Letters

Support in the aftermath
Thank you for the excellent story on the sexual assault case against Richard Sanchez Jr. ["The lies that bind," May 1]. So often when cases of sexual assault are reported, the public's shock soon wears off, and the stories fade in their minds. This case, which gripped the Metroplex and the nation, has been forgotten by many.

It was encouraging to see such thorough and thoughtful coverage of the longer-term effects on the children and the follow-through of the criminal justice system.

Often stories like this one are painful for people who themselves have experienced some type of sexual violence in their lives. As you may be aware, the incidence of sexual violence is at epidemic levels. The FBI estimates that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men will be raped as adults, and many researchers have found that as many as 1 in 4 children are sexually abused before they reach age 18.

For your readers who know all too well the kind of horror Kelly and Bertha Cantu experienced, it can be helpful to know that there is support available. The following agencies provide a variety of services to both female and male survivors of sexual violence.

Brighter Tomorrows Women's Resource Center (Grand Prairie), (972) 262-8383; Tarrant County Women's Center (Fort Worth), (817) 927-7273; Rape Crisis Center of Collin County (Plano), (800) 886-7273; Incest Recovery (Dallas), (214) 941-1991; Dallas County Rape Crisis Center, (214) 653-8740; Denton County Friends of the Family, (800) 572-4031.

I encourage your readers who are looking to heal from the effects of sexual violence to call the program nearest them to find out what support services are available. Thank you again for your in-depth follow-up on this tragic story.

Stephanie M. Townsend
Brighter Tomorrows Women's Resource Center
Grand Prairie

No nekkid ladies
C'mon Dave, you didn't really think they were gonna let you show yer nekkid lady pictures in a Dallas mall, did you ["Naughty bits," June 5]? This is the second tale in recent weeks of an artist who is shocked to find himself censored by a corporate "art" exhibit.

Malls have art shows to attract shoppers, who will hopefully stick around and buy a bunch of crap. Sorry to break the news, but malls don't exist to elevate our culture to a higher plane of awareness.

What's depressing is the lack of awareness among the population at large of the role that corporate culture plays in everyday censorship of news, music, and film.

David Dasinger
Via Internet

Last word on a loser
In response to Robert W. "The Loser" Howington's letter of May 29th concerning his alleged run-in/brouhaha with fellow poet Clebo Rainey: I must agree with Mr. Howington that it is indeed an ugly form of censorship to censor a poet at a poetry reading. I also believe that a poet who has any real understanding of the lyrical nature of the genre probably would not shout obscenities at women and children to add some sort of "shock-value" to his "art."

However, I disagree with Mr. Howington's assertion that the First Amendment "gives everyone in this country the absolute right to say whatever the fuck they wanna say." Nothing could be further from the truth.

While the First Amendment does afford speech and expressive conduct a degree of protection that is amazingly broad, there are types of speech that are considered to be of such low value that protection is deemed to be unwarranted. Obscene speech and speech intended to incite violence are two examples of unprotected speech; however, Mr. Howington will probably benefit more from an understanding of what constitutes "fighting words." The test is what men of common intelligence would understand to be words likely to cause an average man to fight. Such language is also held by the Supreme Court to be unprotected speech.

"Such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality," according to the court.

I would hope that the next time Mr. Howington considers getting into an obscenity-filled shouting match with one of his fellow "poets," he considers his First Amendment rights before he gets himself thrown in jail for disorderly conduct.

Michael W. Hubbard
Dallas

 
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