Bart: Man of Opportunity

Letters published January 24, 2002

The Count of Monte Cristo
Pulling more Wolstein over our eyes:

I recently read the article "Menace II Suburbia" [December 6] and was very disappointed in the tone and the fact that I was not asked to discuss and answer questions about Mr. Wolstein.

I have been an employee of Bart's for the past 14 years and believe that he deserves much better than was written. Bart and his wife, Iris, have always treated my family and me with respect, like we are part of their family. He has always been very fair and has given me the opportunity to achieve the goals that my family has set in business and life.

I was very upset that I did not get the chance to give your staff my view and tell them of all the wonderful opportunities that have been granted to me and others I know. I think, for a man who has given so much of his heart and soul to the city of Cleveland, it would have been fairer to print much more of the good that people like myself and others have to say.

Rob Benjamin

Free Times comparisons aren't fair to Nader:

The Free Times reads like a Green Party press release ["The Art Modell Awards," December 27]? What a completely unfair thing to say. The Green Party certainly has its share of "save the deer weirdos," but there do exist Greens who have the gift of sanity.

Ralph Nader's campaign platform included a truckload of majority opinions, which, I grant you, went largely unheard. If only Nader had been born a fire-breathing ass-kicker, maybe we'd get some of the crooks out of office. I liked your article. Just had to throw that in. The Free Times should be compared to The Village Voice. Why not? They tell them what to do.

Josh Gallaway
Cleveland Heights

Envisioning a society safe from children:

My heart was warmed and my soul was incensed by Martin Kuz's "The Lepers of Chester Township" [January 3]. State Representative Tim Grindell is leading such a noble and worthwhile crusade to eradicate warm, caring, nurturing foster homes. Even more appalling is his blatantly ignorant rationale that "this is an issue of putting emotionally disturbed children . . . into residential areas. This is an issue of safety." Could someone kindly give me an alternative? Eradicate all "emotionally disturbed children" from "residential areas"? That could potentially deplete a neighborhood, and thus the problem would be solved.

Point fingers where the blame belongs: a system unprepared to respond to the ever-increasing societal factors that prey on today's youth. It is a system that is readily attacked and criticized when the children affected are not your own. It is a system that supports a state representative who believes "emotionally disturbed children" have no right to live in "residential areas." Hal and Billie Elston, may your spirit and vision remain strong.

Wendy Sauder

Everyone needs a steel girder sometime:

The problem with Mark DeForest's letter ["God Had a Busy Day," November 22] is that it tried to prove to us that God was around on September 11. The problem with Derf's cartoon [The City, October 18] and the letters by Rick Vodicka and Jim Thomas ["Maybe God Took a Day Off?", December 20] is that they tried to say that God doesn't exist. Either way, we have people trying to force their spiritual beliefs (or vehement lack thereof) on others.

The fact is, it doesn't matter if God was there or not, because the desire for God's presence depends on your beliefs. The steel-girder cross was there, and it looked like a pretty good fit for a human crucifixion, making it for some a replica of Jesus's cross and a comforting sign from God. Derf, Vodicka, and Thomas all cheapen this through their cynical skepticism, and they miss one important point: The cross was a comfort for many, many people. When Thomas asked why people need God to rationalize bad things that happen, he ignores the fact that a lot of Christian survivors looked at the cross as a comforting sign from their God. Again, it doesn't matter if God exists or not, because that's not what non-Christians should be looking at. The mentality among non-Christians should be "Okay, Christianity is nonsense, but a lot of people whose lives were torn to shreds look to the steel-girder cross and feel a little better, so it's cool."

With so much confusion and so many lives lost, it doesn't matter if they're right or wrong to rely on their belief in God. What matters is that, if not for the cross, a lot of people might still be without comfort. Vodicka's and Thomas's refusal to accept the cross's ability to comfort makes them just as intolerant of conflicting spiritual beliefs as Jerry Falwell and the Taliban.

Matthew Sharkey

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