Letters to the Editor

Attack on Louima showed supreme arrogance; why don't "Buffy" producers worry about sexual content?


Letters to the Editor
June 2, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)

Is sodomy with a stick worse than death?
BY JILL NELSON

(05/26/99)

It seems incongruous that a population would rile at the story of a sodomy instead of a murder. I think, however, it may have something to do with the feelings behind the
actions of Volpe and his confederates.

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Murder has been used throughout history as a
weapon of fear and last resort. In contrast, what Volpe did was an act of supreme arrogance: to
degrade a person, threaten him and then assume that he could be left alive without fear of
retribution. That he neglected to even feign an apology to Louima is the most ridiculous
thing about the case -- can Volpe be so stupid as to not realize a little
false remorse could save him a few months or years in jail?

This case feeds the anger of many in the New York area by illustrating the utter lack of regard that regular citizens are shown by the government. The
New York Police Department is a group of largely well-trained and -behaved men and women, but betrayal of their duty to serve the populace rather than lord it over them
must be met with the harshest criticism and the longest available jail
terms.

-- Geoff Hunt

The media, including Salon, continues to characterize the
attack on Louima as sodomy, or a "sexual attack." The suggestion that this
act of brutality in any way intersects with a sexual act is both wrong and
fundamentally homophobic. Do you call "rape" intercourse? No -- there is a clear
distinction between sexual acts and acts that are hateful and violent.

Volpe's intention, which was to make Louima feel like he was powerless and
"gay" (which, according to Volpe's frail ego, is a bad thing) is only being
reinforced by the media's suggestion that the act was, in fact, sodomy.
Sodomy, unlike rape, really is a sexual act. The whole reason
that gays fight sodomy laws is because they discriminate against gay sex; Volpe's attack was not sex.

Why can't we just say that Louima had a broom handle forced into his rectum, and quit mixing it up with something even vaguely sexual?

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-- Benjamin Keyser

The obvious pleasure with which Jill Nelson imagines the rape of Justin
Volpe in prison is repulsive. I didn't realize it was now cool to
wish rape on someone. Given the HIV infection rate in American prisons,
Nelson is, in fact, fantasizing about Volpe's murder as punishment for
beating and sodomizing Louima, a wish that at least should be acknowledged
and perhaps subject to more sober reflection.

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There is a brief moment of insight at the end of this essay, where Nelson
almost begins to analyze the misogyny and homophobia that inform the knot
of race and masculinity issues in this case, but settles for the
conclusion that because "it all comes down to that same tired dick thing,"
we will "all continue getting fucked, one way or another, like it or not."
I think it is clear that this case and its publicity, the willingness of
the mass media to describe the torture of Abner Louima, constitutes an
entirely new kind of "dick thing," one that warrants more attention and
discussion than this glib, hateful essay gives it.

-- Elliott McEldowney

Nelson raises an interesting point about the "dick" element of the Abner Louima
case, but it really is a little more complex than that. Shooting a bullet
isn't nearly so personal as deliberating taking a human being, man or woman,
into a bathroom with pants down and violating them with a jagged stick, then
brandishing it about in an evil rampage. I believe people would be just as
outraged if, all other things being equal, this had happened to a woman.
Let's hope we don't have to find out.

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-- Lisa C. Chamberlain

Associate Editor

Cleveland Free Times


The WB's Big Daddy condescension

BY CHARLES TAYLOR

(05/27/99)

What is so tragic about the WB's decision to now
pretend that it has the best interests of its
teenage viewers in mind is that it has shown so
little interest in doing so before.

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They worry about high school shootings and teenage
violence, but not teen pregnancy and sexually
transmitted diseases? Buffy and her cohorts have all
lost their virginity, to each other, on the show. They
are in high school. Granted, it happens every day, but so do abortions due to sexual irresponsibility and immaturity.

What about the relationship between the Cordelia
character and the 30-something "watcher" on the
show? Isn't that also inappropriate and more likely to
influence a young person's behavior than scenes of
good-vs.-evil warfare? Why would they be concerned that cheerleaders
fighting it out with unbelievable ghoulies would have a
stronger impact on high schoolers than vamped up
teen sexuality and false maturity?

-- Allison Lowe

Dallas

The Web's new tribal warfare
BY ANDREW LEONARD

(05/26/99)

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I read your report of the attack on VegSource with disappointment, but not
surprise. I too have been involved in online debates regarding gun control,
and the vehemence on both sides quickly escalates into something absolutely
incredible. If you happen to favor gun control you can expect insults,
abuse, threats and an overwhelming flame from gun owners. While a very small
minority seems to be able to discuss the subject without rancor, most
pro-gun posters exhibit the arrogant paranoia that makes gun control
advocates nervous. It's hard to carry on a debate when there's a tiny voice
in the back of your head reminding you that your opponent is armed,
obviously doesn't like you and could find your address with little
difficulty.

While I'm all for freedom of speech, I'll willingly give up that
right when faced with someone who seems perfectly willing (and able) to kill
me. So now I steer clear of gun-related debates -- I've got a feeling they're
hazardous to my health. That's a pity, because many gun advocates are
intelligent, reasonable, sane human beings. But the next time I get a chance
to vote on gun legislation I bet I'll remember all the gun-toting psychos
who howled for my blood when I disagreed with them.

-- Mark T.

My main question is, Why weren't the files backed up? Everyone who does any kind of Web authoring (or any data processing) knows that accidents can happen to data and that a backup is always in order. We have all had it happen -- sometimes by our own stupidity, or by a computer
glitch or hardware failure. What were these guys thinking? What was the
foul-up on the ISP's end? In the digital world, only the sloppy allow their entire body of work to be destroyed. The Net is an ugly place, but just like the
author of a book who has no copy of his or her manuscript, they have no one else to blame
but themselves.

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-- Lou Berkman


Crime school

BY FIONA MORGAN

(05/26/99)

There is a very simple, no-cost solution to the problem of kids
being unsupervised in the afternoons that no one seems to talk about. Why
not start school later for middle and high school students, so that they are
not dismissed until 4 or 5 o'clock? After-school activities could be
shifted to before school. Those kids who don't participate would not be
likely to go out and get into trouble at 7 a.m.

-- Dora O'Shaughnessy

Charlotte, N.C.

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