Letters to the Editor

From the week of October 16, 2003

Jonathan Armstrong

A Kiss Is Just a Kiss

Rodin warriors: Regarding Off Limits in the October 9 issue:

My partner, Keith, and I are the models in "The Kiss," the photo that was removed from the Denver Civic Theatre. We were surprised to get a call from a friend last Wednesday asking for prints; we had no idea the photo was intended for display at the theater, or that there had been a controversy. At first we kind of laughed, but then when we thought of why the photo was taken, we decided that the theater's actions were quite sad.

You see, the photo was a result of the real "The Kiss" being covered up by a not-so-forward-thinking group in Utah. When the statue traveled to our neighbors to the West for an exhibition, it was deemed to be obscene and was covered. In response, John Davenport did a whole series of different kinds of couples in the pose of "The Kiss" as a mockery of the actions taken in Utah. So to now have a Denver theater decide to censor the photo is not just ironic, but sad.

My partner and I have been together for eleven years. There is nothing confusing or obscene about our love or the expression of it. The photo was intended to point out the stupidity of censoring such expression. I think the Denver Civic Theatre should be ashamed of what it has done. We appreciated your calling the theater on its actions.

John W. Hayden

First things first: Katherine Rosin's commentary on why Edge's pieces were removed is the real "comedy" here. To insinuate that a variation on Rodin's "The Kiss" is sexual is a bigoted and homophobic remark, and the theory that people from New York would be traumatized by someone's artwork is truly funny. The Denver Civic Theatre wants it both ways: They want their First Amendment right to show their work "uncensored" -- but other artwork, which was requested specifically by them, should be edited for the sophisticated theater-goers attending a "Penis Pumping Event."

Mark Brasuell
Edge Gallery

Barbie Queue

Female trouble: You know, between the string of aimlessly insulting bad Barbie jokes in the September 18 Off Limits and the next week's consumer guide on precisely how much and how and when and where to pick up a Denver prostitute, I get the feeling that Amy Haimerl does not like women. At all.

S. Williams

Spin and Spin Again

Right face: After Kenny Be's cartoon depicting a mock "Conservative Arts Major" curriculum sponsored by David Horowitz, author of the Academic Bill of Rights (Worst-Case Scenario, October 2), I am pleading with Westword to stop the excessive leftist spin! Horowitz's proposal simply calls on universities to hire faculty based on applicants' academic merits rather than their personal political leanings. It does not demand quotas, numbers or any interrogation of applicants' political views at all. These sound like principles that both liberals and conservatives would agree with.

Yet instead of finding solidarity with this fair and noble plan, Westword's cartoonist simply denounced and ridiculed it with typical conservative stereotyping and outright lies. Until a university professor or faculty member can be hired based solely on his or her academic skill, students will sadly get only half an education. The left half.

Chris Ross

Left face: I enjoyed Michael Roberts's October 9 Message on the "hard progress" of liberals in the mainstream media, and agree with much of it, to an extent. However, when Roberts says the media neo-cons enjoy healthy ratings because they are more entertaining than their competition, I have to ask: What competition? During the congressional hearings on media consolidation in May, Byron Dorgan (Democrat from North Dakota) presented statistics showing that there were at least 300 hours of conservative talk radio syndicated nationally each week, compared with five for liberals. My response was: Where's the five hours? (And please don't say NPR, which could be called "progressive" in a tongue-in-cheek sense, because everything else on the radio is so far right.) That sort of an imbalance doesn't occur just because the right is "more entertaining," not in a country where "dull presidential loser Al Gore" got more votes than Bush. Could there be other factors in explaining the right-wing's media dominance?

There are plenty. One is the rightist leanings found in big-money corporate media conglomerates like those of Rupert Murdoch. Another is the fact that the nationalist macho swagger and smirking frat-boy humor of the Limbaugh types appeals to a large segment of sports fans, the other core staple of radio listeners.

Granted, the right's aggressiveness, its willingness to go for the jugular and attack, attack, attack, even if you have nothing better to offer, has a certain morbid appeal, like a car wreck on the side of the freeway. But is that territory progressives want to stake out -- and can they, even if they want to? I suspect many progressives lack the taste for blood you find on the right. Sure, liberals must be entertaining and stimulating to be heard; Michael Moore's work is proof that it can be done. But there are intrinsic difficulties in persuading progressives to sell out just to be heard, and there should be.

To pass off this staggering conservative media imbalance as simply an industry response to "boring" liberals sure lets the media off the hook in terms of balanced reporting, doesn't it?

Michael Passe

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