Letters from the week of February 3, 2005

Culture Club 

Letters from the week of February 3, 2005

Degrees of separation: I, too, found the cover of your January 13 issue offensive. I hadn't bothered to write because I didn't think the piece associated with it was written well enough to bother complaining about (KC Strip, "Stork Club").

Further contemplation has changed my mind. In case you haven't noticed, the other side is winning the cultural war these days. The re-coronation of King George W. should serve as a stark reminder of that.

I suppose it's a real load of fun for some folks to crank out a snarky piece of fluff making fun of those less educated and less fortunate than themselves. Then all the posers and scenemakers that read this rag can congratulate themselves on how groovy they are for getting the joke.

However, it's those less-educated and those who lead them like sheep who are driving this country forward into the past at a rate that seems to accelerate every passing day. The debates over teaching of evolution in public schools and gay rights, and the pseudo-Christian crusade in Iraq are just a few indications of what's afoot.

It's one thing to point fingers and laugh. It's something else entirely to do something about it.

Darrell Lea

Booked on Phonics
Jerry's kids: Regarding Tony Ortega's KC Strip ("Adult Education," January 27): Nothing really surprises me about Janet Harmon and Jerry Agar. (Agar is basically about ratings, so I don't really take him too seriously. Plus, he's quite clueless.)

But these are people who believe they have the right to censor books in a public school system. They try to excuse themselves by saying that it's only 14 books that they want to remove because they don't believe they are "age appropriate." Several authors whose works are under attack have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize. There is no question that what they are attempting is censorship.

I think it's important for parents and the entire community to realize that people are also attacking the sciences, social studies and the fine arts. These people would love to follow Karl Rove's philosophy of draining the public schools of any kind of funding. They want prayer in the schools, they want to be able to censor what young people read, they want abstinence-only education, and they want vouchers to become a reality. They hate teachers unions and anything that promotes free speech or freedom of thought.

I absolutely commend the Blue Valley Board of Education and their willingness to stand up to these people. Agar, Harmon and others have no inkling of what it means to live in a free democratic society and no understanding of free-speech issues. These people are much closer to the fundamentalist Taliban in their efforts to censor and repress.

Jeff Witt
Prairie Village

Edifice Complex
When push comes to love: I found Bryan Noonan's "Pushing the Pushers" (January 20) very interesting, and I completely agree that crime has probably shifted to other areas and neighborhoods.

I own four homes on Quincy Street in the 2300 and 2400 blocks. I have rehabbed/remodeled every one of these homes with the desire to make a positive impact on the neighborhood. I think that if I take care of mine, others will take care of theirs, and property values will increase.

Though most of the residents are lower-middle income, there are still inexpensive things they can do to their homes to improve the neighborhood. The biggest is the trash and junk on people's front porches and yards, though I do see more and more homeowners working on their homes, and hopefully it will continue.

The biggest and best way to improve a neighborhood is to get major businesses to invest in the area as well. But they usually do not want to go into those areas until they see that residents are taking care of the neighborhood first. This has worked well for midtown with Costco and Home Depot going in. With the new downtown arena and hopefully a downtown ballpark, this will cause a swelling or ripple effect for the area and continue in a positive way to the east side of KC.

I appreciate the attention you and others in the media have given to this neighborhood and hope that it will continue to improve.

Aaron Wunder
Overland Park

Positive Charge
Roger and me: I am writing to commend Allie Johnson on an excellent article about Roger Billings ("Dr. Hydrogen," January 20). She took a complex subject and interviewed and researched it well enough to expose the complexity, rather than dwelling on only one or another of its features.

The Pitch is sensationalist in many of its articles, so much so that I generally ignore its pages, but this one caught my eye because I have heard about Billings for years and was curious to see what new facts she would turn up. To my surprise, her article was balanced and frank, with the journalist's objective angle woven competently throughout.

Jared Daniel J. Smith
Overland Park

Right Said Ted
What's at steak: Regarding Charles Ferruzza's "Ted's Spread" (January 13): I doubt if he needs backup on this, but I went once, and that was more than enough. Wasn't even crowded, and we had the same problems you mentioned.

Stay away from Cheeseburger in Paradise, unless you want to sample a margarita on the rocks that's 90 percent ice.

The Longhorn isn't bad as far as chain steak places go. Wouldn't have thought the same guy is part-owner. Always had reasonable food and good service.

James P. Cummings
Kansas City, Kansas


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