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Letters to the Editor: June 13 - 20 

Bird's-eye view

Re "Let's Avoid Watching Like a Hawk" [Letters, June 6]: Janice Milliner may have found Mary Hawk's efforts to have homophobic material removed from a Kennywood skit "appalling," but it's nothing compared to Milliner's ad hominem response.

Ms. Milliner denounces Hawk's efforts as "gossip," writing, "When you think about it, Kennywood really only received one phone call regarding the matter; the rest were merely an extension of her [more unnecessary name-calling]." Well, no. There is nothing wrong with acting on the basis of information acquired second-hand, if one has reason to believe the source is trustworthy. When City Paper ran its story on the May primaries, and citizens of Pittsburgh voted on the basis of the information contained therein, does that mean their votes "really only" should be counted as one vote, because they are informed by the perceptions of City Paper's writers and editors? Of course not.

Ms. Milliner's entire rant is premised on the claim that Hawk's perception of the skit was "misinformed." But she offers no evidence that Hawk's description of the skit is inaccurate. If the skit was as described, it clearly involved the rejection of male behavior that could be considered effeminate or gay, which is offensive. There is nothing wrong with being effeminate or gay.

I'm glad Ms. Milliner's "gay" friends weren't offended by the skit, but I can't help but wonder how they would have felt if they were gay, without the scare quotes.

-- Greg Gates, Bloomfield

 

Ballot initiative

Re the May 30 article, "A Fistful of Voters": Now that we are in the 21st century, the composition of the Democratic Committee needs to include more issues-oriented activists, regardless of the existence of an open primary. The 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club, in its more than four decades of existence, has had a priority of electing progressives to the county committee.

In 1990, we were able to elect an independent ward chair in the 14th Ward (the largest in the county) and have maintained control of the ward ever since. I strongly urge interested progressive Democrats throughout the county to run for committee in 2010. I also urge progressive Democrats who live in Pittsburgh's 14th Ward to join the Club (www.pgh14widc.org).

Many of us hope this election was not an aberration. The Patrick Dowd, Bruce Kraus and Ricky Burgess campaigns all benefited from the withdrawal of Bill Peduto from the mayoral race. Money and, especially, volunteers flowed heavily into the Dowd and Kraus campaigns as a result. The Burgess campaign received backing from Jim Ferlo, who would have been occupied by a Ravenstahl mayoral campaign.

All too often in the past, the fine qualities of candidates such as this trio has proven insufficient to be elected. Let's hope that future elections will not be another zero-sum game.

-- Debbie Levy McKenney

President, 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club

 

Two legs good, four wheels better

The article "Program to help those who live with disabilities live where they please" [May 23] really hit home.

Like Damitra Penny, I am disabled and in a wheelchair, but it does not stop my mind from working. Why is it people think that just because we are physically limited that we are mentally limited as well?

I have been in the wheelchair for about four-and-a-half years, and I'm adjusting just fine. I get out and go to town, go shopping, go to movies, go out to dinner -- everything a "normal" person does. But I remember the feeling when the doctors told me I should be in a nursing home. It was like a knife in the heart.

This is not the Dark Ages. We no longer have to hide the handicapped away in the back room. I have a little saying that I use all the time: The only difference between you and I is, you walk on two legs, and I roll on four wheels.

While my husband is at work I have attendants that come into the house to help me a couple hours a day. They help me do housework, cook meals, or anything else I want to do. If it was not for the help I get, I would be in an assisted-care facility or a nursing home.

I have heard it said that a disability is only a state of mind. The problem is it's in other people's minds, not mine. One thing that really gets to me is when people are what I call "saccharinely sweet." They think we can't do anything for ourselves. Just give us a chance. If we can't do it, we will ask for help. We are not as breakable as you think we are.

Society needs to realize that we can be, and are, productive members of the community. We have physical limits, but don't put a label on us that prohibits us any more.

-- Dana Hooks, Hazelwood

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