From the Kia dealer/activist himself: Regarding The Bird's column ("Bigot Bash," Stephen Lemons, April 19; also see "Ready Racist," The Bird, April 26), United for a Sovereign America believes in the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, including free speech, as colorful as some attendees' speech may be from time to time.
Calling Janet Napolitano "Crappy Nappy" (as you did) is a prerogative afforded by the First Amendment and, besides, everyone knows who they're talking about.
We believe in the rule of law, an immigration policy that is orderly, legal, and brings those who wish to become Americans and who have something to contribute to this country, rather than preferences given by means of this free-for-all for the uneducated, illiterate, unskilled, non-English-speaking foreign nationals streaming across our southern border without a care in the world about breaking our laws.
Your determination that those exercising free speech are racist and/or xenophobic is apparently based on the fact that you don't agree politically, prefer socialism, communism, anarchy and/or illegality to the rule of law.
The rule of law is not racist, it's practical.
Rusty Childress, Phoenix
Third-grade reasoning: About your distasteful left-wing propaganda on Rusty Childress Kia, what does selling legitimate Korean cars have to do with illegal immigration? Is it illegal to sell Korean cars? Your reporter comes in with negative left-wing slander on issues that you don't have correct facts on.
As if your rag isn't nasty enough, now you just add your racist remarks on true patriots of America who believe in the law. Half of what was said in your article with name-calling is completely untrue.
I hope your readers are not as naive to believe this anti-American sickness that you express. I have seen third-graders write better stories then this one.
Name withheld by request
Pot calling the kettle, um . . .: You go, Steve. Show your bigot colors! You talk about "bigots" on the one hand, but you begin your gossip column by using a slur against a minority person, who I'm sure will forever be identified by you as only that one thing, as if she were nothing else: lesbian.
"Butch-lesbo" is a slur. It's the same as a racial slur, but it's sexist and homophobic. And as a straight man, you are not allowed to decide whether or not I qualify as "butch," a term which I do not appreciate or agree with. And it's not your place to identify me as a "lesbo," which is a pejorative term, just as much as the terms radio personality Don Imus recently used. I've reported you and New Times to GLAAD for your bigotry.
[See also New Times' cover story on Lawless and her Mexican flag-burning ways: "Burn Baby Burn," Stephen Lemons, February 15.]
Laine Lawless, Mesa
Got some splaining to do: Would Stephen Lemons kindly explain exactly why he considers Don Imus' calling a predominantly black women's college basketball team "nappy-headed hos" to be "far less offensive" than Republican pundit Ann Coulter's referring to politician John Edwards as a "faggot" ("Apology Addicts, The Bird, April 19)?
Any Democratic presidential hopeful is obviously a legitimate target for any of the right-wing attack dogs, and Coulter's hate speech is well-documented. On the other hand, the Rutgers ladies worked their butts off and succeeded beyond everyone's wildest dreams, but instead of receiving the acclaim they so richly deserved, they had to suffer Imus' remarks, which were both racist and sexist.
Imus' comments were offensive to women, in general, and young black women, in particular. Coulter's jibe was so pathetic it was almost laughable.
John Rycraft, Phoenix
The wife/playwright sounds off: As the playwright and co-lyricist of Diet! The Musical, I do agree with one [sentiment] in Robrt L. Pela's review ("Crashed Diet!," April 26). I feel absolutely no need to apologize for presenting humorous stereotypes to address the social prejudices and emotional challenges faced by overweight people in our cruel and superficial body-conscious culture.
It's too bad Mr. Pela evidently lacks the intellectual capacity and the basic human compassion to recognize that I place my characters in shocking situations to expose the harsh realities faced by folks who don't fit the mainstream media's myopic idea of "beautiful," "desirable," or "socially acceptable."
Mr. Pela had no way of knowing that I write from my own experience as an obese woman who has battled lifelong eating disorders and, at times, faced romantic and professional rejection because I wasn't a perfect size 2. If my words push buttons, they should. The show's protagonist, Lynne, struggles to acknowledge her inner beauty when her reflection can't compare with Angelina Jolie's. Roommate Pat, who is truly obese, faces job discrimination because of her size. And, yes, Pat finally meets a man who truly adores her Rubenesque figure. (So did I.)
I found it really sad that Mr. Pela couldn't find the beauty of my gay character, Fabulous Freddie, Pat's benevolent fairy godmother who is unabashedly effeminate and truly proud of his sexual orientation. (Does Pela also have problems with Queer Eye for the Straight Guy?) One wonders if Pela has worked through his own sexual-orientation issues, considering the size of the chip on his shoulder.
Susan Simpson LaFave, Phoenix
The husband/co-lyricist chimes in: I was a critic for 20 years before I left the Arizona Republic, and I have never read as incompetent a review as the one by Robrt Pela of my show, Diet! The Musical.
To begin with, in the most obvious lie (not distortion, lie), Pela writes: "In between, there are unfunny scenes in which we're told that fat women are beautiful inside but don't stand a chance of anyone discovering that inner beauty because no one can get past their piggishness to see what's inside."
Pela sets this up as if it is a message of the script, but, in fact, it is a sentiment delivered by a character who later is clearly proven wrong. It is as if he had gleaned the message of West Side Story as hate! Hate! Hate! Consider how incompetent this makes him as a critic.
Pela says the show is not entertaining but fails to report that the audience in attendance when he saw the show laughed so hard that some lines got buried, and that it gave our show a standing ovation. When I was a critic, I always made sure that if I disagreed with the response of the audience, I, at least, noted the audience's opinion. Pela fails to mention any facts that call his viewpoint into question.
Pela also makes the focus of his review a single character in the second act! This is so stupid it doesn't require further comment.
Finally, as evidence of his severe inability to write reviews, he fails to mention who directed the show, and who the actors were other than the one he found offensive.
I have heard from others in the theater community that Pela is woefully unlettered and unskilled, and that he lets his private life drive what he writes the most vulgar M.O. for a critic. Now I believe it.
Kenneth LaFave, Phoenix
Sick of the stereotypes: While I found Diet! The Musical funny in places, and so did much of the audience when I attended, I agree with Robrt L. Pela that the gay character was offensively over the top.
Why is it that whenever current playwrights need a homosexual character, they feel they have to conjure up a silly queen that would make the lead in La Cage Aux Folles seem like Chuck Norris?
As a gay man, I've long been sick of such offensive stereotypes. Beyond that, they are boring and predictable even to gay bashers in the straight world.
Richard Y. Jones, Phoenix
LAWYERS AND MONEY
Singling out a saint: This was a very good article, shedding light into what for most of us is a dim and murky aspect of contemporary society, and the author is to be congratulated for the thorough examination and presentation of this issue. Yet I would add a comment about the portrayal of contract attorneys as money-grubbers who take little interest in the process beyond the pay they receive ("Outrageous Fortune," Paul Rubin, April 19).
I knew Patricia O'Connor years ago, and we have drifted apart, but the Patricia O'Connor I knew was one of the most dedicated and caring attorneys I have ever met. The woman lives and breathes her work, caring deeply about the situations of these neglected children, and I have known her to wipe a quiet tear from her eyes in an unguarded moment as she reflects upon what she was able to do for these kids, and what she was not able to do.
In my opinion, the woman is a saint, the Mother Teresa of guardianship proceedings in the Valley. And though the countless children she has saved through her work will not be remembered, the work she has done for all of us as a society certainly should be.
O'Connor deserves every dime of the pay she receives for her representation. She is there for those kids when nobody else will stand up.
John Timothy Miller, via the Internet
CPS always wins: As for your story on "private lawyers in Maricopa County child-dependency cases soaking us for big bucks," I have a great way to save money here simply do away with dependency hearings, as CPS always wins.
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Okay, okay, I will admit my first comment is on the "flip" side, but it is true: Child Protective Services always wins initial dependency hearings. The author should have included this in his facts . . . But in truth, the ballooning of money collected by people who do CPS stuff is only the result of the governor's take-the-child-and-run edict given to CPS. This has resulted in a near 40 percent increase in dependency cases since Janet Napolitano took office.
Kudos to the author for disclosing that all this is kept secret, as no one connected with the CPS foster-care panic wants light shed on their incompetence, an incompetence that even CPS admits in its latest reports.
I say: More articles like this one and let the light shine in!
Walt Plunkett, via the Internet
Indeed, outrageous fortune: It is about time somebody wrote on this topic. The whole contract-award system in Maricopa County is outrageous!
Name withheld by request