Letters for June 12, 2003

Off the Mark

Forget the truth: In regard to Bob Norman's three columns on U.S. Rep. Mark Foley ("Out with the Truth," May 8, May 22, June 5): Give him a break. Since when is it a prerequisite of public service to be forced to discuss publicly one's private sexual details? If he publicly declared on either side of the question that Norman poses, then the columnist or others would want to know the names, dates, and specific sexual acts performed. "Freedom of the press" does not entitle you to an answer to every question that you may want to ask. Some things are privileged and personal, especially when they may involve other people's interests.

I don't know what your sexual or political agenda may be. Perhaps you are a member of the militant gay left, which demands that every prominent gay or bisexual person be "outed" and made an unwilling champion for gay civil rights, or perhaps you are a homophobic right-wing fundamentalist who wants to rid American politics of all gays and suspected gays. Either way, you're wrong.

I've known Mark for more than 20 years. I couldn't tell you for sure whether he's gay or straight, because I can't recall his ever discussing sex or with whom he may have slept. As he said in his conference call, maybe he's old-fashioned. You may have taken his comment as glib or sarcastic, but from my perspective, it was sincere. He is a gentleman. I am not aware of any scandalous behavior or controversy during the time he has served in local or national public office, or before.

I can tell you this for sure about Mark: He's dedicated, hard-working, intelligent, compassionate, and fair. His voting record, after ten years in congress, makes it abundantly clear where he stands on issues. The term "compassionate conservative" is a fair characterization of his record. He has fairly represented all of his constituents, Republican and Democratic, gay and straight. What more are you entitled to know?

Tim Lunney

Coral Springs, Florida

Wrong spelling: As an avid horseracing fan and being aware of many of the facts and knowing some of the people, I must say this article was informative and impressive in depth ("They Shoot Up Horses, Don't They?" Ed Newton, May 29). I also wanted to add that the horse's name is Quonochontaug, not Quanchontaug. By the way, on May 25, 2003, he ran and won and paid $61.60 at Calder in the first race.

Michael G. Ellis

Miami

And against MotherHerald: I would like to compliment Chuck Strouse on his article concerning the incompetent and unprofessional manner in which the Miami Herald brought the Jose Santos story to public attention ("Horsing Around," May 29). The fact that Strouse worked with some of these people for 6.5 years and still had the integrity to write this story is a tribute to his character. Why, after all the facts were gathered and the picture sent to the stewards, did no one have the common sense or decency to speak to Jose Santos to confirm what he actually said (since the reporter knew he couldn't really understand Mr. Santos)? I think the reporter may have done a more thorough job had not the stewards concurred that the photo looked "suspicious." That was probably the catalyst for the reporter, who was looking for the "big scoop."

The most amazing thing, which no one ever mentioned, is that you can plainly see the Q-Ray on Jose Santos' wrist. Such incompetence is beyond my comprehension. Any railbird can tell you that jockeys don't carry a device of any kind when riding in a race -- other than their stick, goggles, and sometimes rubber bands around the silks' cuffs. I hope Herald reporters Frank Carlson and Clark Spencer are aware of the fact that "it's one, two, three strikes you're out at the old ball game" -- just in case they want to "scoop" that sport.

I am of the opinion that the stewards were almost as much to blame for this incident as the Herald. I also blame the Racing Form for publishing the picture on the front page.

To summarize, the true story didn't matter to the Herald or any other paper that publicized the story without first scrutinizing the photo, verifying the facts, and calling Santos to get his side of the story. Bottom line, sensationalism sells papers at the expense of innocent victims, and no one has to apologize for a terrible injustice.

Thanks for your article, and I hope it will induce the Herald and all the other papers around the country and the world that put that story in the headlines to show some class and apologize. The man won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but thanks to the press it was a time of hardship and embarrassment instead of the crowning moment of his career.

Tom Labriola

Via the Internet

Where help is needed:In response to Wyatt Olson's May 22 story, "Troubled Endings," a professional social worker assists patients and families in evaluating their options for end-of-life care from among all available choices. The professional social worker does not make these choices for the family. Providing this information is critical at times of family crisis. The social worker's relationship with the patient and family should include follow-up on any referrals. In this way, any problems that arise receive the attention of the social worker, who then advocates on behalf of the patient or family.

Thankfully, there are several choices in the community for hospice care. In the future, problems with one hospice should either be resolved quickly or the patient can request transfer to another hospice provider. Again, a professional social worker can assist with this change. Good end-of-life care is about helping the dying find comfort and helping their families find peace. Anything less demands action by all concerned.

Thomas S. Pietrogallo

Coral Gables

And fires:As a gay man concerned about the controversial practice of barebacking, I was happy to see that Trevor Aaronson was doing a story on the topic ("Unsafe Sex," May 22). His previous work in New Times shows great promise. Unfortunately, instead of a thoughtful, provocative article, we got a mish-mash of predictable sensationalism, earnest moralizing, and pop sociology, topped of by a good dose of heterosexual voyeurism. This article was written by a young reporter clueless about the gay community, and his lack of knowledge and sensitivity to its concerns and issues was embarrassingly obvious. Also obvious is that he has yet to develop a sense of responsible journalism, a deficiency magnified by the decision of the New Times editor to run this piece.

As a professor of media studies at Florida Atlantic University, I teach a recently developed course on "Sexuality and the Media." One topic we study is media coverage of the lesbian and gay community. New Times is becoming a good source of material to use in my class. Bob Norman's recent work on Mark Foley is a good example of provocative yet responsible presentation of a controversial issue.

On the other hand, Aaronson's piece and the recent piece by Kathy Glasgow and Lisette Corsa ("Murdered in Havana," April 17) will be excellent examples of how implicit homophobic and/or heterosexist viewpoints can shape a story. Both articles would could easily have been written in the 1960s. The only difference is that in the 1960s, they published the addresses of the men they arrested in gay bars. New Times published the address where the barebacking party, a private party not open to the public, was taking place. Now, every homophobic voyeur and gay basher knows where to hang out.

Hopefully, the students we train at FAU will have a little more sense of responsibility. I welcome Aaronson, Glasgow and Corsa to take my course anytime.

Fred Fejes, Ph.D Professor, Media and Sexuality Studies

Florida Atlantic University

Boca Raton

Editor's note: We'll be there, prof. You name the time.

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