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No Laughing Matter

Posted 11/13/2002

Tim Forrester of the Rouse Co. says that guidelines for street performers are "just common sense" (Mobtown Beat, Nov. 6). How long has Mr. Forrester lived in a cave? If only common sense could be regulated! The issue is not whether Jerry Rowan was or wasn't offensive. The issue is the stick up Rouse's collective ass. Mr. Rowan is as much a fixture in this city as Mount Vernon Square. I'm so fucking sick and tired of political correctness I could puke--excuse me, regurgitate.

Richard Crystal

As a person who has seen Jerry Rowan on many occasions, it saddens me that he is being treated so unfairly. I have seen many acts down at the harbor, and Mr. Rowan is by far the best. I love his humor and find it insulting that someone in a corporate office should dictate which jokes he should tell and we, the public, should be protected against. I am sure David Letterman and Jay Leno would get booted off television if these people were running the networks. I am British and want to know what happened to the American value of "freedom of speech."

Karen Tomley

Bomb Texas

I was genuinely impressed to read that at least City Paper had the guts to report on the full extent of the massive turnout for the Oct. 26th anti-war rally in Washington. ("Visualize World Peace," Nov. 6). The real story here was how deviously the majority of our mainstream media outlets suppressed the truth regarding the rally's huge turnout. TV stations selectively chose panoramic views of the crowd as Susan Sarandon reminded George W. Bush that "this is what democracy looks like." However, Sarandon was one of the very first speakers, and the crowd swelled dramatically for several hours after she left. I arrived early with a dedicated contingent from Baltimore's Unitarian Universalist Church; as the day wore on thousands packed the demonstration site. This crush of people was falsely represented as just 10,000 demonstrators!

Other news coverage tried to marginalize this important demonstration by suggesting that most in attendance belonged to radical fringe groups or were Vietnam-era hippies attending out of nostalgia. Not true. People of every race and religion attended: little old ladies, veterans in wheelchairs, mothers with babies in strollers, parents with kids on their shoulders, students of every nationality bearing signs in several foreign languages, Buddhist monks, Jews wearing their yarmulkes while whole families of Palestinians with children grasped their national flag. This powerful statement could not have been more inclusive.

Despite the massive crowd and the diversity of anti-war sentiments, the rally was remarkably well-controlled and peaceful. As the march headed for the White House, the column was at least 25-wide, filling the road to capacity while observers on the sidewalk cheered us on. A column of people this wide stretching all the way from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to the White House, following a route that circled back to the origination point and was forced to wait as new marchers continued to join the throng was described as only 10,000 strong! The media has a duty to the people to present the truth and remain representative of the views of the population as a whole; the underrepresentation was propaganda at its very worst.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson expressed my most heartfelt concerns. America is now using bribery and bullying tactics to coerce poorer, weaker nations into exempting the United States from the very court that should rightfully bring Saddam Hussein to trial for serious war crimes against his own people. Bush has subverted and severely undermined the authority of this legitimate, globally recognized body in an unconscionable ongoing U.S. policy of not ratifying or even signing the majority of international treaties that will protect the world community from atrocities and grievous human-rights violations. The appalling example we are about to set by initiating an era of "pre-emptive war" is potentially catastrophic. The very threat of our pre-emptive invasion of a sovereign nation violates U.N. treaties. The American people must voice their opposition loud and clear; the courageous few in the media who, like City Paper, are prepared to report the truth are our only hope for a peaceful future.

Kim Sanders-Fisher

Hold Your Nose and Read the Results

Thank you for the suggestions on who/what to vote for in the coming election ("Hold You Nose and Vote," Oct. 30). It is sometimes hard to keep up with all of the candidates' records, so I made a point of reading this week's City Paper for advice. The article was very well written and amusing. Two additional comments:

I disagree with the letter writer regarding your new restaurant reviewer (The Mail, Oct. 30). I think Richard Gorelick has a fresh perspective on restaurants and writes well.

I really miss Wiley Hall III's columns! Is there any way you can bring him back on an occasional basis?

Sarah Woods

Editor's note: A pair of City Paper writers have recently won laurels for their work. Former managing editor Tom Scocca's piece "Blood Sport," which originally ran as an 8 Upper column in the July 4, 2001 issue, appears in The Best American Sports Writing 2002, which was published recently by the Houghton Mifflin Co. And contributing writer Geoffrey Himes will be honored in New York Dec. 4 with the Deems-Taylor Award for music writing from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) for his April 11, 2001, cover story on Baltimore-born jazzman Cyrus Chestnut ("Sweet Inspiration"). Congratulations all around.

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