I was pleasantly surprised by the remarkably fair treatment the Promise Keepers event in Rochester received in City (“The Cross and the Y Chromosome,” June 19).
Admittedly, I expected the worst when I saw the front cover. I paused for a second before picking it up, deciding whether it was even worthwhile to read more slander of the white, Christian male --- seemingly City's most feared enemy at times. I'm glad I read the article, though the writer, Th. Metzger, managed to slip in a couple of hysterical, and in my opinion, inaccurate observations.
The first was that PK is about "militant religion" (ostensibly based on the volunteers wearing camouflage). If Metzger heard anything "militant" from the stage, he saw a different event than I did. There was no talk of forcing people to convert --- no need to conjure up images of inquisition.
The second, that "Colorado's Amendment 2... denied civil rights to gays," is wholly inaccurate. A Colorado amendment cannot deny to gays that which they are already guaranteed under the Constitution. Gays are recognized as having the exact same rights as anyone else.
The amendment simply denied special treatment based on sexual orientation. Whether or not gays receive that same treatment may be a point worth arguing --- but not by changing the Constitution, which denies nothing to gays or any other self-declared "minority group."
Conversely, there were some things in the article that were witty and perceptive. Metzger referred to cheers to the statement that we've "overdosed on materialism" being heard "all the way to the merchandising area" (filled with numerous items emblazoned with the PK logo). That was perfect.
This irony, I assure you, did not slip by a majority of the attendees. The selling of scented anointing oil made me cringe. I felt like turning over their tables and driving them out with a whip.
I appreciated the recognition that "Promise Keepers also addresses a genuine desire in men to connect with others." This is certainly a large part of the event and something that men desperately need in a culture that encourages isolation.
Perhaps the fairness of the article was by default rather than design. There were no "I beat my wife" bumper stickers being sold, as NOW would like you to believe. And the only talk I heard about submission in the household was in regard to men submitting themselves to God so they can be better husbands and fathers. That's kind of hard to protest.
Or perhaps, if my cynicism will allow, Metzger attempted to write a fair and balanced article regardless of ideological leanings.
Whatever the case, it was a pleasant surprise to read an article in a liberal publication like City that remained largely unprejudiced in its assessment of a Christian event --- one that welcomed only men, nonetheless! Your writer deserves mild accolades for doing what was unexpected ("Mild" only because it should happen all the time).
DM Lovic, LeRoy
I hope I'm not the only reader who finds the cover of your Summer Guide (August 19) in poor taste. There are so many things that inspire in City that this was truly disappointing to me. Even within my own circle of friends there has always been a difference of opinion regarding what's funny, but for myself, making fun of someone's physical appearance is never appropriate. We have a disturbing emphasis on the "right" look in our society, but I thought that City rose above that.
Amy Alquist, Bloomfield
Art director Matt Walsh’s response: We weren’t making fun of anyone. The image was intended to be an alternative image of summer, appropriate for the alternative nature of our paper. We agree that society perpetuates a certain image of what is beautiful. Rather than taking those cues, as most media do, we preferred to do something different. We could as reasonably be criticized for putting a fit male figure on our cover, furthering that “perfect body” image. And we thought that the composition --- a large guy in goggles, with a large beach ball --- was funny.
Fighting the cabal
Considering that the two major parties have thrown Rochester to the wolves, slicing us up into minority voting blocks spread out among four new congressional districts, I think that turn-about is fair play. Let's advocate a completely different method for electing representatives:
Get rid of gerrymandered districts altogether and hold a statewide race in which voters cast a single, party-based ballot for a slate of candidates.
Under such a system, qualifying political parties would each offer a ranked slate of 29 candidates chosen at their respective state conventions. Depending on each party's showing in the general election, a proportion of the 29 would end up going to Washington.
In other words, with party-based slate voting, any voting block able to pull at least 1/29th of the total vote could send a representative to Congress --- and more importantly --- not send a backbencher in the pay of either "big tent" party.
Would such a system effectively spell the end of New York's Democratic and Republican duopoly and replace it with a broader spectrum of responsive, focused parties with names like the Upstate Alliance, the Inner-City Coalition, or Suburbanites United?
Would our cynical and disengaged electorate suddenly start voting again?
Who knows? But given the power that one vote can have (e.g., the Jeffords defection in the evenly-split Senate), it might do us some good to have a small number of independent, sharply focused voices advocating our interests in a House divided between two elephantine cabals.
Thomas F. Elston, East Boulevard, Rochester
Not tough enough
The bishops blew it in Dallas.
There should have been a statement that from June 14, 2002, on, there would be absolute zero tolerance for any sexually abusive priest. Requirements should include the reporting of any (alleged) incident of sexual abuse to the police, and the defrocking of any priest who admits or is convicted of sexual abuse. That defrocking is an involved process is immaterial. Also, the secrecy and protection of the alleged or admitted perpetrators must end.
Of further concern is that, reportedly, two-thirds of the bishops have ignored or swept under the rug knowledge of alleged or admitted sexual abuse by priests. I don’t see too many bishops resigning or turning themselves in. Do I need to inform the bishops that if anyone has knowledge of an alleged or real offense and does nothing, they are equally guilty?
Dan Quilty, Kosciusko Street, Rochester
Paying for fraud
A CEO goes to jail for misrepresenting company assets, an accountant goes to jail for cooking the books, a teacher for hurting a child, law enforcement officers for causing harm when they are there to protect and defend.
Why do people whose profession is religion feel they are better or different than those in other professions and should be given preferential treatment when they have done wrong?
When we deliberately misuse our position and perpetrate fraud, no matter the profession, we should be held accountable.
Muriel Albright, Manitou Road, Spencerport (Albright is a retired accountant)
I accuse the US government of using the September 11 criminal act by religious extremists as an excuse to set up a military-security state. The real reason for this is to allow President Bush’s industrial friends to get rich manufacturing weapons of war.
I also accuse the US government of using its perceived security needs to allow its Middle Eastern friend, Israel, to destroy the Palestinian peoples’ chance to establish a viable Palestinian state, living in peace next to Israel.
The only way, ultimately, to achieve peace is to sit down at the negotiating table, compromise, and settle differences in a rational manner. Bombs and weapons of war will never achieve real peace. Only honest relations with others can.
Jack Disraeli, Norris Drive, Rochester