Idiot Boxed

Free speech impediment: Regarding Tony Ortega’s “An Idiot’s Guide to Protesting” (KC Strip, December 11): I’m wondering what purpose it serves to humiliate Bill Douglas. I don’t know Bill personally, but I have spent time with him in meetings and at the peace vigils, and anyone who has done so knows that his intentions are peaceful and honorable. He may get emotional about the issues, he may even exaggerate, but Ortega obviously got way too much satisfaction out of making light of a situation that is serious.

It is serious to get arrested and held in a cell, and probably scary. It is serious to be questioned by “officers,” whether they be local police or the Secret Service. As far as I know, one cannot be arrested for “intending” to walk over to a banned area. The Patriot Act does blow, and if the Pitch wants to really deal with this issue, it can make public the fact that there is an effort to get the City Council to pass a resolution opposing the elements of the Patriot Act that violate our civil liberties. We are a country held in a constant state of alert by an attorney general who has an agenda of privacy invasion and limiting freedom of speech. Bill’s point is that it is beginning to show itself at protests here in KC.

I don’t always agree with Bill Douglas, but at least he’s bringing issues to the public that are important. It is up to us to look at the information intelligently and make our own decisions. I didn’t get any valuable information from “Idiot’s Guide.”

Jan Chapman

Kansas City, Missouri

Bill of rights: Regarding Mr. Tony Ortega’s “KC Strip”: Much of the editorial questions the strength of the claim by Bill Douglas that his First Amendment rights were violated when a Kansas City, Missouri, police officer interfered with his effort to join people protesting at a Laura Bush event.

The editorial states: “The local ACLU declined to intervene [on behalf of Mr. Douglas] — it doesn’t bother with such trivial matters.” It is important to point out that the ACLU has not characterized Mr. Douglas’ complaint as “trivial.” In fact, we have met with Mr. Douglas and his lawyer and believe that what happened to Douglas raises serious First Amendment implications. We are currently exploring ways that we can be helpful in the matter.
While we generally do not get directly involved at the municipal court level, which is the first step in the process, it is conceivable that the ACLU would get involved in later legal proceedings.

Dick Kurtenbach

ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri

Bill is due: I am peripherally acquainted with Bill Douglas. I personally share your point of view to a large degree. His ceaseless self-promotion has always smacked of a man more concerned with himself than with “the cause.” Likewise, I sometimes find Lewis Diuguid to be a little too goody-two-shoes for my taste. But Douglas is very sincere in his concern for “the cause,” even if his concern is flawed. And Diuguid takes a great deal of his time away from his family and gives it to the community. One runs into him in the darnedest places.

On the one hand, I am thankful for the Pitch. I am thankful that there is a credible alternative paper in town. But you might give pause and consider that when you project such arrogant cynicism, people’s response is adjusted accordingly. Aren’t your arrogance and conceit very similar to what you complain Douglas projects? My respectful attitude turns quickly to “We can’t all be arrogant and self-righteous columnists for a local rag sheet, ya know.” You are projecting the same thing you are complaining about in this column. It won’t work. Hypocrisy is never flattering. “Practice what you preach” is very good advice. (Some things are cliches because they’re true.)

Ray Zwarich


Peace of ass: Tony Ortega’s article on Bill Douglas was very misleading and unfair. To devote almost the entire first paragraph to his occupation amounts to economic intimidation. Douglas has suffered at the hands of the KCPD, and now he is made to suffer at the hands of your reporters and your newspaper as well.

Whatever happened to the Pitch that I used to read and cherish? Have you also caved in to the right-wing media conservatism that most other public media in this country have done? Also, why wasn’t one of your reporters downtown to cover our demonstration against Vice President Cheney? Isn’t that newsworthy enough for you? Shame on the Pitch!

Robert T. Rowe


Night Stranger

Smother Hubbard: Jen Chen has “jumped the shark,” losing relevance with her column whining about being “dumped” by local news dude Jeremy Hubbard.

Night Ranger used to be a column of general interest that shared humorous observations from KC nightlife that we bar veterans could all relate to. It apparently has now become a soapbox for JC to snitch out a married crush who apparently thought twice of his initial plans to “hang out” with her and tried to diplomatically back away. Rather than respect his decision, JC apparently got pissed and decided to do a hatchet job on him. This “story” smacks not of general-interest journalism but rather of a specific, personal vindictiveness powered by JC’s ability to publish her revenge.

I grudgingly gave JC a pass after she snitched out the trysting in the gay bar downtown and caused all kinds of problems for those guys. However, she should have learned her lesson in discretion from that incident. Instead, her character is becoming self-evident. She seems to enjoy starting shit and then stepping back to watch the show. No wonder she doesn’t want anyone to know what she looks like!

Name Withheld Upon Request