This is the second time I ever had the dubious pleasure of reading anything you publish, and it happened this time only because a friend drew our attention to that portion of Brian Smith's article ("Night in the City," December 3) relating to Sunnyslope.
I generally have no hang-ups related to stories that expose some of the underbelly of our city. I firmly believe that exposure is the only way to start the process of cleanup. I do, however, object to the use of vulgar language and pictures of overexposed ladies in a publication that is so readily available to minor children and young adults of mixed sexes.
Evidently, you and Mr. Smith have some misguided impression that the First Amendment blesses the use of any form of oral or written expression. Well, I don't think it does if it is deemed offensive to the senses of the community's moral values, and is without redeeming value. Other publications using the same type of language and photographs have been forced into an "Adults Only" status, which, in theory, restricts their availability to minors. All that aside, and assuming your constitutional interpretation is allowed to stand, it does not say you have to use that kind of language to get across your point.
Minimally, I would say you are most likely guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor; and more than likely, a major portion of your female readership would have qualms about any male using that sort of language in their presence. Hey, I spent seven years in the Navy. I have an intimate knowledge of the words. But I swear to you, I never used them with my wife and children, or in any setting where women were present, because, being from the old school, I believe that every woman is a lady, until she proves otherwise, by her own words and actions. Vulgar words and vulgar people exist. The only way to change that is by example.
But getting to the heart of the article, which, aside from the vulgarity, was not badly written: It once again points out the truths of poverty, a lack of an education and a low sense of self-esteem, all of which are passed by osmosis from generation to generation. Nobody can deny it. Old neighborhoods with run-down homes and apartments attract low-salaried people, unemployed people, people living on state or federal pensions, mentally ill people, alcoholic people, drug-addicted people, strip joints, adult book stores, rednecks, and sensationalist journalists. Poverty begets poverty, and in turn lures otherwise law-abiding people into a life of crime, alcoholism and the use of drugs, because they see no hope for the future. God help the young children who are raised in this environment.
By publishing Mr. Crockett's and his neighbors' sad stories verbatim, and using the broad brush of Sunnyslope, you may have given the impression that all of Sunnyslope's citizens and all of Sunnyslope's neighborhoods were filled with yahoos who choose to pile junk cars in their yards and desecrate the American flag that I served, by flying it under the Johnny Reb flag. It simply is not so.
Please, before you do another story about this community, how about checking with our Councilman Phil Gordon, the city's Neighborhood Services Department, the Sunnyslope Village Alliance, Sunnyslope Village Revitalization Incorporated or New North Town Fight Back, a neighborhood association, and let us show you that we are not all alike, and actually, there is some concerted effort to make this community better. But it takes time, money and a change of moral/social values held by inhabitants.
I was very disturbed after reading your article "Night in the City"--especially the part about Sunnyslope. My husband Paul and I were born in Phoenix 67 years ago and have lived in Sunnyslope for 40 years. It is a great place to live.
We are very involved neighborhood activists and invite you to come see our neighborhood, which is between Seventh and 12th streets, from Northern to Dunlap. It is nice. It wasn't so nice when we started five years ago. We have an after-school program at Desert View School with 90 wonderful children, first- to sixth-graders who also live in Sunnyslope.
I know some of the leaders and people in the other neighborhoods you criticized, particularly Garfield. I resented your treatment of them also. I suggest you call our councilman, Phil Gordon, who is marvelous. He can tell you about all of these neighborhoods.
I have never heard about this strange person who apparently is the self-designated "Mayor of Sunnyslope." Given Phil Gordon's reputation, along with Neighborhood Services, I am sure they would be fascinated with his living arrangements as described by you.