copyright Bill Widener 2000

 The Good, the Bad...
As most writers who fancy themselves to be enlightened liberals, Karla Robinson responds to Ninie O'hara's criticism of TV programming by suggesting that one need only turn off the television if program content is objectionable [InMediaRes, April 26]. Of course, if Robinson doesn't like what O'Hara writes, she is free to not read the column. Many readers appreciate the diversity of opinion in the Herald-Leader. I wouldn't want it any other way.
Dick Anderson

Robinson is a media critic. She gets paid to read the good, the bad, and the objectionable.

Two Faces of Dr. Laura
ACE: As a recent transplant from New York, home of the Village Voice, I was kinda shocked at the palpable fear expressed over Dr. Laura Schlessinger in every other word of your article on her. [Katha Pollitt, Commentary, May 11]

If your writers and editorial staff actually think this marginally talented but (like it or not) often insightful pop psychotherapist is just the latest destructive conservative force in America that must be stopped, you've missed the big picture. For about a decade now, the liberal, all too liberal left has allowed the discipline of psychology to be occulted and politicized to such a degree that every left-leaning writer with a problem, a publisher and a spot on Oprah have become Manchurian Candidates in reverse.

Far left pseudo-spiritual psychology has become a tool of the religious orthodoxy of the far right. Schlessinger is just the latest Frankenstein that this irresponsible dynamic has produced. And there will be more of greater talent to follow until WE get a grip, and not sound the battle cry but listen to the truth in her perspective we have been avoiding.

All of the article's criticism of her statistics and hyperbole were probably valid. Even there, again, you missed the point; as witnessed by the marketplace's crowning of her ideas, opinions and comparative audacity regardless. With the essential issue of liberal lethargic hypocrisy in the Clinton/Gore era ignored (just like the Reagan era conservative greed and myopia of the eighties), the critiques (like all critiques ignoring shit we don't want to deal with) say more about those making them than the subject- the ELEVENTH stupid thing every well meaning person does to ruin their lives (beginning with their credibility)- woman or otherwise. How such a hip newspaper with the balls to have a Rhonda ("Clooneylicious") Reeves writing for it could miss this reality (or deliberately obfuscate them so as to not make a chunk of its readership uncomfortable) is beyond me.
Earl Hazell
Lexington, KY

I thought your headline was too kind. While some of my suggestions might not have been appropriate for print, surely you could have gotten by with "'Dr. Laura: SHUT UP!!!"

Because I don't listen to her (blood pressure and gastric reflux issues), I am curious as to how she expects a mother of three who receives no child support and very little assistance - financial or otherwise - can "choose" not to work. Given her "preconversion liaision," does she support prostitution as a cottage industry? ("Mommy has a visitor, so it's nappytime! We'll rent a Teletubbies tape and have a snack when you wake then Mommy might be able to afford them!").

I also am curious as to what words of "wisdom" she has for battered women. From the article and from having keyed into "" I must conclude it's something along the line of "if you stick it out, you'll get your selfish wish when you get beaten to death!"

What an odious, treacherous, stupid person Schlessinger is! But, good Heavens, what a dangerous one! Count me in on tuning out not only her, but also her sponsors...
Margaret H. Kannensohn
via email

Now THAT's an alternative
Dear Ace,

Congratulations on going weekly. Wow, was I surprised reading your reminiscences and seeing Kentucky's transgender support organization specifically mentioned [In Media Res, May 11].

We did shorten our name [Bluegrass Belles] to the gender-neutral BGB. Thing is, every time I refer to BGB, nobody knows what I'm talking about. Then a few pages further along, we get the T-word again, in recounting the character Sweet Evening Breeze. Please explain this Martha-Dyke concept from the Lexington argot. I admit I did not grow up here, and we don't have such terminology on my home planet.

But wait, there's more! In two places you write of Mariette Pathy Allen, featured in a 1994 article. This New York artist fractures gender stereotypes in her thoughtful photography of the trans community. Wish I had seen Ace at the time, as I was about to come to grips with my own gender questions. Meeting Mariette herself, at a February 1996 Kinsey-sponsored exhibition in Bloomington Indiana, probably makes up for the oversight.

One other bit I missed back then was Pickelsimer and the Cafe LMNOP. There, we total four trans-relevant references. I thank you. I really must send copies to the sisters. How welcome to note that gender variants merit some human recognition aside from lurid notoriety. Perhaps it is time to rejoin the citizens of Lex and to cease being a hermitress...

Your friendly life-form,

Marjorie DeMaille 14 May 2000

Martha-Dykes and MorphaDykes are two locally popular bowdlerized variants of "hermaphrodite" (having male and female reproductive organs) - though the terms are frequently used, interchangeably, to describe transvestites/cross dressers, transgendered/transsexual individuals, and homosexuals.

Letters Policy: Ace LOVES to publish our mail (250 words or less please); please include name and daytime phone. No photocopies. No bulk mail. First come, first served. We may edit for space and grammar; we will limit frequency; and, on popular issues, we may print one or two letters to represent a segment of public opinion. Private correspondence should be labeled “NOT FOR PUBLICATION.”

Mail: 263 N. Limestone, Lexington, Ky 40507


 Freaks Like Us
The newspapers! Sir, they are the most villainous... licentious... abominable... infernal... Not that I ever read them. No, I make it a rule to never look into a newspaper.

-Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Critic, 1779.

I always read the Sunday paper.

Reading the local daily doesn't feel like heresy to me. (Sure, if we lived in a Gannett town, the practice would be offensive, nay odious... but we don't.) So in answer to the multitude of questions we were all asked in advance of the new weekly schedule: No, I don't see the daily paper as competition. Not because of the obvious David and Goliath math (we have 50,000+ readers a week and they have... I don't know... probably more than that), but because we have one job to do and they have another.

Editorially, both jobs are important, but essentially and necessarily different. A good daily, for example, is able to faithfully and amply supply readers with a dose of Who/What/Where/When every morning, while a good weekly can accurately articulate the Why.

That's why it was surprising to see so much of our mission as a weekly expressed by a daily columnist widely considered to be - how to put this nicely? - an unskilled, ill-informed, unkind, right-wing, religious (but none-too-Christian), ignorant, biased, bigoted, purveyor of conservative wingnut zealotry.

Ninie O'Hara (recently chided by Ace's own In Media Res, in what could be considered a spectacular case of shooting fish in a barrel) is really no more than Dr. Laura-Lite. Both might be vaguely annoying (O'Hara's a gnat; Schlessinger's more like a mosquito)... but neither is especially dangerous (like a rattler).

O'Hara's newsflash this past Sunday was that journalists are different from the rest of America (and should be stopped!). She quoted John Leo's complaint (in U.S. News and World Report) that "the gap between the reporters and the general public is huge." According to her (and a vaguely-cited, but purportedly statistically significant Orlando Sentinel study of five small cities and the Dallas-Fort Worth area): journalists are "more likely to rent foreign movies than High Noon" (oh my); more likely to "read Architectural Digest than Reader's Digest" (let's hope); and more likely "to identify strongly with people who see themselves as victims of society" (the crux of the "comfort the afflicted; afflict the comfortable" mission of ink-stained wretches everywhere - standing up for the poor/tired/hungry/yearning-to-be- free rabble that O'Hara has no time for).

She also makes wildly unsubstantiated (and frankly reckless and irresponsible) claims, such as that journalists are more likely to "drink Chablis than beer or whiskey" (when everyone knows Chablis is the lambrusco of the white wine world, and no self-respecting writer would go near the stuff).

On a more serious note, she takes time to gay bash, arguing that homosexuals get preferential media treatment, citing as examples the nationwide coverage of Matthew Shepard's murder, while lamenting the lack of national coverage when "two homosexuals were charged with...the kidnapping, torture, and murder of an Arkansas boy."

She calls this "distortion," but editors have to make reasoned judgments about what constitutes news everyday. Sometimes they get it wrong (witness MSNBC's all-Elian/all-the-time debacle), but Shepard's crucifixion did meet the standard. The same way a black man getting chained and dragged to death in Jasper, Texas was news. (Unfortunately, black men are murdered everyday in Texas and everywhere else. They are not, however, lynched quite as frequently as they used to be -not even in the south, and not even in Texas. Hence: national news.)

She seems convinced that this wacky pro-minority, pro-gay, anti-child bias can be laid squarely at the doors of the (honestly, still largely theoretical) multicultural newsroom.

According to O'Hara, "Readers need to let [editors] know it's time they stopped filling newsrooms with the politically correct ethnic/gender mix and concentrated on hiring reporters whose news judgments reflect the values of 'normal' people."

Of course if her bigoted recommendation were acted on, there would be some perverse satisfaction in the fact that it would cost O'Hara her job. Because what's "normal" is a bunch of middle-aged, conservative, church-goin', God-fearin', white guys. (And we can certainly all see how well that demographic served us in the General Assembly this year.)

Kooks, spooks, gooks, kikes, dykes, and freaks need not apply in a "normal" world.

As one letter writer (above) asserts, it's possible that the opinions of people like O'Hara are published in service of "diversity." I'm not buying it. I've long secretly suspected that the daily brass has taken on the O'Haras and Dr. Lauras of this world because they secretly enjoy giving the religious right ample rope to hang themselves. (C'mon, nobody gave 'em a Pulitzer for stupidity.) And I, for one, applaud such wily subversiveness.