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Letters to the editor


Leon Gray

I'm glad Chris Davis (Fly on the Wall, October 20th issue) pointed out what I have also observed: Air America's WWTQ Progressive Talk 680-AM took a sharp turn to the right by adding Leon Gray as its local talk-show personality. For many years, we have had a right-wing anti-gay Christian talk-radio show: Mike Fleming. Now we have two. WWTQ has added another conservative Christian fundamentalist voice against science, evolution, separation of church and state, and gay rights.

Gray claims he is not being anti-gay, but he continually dismisses the legitimacy of the gay rights movement, accusing gays of stealing "civil rights" from blacks, and promoting stereotypes about the "homosexual lifestyle." He has every right to these views, but it is false advertising for a "progressive talk" radio station to call him a "liberal" or "progressive." He would be great for a Christian program.

Why does Leon Gray think that only black people should have civil rights in this country? African Americans suffered greatly under slavery and segregation, and no gay person would deny that their oppression has been different from the oppression of gays and other groups. But as Coretta Scott King keeps reminding the anti-gay African Americans who attack her for supporting the civil rights of gays and lesbians, injustice against any group is an injustice against all of us.

And what about those of us who are not fundamentalist Christians? Where is the alternative voice on Memphis radio to defend the separation of church and state and counter the false argument that this is a "Christian" nation founded on the Bible rather than a secular constitution? Leon Gray sounds more like an African-American version of Mike Fleming on these issues. We need a progressive voice to defend freedom from religion.

Jim Maynard


When I heard Leon Gray was going to be the local afternoon talk show host on the new Air America station, I was puzzled, because I used to listen to his old show on WLOK, and I didn't think he was very liberal. In fact, the only difference between Gray and Mike Fleming is that Gray is a Democrat and doesn't like George Bush.

On his WLOK show, Gray said there should be limits to free speech (beyond yelling "fire" in a crowded theater), that he thought homosexuality was evil, and that the separation of church and state was not necessarily a good thing. I wondered how long it was going to take for the real Leon Gray to come out.

Gray wants to bash vegetarians, people who smoke, and homosexuals and then claim to be a liberal. Gray needs to understand that liberals accept and conservatives reject. He is doing more rejecting than accepting and making it hard for liberals to listen to him.

K. Walker

Olive Branch

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Newspapers

In response to John Branston's column "Support Your Local Newspaper" (City Beat, October 13th issue): ah, the good ole days. Let's take Branston's logic and apply it in another way. Here are five reasons why the horse and buggy is better than the car:

1. New-car smell doesn't hold a candle to the horse-and-buggy smell.

2. No oil change necessary.

3. Ever tried to shoe a car?

4. No gas needed.

5. No need to wait in line for an auto inspection.

John Harris


City of Bad Abode

About his latest brilliant strategy, "selling off our parks," Mayor Herenton intones unapologetically: "We are moving away from neighborhood parks."

That crass cluelessness about important quality-of-life factors fits in perfectly with a Memphis/Shelby County vision of life that includes 1) letting tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars in the form of second-year-growth oak trees slowly die before our eyes this summer along the Sam Cooper expressway entrance to our city, because no one could bother hosing them once a week; 2) letting stands of trees, regardless of neighborhood pleas, be razed for the type of development that other cities learned to rethink years ago; and 3) allowing heaps of garbage to accumulate along our streets, sidewalks, and curbs.

Whether larger or smaller (including those cities with similar budget woes), no other metro area one can name even begins to approach the trashiness of Memphis. With leadership vision so retrograde, so apathetic and atrophied, the city becomes a deeply depressing place in which to live.

Memphis, once touted as "The City of Good Abode," is now a loathsome, disgusting hell-hole. It is deeply painful to admit but true: Sometimes people, in critical mass, have to admit to a dire situation in order to begin improving it.Hadley HuryMemphis

Magical Little Rock Memories

If Memphis' leaders want to consider "opportunity," Little Rock-style (Editorial, October 20th issue), I hope they know what they're getting into. There's a reason that Arkansas scrubbed its "Land of Opportunity" motto some years back.

Taking Skip Rutherford at his word can be a gamble. What he did not mention in his Rotary Club speech is the cost to the city of Little Rock over the past decade. We have the chance to observe exactly what Little Rock did wrong with their wasted "opportunity" and learn from their mistakes:

1) The city bankrupted itself on a questionable bond deal to buy land for a presidential park. The Arkansas state legislature passed a retroactive law that made the deal legitimate.

2) Eminent domain was abused to seize private property for the presidential park.

3) Little Rock sold off its city parks, closed public restrooms, and even went so far as to clear-cut and sell city park trees to International Paper and Georgia Pacific.

4) Family gatherings at parks were actively discouraged by police.

5) The Little Rock Zoo, plunged into financial ruin, lost its accreditation. It also lost a runaway bear, an escaped wallaby (it drowned), and several large rodents.

6) Little Rock was sued by the Sierra Club because of raw sewage throughout the city, including in parks and playgrounds. The Sierra Club won the lawsuit.

7) The city manager, a vocal proponent of selling off Little Rock's assets, resigned a few months after suspending civil rights during a riot that occurred at a demonstration downtown.

I can assure you, if Rutherford says people from Dallas and Memphis make up the largest portion of visitors to the Clinton presidential library, it is only because they are stopping off on their way from Dallas to Memphis or vice versa. Now Memphis is suddenly racing in a Little Rock direction with the mayor's idea to view city parks as salable commodities. He took the City Council on a bus tour of city parks with a view to selling them. I wonder if this idea occurred to him after Rutherford's little speech to the Rotary Club. If the city wants to take this direction, the results of Little Rock's experiment with "opportunity" should be considered. The events in Little Rock through the late '90s to the present are a matter of public record, so I urge Memphians to take Rutherford's words with a gargantuan grain of salt.Denise ParkinsonMemphis

I want to thank Jim Dawson, the lone anti-Clinton protester, for making my recent visit to the parking lot of the Clinton Library a memorable occasion. After snapping several pictures of the appropriately designed tribute to the Clinton legacy (an abstract construct resembling a mobile home), the elderly Dawson captured my attention and later my heart.

Besides the large handwritten placards displaying the quote that will forever epitomize the Clinton presidency ("I did not have sex with that woman"), Dawson also proudly displayed the infamous blue dress! Or at least, a blue dress.

After a brief conversation, he handed me a reprint of an article from The New York Times concerning an abortion clinic in Little Rock. Dawson was described in the article as "the solitary protester."

Dawson is not alone. America re-elected George Bush, who promised he would nominate Supreme Court justices who would adhere to our Constitution, which clearly protects the life of the unborn. Akansas can be proud of Mr. Dawson, a modern-day John the Baptist, whose voice in the wilderness awakened an entire world!Tony BarbaBartlett

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