Letters to the Editor

Letters for March 23, 2000

The Verdict: Guns Kill People

My daughter was a friend of Penny Chang. It is with great sadness that I read more and more information about this tragedy. I feel your article ["Fatal Flaws," by Mike Tobin, March 16] was remiss as it played up the fault or errors played out by the Cleveland Clinic and the unfortunate lack of communication between the mental health community and the criminal justice system. Your article only glossed over the fact that Scott bought a 9-mm pistol at a gun show. Rather than blast the Cleveland Clinic to such a degree, you should have brought the other details to light:

1. Gun purchased from an unlicensed dealer

2. No paperwork or background check performed

3. Gun used in a murder days later

I am outraged that such a lengthy article, which took such aim at the system, failed to bring out the fact that the last line of defense for Penny Chang should have been a background check.

Whose pocket are you in?! Perhaps as an entertainment publication, you are more interested in the entertainment value of violent movie scripts that promote gun violence and normalize stalking the way the acclaimed film American Beauty did.

Of course, mental health professionals make grave mistakes. It is a profession that depends as much on trial and error, where a sane but disturbed individual can easily fake it. Just as an aircraft carrier has several lines of defense, our children need several lines of defense. And your article failed to point out that the last line of defense for Penny should have been a background check at the gun show.

Rosetta J. Craig

Editor's note: For a detailed discussion of lax gun-show laws, see Mike Tobin's "Gunning for Trouble" in the August 5, 1999 edition of Scene.

A Chain of Disappointments

That was an excellent article on Penny Chang. As a Cleveland State professor who naturally empathized with the father, I was broken up about it last year. You really did a fine, fine job bringing to light the problems with the system. It is important for this to get out to the public and for people to see this.

I am amazed -- well, disappointed really is more accurate -- that [Municipal Court Judge K.J.] Montgomery, the cops, everyone is so psychologically defensive and unwilling to say anything about their own mistake. No one in the system seems to want to admit [he or she] could have done anything differently. Or maybe they feel it, but it is too painful to say publicly. That is so discouraging. Won't they learn? How can they learn, if they don't admit they did something that could have been done differently? But it is good to see this stuff out in the public eye. Good work.

Richard M. Perlof
Professor of Communication
Cleveland State University

The Litigation Nation

Mike Tobin's piece about the tragic death of Penny Chang was superb, and I noticed in the news that the Chang family might be suing the Cleveland Clinic over the situation. While I feel that the situation could have been prevented, I do not think litigation will solve anything. In a way, the Chang family could have done more to shield their very young and naive daughter from someone who obviously was unstable.

Perhaps the police were not willing to do more, but the Changs could have pushed harder. This is not to say that the family is to blame for their daughter's death, but they should realize that the Clinic is not to blame either. Nothing will compensate for the loss of Penny's life; we can only hope that this sort of thing can be stopped earlier if it happens in the future. My heart goes out to the Chang family, but I sincerely hope they do not think that their suffering will be eased by a lengthy and costly lawsuit.

J. Bigelow

The Max for the Minimalists

Thank you so much for the article "Art for Politics' Sake" [Review of Minimal Politics at the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, March 9]. I found the descriptions of the artists and their work to be fascinating. I think it's great their work is being praised. These artists deserve a great deal of acknowledgment; their work shows great talent and is extremely thought-provoking. In today's society, one has difficulty finding something that really makes him/her think. Congratulations to the artists for creating art that can provoke such a powerful reaction from people. Once again, thank you, Scene. Your paper keeps readers informed about events in Cleveland they otherwise would have missed.

Amanda Deck

Hibachi-Grilled Sushi Slam

I have a tip for Elaine T. Cicora regarding her well-done Side Dish column "Don't Miss the Boat" [March 2]. That's all nice, but we in Cleveland seemed to have missed the boat long ago regarding Japanese cuisine. Not only the two-decade-old sushi trend, but noodle places as well. Sending sushi sailing on a boat won't make up for a lot of local Japanese restaurants pandering to deluded wannabe Asian-food gourmands slurping down greasy steakettes slapped with the label "hibachi-grilled." Come on, Clevelanders, demand the real thing.

Name withheld upon request