Letters for June 20, 2002
McMansions be damned: After reading with interest Jeff Stratton's recent article ("There's Goes the Neighborhood," June 13), I thought I would contact you. At present, I am a Victoria Park property owner who is disgusted by the recent developments in the neighborhood. I have long thought we should fight this development but had no idea how to go about it.
I would be interested in applying my vast services to this cause.
via the Internet
A fine example for youth: Susan Eastman's June 6 story about the Saralee/Sara Lee doll ("Doll Farce") reminds me of the story behind that most famous of dolls: Barbie.
Mattel and the late Ruth Handelman carried on the myth for 40 years that Barbie was "created" by Handelman. Barbie was actually appropriated or, rather, stolen from a German manufacturer that produced the Lili doll. Lili was the prototype for Barbie.
I have a Lili purchased in October 1957 at Polk's Hobby Shop on Fifth Avenue in New York City -- two years before Barbie's introduction in 1959.
Sara Creech is obviously due royalties of some sort from Collectible Concepts or Mattel (them again!).
As if that would ever happen!
North Merrick, NY
Recalled by a Panda: I was taken aback to see the letter from David Melvin Thornburgh in your publication a few weeks ago ("Beethoven's Cannons," Letters, May 30). I completely agree with Thornburgh's remarks, having felt the effects of this trend in public radio firsthand. I am a former writer/performer on Pandemonium, a late-night comedy show mentioned in Thornburgh's letter, which aired on WLRN some years ago.
Despite the prohibitively listener-unfriendly time slot we were given (Wednesdays at midnight), the show thrived for 19 years and continues to be one of the best and most influential experiences of my life and, I'm sure, the lives of all those involved. When I began my stint with Pandemonium, I was 17 years old. I was sorry to see such a wonderful show, where young writers and performers could learn from and create with older, more experienced cast members, tossed aside so harshly.
Thank you for printing Thornburgh's letter. It is nice to see that what we did will be remembered by those who were willing to stay up on a Wednesday night to hear something different.
Kelly Linss (nee Wolfe)
via the Internet
With a brave new idea: Having read Ashley Fantz's article on the issue of gay adoption ("A Queer Law," March 21), I just had to write a letter to the editor. While I'm not gay, I have a number of close friends (men and women) and a very close family member who all happen to be gay. I say "happen to be" because it was never a choice they made; it's just part of who they are. (Think about it for a moment: Did any straight person make a choice to be straight? If you are male, you grew up and girls had cooties. Then, one day you had a funny but nice dream about Britney Spears, Shannen Doherty, Farrah Fawcett, or Annette Funicello, depending on when you hit puberty, and the next day, your mom had to change the sheets and girls started to look pretty good. And lord knows teenage girl don't seem to have much control when it comes to 'N Sync, Leif Garrett, the Beatles, or Frank Sinatra; they just seem to be hard-wired to scream at the top of their lungs at the latest boy-band, regardless of musical talent or lack thereof.) I also say "happen to be" because the fact of their sexuality is of no relevance to me in our friendship. I like them because they are funny, interesting, intelligent people whom I enjoy spending time with. While this might seem irrelevant to the issue at hand, it seems to me the crux of the issue. It seems so obvious that people should be judged on the basis of who they are as human beings and not on some arbitrary criteria. Unfortunately, too many people have blinders on when judging other people on the basis of ridiculous assumptions.
The underlying fear that opponents to gay adoption seem to have, but never want to articulate in the open, is a fear of child molestation, the assumption being that gay men want to have young boys in the house to molest them. Having worked for close to ten years in the criminal justice system, let me be clear on one thing: Sexual abuse of a child is crime, it is deviant, it is flat-out evil, and, most important, it is not a gay trait. There are jails full of heterosexual men who have sexually abused young girls, and there are heterosexual women who have abused young boys. I doubt you'd find anyone in the gay community (or straight community, for that matter) who would have any objections to establishing a screening process for potential adopters to weed out the molesters (straight or gay). As for the idea that having gay parents will make a kid gay (as if being gay is something to be inherently feared), think about that in reverse -- overwhelmingly, most gays had straight parents and still "wound up" gay.
Perhaps the most ridiculous thing of all is that the state allows gays to be foster parents while preventing them from adopting. Basically, everything the opponents fear could happen under the current system. The only people who get hurt are potential parents, who make a conscious choice to let a child into their lives, and the children, who have to constantly worry that their parent will be taken away. And perhaps that is the bottom line: Children who are stuck in a bureaucratic system with far too few people to look out for them may have a chance to have a "real" family -- a parent or parents who love them enough to take them into their lives.
A boy like Oscar has so many obstacles in this world -- he's dumped into a natural family who never gave a damn about him (the parents, not the grandparents) with almost no chance of making it to adulthood without numerous encounters with the criminal justice system or coming to an ignominious end. Now, he has parents who clearly love and cherish him and seem to spend their lives making sure he has at least a fair shot at making something of his life. I guarantee you there are a hell of a lot of kids in Florida who don't have as good a home life as Oscar.
I just want to cry when I think about all the kids who are born with unlimited potential and are just beaten down by life. How many of them might have been doctors who cured cancer, politicians who changed the world, artists and musicians who brought joy into our lives? How many more kids are we willing to lose? How many lives have to be sacrificed to the old gods of prejudice and hate before we as a society decide we are going to do everything in our power to fight for them, before we give them a fighting chance at the American Dream? Granted, allowing gays to adopt will affect only a few kids. But doesn't it makes sense to give those kids a chance? Isn't having even one kid in a corner office instead of a corner cell enough?
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