The Mail 8/27/14

City Paper

Suicide Solution

I would be remiss to not respond to Mr. Jon Swift’s reply (The Mail, Aug. 20) to my letter that ran in the Aug. 6 edition of City Paper regarding best practices in reporting on the topic of suicide.

Mr. Swift, it seems that buried in your invective is the point that sharing with journalists the best practices in reporting on suicide infringes on a free press, and is akin to advocating for government censorship of the news. You call the NIMH reporting recommendations a “diktat,” which is rather strong language to use for a list of well researched suggestions. No one is forcing any journalists to follow these recommendations. You yourself note that in my initial letter I did not order CP to obey the guidelines (though, you seem imagine a letter in which I did), rather, I simply ask for their journalists to become familiar with the guidelines. If Mr. Ericson were aware of the guidelines, but decided deliberately, with editorial input, to include the details of Mr. Levy’s death because they were critical to the story, then I have no argument. My only request is this: that reporting details of deaths by suicide be done deliberately with full knowledge of the potential impact. Words are important.  

This issue has become particularly poignant in the wake of Robin Williams’ death. Just last week on the Diane Rehm Show, a guest journalist discussed that following Mr. Williams’ death there has been a movement within journalism circles to not put attention on the means used, and that previous to Mr. Williams’ death many journalists were not aware of the issue of contagion and the impact that the manner in which suicides are reported can have on limiting deaths.

Personal to Mr Swift: Reference to Nazis, use of CAPS, and an anti-Judas Priest comment all in one letter? Yahtzee!

Amy Greensfelder
Baltimore


Soderberg: Really?

It’s all fine and dandy for City Paper to nurture new writers and critics, but it appears that putting the pen into Brandon Soderberg’s hand is akin to putting a loaded Glock 9mm into the hands of a fifth grader.

In the music blog  “No Trivia: Thoughts on Ferguson” (Noise, Aug. 15), Mr. Soderberg begins with the claim that a murder occurred in Ferguson, that Tyrone West’s death was completely erroneous, and that the government should “give” Americans health insurance “like everyone else does.” Hmmm
. . . Murder is a legal term, post-conviction. Had Tyrone West simply kept his ass on the curb and not run and fought with the police—which was uncontested by the only eyewitness—then probably nothing  would have ended up the way it did. As for the idea that this country should go all the way and become Marxist, even though that ideology has been rejected by all countries in the world except Cuba, just shows how much of the progressive smoke Mr. Soderberg inhaled at our seemingly 100 percent socialist institutions of higher learning, in name only, as they charge exorbitant amounts to learn that everything else should be free and that you should have no personal standards, codes of conduct, nor responsibility . . .

Regarding the book review “Stuff White People Like to Write About” (Books, Aug. 18), the opening line espouses the notion that white people cannot write about race. Not only is that a presumptively “racist” remark in itself, but it ignores the obvious—white people could—and should—easily write about race and about how they are entirely sick of the whole excuse for failure. Many, many people believe that after decades of social entitlements since the 1930s that the debt is settled, if it existed, and now performance is expected. Certainly, lawlessness should be judged on its own merits. But, Mr. Soderberg is going further with his arguments than that, that somehow there is this special class of person, so fragile, and so wronged, that no one can mention the name or condition—except for gangsta wannabes in rap songs about misogyny, the glorification of obscene materialism with the intent to make the impotent feel more so, and the endless use of the “n-word.” What Mr. Soderberg’s arguments wish us to believe is that Stephen King must be an insane maniac to write the gross style of horror that he does with so much authenticity and that “Flowers for Algernon” should have been written by a formerly retarded writer. Certainly, one could easily say that premise is oxymoronic.

In the case of these columns and reviews, it is not.

William C. Bond
Baltimore


Who Was That Whistleblower?

Each week, I eagerly look for This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow.  He has to be one of the best cartoonists. 

The Press Conference (Aug. 13) was another fine cartoon in his trenchant style. He is always topical, and in this case Obama is blowing off the idea of punishing U.S. government torturers. To the cartoonist’s credit, he pointed out that the only person who was jailed was the whistleblower. Unfortunately, the cartoon did not identify him. 

The whistleblower is John Kariakou, and unfortunately he remains in prison. The family has suffered in numerous ways, including financially.

Kiriakou is a former CIA analyst and case officer, and the first government official to state that waterboarding of prisoners was torture. In 2012, he pled guilty to disclosing classified information to a reporter about a fellow CIA officer involved in a nefarious operation. The reporter never published the operative’s name. Nevertheless, the former CIA analyst received a 30-month sentence, which he began in February 2013. The City Paper should consider doing a story about him, as few people know of this very cruel Obama administration prosecution.

Max Obuszewski
Baltimore

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