Sound Off To The Editor

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To the editor,

I have come to the conclusion that the people who report on the Police Blotter do so with a thesaurus on their desks. How else to account for all the ridiculous adjectives that are used to describe common criminals? Multiple names are used in one paragraph, to describe one person. Why not just call them what they are — thief, crook, attacker? All those other names makes the column look like a writing contest … see who can come up with the most names. It trivializes the column.

I also can’t understand the stupidity of people who leave cash, credit cards, wallets, pocketbooks, computers, etc. in their cars. Are they living in a cave and don’t realize that there are criminals out there?

Rowena Lachant


Too white? Not right

To the editor,

As a former Piper Theatre student and company member I was deeply disappointed when I saw your publication’s announcement of the summer production of “Priscilla Queen of the Desert.” The production adds to a long line of whitewashed and de-queered productions that John McEneny and his all-white, heterosexual creative team have made palatable for the wealthy white audience of Park Slope. Since ending their Shakespeare-exclusive productions, Piper’s shows have been perfect examples of what happens when no minorities exist at the creative and executive levels of a company: shows that lack diversity and novelty, that show how white supremacy permeates even our art.

Despite their best efforts, Piper’s lack of people of color and queers in executive positions makes it impossible for their shows to be socially challenging or revolutionary. Even their attempts at best fall flat and at worst are offensive to those they’re supposedly liberating. Last year’s “Psycho Beach Party,” a beloved Drag classic, was tamed down until it was unrecognizable as the queer art it is. The show’s only Black actor played a handsome jock whose body (and penis) were the butt of several jokes, each more cringe-worthy than the last. These cheap stereotypes can be implemented when the director and people of creative power are ignorant to their implications. After I attended the show, McEneny asked me to attend a workshop the company was doing on police brutality: a valiant effort — again with no Black people in leadership positions. He asked that I speak at the talk back as a Black, former Piper student. I began to tally in my head what an invoice for eight years of the emotional and academic labor would amount to. I decided he couldn’t afford me.

This year’s production looks to be just as misguided. In your article, McEneny conflates Drag and Trans identities (there are not trans characters in “Priscilla”), dequeers and universalizes the message of the show, and puts the burden of acceptance on the oppressed people: “We are going to have our Brooklyn drag queens face Trump voters in middle America and find acceptance and win people over.” It is never the responsibility of queer people to gain acceptance from bigots. Even McEneny’s hopeful creed of people “coming together and going to theater and laughing” shows that he and his team have no idea what the queer community is facing. We are fighting for our lives. We do not need Park Slope parents co-opting the inspiration of our art.

I’m not saying white, heterosexual theatre communities do not have a place in the theater world anymore. I am saying what they make often reinforces hegemonic oppressive structures and silences the voices of those with less sociopolitical power. With the privileges they have, companies like Piper need to be mindful of who they are harming even as they attempt to help. Leave our stories be. Hire us to tell them. And in the name of Ru, Leave Drag Alone! Theatrically yours,Nia Ashley

Clinton Hill

McCarthyism back

To the editor,

It is outrageous for the Department of Education to be terrorizing students and investigating a principal for “communist activities” at Park Slope Collegiate (“Fright School” by Colin Mixson, Park Slope Courier, June 9–15, 2017). When I taught in the district some 20 years or so ago, my school included teachers who were members of or close to many socialist/communist groups — Workers World, Communist Party, League for a Revolutionary Party and Solidarity — and there were parents who were a part of many of those groups. Investigation? Not one hint of one.

And these teachers were fine teachers. And as a group we met with the principal and we developed a heterogeneous sixth grade, where there were students of all backgrounds and of all reading levels. Investigation? Not one hint of one.

I am afraid that McCarthyism is coming to New York because of the climate created by President #45 with the re-emergence of a racist, anti-Semitic and fascistic right wing. Not in New York City! The Department of Education must be stopped!Lew Friedman

Park Slope

School debate rages

To the editor,

How would you like to have these brats in your class? Two boys return from a school suspension for fighting only to fight again with knives and multiple stabbings resulting. The 12-year-old who assaulted the elderly lady three times, stole money from a tip jar in a restaurant and is suspected of armed robberies.

Something has got to be done to restore discipline in the schools. Our so-called education leaders have their heads in the sky when it comes to this problem. Ditto for the politicians. Let’s form RODS — Restoration of Discipline in Schools — and begin fining working parents of disruptive children and reducing benefits for those on public assistance until their children shape up in school. Referring such students to the Bureau of Child Welfare and bringing back the ‘600’ schools for the unruly are also in order. Even Miss Dove, Mr. Chips and Ms. Kirsch would have taken early retirement when faced with such children.Ed Greenspan


• • •

To the editor,

Mr. Greenspan, I am well aware of the problems in the New York City School system even though I have not been a teacher. I have spent many years working for the New York State Department of Labor trying to help high school students, dropouts and college students find jobs. Some of these young people may have been your students, Mr. Greenspan. I retired in 2003 just when the state ran out of funds to keep running its youth employment and training programs.

I was appalled, throughout the years, by how many students could barely read and write. Many of them could not fill out a job application. Even to get a job cooking hamburgers, you have to be able to fill out a job application. For a better job, you have to know how to write a resume. I fail to understand why New York City schools can’t teach perfectly intelligent children how to read and write. When I went to school, we had reading, spelling, grammar, and proper handwriting drilled into our heads ad nauseum. It may have been boring, but I love to read and am still a fairly good speller and can still use proper grammar. I never did master good penmanship, but, with the advent of computers, good penmanship is less important.

Mr. Greenspan, there is a need for factual information to be taught in school, but, first, there is a need for students to learn to read and write. Maybe there would be less disruption in classrooms if all the students knew how to read and learned to appreciate books.

As for the parents you had to deal with, Mr. Greenspan, many of these parents never finished school themselves, and were too busy holding down two or three jobs in order to put food into their children’s mouths to worry about how their children were doing in school. This is partially due to another problem in the school system — I wonder what the schools are doing about sex education today! During my years working with young people, I saw many teenagers drop out of school to have babies. Young boys quit school to try to help support their own children. Many of these teenagers had been raised by mothers who dropped out of school because they were pregnant. These children and their mothers often have to rely on welfare. Some of these teenagers dumped their babies on their mothers and came to me looking for whatever jobs they could get. It’s not surprising, Mr. Greenspan, that many of these mothers are unable to deal with their children or grandchild­ren’s problems at school.

It seems to me that, if the Board of Education would make a real effort to reach out to all its students and their parents, and find an effective way to teach each individual student about birth control and abstinence as well as reading, writing, spelling and grammar and job skills, the city and state would save a fortune in welfare and prison costs (many students end up in jail, on drugs, or both), and this money could go into the school system. Mr. Greenspan, I know you don’t agree with me, but I believe that a student who gets proper help won’t need discipline.Elaine Kirsch


Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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