Letters for February 28, 2002

Artistic rumination

 She's not trying to put words in our mouths, but...: In her February 14 article belittling the journalistic ethics of the Broward Times ("Print and Politics"), Ashley Fantz exposed some shortcomings of her own. Interviewing me, she repeatedly had occasion to say, "I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, but..." That statement is always a red flag for me, and I responded very carefully. I emphasized that Keith Clayborne's challenging the status quo has to be viewed in the context of a county wracked with disparity and inequities, which works to the disadvantage of African-Americans and the poor.

I referred her to the statistics from Broward County's own disparity study -- businesses owned by African-Americans get less than 1 percent of the county's contracting dollars; to the escalating and seemingly intractable problems of racial discrimination at the City of Fort Lauderdale, I cited a January 13 Sun-Sentinel story detailing this crisis in which, for example, a white manager, baffled that a black man he supervised had filed a complaint against him, mused, "and he's not your typical black guy.... I mean, he's a good, hard worker"; I cited the dead and dying people around the Wingate Superfund site -- the state Department of Health issued a warning that there are increased incidences of five kinds of cancers within a one-mile radius of the site; their pleas for a proper cleanup have been ignored and subverted by the government. I concluded that if Keith is not fiddling while our communities are burning, thank God for him!

It's almost amusing how, in not giving both sides of the story, Fantz violates the very ideal she espouses. Throughout history, it has always been expedient to slay the messenger, but that has never solved the problem. Physician, heal thyself!

Audrey Peterman
Fort Lauderdale

Strouse is insightful: As a recent transplant from New Jersey, I really enjoy reading your paper to find out what's going on around town.

I read Chuck Strouse's January 17 column about the Todd Schorr exhibit in Hollywood ("Ax, Lies, and Audiotape") and found it to be very interesting and intelligently written. So much so that I finally had to go see what all the commotion was about. Schorr's paintings are interesting and beautifully painted. As far as the painting of the Easter Bunny fighting Santa goes, I loved it! I think the people who find this type of thing offensive need to grow up and realize that this is just one artist trying to express himself. If you don't like it, don't go to the show.

I haven't seen any more of Strouse's writing since then. When will I see more? Keep up the good work.

Madeline Clemmons
via the Internet

Mayor Mara, however...: I presented a personally composed, satirical political cartoon at the January 16 Hollywood Commission meeting to demonstrate the hypocrisy surrounding the illustration featured on your January 17 cover. It is being openly displayed by the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood but is not suitable for viewing by kids. The city-sponsored piece has been defended by the mayor and a few commissioners, whose zeal to show their wisdom and undaunted appreciation of the fine arts is surpassed only by their indefensibly poor judgment.

My drawing was done to provoke and consequently prove that our politicos' position on art was as phony as many of the other things they do. Clash of Politics in deference to Schorr's Clash of the Holidays depicts the mayor's head being lopped off by an ax-swinging Uncle Sam. It was clearly explained to the commission that it characterized Uncle Sam providing a mechanism, the ballot, for removing unwanted politicians, whereas Schorr stated that his cartoon had no meaning, although the mayor and Art and Culture Center director Cynthia Miller insist it symbolizes the commercialization of the holidays -- why do they intentionally misinterpret this art?

The mayor asked if she could get a restraining order. Lock-step commissioner Peter Bober offered to support that action. This was a typical self-serving act to intimidate a detractor. This cartoon was presented in front of thousands of viewers and the police chief. Why would the mayor try to restrain a citizen who continuously expresses his admiration for her abilities, to consistently pull the wool over citizens' eyes and still get reelected? She opted not to pursue this avenue. She obviously was not concerned or she would have acted immediately rather than applying her terrorist tactics two days later by directing her operatives to have police detectives visit me and to request to borrow my art. The officers were totally professional, but using them under these circumstances is abuse of her office.

This letter should not be read if you suffer from First Amendmentitis, shortness of Bill of Rights, congestive constitutional condition, or flashes of ethics.

Howard Sher
Hollywood

 
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