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Reader Feedback 7.13.05

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WHAT'S THE MESSAGE?

As an African-American person of consciousness, living in the city of Rochester, I am totally disgusted by the art on the cover of your June 22 edition ("Public Displays of Affection").

As an educator, I will be using your cover to illustrate to my students that racism is alive and well in Rochester. The critical questions I will pose to my students are:

1) Why is the person of color unclothed?

2) Why is the person of color pieced together (an African head, an African-American torso, a Latino arm)?

3) Why does the face of the person of color have distorted lips?

4) Compare and contrast the Caucasian man's appearance with the appearance of the person of color.

5) What message do you think the illustration is seeking to convey? Explain by referencing specific aspects of the illustration.

Perhaps members of your various departments would benefit from a discussion centered around the above questions, so that in the future such depictions could be avoided.

Furelise Smith, Hillendale Street, Rochester

IT'S NOT 'AFFECTION'

"Public Display of Affection" (June 22) was troubling on a number of levels. First, the title was misleading. Men, as the article acknowledged, are not being arrested for public displays of affection. They are being arrested for public displays of genitalia. This is a huge difference, and City demeans itself by employing the tabloid tactic of using a teaser headline at odds with the facts of the story.

The article also asserts that homosexual men are being singled out while heterosexuals are left undisturbed. If heterosexuals are having sex in the woods and being left alone, this does constitute discrimination. However, if heterosexuals are restricting their activities to automobiles, which afford a greater level of privacy (particularly with steamed-up windows), then maybe differential enforcement is justified. There is no mention in the article of car-bound homosexuals being bothered.

On an essential level, however, I endorse much of the article's argument and am grateful that the issue was illuminated. Personally, I have no problem with adulterers being outed, be they heterosexual or homosexual. Adultery is still a crime in New YorkState, although never prosecuted, and I don't think parks should provide sanctuary for those who commit it.

However, for single adults the matter is entirely different. I fully agree with "Alex" that the deputy who ensnared him was performing a far more morally reprehensible act than the one "Alex" committed. If the sheriff is countenancing these kinds of tactics, he is ill-serving the community. Using policewomen to entice "Johns" is defensible, because prostitution is always illegal no matter where it occurs. Sex in the park is illegal only because of its location .So inducing someone to commit a normally legal act in an off-limits area is unconscionable.

I don't frequent the parks, but I would be bothered if I did and encountered anyone having sex. The advice to "get a room" seems to be applicable to those of any sexual orientation. However, the proper charge would seem to be "disorderly conduct." Public sex is an offense against public order, but it should not be treated as anything more. A "flasher" is guilty of public lewdness because he deliberately imposes himself on an unwilling victim. The men targeted in the parks were on public property but were trying (imperfectly) to avoid public detection. The charge of "forcible touching" seems to be totally unsupportable, if the article's account is credible. The actual offense is much lesser and should be recognized as such, not only by reasonable judges, but during the original arrest process.

Brian Barry, Bradford Road, Rochester

'NEWCOMERS?'

In "Big Tent Blues" (May 18), here is how you sum up the Rochester School Board candidates endorsed by the Democratic convention: Jeff Henley is a "PenfieldHigh School teacher," Cynthia Elliott is a "newcomer," and Tom Brennan is a "party activist."

Here are the facts. Henley first moved to Rochester last year, while Elliott has lived here many years, and Brennan has served eight years on two elected local public boards and has lived in the city for 10 years. You omitted all of these facts. Be fair.

You clearly think relevance and duration of experience are worth bringing up. Your resort to half truth and omission of important facts (with obvious bias for Henley and against Elliott and Brennan) is the kind of sly and sleazy journalism that undermines the credibility of those who practice it.

Jean SosciaMastern, Massey Drive, Rochester

The editor's response: Masten implies that the label "newcomer" was used solely to describe Cynthia Elliott; in fact, it was applied to all three designees. Perhaps a better word would have been "challenger"; the reference was to the fact that none is a current board member, yet each received the party's nod over incumbent Darryl Porter. The article makes no mention of the duration of any of the three candidates' experience.

We've made no decision and as yet have no preferences among the School Board candidates. We'll be interviewing all of them prior to the primary --- as we did Elliott during her 2004 campaign for School Board.

SOMETHING'S SOUR IN

THE SUFFRAGISTCITY

Is this a city of its residents or a playground for suburbia's sprawling wealth? Every weekend, the trash left behind by meaty guys with baseball caps and bar-hopping Barbies litters my neighborhood streets. It seems when there's a warm weekend, there's a monochromatic town that has lost its youth to the city's hot spots. Giant bubbles of segregation travel into my neck of the woods, only to surround themselves in the same sterile stew with a new, urban backdrop.

I propose that we rename certain of these areas "homogenous zones" and drop the pretension of "cultural districts." Do Hummers, public drunkenness, parking-lot peeing, striped-shirt yuppies on cell phones, and an overall arrogant feeling of entitlement equal culture?

A few weekends ago, I tried to integrate myself into one of these "homogenous zones." Like an ant in a bowl of sugar, I made my way through a sweaty sea of "not me's." Although Rochester is a virtual melting pot, many local entrepreneurs fail to reflect its diversity in their establishments. They would rather create an atmosphere that keeps "90210 patrons" in and the "1462-Oh, no's" out. So while I did find overpriced drinks, watered-down beer, modern rock, and tight jeans, I was hard pressed to find culture. What I did discover was the disconcerting tool of discrimination used by establishments: the Dress Code.

Dress Codes, like the people who enforce them, are nothing but disgusting deprivations, elitist and racist, thinly veiled by respectability. Since creating environments that cater to a cookie-cutter crowd isn't enough, the proprietors take their prerogative a step further with "dress codes." (You never know when an uppity neighbor may get a hankering for the bland and unimaginative and wander into your bar.)

To be told that my attire is "unacceptable" while the dance floor is filled with young, lighter-skinned, under-dressed, baseball-cap-wearing, Top-40 booty-grinders is not only insulting to my intelligence and my music sense, but it's just plain insulting. When one dapper, albeit darker patron (yours truly) is refused entry to a neighborhood establishment, it's time for Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, and Emma Goldman to rise up and take back this city.

I appreciate the clarification on where I should and shouldn't spend my money. That said, I am concerned about the next person, who on some warm, summer night in Rochester can't patronize an establishment without forfeiting his or her hat, jacket, or dignity. So I ask the proprietors of such culturally absent nightclubs: What moral defense is there for such discrimination?

Corey Adams, Alexander Street, Rochester

WRITING TO CITY

We welcome and encourage readers' letters for publication. Send them to: themail@rochester-citynews.com or The Mail, City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester14607.

Our guidelines: We don't publish anonymous letters --- and we ask that you include your street name and city/town/village. We don't publish letters that have been sent to other media --- and we don't publish form letters generated by activist groups. While we don't restrict length, letters of under 350 words have a greater chance of being published. We do edit letters for clarity and brevity. And in general we don't publish letters (or longer "op-ed" pieces) from the same writer more often than about once every two months.

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