Letters to the editor

Counsel for gay teens

Gay teens are at two-to-three times the risk for attempting suicide than other teens. The reasons for this are varied, but [two] overwhelming causes are the pressure they feel for having to hide their identity in an anti-gay environment, and a sense of isolation. The Trevor Helpline, at (800) 850-8078, is a national 24-hour toll-free suicide-prevention hotline aimed at gay or questioning youth.

The Bible does not mention the word homosexual, as there was no such word at the time the scriptures were written. The word itself was coined only a hundred years ago. Three [Bible] passages (Genesis 19:5; I Corinthians 6:9 and I Timothy 1:10) are incorrectly translated. The other three (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13 and Romans 1:26-27) are taken out of their original setting of condemning idolatrous religious practices and are wrongly used to judge and condemn people of the same sex who love each other. There are many affirming churches that are welcoming back their bi, gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

The majority of child sexual assaults are perpetrated by a close heterosexual family member or friend of the family.

Why, you may ask yourself, have I written this letter? Education of the truth is better than the many untruths and hateful words that are told. I also hope that this letter will help parents, friends, bi, gay and lesbian youth to know the truth. And that they are not alone in their struggle to break free of homophobia, bigotry and self-acceptance.

— J. Johnson
Nashville, Tenn.

Corporate media’s credibility crisis

So, our local daily is concerned about their lack of credibility and the public’s skepticism of the news that it publishes [Asheville Citizen-Times, “Newspaper launches credibility initiative,” June 15]. From what I’ve seen, that paper deserves every snide remark that comes its way.

Our local TV station isn’t any better. Last month, on its 6 o’clock news, it did a segment on pepper spray. It mentioned my federal lawsuit and gave inaccurate and distorted information. I naturally left a message for the general manager. An underling returned my call and said that he had reviewed the footage of that report and was “comfortable” with it. I then wrote the g.m., recounting what had been said to me and added that, if his people are “comfortable” with broadcasting news that is incorrect, the public has to question the accuracy of their entire news program. He wrote back saying how important trust is to them and that they make every effort to cover all sides of a news story and to interview as many people involved as possible. “Accuracy is our #l goal.” [You] sure couldn’t prove it by me!

An Australian TV station took the trouble to find me and fly a reporter here for an interview. Dateline found me and flew a reporter, producer, two camera crews, a sound-man and an assistant here for an interview. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as well as many other agencies and individuals, have found me and requested my help and information. However, WLOS, in my own backyard, can’t even pick up the darn phone in order to get a factual newscast.

Lack of credibility in the media is widespread. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is a journalist who was the Washington bureau chief for The Sunday Times (London). In his book, The Secret Life of Bill Clinton, he calls the media “incurious, slothful, consensual, pedestrian, biased without acknowledgment, fearful of challenging power, and not particularly honest … an adjunct of the governing elite.” He adds, “The reservoir of trust is close to exhaustion.” The Asheville Citizen-Times is finding that out for themselves.

Charles A. Reich, author of Opposing the System, writes: “Mass media such as television diminish the freedom of individuals to communicate — not by direct censorship (the individual can still stand on a street corner and attempt to speak to passersby), but by swamping, by drowning out, by denial of access to an audience. Few people realize that all television and radio channels belong to the public, not to networks, not to major corporate station owners, not to advertisers and sponsors. These channels were supposed to be allocated by the Federal Communications Commission in a way that served the ‘public interest.’ Channels could have been widely distributed among a diverse array of groups and interests in society. In fact, the channels were given to large corporate interests, especially those which already controlled newspapers or other important media outlets.”

For many years, I have felt that the two local media “biggies” have been more concerned with controlling the news, rather than reporting it. Three cheers for the independents who have the audacity to tell it like it is.

— Ann Ryder
Mars Hill

Hats off to Mahaffey

Kudos to Mountain Xpress writer Mickey Mahaffey for his commentary, “Clean Sweep Asheville” [June 9] — for this writer’s courage not only to speak about, but to act upon beliefs he holds sacred.

Those rare truth-tellers and truth-doers have always been persecuted by society, for the fearless clarity of their vision threatens our comfort zones and the established order of things here on Planet Earth.

Mickey Mahaffey is most definitely a truth-doer. The “felonious” behavior of this nearly extinct breed of fourth-estate reporters, editors, etc., who still shoot straight from the hip, bypasses all governmental brainwashing, political hype and super-ego bulls**t.

Because they serve up those powerful “reality sandwiches” (see Allen Ginsberg, poet) that smell and taste like Alpo, they are automatically branded as societal deviants hell-bent on treason and sedition, flag burners and/or communist spies, socialists (left-wing extremists) or, even worse, nihilists who’ve taken solemn oaths and vows to “screw the system,” which is bought and paid for by the True Believers, whose numbers are legion. The zombies, the Walking Dead, terrified to think any original thought, hot on the heels of the lead lemmings, who, unbeknownst to the masses, have already transgressed the precipice and have fallen from the cliff.

They walk and talk and suck air, thus conveying the illusion of life. But those whom the poets and prophets, artists and all other tellers of the truth terrify, to the very marrow of their bones, are already dead: They just missed the obituary page. And so they wander the Earth without thoughts, emotions, feelings or personal sacred beliefs vis-a-vis the Holy, accepting the status quo as a-priori sacrosanct; the way things are “supposed to be.”

Much like St. Exupery’s fox in The Little Prince (guru, wisdom-keeper and master teacher), Mahaffey “knows” and embodies the fox’s simple secret: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

I’ve never seen Mickey do the “soapbox shuffle,” have never heard him “preach” to or at anyone. Rather, by acting upon internalized knowledge, he exemplifies, in a most humble fashion, this most rare commodity in our high-tech, digitalized, laser-assisted and Internet-owned-and-operated “Global Village.”

Because he lives in the Land of the Heart, Mickey cannot help but smash to pieces all the slick and spiffed-up Madison Avenue lies, euphemisms and political doublespeak.

And are not the consequences of his fearless convictions so very predictable? This gentle man of peace is perpetually harassed by the local gendarmes, handcuffed, arrested and thrown into a steel cage.

Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Kosovo, Asheville — the names and faces change, but “ethnic cleansing” (a brilliantly spotless euphemism for “genocide”) is “ethnic cleansing.”

And in this cleansing process, society must destroy an entire race of people — those most rare souls in the Family of Man with the courage to manifest Truth via action, regardless of the consequences.

And here’s the real kicker: As a print journalist for 30 years, and former news editor for a daily newspaper with a paid circulation well in excess of 150,000, I can say with editorial pride that Mickey’s “one hell of a good writer,” as well.

And though viewed by many of the zoot-suited local businessmen and merchants (the real power brokers, who run the show from those ubiquitous, smoke-filled “back rooms”) as pathologically and even criminally insane, I — a “madman” in my own right — am honored to know Mickey as brother, mentor and friend.

Hats off, as well, to the editorial staff of Xpress, for the courage to print Mahaffey’s powerful and fearlessly enlightened “View from the side of the road.”

— Jeff Love

Clean Sweep tragedy

I thoroughly enjoyed Mickey Mahaffey’s “Clean Sweep Asheville” commentary [June 9]. … I’ve always heard of [apartheid] in Africa, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever contemplate it happening here in North Carolina, of which I am a native. But … nothing surprises me about this state or city ….

It is a sad day when it comes to this — a really sad day.

— Lori Anderson

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