Cruel and unusual?” in the Oct. 7 LEO Weekly: I very recently had the terrible experience of having to have my dog put to sleep. The only thing that made it remotely bearable was the peaceful and quiet way she went. The vet administered an overdose of anesthetic, and she just slipped away in a matter of seconds. This was at the forefront of my mind while reading the article, and in fact, pet euthanization was mentioned near the end. Rather than debate the constitutionality of lethal injection, I don’t understand why they don’t just change the procedure. Just because some medical examiner pulled a formula out of his butt doesn’t mean it’s carved in stone. Doesn’t anyone involved have a lick of common sense? If I was on death row and had to choose, I’d take the way my dog went.

Paul Riley, Shively

Feathers Ruffled

Cavan A. Clark’s letter, printed in the Sept. 30 LEO Weekly in response to Jo Anne Triplett’s review of “The Shades of Elizabeth Cady Stanton,” troubles me. His equation of feminism with “man-bashing” is at best misguided and insulting to feminists (both women and men), and at worst suggestive of cloaked misogyny. Feminism means different things to different people, but to define it in terms of imagined negative values (anti-male) rather than positive (a belief in the right to self-sovereignty of all persons, irrespective of gender, for starters) is just narrow-minded. In her review, Triplett points out that a woman in Stanton’s day couldn’t own property and had no rights to her children. That’s not man-bashing, Mr. Clark, that’s fact. Patriarchy isn’t some imaginary “myth” cooked up by those pesky, humorless feminists to make men look bad. It has been, and continues to be, an unfortunate reality of our society, and its consequences range from the annoying to the tragic.

Even more disturbing is Clark’s implied suggestion that women of the era were somehow privileged to live under their husband’s “protection.” Did laws holding husbands accountable for their wives’ crimes and debts result in the unjust prosecution of some men? I will take Mr. Clark’s word for it. That doesn’t change the fact that women of the era couldn’t vote or own property, that their right to make even the most basic choices about their bodies, children, careers and the organization of their lives was limited severely by the mere fact of their gender. The existence of such convoluted law as the Doctrine of Coverture should be read as testimony that women were not recognized by society as full persons. Clark’s reading would be laughable if it weren’t so disturbing.

I just re-read Ms. Triplett’s review. There’s really nothing in it that might reasonably be construed as “man-bashing.” She does quote Stanton’s exclamation that “all men and women are created equal.” Those may have been fighting words a hundred years ago, but it’s shocking to me that anyone would find them inflammatory or offensive now. I have to say, I’m a bit bewildered. Mr. Clark, what’s your problem?

Sarah Lunnie, Old Louisville

Manipulating History

Cavan A. Clark’s letter to Leo gives a historical account of the laws of coverture and unfairly attacks Jo Anne Triplett’s book review for stating that women’s rights were limited during the 1800s. Women’s rights were limited in early America, and this is a historical fact, not “male bashing.” Studying the history of the United States often reveals that segments of the population were mistreated. We cannot ignore these moments in history because they are uncomfortable.

From the 1600s through the 1860s (in most states), the English common law of coverture denied married women a legal identity of their own and the right to property. Clark argues that the picture was not nearly as dim as Stanton and Triplett see it, because single women and married women who had contracts with their husbands prior to marriage were not “covered” by this law. Only the wealthiest women would have the means and need to make a financial contract with their spouses prior to marriage. Most importantly, what Clark misses here is that marriage was women’s future in early America. Given the limited tools for single women’s advancement, women were expected to marry. Thus, the overwhelming majority of women were subject to the laws of femme covert.

In suggesting that coverture “protected women,” Clark has manipulated historical facts. Coverture allowed a widowed woman one-third of her husband’s property upon his death, and this was the limit to the “protection” women received under property rights. This “dower’s third,” as it was called, did not leave most women with enough property to live above the margins of poverty. Clark’s suggestion that coverture placed women “above the law” is also incorrect. Even a cursory look at legal records from the 1800s shows that women were culpable and punished for criminal acts, including theft, adultery and murder.

Manipulating history to suit a personal disposition does a disservice to our shared historical past as men and women, as well as all the amazing people who made a mark on the United States’ historical trajectory.

Kelly A. Ryan, Ph.D., Highlands

Leading the Blind

I don’t know Chris Thieneman, but I cannot imagine it being a good thing to have a mayor who is a self-described “eye-for-an-eye, and if you go blind, too bad” kind of guy.

John Brooks, Highlands