She is NOT UNCool!
To the Editor:
Since my election to the City Council, I've been regularly berated, called stupid, and cussed at by the mayor and others. Yet, I've always maintained my cool. Now, Jackson Baker calls me an "uncool" politician in his primer of "Politically Cool" (June 16th issue) for saying his criticism of being "too ambitious" is gender bias. Noticeably, I'm the only never-indicted elected official in the bunch. If that's uncool, I'll take it any day.
Isn't ambition the premise upon which our democratic society is based? The American dream? That any person has an equal opportunity to compete. And that the most competent, capable, resourceful, and hardest-working will have a chance at the brass ring, regardless of who they are. Do you think Danica Patrick was considered "too ambitious" when she recently came in fourth in the Indy 500? How about Madeline Albright or Condoleezza Rice? How about Lieutenant Claudia Kennedy, the first female three-star general in the U.S. Army? Does Baker even realize that he's super-uncool to suggest that a woman today doesn't deserve the same opportunity to compete for a promotion as a man?
Baker should go back to school for his own primer on why women are needed for service in higher office and the challenges they face. As for me, since I can't win with him either way, his continuing over-the-top efforts at a smear campaign won't stop this professional woman from speaking my mind, and competing if I so choose. It's my right as an American citizen.
Memphis City Council
Editor's note: For the record, Jackson Baker has never suggested that "a woman today doesn't deserve the same opportunity to compete for a promotion as a man," nor has he ever disputed the need for women to serve in higher office. He merely suggested in a tongue-in-cheek article that Chumney was "uncool" for responding to others' criticisms with unsubstantiated allegations of gender bias. See letter above for a case in point.
To the Editor:
The reparative program "Love in Action" (Viewpoint, July 16th issue) is truly delusional. In 1978, as a teenager, I went through a similar program in Houston and wound up suicidal, almost killing myself. I later came to realize that one's sexuality is infused throughout your entire being and to hate any one part of who you are is to hate all of you. I also came to understand that being gay is a part of God's plan for me.
It took until I was 29 for me to find peace. I will soon celebrate 15 years with my partner. He's my best friend. We have a happy, well-balanced life together. We are good citizens. We are good neighbors, and we love and are loved by our families. We are involved also in our church, which is Baptist and obviously progressive. Being gay does not mean living irresponsibly or selfishly or hedonistically. It simply means you have a biologically based, inherent sexual orientation toward members of your own sex.
Every mainline Christian church and most worldwide religions are debating this issue precisely because there are differences in interpretation of respective sacred scriptures. We will probably never all come to a common agreement. One thing is certain, however: We are all called to have respect for one another and for our own lives. We will never live together in peace if we demonize each other.
To the Editor:
It's hard to imagine a more tragic and wrongheaded response to your child's homosexuality than to force him or her to enroll in a program like the one run by "Love in Action." The sad story of the Bartlett teen and the LIA program should trouble everyone with a conscience and should prompt the clergy and members of the several Memphis area churches affiliated with LIA to rescind those ties at once. (Interestingly, a list of those churches was displayed prominently on the LIA Web site last week but no longer appears there.)
Much of the hysteria about homosexuality, including the completely bogus claims that gay marriages would somehow threaten the institution of marriage and thereby undermine heterosexual marriages like mine, does stem from a lack of knowledge about what homosexuality is and is not. I assume that the parents of the Bartlett teenager love him and think they're doing the right thing in hiring LIA to try to reprogram him into a "normal" heterosexual. Many of the folks who work for LIA are undoubtetdly well-intentioned. But, alas, efforts to brainwash this teenager simply won't work.
The best way to show our young people, gay or straight, that we love them is to accept them for who they are, the way that God made them.
B. Keith English, M.D.