Wal-Mart's All Heart

Letters published October 29, 2003

Aesop Rock, with Mr. Lif, Murs, and others Grog Shop, 2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard, Cleveland Heights 10 p.m. Sunday, October 26, $15, 216-321-5588
Wal-Mart's All Heart
Time to call the ACLU: Regarding "Nigger Dave," [October 15]: Thank you for giving me another reason not to shop at Wal-Mart --not that I needed one.

At Weather Chemical Corp., where I work, these people would have been fired by their crew supervisors. Heads would be rolling fast.

How about it, American Civil Liberties Union? You're always there to protect the jerk who'd use Old Glory for toilet paper, or sue a city over a piece of trivial third-grade artwork. Why not take up Dave Thomas's cause? Isn't it worthy enough? If anyone could put the fear of God into Wal-Mart, it's the ACLU or the NAACP.

Ray Crim

God's grace versus the system: I read Pete Kotz's article, "Nigger Dave." This is such a sad situation. What a profound and truthful statement: "Like most people who encounter the law, he's found that justice is for those who can buy it." That statement could cover numerous situations -- especially medical care. By the grace of God, Mr. Thomas will persevere. Thank you for an interesting article.

Linda Booker
Franklin, Kentucky

Profiles in cowardice: I just got done reading your story on "Nigger Dave." What is wrong with his co-workers? They care, but will not come forward. I have two kids myself. If I found out that anyone was being treated unfairly, I would go all out for that person, even if it meant my job. These people may be scared or shy, but I know, if it were me, I'd rather have a clear mind than a guilty conscience.

It's too bad Mr. Thomas doesn't live closer to Cleveland. I could use a good worker like him, regardless of what race or color he is.

Douglas Vaughn

Help is on the way: Probably like most of your readers, I was deeply moved by the wrongs inflicted upon Mr. Thomas. Outraged, hurt, and sickened might be more apt. Do you know if he's still interested in legally pursuing the matter?

Jason G. Haller
Cuyahoga Falls

Editor's note: After the story ran, a number of lawyers called to offer their services. Thomas is considering a suit as we speak.

Harassment for some: In "Nigger Dave," you portrayed an individual who is alleged to have experienced discrimination. You attributed some comments and/or actions to my staff and me that I fear may leave inaccurate impressions with readers, with respect to their rights under federal law.

The staff of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is prohibited from making public any information about charges of employment discrimination filed with us. Only when EEOC files a lawsuit against an employer are we permitted to make the matter public and discuss the case.

To be unlawful, workplace harassment must be severe or pervasive. While federal anti-harassment laws are not general civility codes for the workplace, they are based on common respect principles that make work life better for everyone. Unless an employee has suffered a tangible employment action (such as a discharge or demotion), an employer who takes reasonable steps to prevent harassment and responds appropriately when harassment occurs can usually avoid or limit liability.

Whenever a charge is filed with the EEOC, our staff carefully assesses the matter to determine what investigative priority the charge should receive. It is true that some individuals perceive this to represent a form of triage, but as I emphasized, our limited resources never serve as a basis for curtailing appropriate action on a charge that appears to have merit.

The EEOC has never been more effective in ensuring the freedom for all to compete in the workplace. Here in Cleveland, lawsuits against Royal Chemical, American Metal Coatings, and S & Z Tool and Die are just a few examples of such efforts. Many other charges are resolved without litigation.

Michael C. Fetzer

Term Limits, Indeed
Bryan Williams isn't fooling these folks: Your story "Slinging Dope" [October 22] is excellent. Well written, funny, spot on.

Kevin Pisarsky
Silver Lake

Sing a song of sneaky politics: Great reporting on "Slinging Dope" -- with attitude! Your story is preaching to the choir here, but I loved reading it!

Christopher Hixson

Horrifying Hoggers
The pain's the same from junior oinkers: I just read "Big Game Hunters" [October 1] and was horrified. Sarah Fenske did an excellent job of writing about it, but what those men do is probably the worst thing someone can do to another person.

I am a 39-year-old, single, overweight woman. It is hard enough to try to find decent people to have relationships with when you are young, thin, and beautiful; it's even harder when you're not.

Is it any wonder women have low self-esteem? Someone shows them a sign of friendliness and makes them think they are special, the woman takes a chance, and -- bam! -- it was all a joke.

I had a joke like that played on me when I was in the seventh grade. This guy did a better job than those schmucks you wrote about. He started walking me to class and carrying my books and smiling and talking to me, and he invited me to the junior-high dance. The day of the dance, he said that something came up and he couldn't go with me. I went anyway and saw him with some cute blonde. I found out later that it was some kind of dare or bet. I have carried that with me all these years and can never fully trust anything a man says to me anymore.

Someone needs to tell the woman's side. I just wanted to let you know this story had a big impact on me.

Barbara Glorioso
North Royalton

Fenske has guts: From the moment I saw the cover of Scene about the practice of "hogging" ["Big Game Hunters," October 1], I knew this would be a big one. Everyone is at least aware of hogging, so why is it that people snap their necks in disbelief when hogging is publicized? Even though I am male, I would rather have this questionable practice publicized than see it kept hush-hush. Should I conclude that it is the American way to have certain injustices go unnoticed? What can be concluded for sure is that Scene isn't afraid to farm the greener pastures of journalism.

To the readers in a peeve over Sarah Fenske's article, can't any of you at least respect the courage and fortitude it took to cover such a story? Would you all rather read bland stories that offer a false idealism, where the only pressing concern is the end of the sitcom Friends? I am reminded of Socrates, who questioned his surroundings despite the fact that it warranted a death sentence. For those who were insulted by bringing such a topic to light, let the sleeping dog die.

Kelley Gaines-El the II

He-man says these dudes aren't cool: I just finished reading Sarah Fenske's "Big Game Hunters." I am a good-looking, six-foot, 205-pound male with iron-man confidence. I have had the choice of selecting women with a weight range of 142 to 241 pounds, and they all offered the same thing -- love. My assessment of Fenske's interviewees, Rick and his father, is that they both may suffer from regression to infancy and their attachment to mama. I must also question the self-esteem and confidence of all the men interviewed, and whether they really have the balls to pursue and capture a truly fine woman, large or small. Philosophy contends that "we attract that which we secretly most admire and desire," so they should wake up to why they chase fat chicks.

I appreciated the clarification by the woman who called these weaklings predators. I also cannot believe that the idiots think they lowered their standard to sleep with a plus-sized woman, yet sick Rick openly admits that "it's fat women [he] usually masturbates to." I conclude that the only swine in the article were the pigs that were interviewed.

Charly Roberts
Shaker Heights

Paint the story by the numbers: While Sarah Fenske's article "Big Game Hunters" does an obvious public service by alerting women to sexual predators, I wanted to know if this was her intent. She rightly calls some of the acts "savage." This is a story about men brutalizing women. But why? If Ms. Fenske's purpose was to expose these abusers, where were the statistics from the rape crisis center? Where were the numbers from the battered women's shelters?

The only professional Ms. Fenske quotes, clinical psychologist Michael Broder, "feels sorry for everyone involved." How sensitive of him. Does Ms. Fenske wish us to sympathize with Rick, whose dad "was never a big presence in his life . . . a typical West Side drunk"? Even Donna Jarrell, author of What Are You Looking At?: The First Fat Fiction Anthology, talks about the "confusion and ambivalence of men who want a wonderful relationship." Please. This story has nothing to do with fat women. This story is about men who prey on women to feel powerful.

Lynette K. Brown

Springer must've missed this one: After reading "Big Game Hunters," I am stunned that Jerry Springer declined to run for senator from Ohio. Jerry, come back! Your constituency is here! What does Voinovich know about "hogging" and other critical issues of our time?

The victory would be celebrated by a live, two-hour edition of The Jerry Springer Show, featuring the luminaries of Fenske's article: Rick, Mark, Scott, Jake, Chris, and Rick Gilmour, the only guy in the article with a last name. Instead of taking refuge in comfortable anonymity, they'd be on national television, warts and all.

And Jerry's audience would be ready for them. Hell, I'd rather face the Manson Family and all of its descendants than Springer's audience. They had better hope that Jerry hires some extra bouncers.

If you do it, then flaunt it. Not safely and anonymously in a Scene article, but on The Jerry Springer Show, your true spiritual home.

Stephanie Tomazic

To avoid hoggers, don't go to the trough: "Big Game Hunters" was just about the cruelest thing I've ever read. Don't these "men" ever consider that we have feelings? I'm going through a divorce from a man who called me every nasty, hurtful name in the book whenever he got upset. He didn't hold back his insults so that the kids couldn't hear them, either. This type of person doesn't care who he humiliates or who witnesses it.

Is this what women have to look forward to? I seriously doubt I'll ever muster the courage to enter the dating scene now. I think I prefer to be alone, rather than risk meeting up with someone of my ex-husband's caliber.

Laura Nicholls

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