News - Going Postal

?In the right mood

Thank you for the most entertaining article about New Jack ("It's not easy being mean," Jan. 20). I am a professional wrestling ring announcer from New York and have had occasion to meet New Jack. He is most interesting and, assuming he is in the right mood, a pleasure to be around.

- Robert B. Rosen, Colonie, N.Y.

Wrong Vibes

Having been in Atlanta for over five years now, I've seen quite a bit of change around town, and lately I've noticed with disappointment some differences in the Vibes section. It seems that the section as a whole has been slowly shrinking, as has its overall variety, and I'm certain that there used to be a lot more space devoted to the local scene. To use the current issue (Jan. 20) as an example, I see only two-thirds of one page for local music news.

But what bothers me most about this section is that of the four feature articles, three are country-oriented. As much as I love country, I'm pretty sure it doesn't constitute 75 percent of the music being made or performed here in town. And as much as I love Steve Earle, it seems he gets a feature every time he swings through Atlanta, and I don't see where this article divulges anything that hasn't been written here before. Or maybe that's just because there was an almost identical story on the preceding page about Darrell Scott, both by the same writer.

And should I even mention that you wasted your fourth feature ("Hunky Tonk") on a piece that isn't even about music? Now, if some "local" artist strips down for Playgirl, I might expect to read about it in one Atlanta's slick monthlies, but not Creative Loafing, to which I look for information about the wide variety of music being written, recorded and performed in the metro area. I have to say that I was pretty happy with the Vibes section last summer, but that it has gone noticeably downhill since then. I hope to see you back on track soon.

- Matt Henley, Atlanta

Issues still important today

To listen to the media and black advocacy groups, one would think all Dr. King did was make the "I Have a Dream" speech (Fishwrapper, "Remembering King by erasing him," Jan. 13). It sad that he is cast only as a civil rights (read: black issues) figure. I read several excerpts of his other speeches in Ebony magazine in the '80s and was amazed to find that most of the speeches still were relevant.

He was ahead of his time in decrying the economic disparity caused by corporate greed. You are right that the media and so-called liberals are no better than Republicans in their silence on such issues. They, like the right-wingers, want to protect their piece of the pie and will do little to rock the boat.

It's also unfortunate that black advocacy groups such as the NAACP and the grandstanders such as Jackson and Sharpton do little but race-bait and muddle along as if they can't find anything constructive to do. The economic and environmental issues that King was focusing on in his final years are even more important today. It is sad that his followers have dropped the ball when it comes to advancing these issues.

- Beverly Rice, Charlotte

You get props

I enjoyed reading your article on King's true legacy as a revolutionary (Fishwrapper, "Remembering King by erasing him," Jan. 13). As a self-proclaimed revolutionary (and I use that word carefully, too), I get infuriated by this country's media machine, not just on how they handle King but how they handle every issue that concerns me.

As far as Bush goes, he should be banned from making any comments about King. Nearly all his social/economic policies are antithetical to what King preached.

Just wanted to give you props for a article that was worth reading. I'm a native Atlantan currently living in New York City - also known as liberal heaven. I look forward to returning to ATL in 2005 to continue the struggle. I'm happy to know there's at least one progressive minded journalist.

- Preston B. Denson, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Sexism instead of feminism

Bob Barr makes some rather knee-jerk assumptions about the rise in the female prison population (Flanking Action, "Sugar and spice no more," Jan. 13). While I respect his opinion on some of the civil liberties issues he has taken a stand for, such as voting against the PATRIOT Act, this time he's got it wrong.

Feminism is an easy target to hit - people have been using women's lib as the butt of jokes and a scapegoat for all kinds of social malfunctions since we were chaining ourselves to the White House to protest our lack of voting rights. So to say that the "increase in the number of women behind bars … is a direct result of the corrosion of traditional morals and community" should be expected.

Mr. Barr mentions theories backing up his view to explain this, but where is the sociological study to prove this? Women's lib may correlate with the rise in women inmates, but anyone familiar with statistics knows that correlation does not imply causation.

There are however, cross-cultural studies to show a direct correlation between the income gap of a population and the rise in street crime.

And yes, the war on drugs is a huge factor and not to be dismissed. From the time mandatory minimum sentencing began in 1986 until 1996, the number of women in state prison for drug offenses increased tenfold. Jails are full of women who are flat broke and busted because they got pulled over while driving their boyfriend home while he had a quarter ounce in his back pocket.

Let's also not forget women are held to higher standards than men when it comes to deviant behavior, so likely we'll get punished more severely. On the average, women get more time for murdering our husbands, more time for beating people up and are usually the ones arrested in a solicitation bust.

This is such an acceptable double standard of behavior that even Mr. Barr proposes it as a solution to female crime: "Parents need to impress on their kids - especially their daughters - the importance of being a person who operates within personal and social boundaries." Why especially their daughters? There are still many times more men locked up than women, but this doesn't seem to be an area of concern.

Boys will be boys, but women aren't supposed to act like that. Perhaps sexism is one of the culprits here as well, not feminism.

- Leslie Todd Griffith, Atlanta??

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