Written Off
I have compiled a list of sexual phrases and words of profanity found in the April 23, 1998, issue of New Times.

I'm not an uptight, far-right suburbanite. Simply a well-rounded 30-something who, by all accounts, can handle just about anything in print. But this, this blatant, profane intrusion into a casual read, just knocked my socks off.

So I thought I'd take a thrill ride through the pages of your columns and articles. Lo and behold, 60, sixty abuses of the English language.

Yes, you shocked me. Intended? Who cares? Is it necessary? How does copy editor Katie Schmidt feel about these derogatory phrases? Proofreader Stephen Gobbell must get a male-enhancing kick during his check for grammatical and clerical errors.

I doubt that any of these terms are in the Chicago Manual of Style. Then again, who would know? There's no need for New Times reporters to turn to such an outdated, overrated reference for professional journalists.

For the past 12 years, I've enjoyed New Times for its depth, integrity and ability to tell the truth. I've winced at the insurgence of the profane, but always thought New Times kept a keen balance. No balance exists in 1998. Since alternative journalism of the late '90s seems solely to rest on shock by using derelict phrases to get a point across, you can count me out of your readership.

Ain't that a fuckall.
Karen Grooms, editor
Auction Weekly

For years I have enjoyed the New Times but have been increasingly annoyed with the cartoon Red Meat to the point of furor. It is consistently without artistic talent, showing what appears to be identical clip-art throughout each strip, and the dialogue becomes more and more offensive each week. The April 30 issue's strip, involving the dipping of live rabbits into liquid nitrogen, was even more appalling than the numerous strips about the sexual exploitation of children. As both a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and a survivor of child abuse, I'm left with no option other than to discontinue reading New Times, and rest assured that I will miss no opportunity to discourage others from reading what has now become trash. With such reputable publications as The Rep available now that provide similar information (and seem to be less than 90 percent advertising), why should I allow myself to be repeatedly offended and outraged?

Rob Branch-Dasch

Sculpt Ability
I enjoyed Amy Silverman's article titled "Framing Marilyn Zeitlin" (April 30).

FYI: Through Marilyn Zeitlin's efforts, Arizona State University has just recently been donated an art sculpture (arguably worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars) for just the cost of moving and installation. Subject piece is located to the east of the Music Building (north of Gammage Parkway and east of Mill Avenue), thus lending further credence to Zeitlin being a real asset to the university and community.

Richard Collins
via Internet

Purple Heart
I was hired to work as a social worker at the Arizona Veterans Service Commission in July 1997 ("Competence Goes AWOL," Paul Rubin, April 30). I began working there in August. In my 20 years of social service work, I had never encountered such unprofessionalism. I have never seen worse files in my entire life. The room they were in was a shambles. The clients are at risk!

To remain, I would have had to breach my personal and professional code of ethics. I quit after six days.

Lita Perna, M.A., CSAC

Shelter Skelter
After reading Barry Graham's piece on Lloyd Vacovsky ("Lloyd's Bridges," April 30), I felt compelled to offer my two cents. At this writing, I am currently residing in the Central Arizona Shelter Services facility. I've been in here about two months. When I first came in, I was assigned Lloyd as my case manager, and I couldn't have asked for a better one. I haven't had the misfortune of being an alcoholic or a drug addict, and so I've mainly needed Lloyd for bus tickets and support in getting my housing. But I have very little doubt of the compassion that the man feels for people with those problems. I have seen both the people who deal with those things and the way those people are dealt with, and it's people like Lloyd that make all the difference. Thank God for him!

The only problem I had with the article is the focus on people who are afflicted with drug and alcohol abuse. I invite Mr. Graham over to talk with the people here, and he'll see we're not all like that.

Jon Krieger

Thank you for the article about Lloyd Vacovsky and his use of Naltrexone for alcoholism and opiate recovery. Lloyd really is one of those movers and shakers; he's breaking new ground with this profound new medication.  

Bryan Cunningham
Sun City West

Heavy Traffic
Barry Graham's tautological advice ("Ticket to Deride," April 23) ranks right up there with Hillary's revelation that there are things in life more important than money and career as a nominee for the "Bloody Obvious Truths That Most People Figured Out in Junior High" Hall of Fame. I expect most people are aware that it is in your best interest to be polite when pulled over by a cop. I have more than once escaped tickets when I was obviously in the wrong simply by being polite.

Graham relates three points at which he is rude, opening his conversation by demanding of the cop "what the hell he thought he was doing." It is not until he tells the cop where to shove his ticket that it occurs to Graham that he might be pursuing an injudicious path. True, Graham is free to be self-righteously cocky when pulled over, but he displays an embarrassing ignorance of human nature when he is shocked that he gets a ticket and the judge makes it stick. He can swaggeringly tell his buddies (and his readership) about how he really told that cop off while he writes a check for the completely unavoidable ticket. I, on the other hand, control my temper, keep my cash and let dunderheaded firecrackers like Graham increase government revenues.

Brad Whittington

First, I commiserate with Barry Graham's "Ticket to Deride," not so much for the ticket he got and possibly didn't deserve, but rather basically for his owning a Ford Aspire. A word of advice for Graham: In shopping for a car next time, you might want to consider performance. Sounds like the cop may have singled him out because he figured he couldn't get away.

Second, I want to thank Michael Lacey for his beautifully written and brilliant column "Dome Luck" (April 9) about opening day at Bank One Ballpark. And scoring a baseball bat from Larry Walker, that little guy "Lucky" certainly had a magical time. I put myself in Lucky's shoes and, needless to say, felt young again. As it is so often, Lacey not only is on the right side, but helps negate the price of admission.

Philip Paul

INS and Ousts
As a father of two daughters, I am appalled by the prospects of Xaviera Makinde's impending genital mutilation ("Blade Runner," Barry Graham, April 16). The even bigger picture of an American citizen being deported to Nigeria is unsettling, at best. I do not pretend to know the ins and outs of some arcane immigration law procedure that would allow this to happen. Can the people who keep denying her appeals look into the eyes of their own children and imagine this mutilation occurring to them? Maybe they should.

I, for one, cannot imagine a father doing this to his own daughter. I cannot imagine this being done at all. I respect that these INS attorneys have heard a million stories and have become perhaps a little jaded. If they were to meet Xaviera, could they look into her eyes and send her off to a country she has never known, where the language and customs are different? And, oh, by the way, they're going to mutilate you, also.

Xaviera was brought here as an infant, totally innocent of any wrongdoing. Is she a drag on society? Is she a criminal? Is she a hazard to those around her? Can she be a productive citizen of the United States? Can she contribute to the greater good? There are no guarantees, but aren't these more important questions?

Bob Groom
via Internet

Barry Graham's account of Xaviera Makinde's dilemma is a chilling reminder of the danger of belonging to a society in which genital mutilation is considered a normal everyday procedure, and we can hope that she escapes the knife. But to characterize male circumcision as the simple removal of superfluous skin that has no effect on sexuality displays a certain ignorance of the facts. This lack of knowledge may be understandable. Few studies of the foreskin have been made since the 15th century. Today, medical textbooks commonly illustrate the penis sans the foreskin. The texts seldom mention it, much less discuss its purpose. American physicians are profoundly ignorant of basic foreskin anatomy, and they cannot be relied on for any information.

All of this is now changing. Detailed studies during the past five years have shown that the natural sexual functioning of the penis depends entirely on the foreskin.

With this new understanding, it can be clearly demonstrated that the circumcision of newborn male babies is not simply a harmless removal of superfluous tissue or a basic rite of passage. It constitutes the sexual mutilation of helpless, nonconsenting infants, and, as such, it is an especially egregious form of child abuse.  

These new studies demonstrate first of all that the inner surface of the foreskin is not in fact "skin." Rather, it is highly specialized mucosal tissue, richly supplied with blood vessels and highly innervated. These nerve receptors are of a richer variety and a greater number than that possessed by any other part of the penis. Along with the frenulum, these nerves constitute the body's primary orgasmic trigger.

By contrast, the glans is almost insensitive to light touch, heat or cold, and perhaps even to pin-prick. What sensitivity it does enjoy is protected by the foreskin. One might say that the glans is designed to stimulate the foreskin. Analogous to the eyelid and as remarkably thin, the foreskin protects and preserves the sensitivity of the glans by maintaining optimal levels of moisture, warmth, pH balance and cleanliness. Sebaceous glands provide natural lubricants necessary to the proper functioning of the penis during coitus.

Removal of the foreskin at birth destroys natural protection, eliminates the natural lubricating mechanism and amputates three feet of veins, arteries and capillaries, several feet of nerves, the preputial muscles and 60 to 80 percent of the penile skin system. The severe and unalleviated pain of the procedure has long-lasting and irreversible effects upon the baby, altering the pain receptors of his young brain. In a system designed for pleasure and expressions of sexual love, the extraordinary and excruciating agony of circumcision encoded on his brain is a telling feature of our society. During the procedure, the child typically screams with pain and then goes into profound shock. Perhaps if mothers would first voluntarily undergo a circumcision procedure similar to the one they would force upon their helpless newborn sons, the practice would end almost immediately.

The circumcised penis is characterized by a raw, exposed glans that heals in a process that measurably thickens the surface, resulting in desensitization, and it takes on an unhealthy sclerotic appearance. This tissue characteristically lacks resistance to infection and trauma, providing entry for microbial invasion. The United States, with the largest number of circumcised sexually active adults in the world, has the highest rate of sexually transmitted disease. And recent studies have disproved the myth that foreskin causes penile cancer.

None of this details the risk associated with circumcision. Many babies are mutilated beyond having the foreskin removed. It is not unknown to have the entire penis amputated during the procedure. Infections are common, and the death rate is one in 500,000.

About half of all births in Arizona are financed through the AHCCCS program. Half of those births are males, whose circumcisions are paid for with tax dollars. Arizona taxpayers are financing sexual child abuse.

Circumcision is a billion-dollar industry in the United States, where more than a million infants are mutilated yearly. Many hospitals charge the parents for the procedure, then collect the foreskins and sell them to cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies.

Three candidates for Arizona attorney general all claim that their first priority is to work to prevent sexual child abuse. One candidate has even demanded the death penalty for those so convicted. One of them has said that she does not disagree with the circumcision of male infants. I do not know the family histories of these candidates, but it would be fascinating to discover how circumcision enters into their lives.

As distressing as it is to hear of Ms. Makinde's struggle, there seems to be a far bigger story right under Mr. Graham's nose.

Rod Anderson
(The National Organization of Restoring Men)

Phunk Fan
Awesome article on the Phunk Junkeez ("Junkeez for Life," David Holthouse, April 9). I've been a fan since '90, even after their breakup and regroup. I really do hope their new album does well. I'd hate to see a band like PJ go down. They are a great show to see. It's just too bad some people don't know.

Matthew Magee
via Internet

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