I knew it would only be a matter of time before someone from the Flyer started whining about World Overcomers' revised Statue of Liberty, and Bruce VanWyngarden did not disappoint (Editor's Note, July 6th issue). Ah, the irony of it all, when liberals are offended by a piece of sculpture.
VanWyngarden summed it up best when he wrote, "I wouldn't give them two cents for it." The church didn't use his "two cents" to erect the offending statue. It's their money and their private property. Could they have spent the money on something more useful? I certainly think so. But I'm not a member of the church, and I've never sent them any money. So, unless they're violating some city code, why all the hand-wringing?
I seriously doubt that Lady Liberty and all that she represents will be diminished by some tacky statue on Winchester Avenue. And besides, isn't a tacky statue on Winchester par for the course?
I understand the point that the church was trying to make, but it was done in poor taste. If they wanted to erect a true copy of the Statue of Liberty, that would have been cool. They even could have put the articles of the Constitution at the base, next to the Bible verses that many of the articles were derived from.
Like it or not, the Founding Fathers were Christians, and that carried over into much of what they did. And Christ, like Lady Liberty, accepts all who come to him. But I do believe the church could have found a better way of making their point, especially for the hefty price they paid. Can they simply ask for their money back?
Ivison R. Bedard
Thank you for Jackson Baker's insightful story about the brief on-air career of Leon Gray as a talk-radio host on WWTQ AM-680 (June 29th issue). Gray will be missed -- not because of his liberal political views (in fact, he was rather moderate to conservative on most issues) but because of his civility and basic decency. He cared about our community and treated callers with respect. He tried to be open to other viewpoints, even when they challenged some of his deeply held convictions, including his opposition to homosexuality.
Gray was interested in building bridges instead of tearing them down, and he was right to criticize the excesses of some syndicated hosts on the Air America network. More than a decade ago, I predicted that a liberal version of right-wing rant radio could prove equally offensive and divisive. I argued then -- and now -- that the main problem with right-wing radio was not its extreme politics but its incivility and malice. Sadly, Janeane Garofalo, Rachel Maddow, and Sam Seder often appear to be trying to out-do Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage in a name-calling competition.
Like Gray, Al Franken -- and surprisingly, Jerry Springer -- point the way toward what talk radio could be: a civilized forum for the discussion of important issues (instead of a place to tune in for regurgitation of the latest liberal or conservative talking points). It wouldn't require partisans to modify their views, just to respect others' viewpoints. Civility and community go hand in hand.
B. Keith English
There's been much written about how there is now nobody from the left to counter Mike Fleming's afternoon show. If any radio station wants to make some money, their best bet is to put on Da Man: Bill O'Reilly. Even Oxford and Starkville have the O'Reilly radio show. I'm shocked that Memphis doesn't. O'Reilly is the best newsman and analyst around -- fair and balanced, no doubt.
Maybe when Air America folds, we will be lucky enough to get Bill! What do you think about that?
J. Cole Mitchell
Editor's note: I think Bill O'Reilly is a half-baked falafel.
Madison Avenue Dangers
If you're a motorcyclist, stay away from the trolley tracks on Madison Avenue. Your tires can get caught in the tracks and cause you to wreck. I know of several people who have wrecked their motorcycles there. I wrecked my Dyna Wide Glide but was lucky because I was going slow and only got $400 in damages and a little road rash.
i>W. HendrixHorn Lake, Mississippi
Correction: Paul Taylor's new album, which we wrote about in last week's issue, is called Open/Closed.