While grateful for City Paper's coverage of my challenge to the Thomas Merton Center for what I perceive to be its hypocritical affiliation with the Pittsburgh Organizing Group ["Protesting the Protesters," Nov. 11], I object to the malicious slander of my name and character.
I challenge the qualification of Merton Center communications director Melissa Minnich in labeling me "just crazy" and "paranoid." She is, after all, unaware that "affiliate" means "to unite and associate with." Or that "associate" means to partner/unite in the same interests and purpose. "POG is just an affiliate," Minnich states. But if POG supports anarchy as an affiliate of the center, how is the Center not affiliated with anarchy?
I was never, as Minnich states "outside [a Merton Center awards ceremony] screaming at the top of his lungs." I have a resonant voice. This has proven beneficial when leading or responding to chants at actions, rallies and protests through the years. The hills echoed my call. My voice never strained. The Raging Grannies always appreciate when I join their chorus.
I wasn't interested in attending the dinner. I just wanted a statement.
I never sent "a poem" [to the Center]: There was no rhythm or rhyme, not even in the edit that CP printed, just words asking a question. I am not a poet.
I also never "demanded to speak with [Congressman Dennis] Kucinich." I calmly requested a statement, as I have for weeks from the congressman's office, justifying his accepting an award from "an affiliate" of those who feel his job should be eliminated. I never raised my voice, was never less than civil and smiling. The same cannot be said of the host, or some attendees. I take offense at the unfounded, unconfirmed and libelous accusation that I was "causing quite a disruption." The only disruption made was to the tunnel vision of their self-righteous dignity.
Would a "crazy" or disruptive individual volunteer their time calling bingo at a senior-citizen residence, or twisting balloons to entertain kids in hospitals, seniors in nursing homes and children waiting to tour Mister Roger's Neighborhood of Make Believe? Well maybe they would, but I will allow my deeds to speak for me. Can the Thomas Merton Center say the same for the actions of its affiliate?
I hope City Paper will have the integrity to retract unconfirmed allegations and apologize for the harm and loss caused by this character defamation, or at least to print this letter.