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Letters published October 25, 2006

Can't even get the stereotype right: I almost fell off of my chair when I read your story about Michael Vu [First Punch, October 4]. I think you got the wrong stereotype. Although it's certainly wrong to say that Asians are more intelligent than other people, it would be totally correct to say that all Cuyahoga County elections workers are probably either idiots or on the take.

By the way, whose payroll is Michael Vu on? The Republican Party's? Kenneth Blackwell's? The religious right? Oh wait, I know -- mine. I pay his salary, and so do you. Michael Vu, you are a poor liar.

Christopher Keffer
Lyndhurst

Dumbasses are everywhere: Unbelievable. Why are stereotypes and race an issue in this article [First Punch, October 4]? Is the author not adept enough at making his or her point without citing racial stereotypes? The intelligence of a person has no bearing on race. Would you have titled another article "Polish Director a Real Genius"? It's as if the author was some disgruntled C-average student relishing the fact that "Hey! Check it out. The Asian isn't so smart! Woo-hoo!"

This kind of subversive journalism is what keeps perpetuating those stereotypes. Who's the editor that let this one get through?

Eva Rodriguez
Cleveland

Bad posture: I found First Punch's column on Michael Vu unfunny, insulting, and even embarrassing. I also find it hard to believe that a magazine that postures so hard to seem hip and worldly betrays itself by being so bemused by the presence of an Asian in a prominent position in Cleveland.

Would First Punch find it equally newsworthy if a Jew, African American, Irishman, or Italian failed to live up to his respective bigoted conceptions? Michael Vu may not have fit First Punch's stereotype of an Asian, but the First Punch writer would certainly fit the stereotype of a Midwestern rube.

Howard Gollop
Lakewood

Rioting for Jesus
It had to be said:
As a Christian, I am deeply offended by "The City" cartoon in the October 11 issue depicting Jesus as having hand-picked these Republicans, with a disgusting allusion to Mark Foley looking up Jesus' robe.

I am tired of the perpetual association of Republicans with family values. Just because a person is a Republican doesn't mean he's aligned with Jesus Christ. I'm sure there are Democrats who are for family and Christian-based values.

I am also disgusted with the myths and lies that permeate the media about Jesus, Christians, and so-called alliances with political parties. The world doesn't even know Him.

Derf should be grateful there probably won't be any rioting in the streets and that he doesn't have to go into hiding, but my opinion needed to be stated. That's what Jesus would want.

Karin Brain
Cleveland

Advance Warning
Knew it was coming down the pike:
The day the article "Friends as Enemies" [October 4] ran, an associate of Earl Pike e-mailed me the following warning: "Earl will probably attack you and try to prove that you are crazy, fringe lunatic, or something along those lines." I'm wondering if David Peifer's October 18 letter calling me the "Enemy of the Gay Community" counts toward that.

Most of Peifer's letter is just name-calling; the rest confirms what was reported, specifically his statement that the agreements signed by the bathhouse operators were "no big deal, since both clubs have had these safe-sex procedures and policies in effect for decades."

Judging from his letter, Peifer may not have read the agreement he signed. It reads: "Club Cleveland agrees to purchase a sufficient number of HIV testing kits through a yearly donation made to the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland for that purpose."

There are reasons that reporting that story was important. First is the deliberate campaign waged against Charles Fleck by a nonprofit corporation, with help from city officials. It could just as easily have been waged against Mr. Peifer or any other gay business owner. It should not have been waged at all.

Next, the members of the corporate mainstream media who didn't bother to check facts needed to be exposed. Their shameful performance hurt the gay community too.

Finally, those behind the campaign sacrificed their own AIDS-prevention messages on the altar of those designed to confuse the public about bathhouses, implying erroneously that bathhouses are incubators of disease. The truth is that safer sex depends on what you do, not where.

Earl Pike, who is not gay, has done many things to benefit the gay community. People are going to have to decide for themselves whether the campaign against Fleck was good or bad, and for whom.

Eric Resnick
Canton

A modest proposal: I'm a hetero who really couldn't care less what your sexual orientation is. But I do have a problem with this "bathhouse" phenomenon.

I'm not really sure what a modern bathhouse is. Don't gay people have bathtubs? Do bathhouses have super-big bathtubs? Saunas? Hot tubs? Jacuzzis? Can I get a drink after work, chill in a hot tub, and get a massage? If that's all it is, hey, that might be kind of nice.

However, the only terms I ever hear associated with "bathhouse" are "gay," "sex," "condoms," and "safe sex." Do gay people know what marketing is? Wouldn't you make a ton more money if everyone felt welcome?

Why can't it just be a bathhouse, one that welcomes everyone, regardless of who or what you're into?

Anthony Rinicella
Cleveland

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