Letters

Meyer, HEAL Thyself
I read the article, "Nova HEAL Thyself" (Harris Meyer, February 4), and was disappointed. The piece is the worst journalism I have read in a very long time. HEAL and its members were misquoted and the information reported was grossly out of context. This, along with buzz words and phrases such as "comrades," "brilliant but flaky," and victim of a "vast conspiracy" not only put a biased spin on the truth but made obvious the journalist's inability to act responsibly. Professional scientists' opinions were misrepresented. If the journalist had done his homework, the article could not have been written in the manner it was.

Nowhere was HEAL's concern that an undergraduate student had called Dr. [Kary] Mullis to influence the focus of his lecture mentioned. It was implied our dean was accused of censorship when the journalist knew clearly that a single faculty member had purposely or inadvertently used his/her influence to prevent [the Farquhar Center's] participation in the Mullis event. Either Stephen Fallon of CenterOne lied, or he was grossly misquoted. I have attended every HEAL Fort Lauderdale and HEAL NSU meeting to date, and no one, including Mr. Fallon, has ever been cut short or escorted out of an event. We welcome opposition... we are not afraid of debate. There are many more discrepancies that I will not get into.

I am always saddened when I see journalists, who should be unbiased, print irresponsibly. This journalist, sir, has defined himself and your publication.

Sherry Thorup
HEAL United
Fort Lauderdale

From a Journalist Swimming Out of the Mainstream
In your recent coverage of HEAL at Nova Southeastern University, I was struck by how much it differs from my experience of the issues it cites. As a journalist I have interviewed both professor Peter Duesberg and Nobel laureate Kary Mullis. I have also read Duesberg's books on AIDS and many of his scientific papers. I have talked to and read his critics, including the material cited by your reporter.

To date I can say that neither Duesberg nor Mullis has been "convincingly rebutted," despite your report. The idea that the majority point of view must be present at a HEAL meeting would make sense only if the minority view HEAL represents were given a hearing at every other AIDS meeting. As the parent of an HIV-positive son, I realize that these are difficult -- life-and-death -- matters. I know how difficult it is to step aside from the mainstream. My son and I also have experienced how beneficial -- how life-giving -- it can be.

Russell Schoch, Editor
California Monthly
Berkeley, California

Harris Meyer responds: Sherry Thorup alleges misquotes, misrepresentations, and out-of-context information in my article. I would like to respond, but I can't, since she gives no specific examples. As for my statement that Mullis is "flaky," that characterization is based on numerous published comments by people close to Mullis, as well as by Mullis himself. (See the July 1994 issue of Esquire magazine.) HEAL alleges that student government leaders tried to influence Mullis' talk, but the student leaders say they simply asked Mullis to clarify what he would speak about. Mullis did not return my phone call for comment. I never stated or implied that HEAL accused the dean. None of the six faculty members I interviewed who supported HEAL's right to bring Mullis to campus corroborated HEAL's accusation that the administrator had tried to censor HEAL. As to whether HEAL members tried to prevent Stephen Fallon from speaking, it's Fallon's word against Sherry Thorup's. Russell Schoch says Duesberg and Mullis have not been convincingly rebutted. Given the overwhelming evidence of the last few years, Schoch must have a standard of proof that no one can ever meet.

Dougherty: Comedy of Errors
Having just attended Comedy of Eros at the Caldwell Theatre, I was curious to read Robin Dougherty's review ("Sexual Politics," January 28). I had read the other reviews, which soundly denounced the play, and wanted to see what other critics had to say.

Suffice to say I believe that the critics of the Sun-Sentinel and Miami Herald were far closer to the mark than Robin Dougherty. While the play had a few amusing moments, it clearly was written by someone who confused theater with situation comedies on television. If your critic would like to defend the play by stating it was executed in the time-honored tradition of farce, please do. I would then suggest the critic read Loot or What the Butler Saw for exposure to well-written modern farce. What was presented at the Caldwell might be passably acceptable if it had been presented as the work of a college freshman for his/her first-year play-writing course.

Ultimately I agree that the fault is not that of the actors but of [director] Michael Hall for choosing the piece. Having been a subscriber to the Caldwell for four years, I have become accustomed to well-done, intelligent theater. Not that every production is perfect, but there has been a consistent quality to the productions. I can only hope that this play was chosen in haste or without proper consideration as the Caldwell prepares for its 25th season next year.

I. Young
via the Internet

 
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