Why Kucinich leaves no room for debate: Dennis Kucinich's claim that he can't debate his opponents, Ed Herman and Barbara Ferris, at the City Club because it's outside his district is a bare-faced lie [First Punch, October 20]. I was a volunteer for Kucinich's 1996 campaign when he defeated incumbent Martin Hoke. I was present at the City Club when Kucinich and Hoke met in a debate that many believe Kucinich won. It was a major turning point in his campaign.
The truth is that Kucinich is paralyzed with fear at the thought of publicly debating his nonexistent congressional accomplishments with his two very impressive challengers. If then-incumbent Martin Hoke was gracious enough to debate his challenger, Dennis Kucinich has a moral obligation to publicly debate his two opponents at the City Club.
Unless, of course, he's a wimp.
Lawrence J. McDonald
For Want of a Punch Line
SNL's become a bad joke: I am writing in response to October 13th's First Punch article "Live from Cleveland, It's Saturday Night!" I saw SNL's season premiere, which was painful to watch. Not only did they rip-off Last Call Cleveland, but they're flat-out lying about not doing it! It was plagiarism in the purest form!
Best of Cleveland was short on comedy: I picked up your Best of 2004 issue [September 29] and was absolutely stunned not to see a single mention of local live comedy. I'm so glad I now know where to get the best manicure, but where can I go to have some laughs? Any mention or category would have been welcomed -- best comedy club, best place to see free stand-up comedy, best place to try stand-up yourself, anything.
I realize that Cleveland is the supposed rock and roll capital, and I know many of your readers love live music, but there are other forms of live, often free, local entertainment in this town. How about showing local comedians some respect?
The Nominees Are In
DiLiberto . . . Man of the Year? "Collapse of Eastern Civilization" [October 6] by Tom Francis was simply brilliant. With that in mind, I ask you, who better than former Eastlake Mayor Dan DiLiberto to win this year's coveted Art Modell Award?
Now that thousands of residents want to shove a boot up his ass for sending this city on a collision course with default, I'd say he's a shoo-in.
Real Boy Scouts pipe down about abuse: What the fuck? Did the Pipestone ceremony teach you nothing ["A Brave Never Tells," October 6]? I can't believe you would go and run your mouth like a little immature girl that just kissed her first boy. You are a true disgrace.
Eagle Scout, Troop 201
Flaming indiscretions: I want to tell you how impressed I am with your piece "A Brave Never Tells." It is a fine work of journalism and an important story to tell. I was a Buckeye Council Eagle Scout, an adult leader, and a staffer at Camp Tuscazoar. I can attest to the accuracy of your reporting.
I basically worked my way out as an adult leader in 1989, when I could no longer convince myself that I wasn't gay. You are completely correct in stating that BSA is so concerned about having gay people among them that they are blind to the real serious stuff.
The year I was on Tuscazoar's staff, there were at least 11 gay staffers that I am aware of now, including all four camp commissioners, the assistant camp director, two program directors, and the guy in the trading post. Three have since died of AIDS. All, at one time or another, participated in the Pipestone program. None was ever a danger to the kids.
I had a strong emotional reaction to your work. I realized that something I was part of has gotten so badly out of hand. But it was encouraging because the end of the secrecy will stop some of the bad stuff going on. For that you should be commended.
Start them young: I was recently approached at a grocery store here in Phoenix by a Boy Scout who wanted to sell me something. I said, "No, thank you. I don't support the Boy Scouts because you don't allow gays or atheists." The adult with the Scout got very upset and yelled at me, saying my words were "totally inappropriate to say to a nine-year-old."
After reading your article, I think my statement was even more appropriate than I realized at the time. Thanks for a fascinating read.
Stalking the wrong enemy: As a gay former Scout/Scout leader with 20 years' tenure (before they kicked me out), I read James Renner's article with great interest. I appreciate the effort he put into a story that needed to be told. This is the sad result of what happens when you create an enemy -- as the Boy Scouts have declared gay leaders -- and ignore the real enemy, pedophiles.