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Letters to the Editor

Gender and media
I want to commend you on your recent cover article, "Bombarded by Barbie," [Aug. 14] by Barbara Solow. Thank you for raising awareness about the need for media literacy education in this country.

As educators and parents endeavor to help children and teens become critical consumers of the media, we must include discussions about the impact the media has on shaping body image, standards of beauty and health, and gender roles in our society. Currently, 5-10 million girls and women and 1 million boys and men struggle with eating disorders in the United States; a recent study showed that 46 percent of 9-11 year olds diet "sometimes" or "very often." Specialists in the field of eating disorders identify the media as a contributing factor in young people's development of eating disorders and eating misconceptions. Likewise, messages from the media about standards of masculinity, femininity and power contribute to the epidemic of domestic violence and other destructive behaviors among both men and women.

To help address these problems and respond to the need for media literacy education in our community, The Women's Center in Chapel Hill is introducing a new program this year for middle school students in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. The MAGIC (Media Analysis of Gender and Image Construction) Project will include general instruction about advertising strategies and ways to view media critically, as well as lessons on how the media sells us more than just products. MAGIC educators will teach teens about how the media also sells us values about health, romance, sexuality, success and normalcy.

For more information about this project, please contact me at The Women's Center at 968-4610 or tchprograms@womenspace.org.

ADF decisions
In reference to Byron Woods' review in the July 17 Independent Weekly ["ADF Agonistes"], I would like to set the record straight. The decision to have Ariane Malia Reinhart as part of ADF's 2002 season was made in early October shortly after her sold out and highly successful New York season at the Joyce Soho (see The New York Times and Village Voice reviews), and well before I became ill in mid-December. While I appreciate Mr. Woods' interest in dance, I am saddened by his inappropriate use of what is a private family matter, my illness, to support an artistic opinion. He has made assumptions that are inaccurate and has misled your readership.

Closing doors
I read with great disappointment Steve Schewel's piece on the acquistion of the Spectator by The Independent in the Aug. 14 issue. I understand that it was a smart business move for The Independent to make this acquistion. However, what seemed to be absent in this self-congratulatory piece was the sense that real people lost real jobs in the process and that our options for "alternative" newspapers were reduced.

The only two bright spots were the point that a local, rather than a chain, paper had survived and Barbara Solow's lone note of dissent from the festive tone of the article. Even Barbara's quote was misused. It is, of course, a sad day when a newspaper shuts its doors (evoking the images of recession and whitewashed storefront windows). However, it is even a sadder day when a newspaper has its doors shut for it by another newspaper.

As a regular reader of The Independent, I would have appreciated a more honest explanation of the realities of being a weekly paper in corporate America. I think that all your readers are smart enough to understand what it takes to survive and smart enough not to celebrate when other people lose jobs.

The best medicine
It has been a long time since I laughed out loud at a humor piece in the newspaper, so it surprised me when I found myself belly laughing as I got further into June Spence's essay [Aug. 14] about Approaching the Qur'an. It was just the touch of levity this whole controversy has needed, and I thank The Independent for being the only media outlet I've seen to recognize that and publish this piece.

Controversy continues
The only reason I am still a figure of controversy after 18 years of law practice is because newspapers like yours write agenda-driven articles based on sloppy and incestuous research with "research interpretation" provided by the perjury suborners over at the Southern Poverty Law Center ["Dueling Rebs," Aug. 21].

My decision not to talk to your reporter was the correct one. Peddle your crocodile tears over the "plight" of the SCV to fools, bigots and children who might believe you. If you can convince me that you are willing to be serious and write like a real newspaper, let me know, I might reconsider.

However your attack on Public Affairs Officer, Dr. Cathey based on the blather of disgruntled and vindictive men is unconscionable. You owe Dr. Cathey and all members of the North Carolina Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans an apology.

Until then, consider yourself on the Index Expurgitorious.

P.S.: The Giffen Camp resolved unanimously tonight that the camp stands 100 percent behind Commander Carawan's appointment of Dr. Boyd Cathey as N.C. Division Public Affairs Officer.

Disappointing, very disappointing. Another hatchet job on the SCV ["Dueling Rebs," Aug. 21], and quoting, once again, the maniac-at-large Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Cartoon Center. When will you media types wake up and realize that no one cares about leftist opinion pieces, quoting ridiculous, unbelievable sources for their twisted opinions. It just makes you look bad, and forces your readers to look elsewhere for the truth.

Would The Independent quote WorldCom accountants as reliable financial sources? If not, why do your writers quote the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center? Whenever a pro-Southern organization makes the news, you call the SPLC to see what they think of us. Every time you pounce on a story about Southerners unashamed of who they are, such as Jon Elliston's "Dueling Rebs," [Aug. 21] you consult the racial gurus at the SPLC, who see white supremacists everywhere they look. The SPLC's wealthy founder, Morris Dees, has made a fortune convincing rich liberals they can buy some of his racial piety. Yet, his "Temple of Tolerance" is founded on lies, which is why Dees is known as the "Jim Bakker of the Civil Rights movement." Dees was arrested and removed from court for trying to bribe a witness in the Joan Little murder trial here in North Carolina. USA Today, Harper's, and even the liberal Montgomery Advertiser have exposed the SPLC's unethical fundraising practices. Even the Charlotte Observer concluded that Dees' organization "misinformed" the press about his claims of a rash of black church burnings. Despite all this, you unquestioningly quote the SPLC's condemnations of Southerners who refuse to sell out to political correctness.

Apparently, if fraud supports the liberal agenda, it's good fraud.

talk back
Got something to say about an Independent article? Send no more than 300 words to backtalk@indyweek.com; to P.O. Box 2690, Durham 27715; or fax 286-4274. Include your name, phone number and mailing address for verification; we cannot publish a letter without confirmation from the writer. We reserve the right to edit letters for length, style and clarity.

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